Day 20: Seeing above the noise
“Quiet!” yells the frustrated teacher, desperately trying to get their students to settle down long enough to actually hear their instruction.
As a Scout Leader I often held my arm up with fingers twisted into the “Scout Sign”. After a while silence fell upon the gathering. Simple enough. I quickly learned that did not always guarantee the message was heard. It helped.
My message, to that young audience, was often to stay focused on the Big Picture and not let the many interesting distractions, distract them.
Can I just point out that the crowd in this passage is in a similar condition? There are all sorts of things grabbing their attention.
- People are looking for him. We may only be in chapter 7, but Jesus is well-known.
- People are talking about him. They disagree. He is good—He has a demon. He is a great teacher—He is leading people astray. Lots of noise.
- Jesus’ response is to again point above their noise, to his Father, the one who sent him.
- …which leads to another round of people descending into details. Is he the Christ? Isn’t he the person who healed on the Sabbath? Can he be the Christ if he is not from Bethlehem? Lots of commotion, lots of noise.
We could spend time unpacking each of these verses. Instead it might be more helpful to get above all the details. Calling it noise is not meant to devalue it. In each exchange with Jesus there are riches to be found. At a high level though we need to keep in mind that Jesus has gone to the Temple to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles
Two powerful symbols of Water and Light weave their way through this week long feast. The Light of God flooding the darkness…the Life of God flooding the world.
Symbols are meant to point us to something deeper.
We read “on the last day, the great day”…Jesus stood up and cried out in a loud voice…
It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Enough with all this noise…hear me…I am the Living Water!” As Jesus is high and lifted-up on the cross, the Spirit will be poured out, and the rivers of God’s blessings will flow into the dry hearts of every man, woman, and child who are open to Him.
He is the Altar. He is the Temple. He is the source of Living Water.
Of course, the concluding paragraph is what? More reactions. More noise.
Two thousand years later the noise around Jesus, around who He is, continues.
Two thousand years later Jesus is still standing and crying out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
In my life, God let me run pretty hard on my own, until I got thirsty. There is that old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” True enough. You can, however, make him thirsty.