It may not be readily obvious, but the key to chapter 7 is the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, which commemorated the Israelite's 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as recorded in the book of Numbers. During this time of wandering, Israel lived in tents or “booth” made of sticks and animal skins. God fed and nourished the Israelite's in this 40 year wandering by providing Manna, or Bread from heaven (see Numbers chapter 11), and Water from a rock (Numbers chapter 20). Both were miraculous and both saved the lives of the Israelite's.
John sees Jesus as the reality behind the Manna and the life-giving Water that sprang from a rock. In the previous chapter, John recorded Jesus’ statement that He is the Bread of Life (John 6:31-35). Additionally, Jesus has already informed the Sketchy Samaritan Woman at the well that “whoever drinks of the water that i will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14). Here in John 7 he highlights the disbelief of Jesus by his own brothers (7:1-10), debate about obeying the law in the middle of the feast (7:11-36), and the division over Jesus at the end of the feast (7:37-52). All the while suggesting that Jesus is the reality behind the Feast of Booths!
So, John is tying together Jesus claims to be the Bread of Life, and the One that has life giving water, with Israel’s own tradition of reflecting on the nourishment that God gave their forefathers during the wilderness wandering in the book of Numbers. How could they meditate on the OT and their own history and hear Jesus clear teaching, read John’s clear presentation centered around the Feast of Booths and still not get it? Pharisees like Nicodemus (John 3) who studied the Old Testament night and day should have seen the connection, but they didn’t.
Makes me wonder what I should be “getting” about scripture, but I still miss.
Unless…. I’ve got it all figured out. Not a chance. That keeps us humble and hungry (for more study - although a nice MLT, Mutton Lettuce and Tomato sandwich sounds great).
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today, John