"Then, on the last day, the climax of the festival (of Tabernacles), Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If any man is thirsty, he can come to me and drink! The man who believes in me, as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water flowing from his inmost heart.' (Here he was speaking about the Spirit which those who believe in him would receive. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)" from John 7
Honestly, I feel like I'm losing my mind, so excited am I to write about what I just learned about this section! To tell you, I need to quote extensively from writings by a modern Rabbi, Menachem Posner, on a celebration that happened throughout the Feast of Tabernacles, which, no doubt, Jesus is tying into in these statements:
“One of Sukkot’s [the Feast of Tabernacle’s] most joyous observances was known as Simchat Beit Hashoeivah, the Celebration of the Water-Drawing. When the Holy Temple stood, every sacrifice included wine libations poured over the altar. On Sukkot, water was also poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long.
“Every morning of Sukkot at daybreak, a group of Levites and priests went down to the Shiloach stream, which ran south of the Temple Mount, and drew three [measures] of fresh water to be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. Their arrival at the Temple with the water was accompanied by trumpet blasts…
“There were two holes in the altar into which liquid was poured. One hole was for the wine that accompanied every sacrifice, and a second, smaller one was reserved for the Sukkot water. The holes were different sizes to allow the wine and water, which have different consistencies, to drain at the same speed.” (Oh, good gracious! Can't you see Jesus’ side pierced on the Cross and the blood and water, which have different consistencies, draining out together to set us free?!)
“The nights of Sukkot were spent celebrating this once-a-year offering. The Talmud describes the celebrations … in detail: Priests kindled fires on great candelabra, lighting up Jerusalem as if it were the middle of the day. Throughout the night pious men danced holding torches, scholars juggled and Levites played music while the lay people watched with excitement. The Temple courtyard was specially furnished to accommodate this event, and a balcony was erected for women so they could observe the revelry…
“Why was this event accompanied by such fanfare and celebration? … [The] water-drawing was said to be accompanied by a great awareness of Godliness, to the degree that it is said that, along with water, people would “draw” prophetic revelation. The chassidic masters explain that the water celebration signifies a joy caused by a connection to God so deep and so true that, like water, it has no describable taste. And like water, it sustains all life.”
As the Talmud says of this celebration, as we should say of the One who offers to give the measureless “living water” of the Holy Spirit, the One whose side was pierced and out of which flowed blood and water – listen to this from the Talmud! - “He who has not seen the Water-Drawing Celebration has never seen joy in his life.”
That's what we're after! That's the joy of the Holy Ghost! That anyone, on any day, might see you and say to themselves, "He who has not seen Jesus-in-Mike, Jesus-in-Marvin, Jesus-in-Adam, has never seen joy in his life!"