Jesus and the Feast of the Tabernacles: Water and Light

The symbolism that underlines the Feast of the Tabernacles (Booths) beginning in John 7 includes water and light. A case could be made for the Tabernacle itself and how Christ had come to dwell among men and how He is coming again to permanently dwell among men. Jesus Christ fulfills the symbols by being the Living Water and by being the Light of the world.

In John 7:37, Jesus says “if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Jesus here is saying He provides life and thirst-quenching satisfaction. John MacArthur says “The significance of Jesus’ invitation centers in the fact that He was the fulfillment of all the Feast of the Tabernacles anticipated i.e., He was the One who provided the living water that gives eternal life to man.”[1] John 4:14 reads “everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again (the physical water from Jacob’s well), but whoever drink of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Elmer Towns says “water is a fundamental necessity of life and was used for several purposes in those days…. Jesus was using this expression to show her how to find satisfaction.”[2] In regards to quenching the desire for spiritual satisfaction, James Montgomery Boice writes “There is no other prescription for the thirst of the human soul.”[3] The second symbolic fulfillment of Christ is the light. In John 1:4, John calls Christ “the light of men.” In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” MacArthur notes “light refers to biblical truth.”[4] In tying Christ’s words in with the setting of the Feast of Tabernacles, Leon Morris says “it is a reasonable inference that the Feast is the background to the ‘light of the world’ saying, especially as the illumination from the great candelabra was an important feature of the celebration.”[5]

Works Cited

Boice, James Montgomery. The Gospel of John: Volume 2, John 5-8. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Holy Bible, ESV. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002.


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