When I was in preaching school a friend of mine went out to eat for his birthday. Naturally, one of his friends tipped the waitress off and she came around later with cake and a song. It happens all the time in restaurants of course, and always is it the case that everyone turns to look.
After getting his cake, my friend—percieving all eyes on him—jumped onto his chair and shouted “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, he that does not believe will be condemned! (Mark 16:16)”
Later he was asked what on earth possessed him to do that, and he replied: “I saw an audience…they needed to hear the Gospel!”
Now you might think that was inappropriate, or “not the time or place” or something along those lines, but I want you to consider something Jesus Himself did…
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
The setting here is the Feast of Booths, which is one of the three major feasts/celebrations of the Jewish people. Jews from all over would gather in Jerusalem to take part. It was designed as a memorial for the people to remember their time as a tent-dwelling nation, without a country to settle down in (when they were wandering in the wilderness).
The Feast lasted a week according to the Law, but the people eventually came to regard the last day as sort of an end-of-holiday celebration. Because this particular holiday-week involved the “booths” (wherein the Jews were to build makeshift tents beside their houses to live in for the duration of the event) the palm and myrtle branches used to build their tents (booths) became part of the closing ceremonies of the feast.
Throughout the week, the priests would also go down to the pool of Siloam and fill several golden water jugs, carrying them back to the people as a symbol of God’s promise to them that He would draw water from the wells of salvation unto them (Isaiah 12:1-4). As the priests approached the people with the water jugs, they would sing out the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 113-118). After each line was chanted, the people would chant it back to the priests. The priests then poured the water onto the Pavement as a reminder that God had once produced water out of a rock (Numbers 20) and that He would one day give waters of salvation to the thirsty souls of the world.
On the last day of the celebration, however, the priests did not bring water. Instead they circled the altar outside the Temple building and chanted the Hallel Psalms (which basically end with: “…the Stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord—Psalm 118:22, 26). After the chanting was finished there was a quiet moment among the people, perhaps given to solemn reflection, after which they would all approach the altar with their palm and myrtle branches (which had been used to build their booths) and would beat their branches onto the altar, breaking them.
It was at that moment, perhaps when the whole congregation was quietest, that the Lord shouted to all the people: “If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me and drink.” He continued…
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The Lord took this perfect opportunity to show, once more, that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies. He is the living water which saves souls. He is the cornerstone who comes in the name of the Lord. Just as the priests poured water from Siloam onto the Pavement, so too will Jesus pour out living water onto the people. Just as the priests reminded the people that God blessed them with water from a Rock, so too does Jesus promise a blessing of water, given to those who believe on Him. The Lord is, after all, the personal fulfillment of that Rock which gave water to the people (Numbers 20:11, 1 Corinthians 10:4).
Imagine if someone shouted something like that in the middle of the Lord’s Supper! Or what if someone shouted it in the middle of a High School Graduation. Imagine the controversy! We’d think “oh how inappropriate…” But that’s exactly what Jesus did! He didn’t care that His outburst would have been considered uncouth. He is the fulfillment of everything the whole feast stood for. He is the place of rest and the guide to the Promised Land of Heaven. Who better than Him to make such an audacious (in terms of its timing) invitation?!
If asked about it, Jesus might have said “I saw an audience…they needed to hear the Truth!”