37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As* the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart* shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit,* because Jesus was not yet glorified.
40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ 41Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’* But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah* does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah* is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’ 46The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’ 47Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’ 50Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus* before, and who was one of them, asked, 51‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ 52They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’
As the festival draws to a close, Jesus offers the “Living Water” to the crowd – “let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” The narrator (the author) clarifies for us, Jesus is talking about the Spirit. For after his death and resurrection, the Spirit would come to dwell in the hearts of those who believed. And so, even today, thousands of years later, if we come to Jesus, he offers us the living water of the Spirit in our lives.
Some of the “crowd” believed – but they believed Jesus was “the prophet”. And some said that he was the “Messiah” (or the “Christ”), but then others responded that the Messiah must come from Bethlehem, not from Galilee. And the crowd was divided, and the conflict builds.
But the author turns to the building tension with the religious authorities. The temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees. Why didn’t they arrest him? But they answered that they never heard anyone speak like this man. Even these who are charged with enforcing the will of the chief priests are at least puzzled by Jesus; he does not seem like a rabble-rouser to them. His words almost convince them. Perhaps the Pharisees and chief priests should listen? The Pharisees immediately accuse them of being deceived, along with the crowd. How much easier it is to insist that everyone else is wrong than to actually listen to what someone else is saying; how much easier to simply accuse them of being deceived. And then Nicodemus speaks up – remember Nicodemus, who went to Jesus in the darkness and heard about being born anew? Nicodemus says that according to the law they must not judge someone without a trial. And they accuse him also of being deceived. The passage closes with their argument that according to the scriptures, no prophet is to arise out of Galilee.