Pentecost A 2014 (Jn 7:37–39)


הֶאֱמָנְתִּי בְרוּחַ־הַקֹּדֶשׁ הַאָדוֹן וְהַמְחִייָה

Πιστεύω εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸν Κύριον καὶ Ζωοποιόν.

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem.

Ich glaube an den Heiligen Geist, der Herr ist und lebendig macht.

Creo en el Espiritu Santo, Señor y Dador de vida.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life.

It’s Pentecost, we remember when the Apostles “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” so that, all who heard, heard them “telling in [their] own tongues the mighty works of God.” In this miracle the Spirit shows us that it doesn’t matter if you speak Hebrew or Greek, Latin or German, or even Spanish or English. You are meant to hear about the mighty works of God, that is, what He’s done for you in His Son, Jesus Christ.

(3. The Spirit flows from Jesus.)

Jesus, in our Gospel today, keeps our view of the Spirit focused in on the Trinity. You can’t divorce the Spirit from the Father and the Son, just as you can’t separate the Son from His Father and His Spirit, nor the Father from His Son and His Spirit. It’s what we confessed in the Creed “I believe in the Holy Spirit…who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” It’s what Jesus says later in John 15, “…when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me.”

“About me,” says Jesus. Jesus is where we meet the Spirit. Jesus is the one who’s received the Spirit “without measure” as John the Evangelist says in John 3. Jesus is the one who gives out the Spirit. Jesus said before His Ascension, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Jesus can say that because He is the source of the Spirit. You can’t get to or have the heavenly Father without going through Jesus, His Son, and you can’t find or have the Holy Spirit apart from Jesus either. The “spirit” apart from Jesus isn’t the Holy Spirit in the same way that the “father” apart from the Son isn’t the heavenly Father. That’s exactly what Jesus says in our Gospel today, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jesus is speaking about Himself here. Jesus isn’t like Old Faithful. Jesus is like a geyser that never ceases to pour forth, burst forth with water. The Spirit continually flows out from Jesus.

(2. He flows only to the thirsty.)

That’s what Jesus says in our Gospel text. It all happened as John, the Apostle and Evangelist, records, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus stands up on the last day of the Feast of Booths, a feast to celebrate the harvest like Pentecost—both symbolizing the ingathering of the nations. But at the Feast of Booths, on the last great day, water was poured out—symbolizing the pouring out of God’s Spirit. After Jesus was glorified—crucified—and raised and Ascended, finally the gift of the Spirit: Pentecost.

So Jesus stands up, water is poured out, and for a time and place where water is scarce—no bottles or water fountains—Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts let him come to Me, and let him who believes drink.” The thirsty are satisfied. The parched have their thirst quenched.

Jesus comforts us here. We live a parched life. So many things drain us. We’re running on empty. We’re poured out, used up, at the bottom of our barrel. We have family members who are sick, dying, getting old, and we have to care for them. We have families with those who make bad decisions. We’re estranged. We’ve got broken families. And there’s all the bad ways we’ve handled all of that. The part we’ve had in what ends in being estranged, divorced. There’s the frustration we take out on others from the stress of our family situation. And it’s not just families is it? It’s work too—life in general. Decisions and stress for our future. The friends we need and don’t have. The friends we had but who’ve abandoned us. And finally there’re the sins we keep on doing but wish we wouldn’t.

We live a parched life, but “If anyone thirsts let him come to Me, and let him who believes drink,” says Jesus, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The Spirit flows to us and satisfies us. We don’t have to catch the Spirit. We don’t have to feel the Spirit to grab hold of Him. We don’t have to work to experience the Spirit. He flows to us from Jesus. That’s the comfort Jesus has for you today. You have the Spirit. He’s given the Spirit to you because the Spirit flows from Him.

The Spirit flows wherever He wants. And He wants to and does flow in the gifts. As the Spirit once hovered over the waters at Creation so He hovers over the waters of the Font: enlivening you, satisfying you for a lifetime with Jesus’ death and resurrection. He’s here today in the Scriptures,“the pure, clear fountain of Israel,” that bind up the broken hearted, and satisfy you because they tell you about Jesus.

You won’t drink unless your thirsty. Those who don’t feel their thirst won’t drink. “If anyone thirsts,” says Jesus. If you don’t think you thirst, or if you think you can solve your being parched on your own, Jesus has nothing for you. If you think you only need a sip from Jesus, you’re like a man journeying in a desert who thinks he’ll be satisfied by the water he drank before his journey and by what he’ll happen to find along the way.

It won’t work to fake being thirsty. It didn’t work for those Pharisees seeking the baptism of John the Baptizer—not to be confused with John the Evangelist. To them the Baptizer said, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” The Holy Spirit who flows from Jesus flows to us who are truly thirsty and quenches our thirst.

(1. By Him the thirsty receive Jesus, who truly quenches their thirst.)

We are like a dry and thirsty land, but the Spirit flows to us. We receive the benefits of the source. If you drink mineral water, you receive the benefits from that water’s source. It’s the same way with the Spirit. We receive from Him the benefits of His Source and Fountainhead. We receive Jesus’ benefits, and this quenches all the parched-ness we live in.

Jesus’ baptism gives you life in the face of certain death—yours and your loved ones—because it places you into His death and resurrection. The water of the font also splashes the Holy Spirit into your heart so that you have the Spirit, the pledge of life eternal, because He brings you to and keeps you in Jesus.

That’s the Spirit’s work, after all: bringing you Jesus. He doesn’t just brings Jesus’ benefits to you, but He also brings Jesus to you. The Spirit works where Jesus works. You can’t separate them. Jesus works at the font, and so does the Spirit. But from Christ’s belly poured forth not just water but blood also. We He was glorified, “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” So even in the Lord’s Supper the Spirit is present, working in Jesus’s body and blood that you’re eating and drinking, to bring you the forgiveness of sins. The sins which dry you out are gone, and your thirst is quenched by Jesus’ body and blood. What other thirst can you have? You’ve received the waters of the Holy Font! What other thirst can you have? Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for you.

Jesus quenches your thirst today. He sends the Spirit, who in turn gives you Jesus, who quenches your thirst by His giving the Spirit. This is what Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me.” It’s true



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