Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Day of Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost (A)

June 8, 2014
Text: John 7:37-39

            “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Alleluia” (Alleluia verse for Pentecost).  Amen.
            It is the eighth day of the Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, and our Lord stands up and cries out.  He cries out in compassion for those He has come to save.  He cries out in grief over the hardened hearts of those who reject His love and saving presence.  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37; ESV).  Now, it was the custom at the Feast of Tabernacles that “On each of the seven festal days, the officiating priest took a golden vessel at the morning service, and filled it with water from the fountain of Siloam in the Kidron valley, mixed the water with the wine of the drink offering, and poured it into two perforated silver bowls on the west of the altar for the burnt offering, while the trumpets were sounded and praise was sung. The people chanted Isaiah 12:3”[1]: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  Salvation would come out of Zion.  The faithful should slake their thirst with joy and singing.  And here our Lord declares that He is the Fountain of Salvation, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the fulfillment of the great Feast, our true pool of Siloam (which means “Peace”), and our well of salvation.  “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” Isaiah bids us (Is. 55:1).  “If anyone thirsts,” cries the Lord, “let him come to me and drink.”
            Do you even know you are thirsty?  It is said that by the time you feel thirst, your body has already needed water for quite some time.  If we are so easily unaware of our physical thirst, how much more so is this true of our spiritual thirst?  We are parched.  We are empty.  Do you know this about yourself?  That is why God has given His holy Law.  Like a mighty, rushing wind, like a thunderbolt from heaven, the holy and righteous Law of God exposes and illuminates the barren, fruitless, and dead state of your soul outside of Christ.  You have been faithless toward God and heartless toward others.  You are full of lust and covetousness.  You have gossiped and lied and cheated.  You have lived as if you mattered most, as if God and your neighbor mattered not at all.  And yet, you have deluded yourself into believing that you are a living fountain of good.  Everyone should love you.  Everyone should admire you.  Everyone should respect you and thank God for you.  And our Lord cries out in grief, for in your delusion of self-fulfillment, you reject Him and His living water.  Repent.  The Ten Commandments are relentless in exposing your failure.  The Law of God shows you how parched and dead you are.  If you don’t know you are thirsty, just look into the mirror of the Law.  You’ll see.  And you’ll realize the Lord Jesus is crying out for you.
            “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”  Or as He says to the Samaritan woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).  What is this water?  It is the Holy Spirit, whom those who believe in Jesus receive (John 7:39) as His free gift.  The Lord Jesus poured out the Spirit on His Church first at Pentecost, when the mighty rushing wind came through the Holy City and the tongues of fire rested on the heads of the disciples in the Upper Room.  Then the Apostles were filled with the Spirit and were given to preach the Gospel in other tongues, languages they had never known or studied, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).  Now, it is not as though the Spirit had not been present up to that point.  The Spirit was there in the beginning, when the earth was without form and void, hovering over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2).  The Spirit was there behind all of the events in the history of God’s people, giving faith to the patriarchs, inspiring the prophets to preach and to write God’s own Word, pointing to Messiah who would come to crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15) and save His people from their sins.  He came upon the Virgin Mary to conceive the Father’s Son in the flesh of her womb.  He descended as a dove upon our Lord at His Baptism in the Jordan (Matt. 3:16).  He was present with the Twelve when Jesus called them to Himself, as He taught them and the crowds, performed miracles and signs.  He was there creating faith in the thief on the cross when our Lord promised him, “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).  “Christ… through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” for our purification and redemption by His blood (Heb. 9:14).  The Spirit was there when the Savior bowed His head and gave up the ghost (John 19:30).  And the Father raised Jesus from the dead in the Spirit (Rom. 8:11) who is the Lord and Giver of Life.  The risen Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld” (John 20:22-23).  The Spirit was present with and in the Apostles when Jesus ordained them to forgive and retain sins.  So when St. John writes in our text that “as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (7:39), he does not mean that the Spirit had been absent, but that He had not yet come in His fullness.  But now, at Pentecost, Jesus has poured out His Spirit in His fullness, as living water, slaking the thirst of parched and dead sinners by bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior. 
            Jesus poured out the Spirit on you in your Baptism.  Talk about living water!  There, at the font, you feel the splash of it all over your head as Jesus cleanses you from your sin, puts God’s Name on you, and makes you God’s own child.  Baptism is also an exorcism.  It isn’t pleasant to think about, but man, by nature, is born in the spiritual possession of the evil one.  But here the devil is renounced with all his evil works and ways.  The evil spirits are cast out.  And the Holy Spirit takes possession of you for Himself.  Confirmation, which we also celebrate today, is not a Sacrament, but it is a good tradition of the Church wherein our confirmands once again renounce the devil and his works and ways.  And they confess the faith of their Baptism, a confession made for them by their parents and sponsors at the font, today made with their own mouths now that they have been instructed.  In that instruction, by the way, Jesus has continued to pour out His Spirit upon them, just as He continues to pour out His Spirit on all of us in our every encounter with His Holy Word, here in the Divine Service, in Bible Study and Sunday School, in Catechesis, and home devotions.  And, of course, don’t think that the risen Body and Blood of Christ touches your lips without the Spirit present to give you life and strengthen your faith.  Today we celebrate our confirmands’ First Communion and we rejoice as they join  us at the Lord’s Table.  Another gift for them by which Jesus gives Krista and Olivia His Spirit.  And so He does for you.  Pentecost is still going on.  Jesus is continually pouring out His Spirit upon you in His gifts.
            Well, why does He have to continually pour out His Spirit?  Isn’t once enough?  Beloved, if you have to ask that question, you don’t even know how thirsty you are.  And our Lord cries out for you.  When Jesus pours His Spirit on you, you do not possess the Spirit in such a way that He is contained.  You do not trap Him and cage Him.  No.  He flows to you and through you in Jesus’ gifts.  He flows to you in Jesus’ Word and in His Sacraments.  He flows through you in faith toward God and love toward one another.  He is a never failing fountain of good.  He never dries up.  He never stops giving you life and faith.  He never stops giving you Jesus.  And so, as He flows to you and in you, as Jesus says, He also flows from you, “rivers of living water” flowing out of your heart (v. 38), faith spilling over in Spirit-given works of love.  You are not a bucket to be filled with this water so as to keep it all to yourself.  You are a pipe through which this water flows as it is connected to the source of this water, Jesus Christ and His means of grace (illustration by the Rev. Mark Love).  The expression “living water” means flowing water.  The Spirit flows from the Father and the Son to you, and through you to your neighbor.
            And as the Spirit flow through you and to others, you don’t lose Him.  You never lack.  Just as the LORD took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and put Him on the seventy elders of Israel, yet the Spirit upon Moses was not diminished (Num. 11:25), so you.  When the Spirit flows from you to others, you are both full.  What was once empty is filled with the very Spirit of God.  What was once dry and dead is now lush and full of life with the living water of Jesus Christ.  Drink deeply of Jesus.  He cries out for you.  He is your Fountain of Peace.  He is your well of salvation.  In Him, by His Spirit, you live and grow and bear the fruit of faith. You, O sinner, God has declared righteous on account of Christ.  Your sins are forgiven.  You have eternal life.  And the Holy Spirit now fills your heart and kindles in you the fire of His love.  Alleluia.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.           






[1] Ylvisaker, quoted in Buls’ Notes: http://pericope.org/buls-notes/john/john_7_37_39.htm

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