Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 June 4, 2017
“Rivers of Living Water—to Us, and through Us”
Text: John 7:37-39
Today is Pentecost—a day nearly forgotten in many a church. No Christian, and few in our wider culture, forget Christmas or Easter, but many—even within the Church—give scant to no attention to Pentecost. This inattention impoverishes both the Christian and the Church. Happily, we shall not be guilty of such here today.
Pentecost has a long history among the redeemed covenant people of God in Christ Jesus. In Old Testament times—from perhaps as early as 1400 B. C.—God’s covenant people celebrated the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival, in late spring. In the New Testament, just after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came upon (and into) Christian believers as their new-birthright—on the same day that the Feast of Weeks would occur. Hence, this day—and every Pentecost—we do well to celebrate the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Toward this end—to learn, to recall, and, hence, to celebrate—let’s hear God’s Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We start today, not at the Feast of Weeks, but at the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles). This feast occurred not in late spring, but in early fall—generally in October for seven or eight days. It reminded God’s Old Testament Church of their long time spent in the wilderness between the Exodus from Egypt and their entrance into Canaan. Jesus, born centuries later, born under the Law and perfectly obedient to it, attends the feast. Let us first hear what Jesus said, and how He said it—and then let us see what He means by what He said.
Jesus’ message is this: He Himself is the sole source of living water, especially to the thirsty. We see this in His meeting with the Samaritan woman—and in His instruction to her—at Jacob’s well (John 4:1-42). He says close to the same thing in today’s text. Jesus promises that out of the believer will flow rivers of living water. Hence, regarding this living water, we are neither mere reservoirs nor mere conduits—in fact, we are both.
We heard today that Jesus, when he uses the phrase living water, refers to the Holy Spirit. We shall look more closely at the Spirit Himself in moments to come. Suffice it for now to note that we are somewhat reservoirs, for we are to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We are also somewhat conduits, for out of the overflow of the Spirit promised in today’s text, others taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Note again that we are not mere reservoirs or mere conduits. To be a mere reservoir of the Spirit, devoid of outflow, is to become the spiritual equivalent of the Dead Sea in the Middle East—or the Great Salt Lake in Utah. To be a mere conduit is to invite leanness unto our souls—for we fail to retain that portion of the Spirit necessary for our souls’ well-being. We are both reservoirs and conduits of the Spirit.
Now, having examined Jesus’ message, let note His manner in which He declares His message. The Apostle John, led by the Spirit, tells us that Jesus stood. This was not the usual position for a Jewish teacher in that day to assume. Most teachers of the day sat to teach. This standing displays something of the intensity Jesus likely felt and surely conveyed. Moreover, He shouted, or cried out, unto the hearers. This implies a loud, urgent, ringing cry. Jesus desired that His intended hearers should actually hear. Hence, He raises His voice—both in volume and in elevation—and those who were given ears from on high actually heard.
We have heard Jesus’ message and noted His manner. Now let’s examine His reference in more detail. Again, Jesus, using the image of living water, refers to the Holy Spirit. Here Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who trust in Him as Savior from sin and as Lord of life. The Spirit was not given generally at the instant of Jesus’ utterance, and that was because Jesus not at that instant glorified. That is, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection—the crowning pieces of His atoning work—lay yet in the future. When those pivotal events occurred, then Jesus was glorified in these sense that today’s text connotes.
Jesus promise came to pass seven weeks after His resurrection—and ten days after His ascension. The Holy Spirit, at that Pentecost, came generally upon believers in Christ. Not only did the promised Holy Spirit come on that Pentecost long ago, but also He has come to each of us who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior—and He came into us the hour we first believed. Remember Who the Holy Spirit is. He is divine. He is the third Person of the eternal Godhead—and, therefore, God Himself. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is personal; the Spirit is He, not it. Remember also what the Spirit does. He discharges many and varied ministries unto the Church generally and unto believers particularly. Scripture is replete with these ministries; an excellent compilation of these Scripture testimonies of the Spirit’s Person and work occurs in Catherine Marshall’s book The Helper. Note further the specific ministries of the Spirit listed in today’s text. He fills the Christian believer to overflowing, and He quenches the very thirst He engendered in the first place.
In view of all the foregoing, I—ministering in the Lord’s Name—ask you, “Are you thirsty today?” Are you, today, for the very first time, thirsty? Then the Lord Himself invites you to come and to drink. Are you, today, O Christian—whether relative novice or veteran disciple—thirsty for a fresh filling from the Holy Spirit, in order that your empty places may be filled? Then, too, you come and continue to drink. No matter your case today, then, may the Holy Spirit flow to you in abundance—for your soul’s health and joy—and may the Spirit flow through you, as He overflows the vessel of your life, to the blessing of many.