June 4, 2017 – Pentecost Sunday
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read John 7:37 – 39
Grace and peace to you as you let the Holy Spirit go to work in your lives, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Standing behind the Baptismal font.) Some of you might be thinking why is the baptismal font out in the middle of the sanctuary? Is there going to be a baptism? The answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ yes, we are going to have a baptism because today is Pentecost Sunday, the day when God baptized the world with the Holy Spirit as Moses had asked for in our Old Testament reading for today as we read, ‘And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.”29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”’ (Num. 11:28-29)
Moses some 700 years before the first Pentecost predicted what God was going to do this incredible event on that first Pentecost. That is to give all the people of the world His Holy Spirit so that they could proclaim all the wonders of God to others, just like He had given to Moses and the 70 elders of the people of Israel, just like He had done for each of the prophets of the Old Testaments and just like He had done for all of Jesus’ disciples. On that first Pentecost, all those who were baptized were given the Holy Spirit just as the Apostle Peter had told the people after His sermon that it would happen, as we read in the 2nd chapter of Acts. ‘Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”’ (Acts 2:37-39)
Oh, just seven months earlier Jesus had call to the people of Jerusalem to get ready for this day when all the world would be given the Holy Spirit to live in their lives, as they were celebrating the feast of the booths or Tabernacles. The Apostle John tells us, ‘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 drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” ’ (Jn 7:37-38)
Now let me stop right here to explain what is goes on during the feast of the Tabernacles or Booths. The feast of Tabernacles or Booths occurs 7 months before Pentecost and the Jewish people were supposed to remember the days when God came and Tabernacles which His people in the wilderness, by living in a tents or booths for 8 days instead of in their houses, to remind them how God had taken care of them as they were wondered in the wilderness for forty years along with how God is taking care of them each day of their lives. You could say that this was God’s version of what many people in Colorado do each summer, go camping, only they didn’t do it in the wilderness of the mountains they did it in their yards or they came to Jerusalem and join in the feast by camping out around the temple. Each day during the feast of the Booths or Tabernacles, they would take a pitcher of water and offer it to the Lord in remembrance of how God provide them with all the water that they needed while they were traveling in the wilderness for those forty years. [Take a pitcher of water up to the altar.] It was on the last day of the feast of the booths as Jesus was gathered with the people in the temple watching the High Priest present this pitcher of water to God that He stood up and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7:37-38)
What does Jesus mean by these words? Well He first says, “If anyone thirsts.” What do all the people of the world thirst for from the time that they are born into this world? LIFE, we all want to live our lives with a lot of LIFE, energy, joy, happiness and God understands that. But our definition of LIFE also can be quite different, because most of the world does not connect LIFE with God. Oh, some might acknowledge that God gave them life in this world but their life is more centered around the thirst for money, toys or other things of this world that make them feel that life is great or good or peaceful. God on the other hand wants to give each of us a LIFE that is perfect, which is so much better than anything in this world that is great or good or peaceful. [Take the pitcher back down to the baptismal font.]
How does God give us this perfect LIFE? Well Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” If we are really thirsty for the perfect LIFE that God want to give to each of us it has to begin by taking part in what Jesus has given to us and that starts with our baptism. In our baptism, we were wash with the blood of Jesus Christ through the water, the water that was turned to blood when Jesus came into this world to take all our sins upon Himself. This is the water that truly gets us clean of all our sins, not anything that we do or accomplish in this world. It is the water of our baptism that begins the reformation of our lives as God washes away all our sins in the name of the Father who created us, the Son who redeemed us and the Holy Spirit who comes to sanctify us, that is to make us perfect again so that we can live in a perfect world with God once again.
Do you remember what Jesus said? “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7:37-38) If anyone really wants to live LIFE to the fullness, then they need to let Jesus come into their lives, so that He can give us what we truly need to sustain our LIFE, just like how water does that for us each and every day in this world, so that we can have true LIFE now and for all eternity. Through God’s Word and Sacraments, we are letting God come to be a part of our lives so that the Holy Spirit, who was given to us in the waters of our baptism, can bring us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
It was through the Holy Spirit, given to the Disciples of Jesus on that first Pentecost that they were given the ability to speak in all the various languages to tell the people in their own language about the glorious work of Jesus Christ. It was as their hearts were cut with the truth of their sins and the sacrifice that God made for each of them through His Only Son, Jesus Christ that they were given the ability to understand their thirst, their need for a Savior, that gave them the ability to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That very same thing has happened to each of us as we were baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We were given the Holy Spirit in our lives, through our baptism, so that as we thirst for God’s Word we will grow in our faith and trust in God.
What was the result of that first Pentecost? Out of the hearts of all the believer flowed a river of living water, just as Jesus had said it would happen. Oh, getting baptized isn’t just a minor event in the LIFE of a believer, it’s the beginning of a new and reformed LIFE with God.
Let me explain a little more. The world acknowledges that water is the one substance that we need to start LIFE, sustain LIFE and make LIFE better. The problem comes when we don’t remember that God is the one who gave us this water and especially the living water that sustains us for all eternity. On that First Pentecost, the Disciples of Jesus gathered together to remember the words of God given to them by Jesus but they didn’t have the ability to let God’s Word, the living water of LIFE, flow out of them until the Holy Spirit was given to them and then they not only shared the Good News of God’s Love, grace and mercy with those in Jerusalem but they shared the Good News to the ends of the earth through their own lives, words and actions. Because they shared God’s Word to all those who were there and they come to faith and were baptize so that the living water of God’s Word could flow from them as it had flown from the Disciples of Jesus and thus it got to the ends of the earth.
The effect of Pentecost begins in our lives when we come to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. For as we are wash with the living water of God’s Word we are given the Holy Spirit, who is working in our lives, so that we can come to believe and grow in our faith and trust in all that Jesus Christ has done for us. As we receive the living water of God’s Word, like this pitcher of water, we become the source of living water for others through the Holy Spirit pouring it out of us by our words, actions and LIFE. Yes, Baptism is the beginning of Pentecost in our LIFE and as we thirst for the LIFE that God wants to give to us, as Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7:37-38)
So, I encourage each of you today to drink abundantly of God’s Living Water, God’s Word, each day of your life so that the living water of God’s Word can flow out of our LIFE as a river of living water, so that others can benefit from it and be able to live LIFE to the fullest as the Holy Spirit works in their LIFE. Amen.