37 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.’” 39 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. (John 7:37-39 (ESV)
As the scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
Generally, water that is moving and thus the waters flowing in a river are considered to be living. The waters of the numerous creeks and mountain brooks feeding the Sea of Galilee in the mountainous area of Galilee where Jesus grew up. In the spring you could see them bubbling up, and feeding the lush mountain meadows where the sheep would graze in the mountains of Bashan and Gilead. It was living water because it brought life.
We don’t know exactly which verse Jesus was speaking of when he said that out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Perhaps paraphrasing this one from Jeremiah, or perhaps summarizing the Biblical concept that that God is the source of life and salvation shall flow from his own being.”
“If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink.” He says here at the feast of booths. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” This was really the point of this last day of the feast, in which gathering water from the pool of Siloam they would dance around the altar in the temple and pour the water out upon it, singing the words of Isaiah, “With Joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Jesus has the audacity to claim that the whole feast is about him. The wells of salvation are in him. He is the source of living water, the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the Father and the Son.
“He had said this 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 was not yet glorified. He had not yet been crucified to shed his blood on the cross for the sins of the world. He had not yet been raised from the dead, for our Justification. He had not yet ascended to the Father. But it was 50 days ago that he rose from the dead. It was 10 days ago that he ascended to the Father. And now he sends the Holy Spirit, the living waters of salvation, and the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, and in just that day 3,000 are saved. This is what we celebrate today. And without a baptism, we rejoice as two young men of this congregation affirm the faith that was given to them in Holy Baptism. Can we know a greater joy than this, to see brothers and sisters in the faith drinking from the wells of salvation, Jesus himself, and the word of God through which he sends to us the Holy Spirit? To see the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of the young and old alike?
I’ll tell you it is easy to forsake the well of living water, God and his word through which the Holy Spirit comes. It’s easy to do this as an individual when you think you don’t need God, and life gets to busy and frantic. Church seems to be one more source of stress in life. Just another thing you are supposed to do, but can’t seem to find the time for. Something to feel guilty about. It’s easy to do this as a congregation when we are looking for “results” and are blinded to the work that is being done. We want to see three thousand baptized! We want tongues of fire dancing on our foreheads! We associate the Spirit all too often with feelings that come and go. There was a day after Pentecost. The new disciples gathered to worship in the temple, and then they broke bread in their homes. Or as it says in Acts 2:42 they devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, to prayer and the breaking of the bread, a euphemism for the Lord’s Supper they shared together. Why? Because they knew that here was the source of Living Water. Here was God himself. Here was Jesus the source of their salvation. He was among them when they came together in his name to drink and receive their righteousness. Here they received the work of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness of sins, and it sustained them in their faith as they met the hardships and tribulations of this world, and life together in the church.
It wasn’t really any easier for them than it is for you. They didn’t see explosive growth either. Not everyday anyway. 3,000 on the day of Pentecost was spectacular. It was nothing compared to the tens of thousands that would have been pouring into the city that day for the Jewish holiday known as Pentecost. And the next day? Well there isn’t any record of how many were or weren’t converted. But the people had joy in that they saw the Spirit at work anyway, when Joe who couldn’t make it yesterday, came back today.
Do we see the Spirit at work today? Yes. If you have eyes to see. I see it in the nursing homes when in the midst of agony and the face of death, the only thing wanted is for me to read another psalm, sing another hymn, and pray another prayer. I see it when a mother, who perhaps hasn’t been in church for a while, brings a new born child forth to receive the Spirit in Holy Baptism. I see it in the old familiar faces who wouldn’t know what to do with their Sunday morning if there wasn’t church for them to go to. I see it in a congregation that just continues, when the world around them looks and compares them to this and that church over there, and says why do they bother? Why? Because the Spirit is at work? Don’t believe it? Just attend confirmation class with these kids. Oh, we have our moments when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Perhaps I’m tired and worn out, and they more so. But then I can’t tell you what a joy it is when I look back over the three years I’ve had these kids in class with me. When out of nowhere they have the right answer! Or better yet, they have the right question and just want to hear what God has to say. Today they will make a confession before us. That is the work of the Holy Spirit apart from whom no one can say that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep Your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.