It was on this day nearly 2000 years ago that the disciples of Jesus “took it to another level.” They had been called by Christ to “follow” him. They had listened to and learned from Jesus. Some of them had been witnesses to Jesus’ death. All of them had been witnesses to His resurrection. Then 50 days later, they reached the next level.
My brothers and sisters, it’s time! It’s time to take ourselves to the next level.
Jesus Christ has died and rose again. We are His witnesses in this time and place. He sends His Holy Spirit to us.
In John 7 Jesus adds another element – the Holy Spirit causes rivers of living water to flow out of us.
I think we can take this analogy to the beach.
Waves. Surfers “catch” waves. At least those who want to surf successfully do. The waves come no matter what. A successful surfer will “catch” the wave. The surfer will be “pushed along” by the wave, riding the board in front of the wave and moving along.
The unsuccessful surfers – those who are not ready or not paying attention – miss the wave. The wave goes over them, under them, passes them by.
Healthy churches – which we are, by the way – catch the wave of the Holy Spirit. They don’t let the wave wash over them and pass them by.
Healthy Christians – which make up healthy churches – do the same thing.
The Holy Spirit moves us along, to new places, but using the “same old,” changeless Word and Sacrament of Christ! The challenge is that we don’t do things just because “we’ve always done it that way.”
Look, there is nothing wrong with doing some things “the way we’ve always done them” – things like the Sacrament of the Altar, parts of worship, the Lord’s Prayer. The important things are to not apply that thinking to everything and to know why we are doing them.
We have a promise from Jesus that when we have caught the wave of the Holy Spirit that “streams of living water” will flow out of us.
That means that we will be “on fire” with passion for Christ and the mission of the Church – which is to reach, teach, and nurture a thirsty world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
And we’ll know when that has happened. Things will be happening to us and through us. In Acts 2, the disciples began to speak in tongues. This can mean several different things – different human languages or a heavenly language of some kind. An important point here is that there is also a reference to this happening in the OT – in our lesson for today, Numbers 11. I want you to note that while it happened, it didn’t happen continually.
I think we can also identify rivers of living water in other things. Our faith in Christ through the Word of the Apostles (NT), the confessions of our church, our hymns, prayers, sermons, being a congregation that gathers together around Word and Sacrament.
But it is vitally important to note the “order” of such things. Jesus promises that this will happen in John 7, but something else must first take place – His death and resurrection. As one commentator put it (Lenski,The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, page 580)
“And that Spirit would make rivers of living water flow from the believers throughout the New Testament era. [Yet] no believer was ready or able to function as Jesus wanted him to function as long as he did not understand the sacrificial death of Jesus and his glorious resurrection.”
That’s the key. We have to understand and believe that Jesus Christ died for us and that He rose again from the dead. That isn’t the end of the mission, that’s the beginning.
So, I’m going to start a new series of messages this summer to help us understand how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is used by the Holy Spirit to take us to the next level. We’ll explore the “whys” of what we do – prayer, offering, the Lord’s Supper, missions, and the like.
Right now, I ask you to spend a few minutes in silent prayer, asking God to make you ready for this wave of the Holy Spirit.