In today’s text, Jesus cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scripture said that, out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Here, Jesus was not talking about people who had physical thirst. He was talking about some condition within the human spirit of a dryness.
John declares that this living water refers to the Spirit, which had not yet been given. For John, the Spirit is given only when he is crucified (12). The Spirit is poured out only when Jesus gives people life-giving love. Living water springs forth from Jesus when he is at his most vulnerable. Jesus showed us his presence through absence, life through death, power through vulnerability.
How and when does living water spring up in us? How does the power of eternal life given by Jesus come from vulnerability, even from death? All creation comes from God but remains within God. They are distinct from God but are not separate from God.
There is a dryness in relationships, in dreams for the future, and in the world. It has cracked and there is no moisture in it. There are many people in the world whose faith, dreams or relationships have dried up. People are to be thirsty for something more than they have, thirsty to be someone more than who they are. They are thirsty and in need of living water and the Holy Spirit. Culture, money, knowledge, possessions, fame, and power cause people’s dryness, but those cannot ease people’s thirst. In accordance with Jesus’ words, may we come to Jesus and drink of the living water.
The Spirit is the living water from within. The Spirit’s coming at Pentecost was still future at this story, though John was writing decades later. The death and resurrection of Jesus would demonstrate the perfection of God’s love and power, and Christians can proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells his followers on his last night that he will send the Spirit to them in a new way after his departure. In accordance with Jesus’ promise, the Spirit is to come after Jesus as another Advocate to abide in Jesus’ followers and make Jesus and the Father present to them.
In verse 38, Jesus said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water”. When thirsty people come to Jesus, he gives them the indwelling of the Holy Spirit rather than just momentary relief for thirst. Jesus promises that if we come to him with our thirst, we ourselves will become rivers of life. Through the Spirit, may we participate in the unceasing life of God, and the water of abundant life flows through us.
How do we get and stay connected to God? The Holy Spirit helps us to get connected to God, teaches us things that Christ taught us, convicts us of sin, and inspires us to love. God touches and leads us through the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is a living and unceasing presence. The glorified Jesus comes in believers’ hearts, lives in us through the Spirit, and leads us to become like rivers of living waters. Jesus bolly invites us to remember God’s faithful provision in the past, to trust in God’s abundant blessings in the future, and to celebrate the gift of the life-giving Spirit. The living water and the Holy Spirit came from Jesus but are flowing through us like rivers now.
In Acts 2:1–21, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the church is the sign of the beginning of the church’s mission. The disciples had been commanded by Jesus to wait for the “coming of the Holy Spirit” and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be “my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8). Thus, they waited until Pentecost when the gathered disciples experienced the promised Spirit.
This power of the Holy Spirit initially enabled the disciples to proclaim the gospel in the tongues of the diverse peoples gathered in Jerusalem. Jesus’ disciples and apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and changed from the Pentecost experience. The Spirit also empowered Peter to offer the first sermon of the church era, and Peter found new courage. His sermon was proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit and was linked to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost and the promise from Joel. The text indicated that “three thousand persons were added”, and the church’s mission was begun with a flourish through the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is poured out by God to empower the church to advance Christ’s mission to the very ends of the earth and to be understood even in languages they do not know. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, sends spiritual gifts to equip the church for its mission, reshapes the character of believers, empowers worshippers, and gives edification gifts. The power of the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus’ disciples and apostles will empower them to become “witnesses” to Jesus.
Do we think that Spirit filled life is restricted by something? At least, the early church seems to have been dynamic, based on experience of the Holy Spirit. In early faith communities, many matters seem to have been handled through reliance on the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The tensions and dynamic inherent in the Spirit-led community life have remained in the life of the church. Freedom in the Spirit never disappeared in our lives. With Spirit-led freedom, our lives are influenced by the Holy Spirit in crossing the barrier, breaking prejudice, and shattering fixed patterns.
In accordance with today’s words, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” People will believe in Jesus and become a part of his body, the church. Jesus links the promised gift of Spirit with living water. A life with the Holy Spirit will lead us to a life that is filled with freedom and vitality rather than restriction or heavy duty. The lead of the Holy Spirit is the biggest gift and happiest companion. God’s sending of the Spirit is an ongoing gift of renewal for Creation and the church. May we trust and enjoy the lead of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Spirit-empowered believers seek to discern the Spirit’s engagement with them. They are given freedom and order at the same time with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us to communicate with others. The Spirit forms communities from a variety of God’s gifts. May we trust God’s Spirit for the power to serve the Lord and others.
This Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate God’s life-giving spirit poured out abundantly on the community of disciples. The Spirit’s blessing extends community through diverse persons and gifts. The Christian church celebrates the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. Regarding communication, Pentecost can be seen as an opposite story of the Tower of Babel story, where people were divided by language differences and the inability to understand each other. (Genesis 11)
On this Pentecost Sunday, may we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit that blesses each of us and all creation. Every believer has the Holy Spirit within them. God empowers his church for ministry through the coming of the Holy Spirit. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us to communicate better and make our faith community more beautiful.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)