Called by the Gospel: A Pentecost Day Sermon - John 7:37-39 / Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Day of Pentecost / Sunday June 8th 2014 / John 7:37-39
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. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 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)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Here we are 50 days after Easter Morning and we are celebrating the Day of Pentecost; the day when Jesus sent the promised Holy Spirit to the Apostles; the day when Peter preaches a sermon recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles and we are told that "those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls [to the Body of Christ]."
This Day of Pentecost caps of the Season of Easter and St. Paul describes what that time between Easter Morning and the Day of Pentecost was like when he writes the Corinthian Christians: first he talks about what it means for him and his work and then he gives a description of those days, he says, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day [that's Easter morning] in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [That's Peter], then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles." This all happened leading up to the Day of Pentecost. We have some very specific account, Jesus appearing to the women at the tomb Easter morning, Jesus appearing to two of His followers on the Road to Emmaus on that first Easter and to most of the twelve that evening and then the next Sunday Jesus appearing to Thomas as well. Jesus forgiving Peter by the Sea of Galilee in the morning as they ate fish together. Jesus' Ascension 40 Day out from Easter Morning, just 10 days before the Day of Pentecost, where Jesus gives them the great commission and tells them to go and Baptize all Nations, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [He] commanded [them]" promising them - and us - that He would be "with [us] always, to the end of the age.”
By the time they hit the Day of Pentecost this core, key group of Jesus' followers were clued in, they had been clued in, they understood what Jesus was, is and will be up to - Luke's Gospel tell us that in that time between Easter and the Ascension Jesus taught the Apostles saying, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” And this is what they did ... they waited ... not unsure of what was coming ... they had Jesus' promise. They were not confused, the text says nothing about them being anxious, or doubtful on the Day of Pentecost, just that "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place." Thomas was not out getting groceries, and Matthias was there with them, Matthias is the one who replaced Judas Iscariot, Judas who had hung himself after betraying Jesus to Jesus' Death upon the cross. "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place." There they were resolute, resolved, ready for the promised Holy Spirit.
But were they always so resolute, resolved, ready? Had they always been so sure about everything? Jesus had told them what was to happen before it happened yet they seemed not to understand, in fact, they were, in many way, in a similar boat with the rest of the people around Jesus leading up to the events of Good Friday and Easter. On the Day of Pentecost they were ready, the rest of the people visiting the city for the Jewish feast of Pentecost were not ready per se, when there was suddenly a "sound like a mighty rushing wind" they had no idea what the sound was about, "at this sound the multitude [visiting the city] came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing [the Apostles] speak in his own language." The Apostles were ready, the people in Jerusalem were not, 3,000 of them were made ready that day to be baptised and why? Because of the preaching of God's Word. So we have the ready, the unready and those made ready all in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost ... but let's back track just a bit into the events of our Gospel Lesson today, to a time before Good Friday and Easter and the Ascension to a different Jewish feast, not the feast of Pentecost but the feast of Tabernacles, a thanksgiving feast held in October. This is the setting of the Lesson from the Gospel of John. "On the last day of the feast [that's the feast of Tabernacles], the great day, [that's the Eighth Day of the feast] Jesus stood up [in the Temple, in Jerusalem] and cried out, “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.’” Now this [Jesus] 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."
How did people respond to this? When Jesus said those words how did they respond? John's Gospel continues saying that "When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” [these last ones had clearly not received the Christmas cards - or sung Away in The Manger - they didn't know that part of Jesus' story] So there was a division among the people over Him. Some of them wanted to arrest [Jesus], but no one laid hands on Him.
The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to [Jesus] before, and who was one of [the Pharisees], said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
Confusion! No one knows what to think! No one knows what to believe? As that Feast of Tabernacles was getting under way, before Jesus had stood up to preach Saint John says that, "there was much muttering about [Jesus] among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, He is leading the people astray.” Is the world like this now? Is there any confusion about Jesus? Are there people who are confused? People who don't know what to think? What do Muslims think about Jesus? They think He's a prophet, but they do not confess Jesus to be the Son of God, because they believe God can't have a Son, They believe the Bible is full of lies about God, and lies about Jesus. To them your mouth is full of lies when you confess Jesus as your Lord and saviour, when you confess Jesus to be God. The modern Jewish people do not confess Jesus to be the Son of God, they are still waiting for the Christ, They believe the New Testament is full of lies about God, and lies about Jesus. To them your mouth is full of lies when you confess Jesus as your Lord and saviour, when you confess Jesus to be God. What do Atheist believe about Jesus? They do not confess Jesus to be the Son of God, if they agree that there was a person named Jesus who did even a fraction of the things recorded in the Bible they would still say that many people have used Jesus to lead even more people astray. They believe the Bible is full of lies, lies period, because they think there is no God at all. To them your mouth is full of lies when you confess Jesus as your Lord and saviour, when you confess Jesus to be God. If they are 'kind' they will at the very least think you are ignorant and dim-witted when you confess Jesus as Lord.
The list goes on and on, ... is there confusion still today about Jesus? Yes. Is Jesus' command to go and make disciples of all Nations still valid, even when people may at first be confused or even hostile towards Jesus? Yes. Are you resolute, resolved, ready to relive this confusion and reach out to the lost in their confusion and disbelief? "Hang on" ... you say, "I'm not ready!" You say, "Pastor, That's why we have you!" OK, but what did Jesus tell the men gathered at the Mount of Ascension as He was about to ascend? Jesus told them to Baptize and to teach, we pastors are charged to do this. Everyone is not a pastor, this is true, but you will still have opportunity in life to teach others things about the faith, to lead them to good solid teachers. Sometimes we teach one on one like Jesus taught Nicodemus, and sometimes we will teach more than one, all the while we trust that God's Word is efficacious, that it works, that the Holy Spirit is at work in it, this is why we come here to this place so that we can be bathed in God's word, so that in our liturgy - the Divine Service - the Word of God can wash over us as it's read, as it's sung, as it's prayed. This is why we come here to this place so that we can hear God's Word in the preaching, so that Jesus' promise would be poured out upon us; Remember He 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.’” ... and where will those living waters flow? They flow to friends and family, to children, to strangers, they flow where the Holy Spirit desires them to flow: Can it be dammed up? - "I'm not damming it up" you say, "I just don't know what to say, or how to say it." Jesus in the Holy Spirit will provide, "but it's still so hard" you say! - Consider this the invitation then - don't just bring yourself to this place to hear God's Word preached to you, as Jesus preached, as St. Peter preached, as St. Paul preached, as we are charged to preach, bring others here too, ... "but they are not ready!" Neither were the 3,000 who were baptized on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is the one who makes people ready, who gives them faith, who makes them resolute, resolved, and ready - remember your catechism, in it we confess these words, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified me [made me Holy] and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith." Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Act 2:41
 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
 John 20:1-2
 Luke 24:13-25
 John 20:19-23
 John 20:20-29
 Matthew 28:19-20
 Luke 24:44-49
 Acts 2:1
 Acts 1:12-26
 Act 2:2
 Acts 2:6
 John 7:14
 John 7:40-52
 John 7:12
 John 3:8 Jesus says, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
 Luke 21:12-15 "You will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict."
 Luther's Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2005, pg 17.