Pentecost Sunday: STREAMS OF LIVING WATER
Our Gospel reading for this year’s Pentecost Sunday is the second segment of Jesus’ teachings in this chapter, and it occurs on “the last day of the festival, (i.e., the Feast of Pentecost) the great day” (John 7:37). Water ceremonies were an important part of this celebration. A priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher, then carry it back to the temple and pour it into a silver bowl next to the altar, accompanied by musicians and choirs. As the priest poured out the water he would pray to the Lord to send rain. In some rabbinic traditions, the water-drawing of Tabernacles is interpreted as the drawing of the Holy Spirit. It is significant that on the last day of this festival, in which water is an important symbol, Jesus declares: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink; and the one who believes in me just as the scripture says from that one’s innermost being will flow rivers of living water”.
Jesus said that those who drink of the water He gives will themselves become sources of this living water. This is similar to what He says to the Samaritan woman “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
Water and the Spirit are connected elsewhere in John; Jesus told Nicodemus that “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5).
The Holy Spirit gives us satisfaction. Not satisfaction by humanistic standards, but the satisfaction of having a meaning and purpose in life. I know several people out there who are bored to death. They churn through life halfheartedly, looking for the next distraction to divert their attention from the fact that their existence is devoid of meaning. But when we have the Holy Spirit, we have no excuse to be bored. The Holy Spirit opens up the instruction manual for us so we can get busy about the work to which we have been called. That doesn’t mean that life will be easy. There will even be times when we’re overwhelmed and we let ourselves get distracted from the purpose that has been laid upon us. But the indwelling Holy Spirit is always nudging us on to that greater purpose of being worshipers of the Almighty God in all that we say and do.
Finally, not only does the Holy Spirit gives us understanding and satisfaction, but also the Holy Spirit enables us to be a blessing to others. As we understand the moral framework of the universe and our place within it, we start to live our lives as lives of love empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to bless other people. The streams of living water flow out from us into other lives. The stream ends up flowing down to a great sea that nourishes life. It’s not anything we do, but the Holy Spirit overflowing through our lives into the lives of others.