Lectionary Reflection: John 7: 37-39: The Holy Spirit

Pentecost.  It was once the second most celebrated day in the Christian Calendar (Easter being first).  Now, most people don’t even know what Pentecost is (and Christmas, which was a Christian afterthought, has taken the lead in the list of celebrations).

For those who don’t know, Pentecost was the day the Holy Spirit “fell” on the disciples when they were in the marketplace.  It gave them power and courage to speak boldly about Jesus, and 3,000 people were converted “to the faith” on that one day.  It empowered Peter to tell the lame man “Silver and gold I have not, but what I do have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.”  And the man walked.  The Holy Spirit set Peter free when he was imprisoned.  The Holy Spirit struck Paul on the road to Damascus.  And here is the kicker:  The Holy Spirit is ready, willing and able to “fall” on you and me to this day.  The Spirit has not been taken away.

Do not be afraid.  Only understand.

1.         The Holy Spirit is a person, not a thing or force or feeling, and no, for Christians this is not a matter of opinion.  He is the third person of the trinity, the third person of God.  The Holy Spirit is God with us.  He grieves for us, weeps for us, guides us, teaches us and in every way proves his personhood.  Believe this.

2.         The Holy Spirit is the most “fundamental” fundamentalist ever.  All he ever talks about is Jesus.  It is the Spirit that calls us to the Father in Jesus.  It is the Spirit that calls us to come and drink.  It is the Spirit that is the living water that flows from us to the healing of lives and the healing of this world.  It is the Spirit that makes every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is God (Lord) to the glory of the Father.  The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, but that work is through us.  Do what he says.

3.         You and I and all who are Christian dwell with the Holy Spirit, God with us, inside of us, in our spirit.  You and I can ignore him, resist him, not listen to him when he speaks to our hearts.  There is indeed one unforgiveable sin:  It is to reject Jesus, to reject salvation, to call the Holy Spirit a liar when he says Jesus is the way to eternal life.  Do not do this.  To accept Jesus is to accept what the Spirit is speaking.  And we have no capacity to accept Jesus apart from the work of the Spirit in us.  This faith is not of ourselves, but the gift of God.  Accept this.

4.         Most people today are admittedly unwilling to really accept the person and work of the Holy spirit in our day.  Some claim the Spirit “fell” on the apostles as a one-time only event.  Foolish.  If that was so, Pentecost would have never become the Christian celebration it became and was always meant to be.  (And thus some of these same resisters to the person and work of the Spirit in our day have tried to lessen, even kill the celebration of Pentecost).  But if the Holy Spirit only “fell” that one time, our efforts to evangelize unbelievers would never bear fruit.  If that was true, our prayers for the sick and hurting would be of no effect.  If that was true, revival would never happen, no preacher could ever claim to be “called,” and no believer would ever have certainty in their salvation or be guided in their calling.

I understand.  If once we confess to the person and work of the Spirit, we open the world to something like Pandora’s box.  God is let loose to move and work his will in and through the lives of believers in what often may appear to our earth-bound eyes as a disorderly and chaotic fashion.  Many of us prefer order and tradition and keeping God in a Sunday morning box.  We prefer to make people accountable to authority.  We fear they will run amok, theologically, if we let them be moved by the Spirit instead of Church directive.  We fear most of all that they will stray from the Word of God as they are caught up in the emotional presence of God’s Spirit.  And it is true, we need to be sure people test the spirits, as the word instructs, to see if their proposed actions are of God, but…

I, for one, will celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit, not only to the apostles, but also to me.  I will celebrate and continue to celebrate as I work the work the Spirit would have me do in the name of Jesus.  Yes, the Holy Spirit will never run contrary to Scripture.  That is the test.  But then, Scripture alone, without the activating power, the living water of the Spirit is just dust of printer’s ink and dry wood pulp.  It is the person of the Spirit that brings the Word to life.

You see, I understand this much of how it all works.  I live according to the Word AND the Spirit.  You see, I know the testimony of two is true.

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