Eucharistic meditation, Pentecost

Eucharistic meditation, Pentecost May 11, 2008

John 7:37-39: Now on the last day of the feast, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this he spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.

If any man is thirsty, let Him come to me and drink, Jesus says on the last day of the Feast of Booths. And He adds: He who believes in me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” John tells us that He was speaking of the Spirit. It’s astounding enough that the Spirit who knows the depths of God should take up His residence in our depths. It is another thing to be told that we can pass on the Spirit.

At Pentecost, Jesus pours out the Spirit on us. But He doesn’t pour out the Spirit so that we can become reservoirs of the Spirit. He pours out the Spirit so that the Spirit flows from us, so that we can be springs of the Spirit, so that the Spirit can flow from us.

Some time ago, we began celebrating the Lord’s Supper eating the bread and drinking the wine as they passed. We encourage you to say “The body of Christ” and “The blood of the Lord” as you pass the elements, and to say “Thanks be to God” as you receive them. This is a way of displaying ritually what is true in our life together – namely, that we minister Christ to one another.

And in this text, Jesus shows us that we also pass on the Spirit. Rivers of living water flow from us who believe in Jesus and receive His Spirit. That’s what communion pictures. Rivers of living water flow from Christ, to us, through us, to one another. The Supper is a great river of the Spirit flowing with living water from Jesus, enthroned in heaven, to the last seat in this fieldhouse. And as we flow out from this place, the Spirit flows with us, as the Spirit give life to a thirsty world through us.

But we shouldn’t miss one crucial dimension of this. In speaking of the waters flowing from Him, on the feast of booths, Jesus is comparing Himself to the rock in the wilderness. The rock in the wilderness flowed with water only after it was struck; just so, Jesus flows with the Spirit only after He is struck on the cross, only after the spear pierces His side so that He flows with blood and water.

The same holds for us. We become rivers of living water only by suffering in and with our Head and Lord, Jesus. And this table reminds us of this fact. We not only receive Christ in the power of the Spirit, but we commemorate the death of Jesus, by which He became a river flowing with the Spirit. This table teaches and trains us not only that we are food for one another, and the world; it teaches us that we become food and life in our sufferings. It teaches us that we flow with Jesus Spirit only when we share in His cross.

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