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It makes all the difference in the world who you’re listening to.
If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines and listening to the news, you’ve been hearing pandemic, pandemic, pandemic. The United States has reached the unfortunate milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. Positive cases and deaths in the state and in our county continue to rise. The hospital here in town has said that in the next two weeks the number of cases in our county is likely to triple. And on top of that, the news is reporting on the death of George Floyd at the hands of those called to protect and serve. And in the aftermath of that tragedy, there are riots across the country–more chaos, more destruction, further injustice. And it’s exhausting! We live with constant uncertainty, and the more we try to listen to reports and figure it all out, the more and more we don’t really know. It wears us down. We can never get our bearings no matter how hard we try. We’re parched and weary and exhausted from all of it.
And of course we’re exhausted and weary and empty and parched. We’re listening to human beings who as Ecclesiastes says “cannot find out the work done under the sun” and are hopeless sinners who are always trying to get their way. What should we expect when we hang on their word, but uncertainty and exhaustion in a time like this?
That’s why there’s no better time to hear Jesus’ invitation than right now. “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.’” If anyone is parched, weary, empty, or famished, come to Jesus and drink till you’re filled, so filled in fact that you’ll overflow. Rivers of living water will pour out of you!
Jesus is the source of Life. He is the one through whom all things were created in the beginning, and he is the one who when all is said and done will raise the dead and make all things new. Jesus holds all life in his hands.
And how is that we come to Jesus and drink? When Jesus ascended into heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit who gives us Jesus’ words. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job–to bring to remembrance all that Jesus has said, to bear witness to Jesus, to take what is mine, Jesus says, and give it to you. The Holy Spirit’s job is to give us the words that Jesus spoke. And when we hear those words, Jesus fills us with his life. We have life in us that will never be exhausted or emptied.
For example, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet he shall live; and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And with those words, Jesus’ life fills us. We may get sick or be diagnosed with cancer, we may struggle with back pain and our body may be falling apart, but we are filled with life. Because with those words we know that no matter if our sickness leads to death, or whether the cancer doesn’t go away, whether our body falls apart, we belong to Jesus Christ, the Lord of life. And even if we die, he will hold us in his hands and one day raise us from the dead. With those words the life of Jesus overflows in us and cannot be exhausted by sickness, pain, or death. And we have an anchor for our soul. We know where we stand no matter what comes our way.
Or Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” And with those words, Jesus’ life fills us. We may be laid off, we may lose our job and not be sure where our next paycheck is coming from, we may struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table, but we are filled with life. Because with those words we know that no matter what we lack, we already have something that no amount of bread on the table and no paycheck can get us—Jesus, who holds all life in his hands, who will raise the dead and make all things new. And no matter what we have or don’t have, we know that we’ll always have what we need. With those words the life of Jesus overflows in us and cannot be exhausted by lack or want. And with those words we have an anchor for the soul. We know where we stand come what may.
Or Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” And with those words, Jesus’ life fills us. We may struggle in life with this or that. We may never be quite sure that we’re in the right place, doing the right thing. We may struggle to raise our kids and to give them what they need. But we are filled with life. Because with those words we know that whether we struggle with life or are successful with life, Jesus will have the last word with us, and raise us from the dead, and no one and nothing that happens in life will stop him. With those words, the life of Jesus overflows in us and cannot be exhausted by struggle or suffering. And with those words we have an anchor for our soul. We know where we stand, come what may.
How is it that we come to Jesus and drink? How does Jesus fill us up? He sends the Holy Spirit who gives us Jesus’ words, takes what is his and gives it to us, and pours into our thirsty souls rivers of living water.
All this time while the news and the media have been raging at deafening volumes, the Holy Spirit has been at work to bring the words of Jesus to bear. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus says, Take and eat, this is my body given for you; drink of it all of you, this cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And with those words, Jesus gives himself to us so that no matter what we face in life, no matter what waves churn around us, we have an anchor for the soul, we have a drink to quench our thirst. But the Lord’s Supper isn’t the only place the Holy Spirit is at work to bring the words of Jesus to bear. There’s also Bible study, daily devotions, portals of prayer, the written and spoken word of God we hear in worship in this place.
It makes all the difference in the world who you’re listening to. And this isn’t the time to fill a glass with sand from the desert to try to quench your thirst. This is the time to take up the Word of God and to drink deeply from the fountain of the Holy Spirit, pouring forth from Jesus.
“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.’”
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
37 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. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 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.