Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spirit, Water, Blood. . .

Sermon for Pentecost, preached on Sunday, June 4, 2017.

    Last week we gathered around our grills to serve up the Great American meal of medium rare steaks and burgers.  But not if you were Jewish.  Blood was foreign to the Jews.  It made them unclean – all blood.  Such was the covenant.  Blood was only for God.  Blood was from God and for God alone.
    The covenant promise with God was forged in water as they people marched through the Red Sea on dry ground and in blood as the Law of Sinai was sealed in sacrificial blood.  And in it God promised to be His people’s God and they promised to be His people.  In remembrance of this promise and covenantal bond, the Jews observed a church year of feasts and festivals.  So on one of these, Pentecost, Jews were there in Jerusalem as one of the required pilgrimages bringing them to the Temple.  Pentecost was a holy day of obligation.
    Rabbis connected the Pentecost harvest to Sinai and the giving of the Law.  Key to that Law was a blood sacrifice offered to God for sin.  The covenant of Moses was sealed in blood.  This blood was not simply the blood of beasts but the blood that anticipated Him who would keep Moses’ covenant and give His blood as the holy sacrifice to pay for sin and cleanse the sinner.  Pentecost is fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone, just as all the Old Testaments feasts and festivals find fulfillment in Christ.
    The Spirit placed the name of God upon the people of God and guided them.  The Spirit led the patriarchs and prophets and the seventy elders of Israel, even Eldad and Medad.  It was always the way God worked. His Spirit worked through the Word of the Lord.  When that Word was made flesh, the Spirit was sent forth not on the few but the many and the promise of God bridged every barrier.
    The new covenant, just as the old, is sealed in water and blood.  From the side of Jesus water and blood flowed.  Scripture connects them all – the Spirit, the water, and the blood.  All three point to Jesus and testify to Hi,.  Pentecost connects to Calvary and to forgiveness, to the righteousness of Him who keeps the Law perfectly and then covers the sinner with His holiness.
    Key to this salvation is the blood.  What once rendered the person unclean, now cleanses the sinner.  What once was forbidden is now required.  This blood of the sacrifice has become the drink of the covenant in the Holy Communion.  We come to this Table and we meet here the blood that cleanses us and it has become the drink of the new kingdom.  In this Holy Communion, the Spirit is at work.  He places His name on us and He leads and guides us to faith and to the new life of faith which we live fed and nourished right here.  It is no accident.  Pentecost happened literally blocks away from the Upper Room.  This is no accident but part of the plan of God.
    Pentecost takes the blood once forbidden and makes it required.  Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you... Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him... and will live forever...”
    The Spirit, the water, and the blood.  They all come together on Pentecost.  The living waters of Jesus’ promise cover us in baptism and clothe us in His perfect righteousness.  The blood once forbidden is now your drink in the Holy Communion.  And with it we are restored to a right relationship with the Law.  The Law that once commanded obedience now asks for Your faith in Him who forgives, renews, and restores.  And the Spirit is there to guide, guard, equip, edify, transform, and transcend.  The Spirit, water, and blood are the cord of three strands that bind you to God.
    The old is kept and fulfilled.  The new is revealed.  Pentecost is born anew in Christ and with it you and I are born anew in Christ.  God has removed every barrier.  We are His and He is ours.  The Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us in this faith.  So on the last and great day of the feast of Pentecost is also its fulfillment and its first new day.  The Spirit, the water, and the blood all testify to Christ and He now invites you. . . Come and believe. Come and drink.  Come and live.  The Jew, the Gentile, the slave, the free, male and female, young and old, Christ has made us the people of God.  Distant in time but near by grace.  Amen.

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