Dying for a Drink, Part 1 by Larry W. Peebles June 2, 2017 17.20
There was no question the young couple was in trouble. A group of men from our church were on a weekend hiking trip. We ran across the couple near dark as we came back to our campsite. We had set up our camp after hiking most of the afternoon, and replenished our water supply from a near-by stream. We then finished our hike up to the summit of Blood Mountain in Georgia (elev. 4459’) to enjoy our evening meal and a spectacular view of the sunset. The day had been warm, and the hike was uphill and strenuous, but the scenery from the summit and the cool evening breeze made it all worthwhile. As the sun began to fade, we descended back to camp for the night. That’s when we found the couple.
The man was dehydrated and confused, extremely weak and sick from lack of water. He said the young lady with him was in worse condition. They had managed to set up a tent in the camping area while we were away, but she was not able to come outside. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say they were dying for a drink. The man said they knew they needed water, and they even knew they were close to a source of water, but they could not find the water in the dark. The main trail would have led them to the water, but it first led them by the sign directing them to the campsite. They came to the campsite expecting to find the water, but there was none to be found. By then, night had set in all around them, and they could not find water even by going back to the main trail. It was too late, they were sick and confused, and did not know where to look.
We had extra water, and quickly shared it with them to start the re-hydration process. Then some of our men took the young hikers’ water bottles and jugs together with our water filtration equipment, and left by flashlight to walk back to the stream. It was not long before we had completely replenished their supply. With water and rest, along with some food, the couple was back on their feet by morning.
All of this reminded me of how critical water is to life. Humans can go 7 to 10 days without food, but only 2 to 3 days without water. About 60% of the adult human body is water, and for some vital organs the percentage is higher. Without water, these organs begin to shut down. It was very fortunate for these hikers that someone came along who had water and knew how to get more water for them to complete their journey. As I thought about what had happened, the Lord showed me the spiritual lesson embodied within this real-life experience.
Jesus did not take the matter of thirst lightly. In John, Chapter 4, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman at the well for a drink. She said “How can you ask me for a drink?”, as she was a Samaritan, and He was a Jew. The spiritual lesson is revealed in His response in verses 10-13- “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water. ‘Sir’, the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
In John 7: 37-39, Jesus explains further- “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
This says that when Jesus spoke of the living water, he was speaking of the Holy Spirit. Up to that time, the Bible is clear that the Spirit came upon men for a time or a purpose, but would lift. Jesus was speaking of a time when the Spirit would come and permanently live within men, to the point that man would be filled to overflowing with the indwelling presence of God.
Previously, when the Spirit of God came upon a man, we see incredible things happen, such as Elijah outrunning King Ahab’s horse-drawn chariot all the way back to Jezreel in 1Kings 18:46. When the Spirit of God came upon Jesus “like a dove” at His baptism in Luke 3:22, He received the Holy Spirit without measure or limitation. After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven, we see the Spirit manifest at Pentecost as wind and fire (Acts 2:2-4), but at that point those present were filled with the Spirit. The Spirit then permanently occupied the temple of their hearts. Their lives were incredibly changed forever.
The Spirit is not a dove. It is not wind, fire, or super-human strength to out-run horses. It has manifested as such, and Jesus said we might also expect it to manifest in believers as living water. Once a person believes in Jesus and receives the Spirit, they can expect to receive living water in abundance. The purpose, however, is not to receive the living water and keep it. We are to become a conduit to distribute the living water. Just as it is eternal life to the bearer, it is eternal life to those who will receive it.
We see the picture of how this is to work by comparing two men’s visions of this living water from Scripture—Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-12), and John (Revelation 22: 1-2, 17).
- Living water comes from the Temple of God- Ezekiel 47:1-2 Rev. 22:1
- Living water forms a river- Ezekiel 47:3-6 Rev. 22:1
- Trees are on each side of the river- Ezekiel 47:7 Rev. 22:2
- Where the water flows, things live- Ezekiel 47:9 Rev. 22:17
- These are fruit trees- Ezekiel 47:12 Rev. 22:2
- Trees bear fruit year round- Ezekiel 47:12 Rev. 22:2
- Leaves of the trees are for healing- Ezekiel 47:12 Rev. 22:2
These two visions, some 680 years apart, are remarkably similar and are convincing that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically of this living water. The living water is supernatural (outside the realm of the natural senses), but it is none-the-less real. Additionally consider, as Psalm 1:3 says, we can be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” If we can be trees planted by streams of living water, then we can draw on this water and our hands (leaves) can be for life and healing, as Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18-“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
This supernatural living water brings life and healing to those who receive it. It is for that reason, once the believer receives the living water of the Holy Spirit, they immediately become part of the distribution system to get it out to others. They immediately want to tell others about Jesus, for it is by faith in Him one receives the living water along with all the other benefits of salvation.
The young couple on the hiking trip knew they needed water. They knew they would die without it. They had waited dangerously late to look for it. Fortunately, someone who knew of the water led them to it, and even carried light into the darkness to help them secure it. This is the story and the purpose of spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world.
We live in a dark time, full of dry and thirsty people. Many are looking for something that will carry them through life, and into eternal life, but do not know where to look or how to find it. Jesus is the answer. When He comes, He brings forgiveness, salvation, and hope. He also brings the Holy Spirit, the living water, to live in our hearts. Our job is to then pass it on to others who are thirsty.
More on the incredible purpose and power of this living water will follow in Part 2.