There is a story of an old prospector in the last century who had to make a long journey across a hot desert. He couldn’t carry enough water to make the journey without dying of thirst, but he was told that there was a well halfway across the desert. He set out and sure enough there was a well right where the map indicated. When he pumped the handle, the well only burped up sand. Then he saw this sign: “Buried two feet over and two feet down is a jug of water. Dig it up and use the water to prime the pump. Drink all the water you want, but when you are done, fill the jug again for the next person.”
Sure enough, two feet over and two feet down was enough water for the prospector to prime the pump or finish his journey. Should he pour the water down the well or should he drink it? Most of us would probably drink the water that was buried. We don’t know who wrote the sign on that old pump. It could be a cruel joke. We could pour that water down a worthless well only to watch our lives drain away for lack of water.
The events in John 7:37-39 took place during the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. Every morning during the feast there was a procession to the fountain that supplied the water for the pool of Siloam. The priest filled his golden pitcher as the choir sang. Then the crowd proceeded to the temple carrying branches and twigs in the right hand, reminding them of the huts they built in the wilderness. In their left hand they carried a lemon or citron, a sign of the harvest. They proceeded to the altar waving the branches and singing. The priest went to the altar at the time of the sacrifice and poured the water into a silver funnel through which it flowed to the ground.
On the seventh day the crowed circled the altar seven times to celebrate God’s gift of water when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness at Meribah. It was at this moment in the midst of the celebration that Jesus stood and cried, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” This invitation was rooted in the time and place when Moses faced the thirsty crowd at Sinai crying out for water, and almost in desperation, he struck the rock, and water came out abundantly. As the rock was struck in the wilderness, Jesus will be struck and broken open and life will flow forth to be shared with everyone who will come and drink.
These events took place before Jesus’ death and resurrection. They signaled to the disciples and everyone else who was present exactly who He was and what would come. It was also a message to a church that was facing persecution and uncertainty. His words reminded them and us of the essence of who they have come to follow and what life with Jesus, through the Spirit, offers to a church that is committed and weary, passionate and pursued, despairing and hopeful.
The crowd Jesus faced had far deeper, more urgent needs than their ancestors in the wilderness. Their thirsts were spiritual and eternal. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that releases and sets free the streams of living water. The disciples quenched their thirst on Jesus until Pentecost, but after that event, they became a blessing to others in a new style of outgoing life. It was then a tide of living water flowed out of their life together, manifesting itself in a bold witness and wondrous works.
The Spirit could only be given after Jesus had been lifted up in glory. It was through the suffering and death on the Cross that His glory broke forth. It was almost as if when His side was pierced He released the Spirit that was in Him to be shared with those who believed.
To understand spiritual thirst, picture the prospector in the desert. His canteen was empty, his lips were parched, and he was desperate for water. Just as God provided water in the wilderness to quench the physical thirst of His people, Jesus offers living water to quench our spiritual thirst. Psalm 81 says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” The genius of the Christian life is opening our mouths, our hearts, and our lives wide-and just drinking the water of the Spirit. We will begin not only to live, but we will also experience the power of God in every area of our lives.
God wired us with a thirst-a “low-fluid” indicator. If we deprive our souls of spiritual water, our souls will let us know. Dehydrated hearts send messages such as snarling tempers, waves of worry, and growling mastodons of guilt and fear. We must treat our souls as we treat our thirst. We have to flood our hearts with a good drink of spiritual water.
Jesus did not focus on a particular group but made a universal appeal: anyone who thirsts can come to Him and drink. Jesus quenches every thirst-He is knowledge to the thirsty mind, love to the thirsty heart, peace to the thirsty conscience, and holiness to the thirsty spirit. Because God made us for an intimate relationship with Himself, our deepest thirst cannot be met anywhere else but in Him. Jesus offers the only satisfaction for spiritual thirst.
When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water-implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well-He changed her life. She was surprised by His request because Jews looked down on Samaritans. He said in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re tired. He is the Living Water that lives in our souls with holy refreshment.
Too many people settle for a dry life that doesn’t have any spiritual life, or a real experience of the presence of God working in them and through them. That is a complete waste, because it doesn’t have to be that way. If we want to live a real, rich, dynamic faith, we have to spend time with Jesus. How much of this life that we live is spent with Him and for Him?
People often look to the local church to change the arid conditions within their own lives and call for revival. A dehydrated soul can’t be revived unless it chooses to take in the living water that God’s Word provides. Those who want such outpourings must look deep within themselves. We misunderstand revival if we believe it can be manufactured during a church service or a church conference. God doesn’t honour such fleshly attempts. Great spiritual awakenings seem to start when one or two people persistently and consistently pray, “God, I have strayed. Show me where I have erred. May I think, speak, and live Bible. Help me to walk in a continuance of Your presence.”
The devil will do everything he can to discourage us from the unleashed power of a passionate life. That is why Scripture encourages us not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices, one of which is busyness. From work to social media to church to family to friends to maintaining our homes, if the devil can’t stop a person from moving forward, he’ll just try to push them to move forward too fast. We can even get so busy doing work for God that we lose sight of Him in the midst of it.
The Holy Spirit has come and is releasing life-giving water that will lie deep within people who will yield to Him. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see life from His perspective. When we yield to the Holy Sprit we will find ourselves taking on new interest and priorities in our lives. Yielding to the Holy Spirit means that we give up our own ideas and efforts and put ourselves in His hand.
There are different levels of relationship with the Holy Spirit which are important to understand. The first type of relationship we can experience is the Spirit within us. The fact that He is in the earth today gives us the opportunity to enter into a personal relationship with Him.
How can we be filled with and thus empowered by the Holy Spirit? There are five steps:
- Desire and faith. We must truly want the Holy Spirit, and we must believe that God will give it to us as He said he would.
- Commitment. What our hearts are filled with is what we are committed to. If we are genuinely committed to Christ and make Him Lord of our lives, we will be controlled by the Spirit and our lives will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
- Confession. If we have any unresolved sin in our lives, we must confess it and put it behind us. We can’t live in sin and be controlled by God’s Spirit at the same time.
- Openness. The real issue isn’t how much of the Holy Spirit we have, but how much of us does the Holy Spirit have?
- Personal honesty. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Truth. To be filled with the Spirit of truth, we have to be truthful with ourselves as well as with God.
As followers of Jesus, we live on with exhortation of the One who came to us and invites us to come to Him. Our thirst will be quenched. Our physical and spiritual needs will be met. Rivers of living water will flow out from within Him. It is the flow of water that perpetuates abundant life. From those waters, we may draw out strength for the dangerous journeys and deepest moments. Those waters change our celebrations and remind us of who we are. Those waters cleans and refresh, hydrate and repair, transport and restore. Those waters flow out from the Holy One and flow into us. As they fill us to overflowing, and we continually draw deeper and deeper from them, those waters beg to flow out from us.
Are there times in our lives when we grow tired of the battle and our souls cry out to God? We long to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, stripping away the layers of misunderstanding and perhaps fear which have kept us at a comfortable distance. King David said that his body, his innermost being, longed for God.
God placed that yearning, that longing, deep in our hearts so that He could fill it. God created the thirst, and He knew that He was the only thing that could satisfy the deep longing within. How does God satisfy that longing in our hearts? What should we do to know Him more intimately and personally? The answer is to drink crystal clear, pure, and cool spiritual water.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 1454
- Fredrikson, R.L., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 27: John (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1985; pp. 145-147)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1467-1469)
- Berni Dymet, “Hand and Heart.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Innes, “Empowered by God’s Spirit-Part II.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
- Dr. Ed Young, “Open Your Mouth.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Dr. Dennis Burke, “A Sensitive Heart.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Harold Sala, “Guidelines to Grow a Deeper Relationship With God.” Retrieved from www.guidelines.org
- Dr. Neil Anderson, “Living Water.” Retrieved from www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/dailyinchrist
- Patricia Rayban, “Living Water.” Retrieved from www.odb.org
- Christine Caine, “The Busy trap.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Pastor Jack Hibbs, “Thirsty?” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rev. Cheryl Lindsay, “Weekly Seeds: Flow Out From Within.” Retrieved from www.ucc.org