“I’ve Got Peace Like a River.”  This is a simple song about the peace, joy, and love you can have deep in your soul:

 “I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”

 “I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.”

 “I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.”

 River, fountain, ocean: all refer to water. 

In today’s Gospel reading (Mark 1:1-8), we see two references to water:  First, people are being baptized by John in the Jordan River.  

Why were they being baptized?

 

“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.   

 

Repentance means being sorry for what we have done wrong – sorry enough to make an about-turn: away from the direction of temptation and, instead, toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The people confessed their sins and were baptized with water.  They repented, and sought the mercy of God.

 

The second reference to water?  John makes a prediction that one who is more powerful than he is coming.  And that the one who is to come (meaning the Lord Jesus) will baptize people with the Holy Spirit.

 

A second reference to water?  Yes, but quite different from the water of the Jordan.  

 

Now, before we consider this, I want to take a minute or two to watch with you a DVD from Samaritan’s Purse.  This DVD is about a project that is providing clean drinking water for many, many people.  And if you listen closely, near the end of the segment, you’ll hear mention of this different kind of water.

 

(DVD from Samaritan’s Purse showing the use of Canadian technology to filter water in countries where clean water is in short supply)

 

Near the end of this DVD segment, we heard the reporter talk about the “natural tie-in between clean drinking water and the life-giving water of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Jesus gives to us living water.

 

In John, Chapter 4, our Lord has a conversation with a woman who comes to draw water from a well.  During this conversation, he says to her:

 

"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” (John 4:10-11, NIV).

 

“Where can you get this living water?” she asks.

 

Jesus is talking about spiritual things: the new life he will give to all who receive this living water: “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

 

We find out later, in chapter 7 of John’s Gospel, that this life-giving water is, in fact, the Holy Spirit, “whom those who believed in [Jesus] were later to receive” (John 7:37-39).

 

Physical water is a necessity.  So is the living water, the Holy Spirit.  Dwelling in the believer, he is the guarantee of eternal life.  He also helps us to understand and apply God’s word.  The Holy Spirit provides counsel and power to do God’s will.

 

Ruth and I will never forget the report we saw one evening on a Detroit television station.  This was roughly fifteen years ago, while we were living in Saskatchewan.  It was about a campus revival.

 

College students went to a routine worship service one evening, and instead of staying the usual hour or so, they stayed for hours and hours.  They felt moved to confess their sins. 

 

After that, they got rid of bags full of stuff – garbage bags filled with the stuff that had gotten between them and God. 

 

And then they formed “accountability groups.”  These were small groups of students who met regularly to encourage one another in the faith. 

 

They talked about the great freedom they felt.  They said with conviction that God had visited them in a powerful way. 

 

They spoke as if they really knew what it means to have peace like a river, to have joy like a fountain, to have love like an ocean.

 

We give our lives to Christ, and he gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  And the Spirit transforms our lives.  But this transformation is a process, a lifelong process. 

 

We may not always welcome his work.  We shall sometimes resist.   But it is far better to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit, which includes peace, joy, and love.

May we open our hearts to the transforming work of that life-giving, living water – “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”  Amen.