Scripture: John 4:7-15
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Already, we begin to see some of the hostility that exists between Jews and Samaritans that I described in my previous post. The Samaritan woman is pretty shocked that Jesus, a Jew, would even speak to her, let alone ask her for a drink of water. And Jesus only grows in perplexity to her as the conversation unfolds.
Jesus isn’t being exactly straightforward with the Samaritan woman yet. We have the benefit of knowing the ending of the story, so this image of Jesus being living water makes a little more sense to us. The Samaritan woman, though, would have no reason to interpret “living water” as something supernatural. The phrase “living water” was a common idiom for flowing, moving water. It could really mean something as simple as a stream. But being the clever wordsmith that he is, Jesus utilizes the phrase to establish a new meaning pertaining to his own identity. The best poets do this kind of wordplay all the time. Probably my all time favorite is John Donne (I’ll leave a link to one of his classic works). Jesus, as living water, is the source and sustainer of all life. This image is one of creation. The language should take us back to the very first verses of this gospel, “He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:2-3). Jesus in the flesh is now reaffirming his identity as God with something as simple and ordinary as water.
I think the simplicity of the image might be my favorite part of this whole conversation. Jesus uses something so ordinary – water – to not only describe who he is, but also to create a space for reconciliation between his people and her people. In peace and humility, he approaches her and asks her for help. He is thirsty, and she has water to give. It’s the simple, peaceful gesture that opens the door to a larger conversation about who God is and who God’s people are. Jesus shows us that it really is the simple things that can bring two opposing sides together.
God of the universe, thank you for revealing yourself in the small things of life so that I can sometimes grasp a small piece of who you are and what you’re about. Give me the eyes to see more often. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
God is in the ordinary things.
Here’s a link to one of my favorite John Donne poems: http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/mourning.php