Who Needs a Drink?

Water Can Be Art (CC)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcarlosn/3933670165/in/photostream/
"Water can be art, or can be drink, it's up to you, but actually, we need water" is what Jose Carlos Norte has written about this image - an interesting comment about both water and art. I used this image on 14 October for my first #digidisciple post at The BIGBible Project. This was the first of a monthly series about women of the gospels. Here is what I wrote:

Welcome to the first of a monthly series: ‘Blogging Women of the Gospels’. Not that any woman  in the Gospels had a weblog,  but their remarkable stories still resonate with lives in the digital age. I begin with an unnamed woman fetching water – what millions of women still spend hours working at each day, leaving little time for much else, as this 34 second video from Water Aid highlights.
As I turn on the tap and clean water fills my glass, it’s shocking that millions in today’s world don’t have that luxury. The story of a woman’s unexpected meeting with a man resting at Jacob’s Well  is also shocking.  He asked her for a drink of water. A simple request, you might think. But she was shocked. So were the man’s friends when they returned from buying lunch. If you don’t know the story you can read it in John 4: 1-42.

What was so shocking about this story?

  • SHOCK ONE: Jesus, a Jewish man, spoke alone with a woman who wasn’t his close relative. This was not proper. Observers might assume the conversation was a sexual proposition.
  • SHOCK TWO: The woman was a Samaritan. Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, considering them polluted by their history of intermarriage with Assyrians and their different ideas about God and worship. They certainly wouldn’t share a drinking container with them. But Jesus needed a drink and asked the woman to give him water from her bucket.
  • SHOCK THREE: Jesus claimed to be able to give a spring of water gushing up into eternal life, so those who drank it would never thirst again. Who did he think he was? God? But the woman asked Jesus to give her this living water.
  • SHOCK FOUR: The woman was shocked that Jesus saw her situation and spoke the truth about it, “…you have had 5 husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband”. What shocks me is that many interpreters assume this to mean the woman was particularly immoral. She fetched water at noon, possibly to avoid other women’s company. Did they treat her badly? Did she lead a scandalous life? Or was she the victim of a series of tragic circumstances – widowed, abandoned, divorced or abused? Like many women with no voice and no power today?
  • SHOCK FIVE: The woman discussed theology with Jesus. Women weren’t considered capable of such discussion – that was men’s business. Jesus took her question about worship seriously and answered it. He didn’t accuse her of diverting discussion away from her marital history.
  • SHOCK SIX: The longest recorded discussion Jesus had with anyone was this one – with a foreign woman with a complex past.
  • SHOCK SEVEN: The first person in John’s gospel to whom Jesus revealed himself as the longed for Saviour was this woman.
  • SHOCK EIGHT: The woman left her water jar to go to tell people in her town about Jesus. Has the church lost that sense of urgency? If so, why?
  • SHOCK NINE: The first evangelist to non-Jewish people wasn’t a man like Philip or Paul, but this woman and we don’t even know her name. A woman was considered an unreliable witness but John records that many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus because of her testimony. And all this happened because Jesus was thirsty and needed a drink.

For further thought or discussion

  • Who needs a drink now of life-giving pure water? (Physical or spiritual)
  • If you could ask Jesus one question, what would it be?
  • Is there one thing about Jesus you are passionate to share with others? Are you doing this on and off line?
  • What for you are the hardest cross-cultural boundaries to bridge? Does social networking help this? Or does it tend to encourage on-line ghettoes of like-minded people?

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