John 4:10-12, NIV

10 Jesus answered 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."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with
and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the
well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his
flocks and herds?"

January 10, 2011

If you knew the gift of God. If you know who Jesus is. These two
phrases are connected. The Gospel writer had blended both
thoughts in the previous chapter--For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son so that all who believe in him might
have eternal life.

In this instance, Jesus said that living water is available for those
who really know this. It doesn't matter that I memorized John 3:16
when I was a child. The vital question is whether these words
hold life for me. Jacob's name means to grab hold, to grasp. He
was born clinging to his twin brother's heel. On this day Jesus was encouraging the nameless woman beside the well to grasp the
truth he was attempting to reveal and grab hold of the living
water he offered.

But she would rather talk about the physical well right in front
of her. It was the source of life for her and the entire community.
She knew its history and importance. And it was obvious to her
that Jesus, without any device to work with, could never draw
water from the spring feeding into this well.

So she asked one of those "Who do you think you are" questions?
Do you think you are greater than our illustrious ancester, Jacob,
who provided this constant supply of water for himself and all
future generations!!!

This woman knew Jacob's well. She also thought the more Jesus
spoke, the more he was sounding wierd. Or was he? Somehow
things which had seemed so certain just a few moments ago,
started losing their certitude.

If you knew the gift of God, if you knew who it is that extends
this invitation to you--you could ask and I would give you living
water! Jesus' request for water was an invitation for this woman
to dig deep within herself for the One with whom she had lost
touch. The One who could love her and set her free.

                                                                   More journal entries

November 26, 2001

Here's an even bigger surprise. If you knew the gift of God
(God's grace and loving kindness, unearned and undeserved,
extended to all with no one excluded) and if you knew who I am
(the Word, the Life-Light, Lamb of God, the One and only Son)
you would ask me for living water!

Again she is factual. The well is deep and you have nothing to
draw water with. Where/How would you get this living water?
Are you greater than Jacob who gave us this well?

She and Jesus shared a common ancestry. Both were
descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Jesus was also the beloved Son of his Father who gave him up
for a while in order to save the world which God also loved.

September 23, 1982
If you knew God, if you knew me, then you would ask? Two "ifs".
What are the ifs in my life?

If I could maintain a consistent life-long belief in a loving and
            good God.
If I could maintain disciplined habits that open me to his Spirit.
If I could master my laziness, concentrate to a greater degree, 
            purify my will and my doubts.
If I knew God and desired his gifts above all else.
If God will abide with me through it all although at times I'm weak,
            sinful, unworthy.

Then my life will be filled with living water.

It depends on who God is. This woman needed only to receive it,
not merit it;
to know God and ask for it.

If you knew me you would ask. . . Then the most important thing
I can do in life is to know God and experience his Holy Spirit in
my daily living.

September 24, 1982
Sir you have no bucket and the well is deep. . .
She--on a physical level; Jesus--on a spiritual level.
She--physical need, thirsty for water. Jesus seeing her spiritual need.

Her spiritual needs were probably not much different from the
rest of us: To be at one with her Creator and loving heavenly Father,
to become a partner with this loving, creating God. Everything she
lacked in life, God has in abundance--peace, joy, wisdom, patience,
self-control, forgiveness, vision, hope, faith, love--all these she
could have by accepting, believing and joining forces, being
yoked together in spirit with God.

She needed esteem for herself and other human beings. To truly
believe in "Our Father" takes care of that need. A bad concept of
human life is one of our greatest sins. Our world is not full of
rotten, no good people ready to take advantage of everyone else.
As children of the Creator, made in his image, we all have the
potential to behave accordingly.

Yet it's easy to have a negative view of people. Everyone in town
knew who this woman was. There were lots better than her that
Jesus could have been talking to and offering his living water.
Everyone knew she would never change. People gossip and
reject those who don't conform or threaten the cohesiveness
of the community.

Conversion is not just empty religious talk. It's a beautiful and
exciting reality. A transformed Pharisee like Nicodemus, or this
woman of questionable morality, or a tax collector, or Roman
soldier--anyone who met/meets Jesus could respond to the
Light within them. Spirit speaks to spirit and latches onto
Goodness and we find ourselves at one, at peace, at home
with God the Father.

September 25, 1982

Like Nicodemus, his woman was full of questions. Explain how
this can be? Jesus talked of knowing. This woman believed what
she knew and experienced. So to get living water she had to
somehow get beyond the physical level to where God was and
get to know her heavenly Father.

Most people, if they answered honestly, probably don't consciously
walk with God daily. Many of us forget to pray until we have an
emergency. This woman had been taught about Jacob and the
others who were important in Jewish history. But what had she
been taught about God? Jacob was part of her life story and her
religious heritage. What of her present, everyday, daily life?

Jesus, you're not greater than Jacob. The present is seldom greater
than our glorified past. Have we ever had greater presidents than Washington, Adams and Jefferson?! Ford, Carter, Reagan--they
just don't measure up!

So she had some barriers to belief in Jesus--Glorified past vs.
unlikely present; sense knowledge vs. knowing God; the evil
without vs. the good within; the world is bad, people are bad,
I am bad vs. self-esteem, honor and dignity.

September 28, 1982
Greater than Jacob?
Jacob was a deceiver, an opportunist. What an insult to ask Jesus
if he was greater than Jacob. Yet God met with Jacob, talked with
him, even wrestled all night and blessed him.

Jesus, what have you done? How have you proved yourself.
Jacob prayed and asked God to help him. Jesus' spirituality was
not visible, not obvious to this woman. Jesus didn't debate the
question and defend himself. It's as though he ignored what
she said about buckets and Jacob. People didn't recognize his
Sonship to the Father, but he kept right on being a faithful and
obedient son. He knew who he was, whether others did or not.

I need to be like that. Don't debate or even think about
comparisons of greatness, or wisdom or talents or ability to
know God and hear his voice, or devotion and obedience. These
judgments are not decided with words, but in deeds, the deeds
of a lifetime. And only God's judgment is important/valid anyway.
Pay no attention to those thoughts that drag me down, just
continue looking up.

January 17, 2011
Jacob dug the well! His servants probably did the manual work.
Knowing where and how to dig usually comes from the strangers,
friends and foes who went before us. We build on the knowledge
and practiced skills of our ancestors. Still, Jacob got all the credit,
generation after generation.

But here's something Jacob did not do. He did not create the source
of the water supply. Nothing he ever did created the water table
beneath the sandy earth. Any spring he discovered existed long
before Jacob, his sons, or any of his servants found it.

It is God who created the air, water and light. It is God who
provides the essential means for our survival. We have God to
thank for strength and health, for food, work and rest. But most
of our lives we credit ourselves.

"We dug the well. And thus we provide the water." How absurd
that must appear from the vantage point of heaven.

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