Leaving the Water Jar Behind

February 25, 2013

Leaving the Water Jar Behind

water jar

In general there are “Big picture people” and there are those who “Miss the forest because of the trees.” In my few years of ministry I have found that most are “Details people” when it comes to the things about which one truly cares. There is a small, seemingly insignificant detail recorded in Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman in The Gospel of John. Jesus has had just spoken with an unnamed woman about living water and worshiping God in spirit and truth. The disciples show up astonished, and probably a bit taken aback at Jesus’ disregard of culture and common decency. In fact, the disciples are left speechless when they see the two of them together at a well, Jacob’s well, no doubt—a place of betrothal! Before the disciples can gather their thoughts, John tells us that the woman left her water jar at the well and went back to the city (John 4:28). This detail seems to be a narrative gloss of little importance, until one realizes that this small gesture is a total affirmation of Jesus’ offering of living water.

water chaos Why should she leave her water jar behind? Isn’t this the very reason she traveled to the center of town? In truth, she no longer needs a vessel for well water because she has been offered water which will never run dry. We can certainly meditate on the image of water throughout scripture. It is a symbol of chaos in the Old and New Testaments. Before God created, water was present (Genesis 1:2). It’s the one thing about which Creationists and Evolutionists agree: In order for life to be, water must first be present. God separated the waters from the waters, bringing order to a chaotic world. Moses and the Ancient Israelites traveled through the parted chaos of Egyptian slavery for a new, promised land (Exodus 14). Noah’s ark sailed about the chaos of a disobedient world (Genesis 7). Likewise, Jesus walked above the chaos of sin and despair, causing the disciples to think they were seeing a ghost (Matthew 14:22-33).

Jesus, remember me

Jesus came to renarrate and transform this ancient symbol of chaos into a symbol of blessing through baptism and the offering of living water. After Jesus life, suffering, death, and resurrection, we now see water and the Spirit as cleansing and inviting. Oh, we could spend lots of time wading in the water which God troubles for our salvation, as the old Negro spiritual proclaims, but I would like you to think of the jar.

How is it that you are daily carrying “earthly water,” so to speak? What do you need to leave at the well? What in your life is a daily reminder of separation with God and neighbor? I invite you during this season of Lent to let go of habits which offer only chaos in your life. Fill your day with Living Water, water which gives life and joy. This isn’t self-help . . . it is a self-empting into the grace of God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Put your jar aside and fill your Jar of Clay in which you walk around with that which offers life and peace, love and joy. May you find blessings during this Holy Season.