lent 3a: water better than water

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament / Old Testament / Pentateuch

Iona Waters John, the author of the fourth Gospel, is being anything but subtle in the beginning of the fifth chapter.

Jesus came near the plot of land that JACOB had given to Joseph. A well, was there – JACOB’s well. The woman who meets him there asks him if he thinks he’s greater than JACOB.

Oh, and did I mention a well? Like the well where JACOB met his wife Rachel? The mother of Joseph. To whom was given that piece of land.

Gosh, does John want us to be thinking of Jacob here, or what? I mean he’s everywhere.

Jacob was the conflicted twin who stole his brother’s birthright, who got his hip dislocated in a wrestling match with The Divine, and who became the father of the nation, Israel.

He had twelve sons, born of several different women – but, of course, his favorite was Joseph to whom he gave the coat of many colors. Joseph’s mother, Jacob’s favorite wife, was Rachel.

Who he met by the well.

Wells were incredibly important sources of vital water. When wells ran dry people died. Because wells seemingly receive their water by mysterious means, they’ve taken on spiritual qualities throughout the centuries and throughout many cultures.

Many years ago now I hiked several hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail in the heat of summer. We relied completely on springs of water, which were carefully labeled on maps and given intense detail in guidebooks.

If we arrived in a place at the end of the day with no water to drink, cook with, or clean up with, we were dead meat.

Such it was in the days before indoor plumbing.

Wells were places where life became possible for people and their livestock.

This particular well was not only a source of water, but at one time was touched by the man and family which gave life to a mighty, and holy nation. This well was a source not only of drink, but it fed the roots of an amazing family tree.

And, when Jesus comes on the scene, this well doesn’t get another set of roots.

It’s eclipsed.

Because the Life that Jesus brings, and which was brought to a Samaritan woman on that day, gives one the “Life of the Ages.”

AKA, Eternal Life.

This is one of those Gospel texts which demonstrate the colossal nature of the New Beginning that Jesus brings. The Message and Life that Jesus brings rests squarely on the bedrock of the faith that began with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And, at the same time, it’s a whole new ball game.

That Jesus brings this new ballgame to a woman so clearly on the outside of Jesus’ Jewish religion and culture… means that it’s open to us all. If Jesus can bring his Life and soul quenching water to a Samaritan woman known for serial relationships and cohabitation… he’ll go anywhere.

Even to us sinners.