Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #2: If you only knew . . .

John 4:10  "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

This morning I'm sitting in bed, with my laptop, reading the Bible from YouVersion.  I'm not a huge fan of reading online since I love writing in margins and circling words, but lately I like reading the New Living Translation and I don't actually have a copy of that in print.

I like the NLT for a few reasons.  First of all, it's easy to read, and second, it takes familiar passages and makes them a little fresher.  Finally, in the case of stories, like the ones in the book of John, it makes them seem more current.

So I'm sitting in bed, reading John 4 for my life group.  This is the story of the woman at the well, and I know this story backwards and forwards.  We're supposed to share something meaningful, and I think to myself, "Maybe I'll find something meaningful here.  It's a pretty good story."

In essence, Jesus takes the direct route from Judea to Galilee.  Makes sense.  Except that the direct route leads them straight through Samaria, the land of the hated Samaritans.  And most Jews took the long way to Galilee.

The thing is, Jesus doesn't hate the Samaritans.  He loves them.  Like he loves the Jews.  Like he loves us.  But that's another discussion entirely.

Jesus stops to rest at a well, and his disciples go into town to buy some food.  And while they are gone, Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.  Again, this isn't such a big deal except that Jesus has just violated two significant cultural norms.  First, Jews do not talk to Samaritans.  And second, men do not talk to women.  And I love this because Jesus isn't limited to cultural norms.  We can learn a lot from this example.

Jesus behavior surprises the woman, and she asks, "You're a Jew, and I'm a Samaritan.  You're a man, and I'm a woman.  Why are you asking ME for a drink?  Why are you talking to me at all?"

I don't know the tone of her voice.  If she was surprised and curious.  Sarcastic.  Timid.  But she asks.  I suppose she could have ignored Jesus altogether.  But she doesn't.

And here's where it get interesting for me today.

Jesus says, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

Clearly the woman doesn't know what living water is because she then starts talking about ropes and buckets, proving Jesus point for her.  And for us.

"If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you were speaking to, you would ask for that gift, and I would give it to you."

If we only knew all that God has for us, the gift he wants to give us, if we only knew Jesus, if we experienced his love for us on a personal basis, and we understood his plans for us, we would ask for God's gift of living water that would satisfy our hearts, fill us with peace and joy.

But we're more concerned with ropes and buckets.  We're more concerned with the things we think we need in our life, the problems we need to take care of, and less concerned with what God wants to give us.  Because we don't understand.  We don't really know the gift God has for us, and we don't really know Jesus, who longs to give us this gift that meets our most important needs.

And so we don't ask.

If we only knew, we would ask, and we would receive.  And God's gift would satisfy our deepest longings.

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