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your bucket     From My Utmost for His Highest
Where then do You get that living water? —John 4

I’ve been doing this long enough to know not to bet against Oswald Chambers.

When I first read this, I felt he might have this wrong. Some of the lines he drew didn’t seem to connect to the text, so I kept digging.

Turns out, Chambers was right. It has to do with…

… two little words, both translated “well” in the story of the Samaritan Woman, linked in the John 4 Scripture, above. Read it again even if you’re already familiar.

See, they’re talking about a plan old well. They’re sitting at a well. They’re calling it a well and using the Greek word pege to describe it. “Give Me some water to drink,” Jesus says, and she’s surprised. Think 1920’s Atlanta and a bank President stops to ask a group of black prison laborers to borrow their cup for a drink. That kind of surprised.

“How can you ask me for water to drink?” See, she’s puzzled by the question, but also by the kindness she sees; liquid love staring her in the face where she expected the opposite.

“If you knew what greatness I bring, you would have asked me and I would have given you living water.” Living water is the typical (and correct) translation, but if you wanted to say running water in Greek, you’d use the same words. They’re sitting at a stagnate pool of water, clean, but not moving and Jesus is offering her more. [Tweet-able?]

I want you to make up your own mind about this, but here, I see the conversation change. You know how when flirting or joking with a friend, you start off talking about one thing, but it gets powerful when the words are still talking about that one thing, but the meaning changes? You both realize that you’re in on a deeper conversation that’s about something else?

I’m not saying there was flirting or joking at this well, but they both realize at this very moment, they’re talking about something else entirely, even while their words are about the well.

I think this because of her response. “Sir,” (indicating a growing understanding and conveyance of respect) “You don’t have a bucket and the well is deep…” She’s not using the word pege, here. She’s using phrear which is a well, but more like a pit. This word is used in five verses in the entire bible: twice here, once in Luke 14:5 when describing a pit deep and big enough to consume a son or an ox and in Revelation 9 describing a pit of hell.

Her words are about a well, but she’s talking about herself so softly you could barely hear and trying to hold back tears already welling up in her eyes. She’s telling Jesus, “Lord, You don’t have the tools to plumb one who’s fallen as far as I have, because I… I’ve… I’m mistakes.”

This conversation continues. Neither use phrear again. I don’t have room to continue to break it down here, but consider the following:

  1. She sees herself, her life, her options as a deep pit. But Jesus sees her differently. [Tweet-cha] She’s all kinds of wrong in the world, but Jesus chose her for the longest recorded conversation with the Creator of the universe. I got that from a great sermon delivered by Gina Coker. You can hear it by clicking here.
  2. She didn’t know Who she was talking to. Do you? Does that change or reinforce your reaction?
  3. Her story didn’t end at the well. [Is-ita-tweet?] It could have. It could have ended with endless trips to the pege or it could have ended wallowing in the phrear, but it didn’t. Verse 39 tells us, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in [Jesus] because of the word of the woman who testified . . .” 

Chambers points out that “The well of your incompleteness runs deep . . .” BUT GOD (my two favorite words in the Bible) accomplishes it all when we can “. . . look away from [ourselves] and look toward Him.”

I love you.


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