Signpost for Sunday 23 March, 2014, 3rd in Lent: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Rom 5: 1-11; John 4: 5-42
I was reading the other day that Lent has lost much of its meaning in our modern world because of things like ‘Dry July’ or even the well meaning ‘48 hour Famine’. There are lots of opportunities to give things up for a while, in other words. So Lent is lessened in people’s eyes, if they even know about it.
But whatever we give up or whenever we choose to do it, the one thing we can’t give up is water. Without it we simply can’t survive. And it’s not just us, it’s the planet itself.
Water is at the very heart of our existence. In the 21st century we know a lot about water. Most people know, for example, that the human body is actually about 60 percent water. They may not know that in the first months of life it’s even more a part of each of us – the percentage of water in a babies is typically around 75-78 percent during the first year of life. After that it drops to around 65 percent.
I didn’t realize until this week that water we drink today has probably been around in one form or another for 200 million years, since dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Apparently the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained fairly constant over time: it is continually recycled through the atmosphere.
And while nearly 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of that is fresh water.
To the ancients water was as precious as gold. No wonder then that water is mentioned 722 times in the scriptures (thank Google for that fact). Exodus 17:1-7 and John 4: 5-42 being just two of them.
It’s not just the water that links the passages though, it’s the source of the water that’s important. It’s YHWH who does the seemingly impossible by bringing forth water from the rock. It’s Yeshua who offers the seemingly impossible, everlasting water that permanently quenches thirst. And they both do it in places that are hostile to the Jews, one physically, the other culturally.
I also discovered, courtesy of Matthew L. Skinner in the Huffington Post, that most of us miss some of the intended significance in reading the story of the woman at the well because most English language bibles render John 4:26 as “I am he”. But there is no “he” in the original Greek text. Essentially the author of John makes Jesus repeat Exodus 3:14; he pronounces the name of God: “I am.”
Interesting too that Jesus doesn’t recognize the woman at the well as an adulterer, even though she has had five husbands. He does not mention it or forgive her for it, as he does the woman in John 8: 1-11.
Maybe it’s because the water is the really important thing here, as in all of life.