Short Meditations in John 4: 12. Provider?
Jn 4:12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
This woman has a sense of history about her. The Samaritans may be ‘mixed-breed’ people but, choosing to forget that aspect of their past, they still saw their history going right back to Jacob (Israel). Jacob had obviously dug this well and had been the provider of water for whoever else came here in history.
The woman’s first objection to Jesus’ ‘offer’ was a practical one, that he had nothing with which to draw water from the well. This second objection goes far deeper, for it challenges Jesus very right or authority to draw such water. It has taken the subject from mundane practicalities to focusing on him as a person. Suddenly the riposte is, “What right or ability do you have to provide me with this water you speak about? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob?” Well, yes, he is and that is what this is all about as we said previously; it is always about revealing Jesus.
In saying this she is seeking to make a comparison between Jacob and Jesus. Jacob had been a patriarch who had gone ahead and in the process had provided this well. What is it about Jesus that says he can provide better water than the old patriarch, for that is what his words lead on to? We keep hedging the question of what this ‘living water’ is, but at least we are moving towards the bigger issue which will ultimately become the means of getting that water – who Jesus is.
You may think this is mundane meanderings around this conversation but in fact it is crucial to the whole answer to life. We – human beings – sense there is more to life than just living out each humdrum day, one after another. There must be more than this, we sometimes find ourselves thinking. It goes right back to what Solomon wrote, “I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccles 3:10,11) Thus we have this inner yearning for ‘something more’.
The Bible says it is ‘eternal life’, life that goes on and on, life in a different dimension, like that takes on a much longer-term meaning. All world philosophies touch on this at some time. All world religions have this at their heart. The big question is how can we reach this thing we are yearning for? Is there someone who can make it available to us? The Jews saw it in their relationship that came through Abraham, or Jacob or Moses, but there is a better, deeper relationship and it can only come through Jesus Christ. That is the issue here.