Ecclesiastes: 11:7-10: The Now and Then

Read: Ecclesiastes: 11:7-10

The analogy of light is used a number of places in scriptures as a metaphor for life and truth and darkness as metaphor for death and deceit. The Preacher invokes light here to describe life. In the same manner in which people enjoy the bright of day, so one should enjoy the light of life. The Preacher seems vexed by the notion of aging and passing on. But at the same time, he calls youth vanity too. He is not saying that youth and life are vain in and of themselves, rather that they are fleeting – not lasting – thereby, in the Preacher’s judgment, vain. But in spite of this, the Preacher encourages one to delight in life and to follow one’s hearts desires all the while keeping them in check because God will call all one does into judgment. The Preacher is advising his readers to be mindful of the future because of judgment, but live in the moment too. One should not be consumed with preparing for the future not should one be oblivious to it either. Rather a healthy balance is necessary. One should plan to help mitigate uncertain calamity (Proverbs 6:6-15, Proverbs 16:1-4). But at the same time tells people to not “worry” about the future, that is “μεριμνησητε” which means to be anxious and consumed with planning of about the future (Matthew 6:25-34).

At the end of days, when all is called into judgment, God will hold ever person accountable for what one has done. More so that delighting in the pleasantries of the world, one will find the most satisfaction in God. The Preacher devoted a great deal of Ecclesiastes talking about how he pursued a great number of things, but at the end of his life, he was left wanting more than the world had to offer. On the other hand, the Psalms are replete about how God satisfies the soul (Psalm 63:5, Psalm 65:4, Psalm 103:5, Psalm 107:9, Psalm 145:16). Psalm 107 in particular talks about how God satisfies any number of things. Jesus when talking at the woman at the well in John 4 contrasts water drawn from a well – a laborious task – compared to water from a spring. He likens himself to the spring water, saying that whoever drinks his “living water” will never thirst again (John 14:14). Orienting one’s life around something that can satisfy eternally is infinitely better than orienting one’s life around something that leaves one wanting more.

When Jesus calls all things into judgment, there will be those who present a life after vain pursuits and there will be those who present a life focused on eternal pursuits. The one whose work was to dedicated to eternal matters will have lasting and more permanent results and will be blessed beyond measure by the one who can satisfy. If one wants to prepare for the one would do well to live a life in light of judgment and delighting in doing thing in the present that have eternal implications, namely pursuing God and obeying his commandments.

Lord, help me to focus matters in the present that have eternal value!

John 4:19-26

Read John 4:19-26

Apparently, the woman at the well did not understand the “living water” that Jesus was talking was not actual water, rather a metaphor to speak of the sort of life that comes from salvation. Water is a common metaphor used in scripture because of its life-giving properties (Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 36:8-9, Isaiah 12:1-3, Isaiah 44:3, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 22:1-2, Revelation 22:17). Jesus calls himself the source of this living water and the one who drinks it will have a spring within him welling up to eternal life. The difference between a well and a spring would have been obvious – rather than having to do the laborious work of drawing water out of a well, the water is brought to the surface by a spring. Jesus also uses the same metaphor in John 7:37-39. The promise here is that all who believe in him will have rivers of living water. John notes that this is the Spirit of God living in the life of believers, but the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not been glorified.

It would seem that Jesus is trying to change the subject in John 4:16, but this is probably not the case. Jesus was trying to reach her. He knew she had no husband, but she had had five previously – a clear demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience. When the woman realized that Jesus knew so much about her, she calls him a prophet and drops a theological question pertaining to the temple’s location. The Samaritans had built a temple similar to the one in Jerusalem on Mount Gerizim that was probably within eye sight of where they were at the well. The woman claimed that “our fathers”, that is the common ancestors of the Jews and Samaritans, worshiped on that mountain. This was perhaps a true statement sense Abraham passed through there in Genesis 12:6 and Jacob bought the plot of land on which the well sat in Genesis 33:18-19. The Jews said that worship was to be Jerusalem at the temple per the command in Deuteronomy 12:1-15 to seek the place God will choose a site for sacrifice, and this was fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 7:10-12.

Jesus’ answer is probably no clearer to her than his previous answer, but it does answer the question. The Samaritans worship what they do not know, but the Jews worship what they do know. The schism between the Samaritans and the Jews had apparently caused the Samaritans to go astray in that they were worshiping something other than God, something other than the truth. But the Jews had the clearer revelation because salvation came from the Jews (Romans 3:2, Romans 9:5) – that is they had the truth.  Jesus says a day is coming and it is then and now when no one will worship in Jerusalem or on the Mount Gerizim. They will worship in “spirit and in truth”, and God is seeking such worshipers because. Because God is spirit, true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. Worshiping in the truth would be the worship of the saved, which is all who believe in Jesus. Worshiping in spirit would be worshiping in the same manner of who God is. The contrast here is similar to the contrast between the well and the spring. The worship at the mentioned temples was ritualistic and laborious like drawing water from a well. But worship in spirit and truth is like the spring – it’s driven by the Spirit of God.

The woman at the well did get one thing right: she knew that when the Messiah came he would tell “all things”. Perhaps she was counting on the Messiah to set the record straight on who had the right place for the temple or maybe she realized that what Jesus had told her about her past was something only a prophet, or perhaps the Messiah, could do. Whatever her expectations were for the Messiah, Jesus was able to speak the truth about her past and about all things about true spiritual worship. Jesus then declares that he is the one of whom she spoke.

Believers in Christ are the true worshipers that God is seeking. The spring of living water that comes from the Holy Spirit abiding in one’s heart is what compels the believer to worship. It is often the desire of Christians to want to do something for God by going to church, tithing, or doing good things. While these things are not bad, what God wants more than deeds is a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:10-17). In addition to humility, God wants justice and mercy too (Micah 6:6-8). God can work with people who come to him in humility and accept is grace and forgiveness. He can fill them with the Holy Spirit and give them a well spring of living water!

Lord, I want your living water! Take my heart and renew it! Fill me with your Spirit so I can have the well spring of water in my life!

John 4:1-15

Read John 4:1-15

Jesus was apparently concerned about the Pharisees knowing he was baptizing more than John. (John was decreasing so Jesus would increase — from John 3:30) John notes that it was Jesus’ disciples were baptizing rather than Jesus himself. The reason is not clear, but it could be that he was trying to avoid creating tension between the believers similar to what was going on in 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 or if he was letting the disciples do it in a manner to show the procession of disciple making that he commands them to do in Matthew 28:19-20.

In any case, Jesus left Judea. John says he “had” to pass through Samaria. “εδει” in the original Greek indicates that it was necessary for that he go through Samaria. The Samaritans lived in a region sandwiched between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south, and devout Jews wanting to travel between Galilee and Jerusalem had to either pass through Samaria or go around it. Many probably opted for the latter, but it appears Jesus did not have a choice, perhaps because he had foreknowledge as to what would happen in Sychar or a command from God to go through Samaria. Jesus came to Sychar was a town located near Jacob’s well. The well itself is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but was probably a notable landmark and perhaps on the land Jacob bought in Genesis 33:19.

It was an odd time of day for anyone to come out and draw water (around noon) as most people did this chore in the morning, but this particular woman did, probably because she was of a questionable reputation, even for a Samaritan. Samaritans origins date back to when the Jews came out of captivity to resettle the land their ancestors had settled. These Jews had intermarried with other peoples, something that was forbidden for Jews to do because they might be tempted to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). For this reason, Jews who did not intermarry with other peoples disdained those who did. For a Jewish man of high regard (a “rabbi” John 3:2) to be talking to a Samaritan woman of low regard (John 4:16-18) is an odd juxtaposition, needless to say, and the woman recognizes this when Jesus asks here for a drink.

But what the woman does not realize is who Jesus is. Jesus says that if she did, she’d be asking him for a drink instead. She obviously was still thinking that Jesus was talking about literal water. She says the well is deep, he has nothing to draw with, and apparently has no water because he asked her for a drink. She asks him if he was greater than Jacob too and talks about Jacob, his sons, and livestock drinking from the well. She was perhaps inquiring about another spring in area that had not been uncovered by Jacob. Jesus is still speaking on spiritual matters when he says the one who drinks his living water will never thirst again and have “spring of water welling up to eternal life”. It is apparent that the woman still does not understand when she insists the water from Jesus so she would not be thirst have to go about the laborious task of drawing water day in and day out. (For the next few days, this will be explored further as the conversation progresses further as Jesus helps her realize who he is and a whole village turns to him.)

Up against the background of the John 3:1-21, Jesus is talking to the highest of the high, Nicodemus, to the lowest of the low, the nameless woman at the well. It is apparent that Jesus does not consider where one has come from or one’s background – he makes eternal life available to everyone who believes (John 3:16, John 3:36). The difficulty here and for Nicodemus both was seeing who Jesus was. Jesus made the gospel available to persons of all statuses and we should do the same. Paul says that whoever is in Christ are the children of Abraham and children of God, no matter if they are Greek of Jew, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:26-29). Our job is to be obedient to the Great Commission and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19-20) no matter who they are or where they live.

Lord, help me to not be a respecter of person, and share with everyone no matter who they are or where they come from!