By Femi Aribisala
A farmer was living in a remote village. Every day, he had to walk several miles to the market in another village, carrying his goods on his head. He would start out early before sunup and come back home very late after sunset. The strain was already telling on his health. His feet had grown big calluses and blisters. After some time, he developed hernia.
Then his brother had pity on him and bought him a truck. When the farmer came back home one day, he found the truck parked in front of his house. There was a letter waiting for him with the key of the truck. However, the farmer was illiterate and could not read the letter. Instead of looking for someone to read it to him, he simply dumped it on the mantelpiece in his living-room.
A year later, his brother came to see him, only to discover that he was still walking to the market every day. “What happened to the truck I sent you?” he shouted at him. “What truck?” replied the farmer; puzzled. “I sent you a truck last year,” insisted the brother, “so you would no longer have to walk to the market.” “I never received anything like that,” replied the farmer. But when they got back to his farm, there was the truck parked in front of his house. It had never been used.
Don’t assume the life Jesus came to give is the same life billionaire Bill Gates lives.
“I thought you said you did not receive the truck?” queried his brother. “So what is this parked in front of your house?” “Is this a truck?” asked the hapless farmer. “What did you think it was?” his brother replied angrily. “Look, if you really wanted to help me,” said the farmer, “why couldn’t you have sent me a horse?”
Jesus met a Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob. The woman had a bucket with which she fetched water from the well. Jesus asked her for a drink and the woman started to show off. “How can you ask me for a drink? Don’t you know you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan? Why can’t you get your own bucket?”
So Jesus told the woman: “why are you making such a big deal out of something as inconsequential as a bucket? All a bucket enables you to get is ordinary water. But the person asking you for a drink has living water. Don’t you know you cannot compare natural water to living water? It is the owner of living water that should be showing off, and not the owner of natural water.”
“If only you knew the person asking you for a drink, you would not be so uppity. Instead, you would seize the opportunity to ask him for living water and he would give it to you completely free of charge. Everyone who drinks natural water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:4-14).
So what did the Samaritan woman do? She opted immediately for Jesus’ living water. “Please give me this water,” she pleaded, “so that I won’t get thirsty again, and won’t have to keep coming here to draw water.” But the question is this: how many Christians today are like this Samaritan woman? How many would like a drink that would ensure we never thirst again? Indeed, how many Christians have drunk from Jesus’ fountain of life and, therefore, no longer thirst for the “waters” of this world?
Most of us don’t even believe living water exists. As far as the Samaritan woman was concerned, if it was water, whether living or dead, it had to come from Jacob’s well. That was the water David thirsted for. That was the water for which the Hebrew mighty men of valour risked their lives, just in order to get David a cool drink. (2 Sam 23:15-16). Therefore, the woman wondered if Jesus was presuming to be greater than David. The Samaritan woman could not conceive of water that could be more refreshing than the one from the well of Jacob.
But I wonder how many people would make a big deal of well water today? How many people would like to drink from Jacob’s well today, if it is even still there in Bethlehem? Today, we can get different types of pure bottled water. Besides, we can drink them chilled from a refrigerator and not from a well. Nobody would make a big deal of well water today because greater knowledge and civilisation has since come. But in over 2000 years, knowledge does not seem to have grown about living water. Both Christians and non-Christians are still yearning and making a fuss about the water from the stagnant wells of this world.
Jesus says: “I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). But why should we assume the life he has come to give is the same life we have always aspired to live? If he has come that we might have life, then he could not have been talking about the same life men and women were living before his arrival. Clearly, the life he is now offering is a life foreign to this ungodly world.
In the early 1970’s, I came home to Lagos from Rome to spend my holiday with my older brother; Biodun. Biodun had a car that was nothing short of remarkable. It was virtually held together with safety-pins. In order to get it going in the mornings, it needed to be pushed and pushed. Little Folusho, Biodun’s three year-old son, usually joined others in pushing it. The car would jerk and cough until finally it would grudgingly come alive.
A year later, my old man sent Biodun a brand new car. But something funny happened after it arrived. In the mornings, little Folusho would come out dutifully to push the new car. It took him a while to recognise that this car did not need to be pushed. As far as Folusho was concerned, all cars had to be pushed before they could start because that was what he had been used to since birth.
It is the same with natural water and living water. Don’t assume that living water is the same as natural water. Don’t assume the life Jesus came to give is the same life billionaire Bill Gates lives. Don’t assume it is a life of possessions. Don’t assume it is designed to enhance our status in the world. It is not that kind of water Samaritan woman. It is not that kind of life beloved Christian. And since it is not, are we still interested?
Jesus presents us with an either or proposition. If he is our shepherd, then we would no longer yearn for the vanities of this world. If we are complete in him, then we would no longer seek fulfilment in houses, children or bank-accounts. If we accept his living water, then we would no longer thirst for well water.