“You ain’t got a bucket.” – The Samaritan woman in John 4
We can’t blame her for not understanding Jesus. After all, she doesn’t know him from any other Jew that’s rejected her. And everything he is saying and doing during this encounter was probably screaming “Crazy person I should slowly inch away from!” and not “Prophet of God.”
Her comment on Jesus’ lack of a bucket comes on the heels of him saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” That’s Jesus’ way of saying, “I have everything you need.”
A perfect set-up for her response: “Man, you don’t even have a bucket!”
In her mind, possessing a bucket is the essential ingredient to giving someone refreshing water. And here is this bucket-less dude telling her he can give her water that will forever satiate her thirst. Maybe if he came with a bucket, it’d be at least plausible. He might be good at other things—but he’s failing the entry level exam of Water-Giving 101.
I get it. I understand this Samaritan woman because I make the same accusation of Jesus nearly on a daily basis.
The gospel speaks over me, “I can redeem you from the pit of depression, Mike.”
My reply? “You don’t even have a bucket, Jesus!”
I’m sure he’s great at telling stories, dying for people, and all that stuff, but he probably doesn’t understand biology. If he did, he’d have brought a “bucket” in the form of medicine, or psycho-therapy, or something that at least makes him look like he understands the darkness of depression. Stick to what you know, Jesus.
But here he is, sans bucket, thinking he can give me what I need. Who does this guy think he is?
“If you knew who it was who was speaking to you….”
Maybe he’s not the fool; maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s my eyesight. Is it possible that I’m conversing with the One who can draw water without a bucket? Since I’m the one who is broken, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to assume that I’ve got the answers for what I need. Maybe a bucket isn’t what I need at all, and I’m so focused on Jesus’ lack of a bucket that my eyes are blind to what I really need. Maybe he knows something that I don’t.
I’m pretty sure the Samaritan woman got it. After really coming to grips with who Jesus actually is, “the woman left her water jar and went away into town” and told everybody about Jesus. She learned that the pre-requisite to giving this water isn’t bucket-possession, instead it’s knowing the Water Giver. Now she’s bucketless and yet giving people water, just like Jesus.
“And Mike left his water jar…”
Lord, may it be so.