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The Scriptorium

How's That?

The woman doesn't understand. She will.

The Gospel of John: John 4.1-15

Read and meditate on John 4.11, 12.
Jesus clearly delights to sow confusion into people’s minds. We saw Him do this when confronted about His cleansing of the temple, as well as when He talked with Nicodemus. Now here again, He scrambles the brains of this woman, so that He can set them right in Him.

                                                   11Then the woman to
Him said, “Sir, You have nothing by which to
draw water, and the well is deep. How do
You plan to get that ‘living water’? 12Are 
You greater than our father Jacob, for
he gave this well to us, and drank from it
himself, and all his sons and livestock?”

- John 4.11, 12

1. Just like Nicodemus, this woman is confronted by a conundrum: How can this Jewish Man get water, when He has nothing with which to draw it? How can you see that this woman has not quite made the jump from temporal to eternal maters?  Complete this prayer: I know it takes time, Lord, for some people to…

2.  It’s also clear that she has decided that whatever living water is, it’s not coming from this well. He claims to be able to give it, but He has nothing with which to draw water from this deep well. So where will He get living water? Where, indeed? Lord, you can bring living water into any situation, any person, so today…

3.  What’s the one-word answer to the woman’s question in verse 12? Why? Lord Jesus, You are greater than…

4.  There’s a bit of “Who do You think You are?” about the woman’s question in verse 12. She sees herself as heir to a venerable tradition, which she clings to as of some significance. Do people in our day get stuck in traditions, ways of thinking, or perceived rights and privileges, that cause them to have a hard time shaking loose from these to receive the gift of God? Explain. Lord, I need to understand the things people cling to for meaning and significance, because…

5.  The woman appears to have become a little combative at this point. She pulls out the “tradition card” to trump Jesus’ (the Jewish Man) claim about living water. Do you ever find that people can get a little combative when spiritual issues are the focus of a conversation? Why is that? How should we respond at such times? Bring together your prayers from questions 1-4 into one prayer.

“This well is clearly the grace of the Spirit, a stream proceeding from the living fountain. The Holy Spirit, then, is also the fountain of eternal life.… This water, the grace of the Spirit, is so refreshing. Who will give this fountain to my breast? Let it spring up in me, let what gives eternal life flow on me. Let that fountain overflow on us and not flow away.… How shall I keep this water so that it does not flow or glide away?” Ambrose of Milan (333-397 AD)

People can become uneasy and even a little combative if they feel like their cherished way of life is being threatened, especially by anyone making claims they can’t figure out. But should this surprise us? Why not?

Closing Prayer
God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
Every one of them has turned aside;
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 53.2-6

Psalm 53 (Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God at all!”
Corrupt are they in whole and part, unjust and small.
Not one of them does good; God sees their wicked ways.
None understands the Word of God or gives Him praise.

Have all these wicked men no knowledge of God’s grace?
The Church they hate with passion and seek not God’s face.
Lord, strike their hearts with fear, where fear was not before.
And scatter all who camp so near Your holy door.

The wicked flee in shame; their ways our God rejects.
Renew Your people in Your Name with great effects.
Let great rejoicing sound once we renewed have been,
And let salvation’s Word resound from us again!

T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, can show you how Jesus is central to all aspects of life in the world – and beyond! Our course is free, and you can study at your own pace, watching videos and using the free materials provided.

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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