Saturday, March 1, 2014


When I was a little boy my family's home was on a lot on a corner of my maternal grandparents' farm in Michigan.  Apparently Gramma and Grampa Lorenz had given a small lot to my family as well as to an aunt and uncle who lived next door.  So while technically I did not grow up on a farm, it was only 100 or so feet behind us and their farm house was not more than a half mile down the road.

But walking down that half mile was like stepping back in time.  My grandparents' house was old and not furnished with all the modern amenities that our house was.  They had no indoor plumbing and no running water.  Gramma did her cooking on a wood-burning stove.  Water was furnished from a well which was located just off the front porch and on top of which sat a wooden platform with a huge (to me) forest green cast iron pump.  Sometimes I would be assigned to fetch the water.  I would affix a porcelainized steel pail by its wire handle to the top of the spout projecting from the front of the pump and pump the handle up and down while a beautiful stream of clear cool water filled the pail.

Then with both hands I'd struggle to carry the pail in and place it on a shelf near the door.  On a smaller shelf just above the pail sat a porcelainized dipper.  Whenever anyone desired a drink, they'd dip the dipper in the water and place it to their lips.  When finished they'd shake it off and replace it on its shelf for the use of the next person.

We all drank out of the same dipper.

Later in life when I moved to Texas, I heard the expression, "He drinks from the dipper," used I suppose to describe a person who was just a regular guy, no better nor worse than the rest of us, one who did not feel he was above sharing in the normal matters of life with others.

Whenever I read the story of Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman at a well as John relates it in the 4th chapter of his gospel, my mind returns to the above thoughts.  A portion of the story is as follows:

"He had to pass through Samaria.  He comes then into a town of Samaria called Sychar ... There was in that place the well of Jacob.  Jesus, since He was worn out from the journey was sitting thus on the well.  It was about 6 in the evening.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

Jesus says to her, 'Give me a drink.'  (His disciples had gone into town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman says to Him, 'How do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?  Jews do not use things in common with Samaritans!'"  (John 4:4-9)

[NOTE:  I translated "the 6th hour" as 6 P.M.  John appears to use Roman time rather than Palestinian reckoning - see 19:14.  I also translated the Greek word sunchraomai as "use things in common" rather than the usual "have dealings with."  Obviously the disciples were "dealing with" the Samaritans to purchase food.]

The woman was astounded by Jesus' request for a number of reasons:

Jesus was a Jew - probably obvious to her by his tasseled garment - while she was a member of a group shunned by Jews for what was regarded by them as a corrupt religion and a corrupted mixed race.

Jesus was a man.  Jewish (and probably Samaritan) men did not speak to women 

publicly. This even was surprising to His disciples on their return later, as John says in verse 27:  "... they were amazed that He was talking with a woman."

She was also probably carrying some shame concerning her past and present marital/sexual activity.  Of course she didn't know till later in the conversation that Jesus knew all about her "checkered" past.  Verse 18:  "... you've had five husbands and the one whom you now have isn't your husband!"

She was apparently carrying a single water jug (verse 28). The only way for Him to get a drink from her would be to put her water jug to His lips.  He was asking to drink from her "dipper"!

While people of the first century were not germ-phobic as the people of our day are - they knew nothing about germs - the orthodox Jews were even more fearful of ritual defilement.  And this would have been that - big time.

There's much more to this story, but this simple request of Jesus is, I believe a metaphor for what He had done in His incarnation.  He, as preexistent God, took on Himself humanity.  He wasn't afraid of "contamination."  He became one of us.  He drank from the dipper!

So if Jesus could drink from the dipper, shouldn't we who claim to be His followers do the same?  Jesus broke down all sorts of barriers in this simple story:  racial barriers, religious barriers, gender barriers, barriers based on sexual behavior.

Do we?

1 comment:

Cay said...

Until we good an electric pump about 12 years ago at the WI cabin, we always had a dipper hanging right on the pump !!! We still have a little house out back. You really should plan to come up this summer and see God's country. I'd even give you directions….