“If you please,” she challenged Jesus, “you don’t have a bucket and this well is deep. Where do you expect to get this ‘living water’? Surely you don’t pretend to be greater than our ancestors Leah and Rachel and Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with their descendants and flocks?” Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty; no, the water I give will become fountains within them, springing up to provide eternal life.” ~ John 4:11-14
In Aesop's fable of the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty crow encounters a pitcher of water with a narrow neck that is too deep for the crow to drink from. The crow solves the problem by dropping stones into the pitcher, raising the water level until it is high enough for the crow to drink.
Crows are known for their intelligence and tool-use abilities, including using sticks to extract insects from crevices and even bending wires to create hooks for fishing. So it is quite possible that the fable is based on observed behavior. So we ought to think twice before using “bird-brained” as an insult. Humans have larger brains as a percentage of their overall mass, but like so many animals in the wild, crows are exceptional clever at getting the most out of what God gave them.
In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Jesus engages with a woman who is marginalized because of her gender, ethnicity, and social status. Yet, she demonstrates agency and ingenuity when she engages in conversation with Jesus, challenging him and ultimately sharing her testimony with her community.
This story is often interpreted as an example of Jesus breaking down social barriers and offering radical hospitality. But notice how Jesus leads this woman to find her confidence and strength. Surely it is better to understand empowerment not as the powerful granting power to the oppressed, but rather removing the obstacles and allowing folks to find their inherent strength. Clearly, Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman’s spiritual thirst was a strong as her physical thirst, so all he needed to do was convince her that she had the power to quench it.
Prayer: Thirst-quencher, shows us the way to use what we have and who we are to find the fountain of living water. Amen.