Jars of Clay

Jars of Clay

So he [Jesus] came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food). John 4:5-7 (NIV)

While we, in today’s society, enjoy great conveniences like running water from multiple faucets in our homes, and have an abundance of inexpensive “jars” for water, that is not the case for most people around Jesus’s time. Here you see a woman coming to the public well to draw water for her household. To do this she would carry a personal water jar to the water source. Water jars and pots were not only expensive in that time of history, but they were also treasured because they represented the human condition, that is, being somewhat fragile, made from the dust of ground, and intended to contain Holy Spirit—which is often represented by water in the Bible. This cultural allegory between water jars and human bodies gave water jars special meaning that was beyond monetary value.

The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Even though the Samaritan woman knew the cultural significance and allegorical meanings behind water and clay jars, Jesus went one obvious step further to pique her interest in salvation by grace by elaborating on the water topic. In reading her response we see how Jesus’s ploy worked:

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? ...The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." John 4:11,15 (NIV)

Soon after this point the woman leaves her water jar to go to the city and tell other people about the Messiah:

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" John 4:28-29

Upon receiving the words of Jesus about the coming Holy Spirit and the truth that he was the Messiah who would bring fountains of living water, the woman abandoned the cultural ties to the water jar—indicating a “limited supply” under the Law of Moses—for the New Deal of unlimited supply coming her way by believing on the Messiah, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Written by : Craig Stellpflug

Life Giving water
Just reading through the Word of God without thinking of the culture at the time blinds us to the significance of things like the a water pot. We must stop and think when we read the Word, meditate on it. God enlightens us. Thanks Craig for a great post.

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