Friday, November 2, 2012

Lost in Translation

Recently, I have discovered a free online Interlinear Bible (Hebrew, Greek, and English) and I'm in heaven...actually...kind of literally! One thing I've learned is, A LOT is lost in translation. I mean, a lot. There are so many awesome nuggets of wisdom, truth, emotion, and inspiration that the English language just can not contain. I've been dissecting the book of John with my D-Group (discipleship group), delving in a chapter a week. This past week was chapter 4 and what I found was just too good not to share with all of you. This may end up being my longest, rambling post yet but just bare with me. I encourage you to read the chapter in it's entirety because I'm going to skip a few verses here and there. Which, if you're like me, means you have to make time to read the whole book. (Am I the only one like that??) Praying the Word comes alive for you like it has me this past week.

Chapter 4 of John is mostly about the Samaritan woman at the well. and that's mostly what this post will be about. It starts off in verse 5 saying Jesus came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near Jacob's well. Being about 6 pm Jesus was weary and set by the well. Take note of that word, "weary" I'll come back to it.

I'm probably going to say the word, "interesting" in this post a gazillion times but I really have no other word to describe how, well, interesting this whole chapter has been. The first time I thought it was when I discovered what the name "Sychar" means. It literally means, "drunken." Huh. Really? There was a town that actually means drunken? Isn't it interesting that of all places to use an analogy about drinking living water Jesus stopped by a town called Drunken? And that of all places, He sat at a well and asked a woman, from the city of Drunken for, of all things, a drink? And then teaches and eventually brings eternal life to most of the Drunken town with an analogy about drinking. Living water, that is.

So Jesus is weary and seeing a woman coming to draw water (Ha! Like He didn't know she would be coming) He asks her for a drink. He didn't ask her for just any drink. The word "drink" used in verse 7 means, "to drink figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh or strengthen it into life eternal." It's actually the same word used in John 7:37- "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." Why would Jesus ask a Samaritan woman from a Drunken city for an eternal life kind of drink? No wonder the Samaritan woman said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Why are you asking me? You're a Jew, I'm a Samaritan, what do I know about the eternal life kind of drink?"

Now if this Man had been any other Jew, well for starters, he wouldn't have asked for a drink because we all know Jews didn't talk to Samaritans, but say he was just some other Samaritan. How would this conversation have gone down? Would she have said, "Sure I'll get you a drink, even though I've been working all day and have to haul up my own water and then carry it (most likely on her head, I mean hello) all the way back down into town." From verse 20 we know she's on a mountain. Or would she have been a little less sarcastic and just have ignored him or told him no or even would she have just gotten him a drink? I didn't go do a ton of research on all the customs of the day so I don't know what she would have said. My point is, for her, this is just another day in the life. She probably would never, in a million years, considered asking what Jesus suggested. He says to her in verse 10, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

On a side note. Do you remember the day He came into your life? Was it like hers and so many others He encountered while He walked this earth? Was it out of the complete blue? One day you're just getting water the next day, BAM He's saving you from a pit of despair you never thought you'd be free from or maybe never even knew you were in. It's a beautiful thing, to encounter Him. We see it so often. But how different her's is from Nathan's. You can read about his encounter here.

So she makes it clear to everyone reading the story thousands of years later that she really didn't get it. Like, at all. She says to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You..."

Let me stop here and expound on that word, "well." It has different meanings throughout this chapter. In verse 6 (describing where they are) and 14 (when Jesus is speaking) the word "well" literally means "a well, or a fountain fed by a spring of water." But when she uses the word in verses 11 and 12 it means, "the pit of the abyss." She saw the pit, not the living water. She saw the condition of her life not what He was offering her. How could He draw the living water out of that? It's all she had ever known. It's all her forefathers had ever known. And she didn't get that He was the Messiah yet. She's honestly a little slow on the uptake but I love that because aren't we all at times? He doesn't give up on her. Instead, He reiterates in verse 13, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again." Hmm. This water and anything else y'all been drinking up in the city of Drunken.

Still not realizing who she's talking to she says in verse 15, "Sir," not Messiah or Savior or anything, else because in her mind He's still this crazy Jew who's actually talking to a Samaritan, "give me this water, so I will not be thirsty" and have to climb all the way up this blasted mountain everyday and carry a giant water pot on my head all the way back down. OK, OK I paraphrased that last bit. It's just very obvious that she still does not get what Jesus is talking about. It's not really liquid water. But that's OK. If all else fails all He has to do is tell her something about herself that she already knows but knows He doesn't know, thereby a miracle for Him to know and be able to tell her. Make sense?

It's clear she doesn't get the analogy but it's really probably for all of our benefit that He used it anyway. This is that part where they have the whole, "you're not married but have been married five times but you're living with a man you're not married to" conversation. It's really a beautiful thing that of all people, He used her to save an entire city. But that's who He is and what He's about so it's not surprising at all.

He tells her all about herself but does she get it? Mmm not quite, but she's getting warmer. Verse 19, again with the Sir, "I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Aaaaa bitter much? First of all what the heck does that have to do with anything? I mean really, that is so besides the point. But you know how we get when the Holy Spirit comes and convicts us. That moment the Light shines into a hidden part of our soul that was hidden for a reason, because it was ugly! We, or I guess I should say, I tend to squirm a bit. I sometimes get a little uncomfortable and try and change the subject to get that Light off myself and remind Him of all the wrongs done to me! After all she says, "Our fathers have worshiped here for generations. It's Jacob's well for crying out loud. He built it, drank from it, and fed his cattle from it but it's not good enough for you people who say we have to worship in Jerusalem or we can't worship at all." OK she, practically says that.

This is where it starts to get really good. Jesus cuts straight to the heart of the matter and again I feel like His words aren't just for her. They are for us: "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Alright here's what I think. She probably looked at Him with an extremely perplexed expression, not unlike many Jesus spoke to I'm sure. Before I move on I'd like to point out that Jesus knew she didn't know. I mean He even says it, "You worship what you do not know." She doesn't know anything about worshiping God and even after conversing WITH God she still didn't get it. But that's not the point. The Jews got salvation but only after thousands of years of having it pounded into their heads and many still missed it. But that's not the point either. It's not about where, whether on the mountain, in Jerusalem, or on a house or with a mouse or in a box in red socks. An hour is coming, and now is. All. The. Time. When the true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth. That part was for me and you. But back to her.

Does she get it? And by "It" I mean does she see HIM? Does she perceive He is her's? Does her soul wake up and see that He sees her. All that she is? All that she was created to be? Does she realize who she is talking to like He said way back in verse 10? *sigh* Sadly, no. She does not. Again, she tells Him what she knows. Which is nothing. At all. It's almost painful to see. After those beautiful words tumble from His beautiful lips she says, like an eager student to prove she's not a ding bat, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ; when that one comes He will declare all things to us." Oh precious child. How she is loved! For He says, "I who speak to you am He." Please know I am not judging this woman. I am this woman. Have been this woman. Except for the five husbands thing, I know what it is like to see and not perceive. To hear but not understand. I know what it is to be loved by Him despite my idiocy.

"I who speak to you am He." At this point the disciples walk up and are amazed that He's speaking to her, which amazes me. I mean, hasn't He done enough amazing things by now to just trust in every single move He makes and every word He speaks without wondering what the heck He's doing and why and doesn't He know He's not supposed to do it? At least they've learned by now to keep their mouths shut (vrs 27). So she leaves. And maybe that's why He seems to me to be a little perturbed with His disciples. I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have seen exactly what happened. She leaves her pot too. He just told her who He is. And it's clear she still doesn't get it because later she tells the men in Drunken to come see a man who told her all the things that she has ever done and "this is not the Christ, is it?" Is it?

In my heart I believe that her heart must have been doing some crazy flip flops. Something had to have happened in her heart for her to be able to convince all those men to climb up that mountain. She must have been beautiful so that probably helped, but still. It was a mountain that they had to climb and even Jesus was weary from climbing it and He was probably climbing down.

"Meanwhile." Love that word here. It's like watching a movie right? Or a TV show. Two perspectives at once. She's talking to all the men and meanwhile the disciples were urging Jesus to eat something. And this next bit made my heart ache to the point I had to take a break from studying it. If you're still reading this I congratulate you and thank you. Please bare with me a bit longer.

In verse 32 Jesus does His thing, ya know, confusing the disciples and often all of us (Ha!) with riddles. "I have food to eat that you do not know about." Food. What might have appeared to be an exhausting, exasperating, in all probability pointless conversation with someone was actually, according to the Hebrew translation of that word "food," the soul's food, either which refreshes the soul, or nourishes and supports it. It's the same word used in John 6:55, "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink." And John 6:27, "Do not work for that which perishes but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you , for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Again, the same Hebrew word for, "eating" used in  Romans 14:17, " for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." And the same as in 2 Cor. 9:10, " Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness."

This soul nourishing food is Jesus. It comes from Jesus. And the Father. And the Holy Spirit. It's supplied by Him, cultivated in us by Him and the harvest, in turn, is His food. His food was to do the Father's will, which was to accomplish His work. Which was to save all of us. So who are we to say, "There is yet four months to harvest" (vrs 35). For behold, "lift up your eyes" the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing. Say, as the men from Samaria, "we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world" (vrs 42).