for teen camp this year, we've been diving into the book of Hebrews (not an easy book to understand let me say) and thinking about our theme "better."
"For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken it's place. And that is how we draw near to God." -Hebrews 7:19
If something is better, it has to be compared to something else. I was thinking about this as I was reading a story in John 4, about a Samaritan woman. In it, it speaks of a woman in the first century who, in my opinion, is trapped. She is trapped because she is a woman, and in that culture, at that time, women were not treated with much dignity... She is also a promiscuous woman, having many husbands, giving away of herself to many yet lacking one who can satisfy her need for security. She has a daily ritual of going to the water well to fetch water right in the heat of the day. This is her duty. This is her life...
One day, as she is going to do her daily task of getting well water, she finds a man sitting there at the well. This is where our story picks up...
She notices that he's an out-of-towner...not one of her own kind. She was hoping that she could just get her water, and leave quickly without having any sort of confrontation with the man. Much to her surprise, the man spoke to her. "Please give me a drink," he says. The woman replies "why are you speaking to me, can't you see the difference between us...you don't talk to people like me, and yet you are asking me for a drink." Then the man turned things personal and made a bold claim, "if you knew who I am, and the gift I have for you, you would as me for a drink, because I have living water." Thinking the man was talking about the well the woman replied, "you don't even have a bucket or rope, look how deep this well is...where would you get this 'living water' you speak of... besides, this well was built by Jacob, (arrogantly) yeah, maybe you've heard of him, Jacob, the great ancestor of ours. Jacob dug, drank, distributed, and delighted in this water, how can you have better than this?" Again, the man calmly made a bold statement..."People become thirsty again after drinking this water...but the water I have, you drink it, and it takes away your thirst." He caught her attention now, "please! give me some of that water," the woman replied.
For the woman, the thought of a quenched thirst, the thought of leaving the laborious chore of coming to the well in the heat of the day everyday enthralled her. She wanted what was better.
After continuing their rich conversation, the woman eventually realizes that what she really wants, what she really needs, is this mysterious man who seemed to find her. She left her water jar at the well, signifying she had traded in what she thought would satisfy her for this offered living water, for what was better. She juxtaposed what she had, and what the man offered, and came to the conclusion that what he had was better... She, excitedly, rushed to find some people to share in her joy, and said, "Come! meet the person who told me everything I ever did!" Deep within her, her soul cried out with joy because she had met someone who knew her better than herself. Not only that, but she had met someone who released her from her prison of dissatisfaction. She met the living water, better life, better hope, better promise, and better choice.
"now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God."