Preparing for Resurrection
By Zane Yi
“Sir, give me some of this water.”
The unnamed woman unexpectedly encounters Jesus at the well and is fascinated by him. But her response to his offer of giving her “living water” reveals that she doesn’t really understand what Jesus is talking about. They are using the same words to talk about different things. Her request for water is motivated by a purely practical concern. She wants relief from a daily chore (John 4:15). Jesus wants to give her so much more.
The mismatch between what the woman wants and what Jesus offers represents the problem with human desire generally. What we want is not necessarily what God wants. And this frequently causes us to misunderstand what God is offering us. We hear and read what we want into God’s invitation.
Often we gather to worship a god we hope will satisfy our desires, instead of questioning the desires themselves. God becomes a means, a way to get what we want. God, thus, becomes a captive to our desires, which are too often too small, disordered, and manipulated by external forces. (There’s a reason companies spend billions of dollars on advertising!)
This is one of the reasons many Christians around the world deliberately spend time preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. They do so by thinking about and dealing with their desires. Different religions deal with desire differently. Some teach that the object of desire, i.e. the physical world, is the ultimately problem and must avoided or escaped. Others think that desire itself is the problem and must be extinguished.
The Christian understanding of fasting assumes nor attempts neither. Rather, by avoiding certain things that consume our attention, we are inviting God to expand, re-order, and transform our desires for God and God’s kingdom.
In ancient times, the primary concern was gathering food and water, which was needed for survival. Fasting for a given period of time, was a reminder and statement that there’s more to life than bread and drink. But today, we have these, as well as other concerns. And dealing with them will help us learn to desire the water Jesus is actually offering us.
What’s consuming your life at the moment and how might God want to transform your thirst this Easter?