“To carry someone’s water” means serving, assisting, or performing menial or difficult tasks for some person, group, or organization. This term typically connotes a negative social sentiment. Of course, as Christians, we never should allow a negative social sentiment to impede our obedience to Jesus, our Master (Luke 17:13). But, today, I would like to consider a different meaning for carrying someone’s water. Let me explain.
Jesus Represented a Servant
As we know, during the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:7-23), Jesus “…laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” Jesus changed His garments so that He would represent a servant. And the act that He did was a task usually assigned to servants. He pickup up a bucket of water and carried it. He was, in truth, Jesus carried the water for His disciples. When He completed this task, He said:
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[a] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. – John 13:15-16
From the example that Jesus gave us, we should see that Jesus hasn’t asked us to do something that He hadn’t done. With that said, there’s something beautiful, factually or allegorically, in the work of carrying someone’s water. Let’s take a quick peek in the book of Ruth, chapter two:
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”Ruth 2:8-9 (ESV emphasis added)
For anyone that likes romance stories, you should read the book of Ruth. For now, consider verses eight and nine. The marvelous documentary contained in Ruth has this tiny vignette: And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.
We could preach a whole sermon on this single phrase, but let me say this: Without the young men carrying up water from the well, Boaz could not have given this exceptional privilege to Ruth. The Pulpit Commentary states:
But Boaz made Ruth free, and thus conferred on her a distinguishing privilege, that must have been at once most acceptable and most valuable.
When we look at Christ’s genealogy, we find Ruth (Matthew 1:5). Praise God for those men that carried water for Ruth! We never know how our task from Jesus, no matter how menial it may appear, might connect God’s miraculous to humanity’s needs.
[a] Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)
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