Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction
Christian based service movement warning about threats to rights and freedom irrespective of the label, Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
Edmund Burke

Science of the Social Credit Measured in Terms of Human Satisfaction

The Water of Life (from the Gospel of John)

November 2004

What follows, after the first paragraph, is simply a naïve reading of the Gospel of John. The treatment is exactly the same as I have used in my essays on movies by Kurosawa and Miyazaki. The story's historicity is not a matter of concern to me. If it is historical, we still only participate in history by empathy, so the process of getting the meat out of it is exactly the same as it would be for a Kurosawa movie. If the story were proved to be a fiction, I would still live with all my heart as if it were true. The meat, the food for the soul, is the only thing that matters; and the soul knows whether that is true or not.

A king was born in obscurity in a faire countrie. His name was Jesus. For thirty years he lived the life of an ordinary peasant in the Lake Country. He practiced subsistence agriculture, fished, tended sheep, and sometimes helped his father in the wood shop. While fishing and tending sheep, he read the Bible -- the poems and stories of his country. This once-godly land was now ruled by Mammon. King Jesus saw his people suffer horribly but swallowed it all down and bided his time.

When our story opens, our hero is about thirty, and there is a commotion in the south. A rough saint comes out of the desolate places that have been his abode and begins to talk against the government -- a thing you don't lightly do. He is called John and in fact he is quite a spellbinder. The people are like smoking flax to his words. A radical conservative, John promises them that the evil rulers will be put down and a godly kingdom restored. He calls them to gird their loins, practice austerities, confess their sins, and be baptized in readiness for -- what exactly? They seem to be ready for an uprising.

Jesus comes down to hear this saint and mingles with the crowd. He even lines up to be baptized with the rest, but when his turn comes, John publicly declares the he, Jesus, is the One they are getting ready for, the king. If he wished, Jesus could make a bid for power this day. But he doesn't. He merely picks off five men to be his knights (for all that they go on foot), and they all make the two-day trek back north to the Lake Country. John is disappointed; but it proves a wise move on Jesus' part, because John is shortly thereafter arrested and imprisoned for treason.

The day after their return, they accompany Jesus' mother to a wedding, where Jesus does a little miracle. She complains, "They are out of wine", as if to say, "You've let them run out of wine, and my friend's reputation will suffer." He answers, "You must not tell me what to do, woman. My time has not yet come," in other words, "Don't rush me!" Then he quietly turns water into the most marvelous wine, and the mystified bridegroom's honor, far from being tarnished, is greater than ever because this wine was brought out last--not just last but at the very last possible moment, not just when the wine was running low but when it had run out entirely and the guests were saying, "Well, I really must be going. Maseltov and all that!" The best last reveals an end that is a new beginning, just as a wedding is both an end and a new beginning in the lives of a man and a woman. Joy is a need, and so the king lends himself to a joyous occasion for his first miracle to make it more joyous. It contrasts him with the austere John.

In the spring of that first year, King Jesus goes up to his capital, taking the Five with him, for the national holiday. The church1 battens on the people, coercing them into spending their hard-earned money on animals to be cruelly and pointlessly sacrificed on God's altar. Jesus' heart goes out both to the people and to the innocent animals. Making a whip, like one with authority, he drives the animals to freedom and wreaks havoc among the stalls of their traders. The people love him for this and for "mighty works" (presumably healings, for when he returns to the Lake Country, he has the reputation of a healer) that he does there. If only he will lead them, they are ready to rise up. But he refuses.

What sort of kingdom is this? A churchman, Nicodemus, comes to him secretly at night. Jesus tells him the kingdom will come by people's being born again of water and the Spirit. (John had said the king would baptize with the Spirit.) He also tells him that those who are born again of the Spirit can move things invisibly like the wind. Hence they can do healings and other miracles.2

Jesus and the Five leave the city and baptize in the rural districts. It is then than John is arrested and imprisoned. Is Jesus sure he can control the forces he is unleashing? Jesus has an even greater following than John, and John's followers may be looking to this rabble to spring their master. And if the rabble looks like getting out of hand, what will the authorities do? Jesus and the Five wisely withdraw across the frontier into the heathen country of Samaria.

This king has the heart of a poet, and he here introduces the first of several great, radiant metaphors. He offers a local woman "living water" -- drinking of which, he says, she will never thirst again, for it will become in her a spring of eternal life.3 This gives further reflection on the first miracle, for wine would be an apt symbol for "living water."

He tells her to ask for this water, and she does ask for it. He minds her of her sin (cohabitation), and she confesses it. He says God, whom he calls "the Father," is to not to be worshipped in religious rites on a mountaintop or in the capital but "in spirit and in truth." She goes to town to bring others.

While she is absent, he extends the metaphor to ripening grain: "My food [the food I give, as well as the food I myself eat] is to obey the will of him who sent me. . . . The crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested, . . . the crops for eternal life." That is, even this heathen people are ready to hear the Father's will and do it and receive the nourishment thereof. That must be what it is to worship "in spirit and in truth." I cannot but believe that the woman receives the living water and the living food, and her townsmen as well; for they all believe in him, and he stays among them for two days.

Maybe in offering her "living water," Jesus is offering to baptize her, and maybe he does baptize her either personally or through one of the Five. This would become in her a spring of eternal life, would it not? That's a beginning. But does that spring gush or only trickle? It would then be up to her to dig down into it if she wants it to become a real gusher.

Jesus then returns to the Lake Country. His reputation as a healer has preceded him. A man begs him to come to a neighboring town where his boy is dying of a fever. He is a government man, therefore necessarily collaborating with the oppressors; but Jesus simply says, "Go, your son will live," the man goes, and his son lives. He heals him at a distance invisibly, just like he told Nicodemus. The gospeler tells us, "The man believed Jesus' words and went." How does the gospeler know the man believed? Because he went.

The king has begun to heal his people. Their bodies, but above all, their hearts need healing. He always sees the deeper pain beneath the surface, the hurt heart, the personal tragedy, the desperate subterfuges, and the shame. The Samaritan woman has no physical ailment, but hers is a sad story: she has had five husbands and is now with a sixth man. The government man, to have a better life for himself and his family, has compromised himself with the evil bureaucracy. Both will now reconsider how they live.

About this time, John is murdered in prison on the orders of Herod. The situation is getting tense. This does not bode well for Jesus. He must be careful, but at the same time, he will not be deflected one inch from carrying out his mission.

In the spring of the second year of his mission, the king again goes up to his capital for the national holiday. Coming upon a lifelong invalid Jesus says, "Get up, pick up your mat, and walk." The man doesn't even know who Jesus is, and under the blue laws it is illegal to carry a mat on Sunday. But something induces the man to obey, and behold, he is cured.

When the churchmen complain to Jesus about this, he says, "The Father is himself the source of life. . . . I can do nothing on my own." In calling God "the Father" and "my Father," Jesus is likening the Almighty to a human father and to himself. He will frequently use this for an a fortiori argument: "If even you know to do such and such for your children, how much more will the Father, etc." But the churchmen see this as blasphemy, and from this point on they start plotting to assassinate him.

The king returns to Galilee. He has by this time increased the number of his knights to Twelve. They all ascend a grassy knoll, and a great crowd follows. There, King Jesus takes a bit of food in his hands, and it increases till it feeds all. That day, again, he could make a bid for power if he wanted to. They are ready to crown him, put him at their head, and rise up; but he gives them the slip in the hills.

The Twelve precede him to Capernaum, leaving him a boat. Naturally, the people who are looking for him are keeping an eye on the boat. Night falls, the sky is overcast, and the wind whips up waves and spray. Visibility on the lake is poor. His pursuers think they have him cornered, but he eludes them by disappearing in a direction they did not imagine he could go -- straight out across the lake.4 We often read of Jesus mysteriously evading pursuers. Here, I think, we see it close up. I can't imagine that the water is supporting his feet, so he is not literally "walking." He is hovering with his feet on the water's surface, and this ability of his body to hover could be the clue to his other Houdiniesque escapes.

Symbolically, the image suggests one who is in the world but not of it, touching the material world but not losing himself in it. Also, the calm image of "walking" amid warring elements suggests one whose spirit, as well as body, is at peace amid the world's turmoil.

The crowd catches up with him the next day at Capernaum. In the church there he again speaks of living food and drink, as he did in Samaria. He says: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Then he says: "The bread that I will give him is my flesh. . . . My flesh is the real food, my blood is the real drink." This is a fiercely personal metaphor, but is what he offers here really different from what he offered the Samaritan woman at the well? If his flesh is the bread of life, is not his blood the water of life -- the spring of eternal life he spoke of earlier? But there is still a new dimension here. As their king, he is offering them everything he has, body and soul; and we here for the first time get the sense that this costs him something personally, that it hurts.

He and his knights go up to his capital again that year for the Harvest Festival, traveling incognito. To acclaim the pseudo king was now outlawed by the church on penalty of excommunication. As a result, people do not talk about him openly. About half way through the festival, Jesus begins to speak publicly, and the churchmen send guards to arrest him. The churchmen are afraid of what the government will do if it becomes nervous. But the guards can't bring themselves to carry out their commission.

At the climax of the feast, he says in the capital what he had said in Samaria and Galilee: "Whoever is thirsty should come to me and drink. As the scripture says, 'Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will pour out from his heart'." The text comments, "Jesus said this about the Spirit, which . . . had not yet been given." I can well believe Jesus was referring to the Spirit -- the same Spirit he spoke to Nicodemus about, that moves things invisibly like the wind and works healings and other miracles.5 But I cannot believe that the Spirit had not yet been given; for he told the Samaritan woman to ask for it, and in other gospels we are told that his knights did healings.

The next day, he introduces a new metaphor: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life" -- the living light, like the living water. How does one receive this light, this water, this life? He says, "Whoever obeys my message will never die," like "My food is to obey the will of him who sent me." Whatever the content of that message and that will may be, this is a call to do something, to walk in a new way, to live by new rules.

So far this trip, the king has kept a low profile. He gave out that he was not going, then went secretly, then waited till the feast was half over to begin to speak, and refrained from miracles. On the eve of his departure, however, a Sunday, he does one miracle, and it is in specific illustration of his new metaphor of light. He smears mud in the eyes of a man blind from birth and, as always, he gives him a little something to do: tells him to wash it off in a certain pool. The man obeys, and suddenly his world is full of light. This triggers action from the churchmen. They question the man, who says, "Unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do a thing," whereupon they excommunicate the fellow.

Before departing the city, he leaves them with one more metaphor. As before he called himself their food and water, now he calls himself the shepherd who leads the sheep out to pasture and likewise the door whereby they go. He is trying so hard to get through to them. He is the grass, the water, the breath, the light, the shepherd, the door. He is everything they need. He is life itself. As before he hinted that his giving of himself cost him something, here he says the shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep.

The king and his knights return to their beloved Lake Country; but December sees them again in the city, where Jesus narrowly survives an attempt on his life. He escapes across the Jordan into the neighboring province. There, however, news reaches him from the province he has just left that a dear friend of his, one Lazarus, has fallen seriously ill and is near death. He says, "We're going back." "Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!" says Sir Thomas, one of the Twelve. They are under no illusions what awaits them if they return. There is a price on all their heads.

So they reenter Judea and make their way to Lazarus' town, only to find he is already dead and in the ground. But what was this water of life, this bread of life, this light of life, this breath of life -- what was it all for if not for this? Jesus tells them to roll the stone away, and they do it. He calls, "Lazarus, come out!" and he comes out. Jesus has now done, very publicly, the most outrageous of miracles. The churchmen say, "If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Roman authorities will take action and destroy the temple and our whole nation." Any doubts about taking Jesus out are now erased. What if he is the king? All the worse: he threatens to destroy their way of life. Jesus and his knights don't leave the province but withdraw to a remote area and set up their winter camp.

The spring of the third year of his mission, Jesus again goes up to the capital for the national holiday. Nothing will keep him away. So great is his fame since the raising of Lazarus that crowds follow him, including even heathen Greeks. The latter he accepts, likening them to sprouting grains that "die in the ground" to yield many-fold. It is reminiscent of the way he spoke of the heathen in Samaria: "The crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested." Revisiting his metaphor of light, he tells them, "Believe in the light, then, while you have it, so that you will be the people of the light." He clearly senses that he is going to his death this time.

He slips the crowd and has supper with the Twelve. Breaking a social rule, he washes their feet. He knows that one of them, Sir Judas, has been turned by the churchmen. There is a moment when the two are face to face, and Judas knows that he knows, then exits. Jesus says, "The ruler of this world is coming." He tells the Eleven that he is leaving them, says that they will have a new relationship with the Father, who loves them. He tells them over and over to love one another, not just in thought but in deeds, just as he did when he washed their feet and just as he did every time he healed a person. Love brushes away the rule of social superiors, just as it brushes away the law that would forbid healing on a Sunday. Thus understood, "Love one another" is a really radical and dangerous command.

They change location (to buy a little time?), and he introduces a new metaphor: "I am the vine, you are the branches. . . . A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. . . . Remain in my love. . . . Love one another." The sap that flows through the vine into the grapes is indeed like the water of life that he has spoken of under so many different metaphors. And as he once spoke of it as his blood outflowing, so here he continues, "The greatest love a man can have for his friends is to give his life." They must love with a love that bears fruit in deeds even though these deeds could cost them their lives. He compares them in this to a woman in childbirth; it is the kingdom that they are giving birth to. Indeed, they can expect to be excommunicated, tried, and killed.

In that extremity he promises the aid of a great spirit who will speak to them and help them to speak. Each time he mentions this person, he uses mind-words like truth, teach, remember, speak, prove, tell. This seems to me to be a more particular gift than the all-encompassing Spirit, the water of life, that he has spoken of up to now.

They cross a brook to a garden, where temple guards and occupation soldiers (church and state) come, led by Judas. Sir Peter draws and sword and cuts one of the guards, but Jesus will not allow resistance. The Eleven scatter, while their king is arrested and taken before the Bishop. He refuses to answer the Bishop's questions and is sent to the governor, Pilate.

Now Pilate must know all about Jesus already and be as eager as the churchmen to see him dead. Indeed, did not his own soldiers make up part of the party that arrested him? How much of what follows, then, is just play acting, a staged trial? No wonder the prisoner refuses to answer Pilate's questions! Pilate acts very reluctant to condemn Jesus, but is this not craft on his part? Is he not testing the loyalty of "the Jews," that is, the only Jews who are here, the Jews among the arresting party, the temple guards -- the same temple guards who, on previous occasions, could not bring themselves to arrest Jesus. And they give the "right" response, "The only king we have is the Emperor!"

The rest of the story is quickly told. King Jesus dies as he lives. Although he never makes a bid for power, his deeds bring him up against both church and state, the usurpers of the kingdom, who capture, torture, and murder him under a veil of legality. A secret follower (there were too many of these) retrieves the body and places it in a tomb. It appears that the wonderful kingdom is over before it's begun.

But what was it all for if not for this? Is he the fountain of all life, or is he not? His body mysteriously disappears, and then he comes to Mary and his knights. He lives! He is the Lord of Life indeed! The tragedy becomes a comedy!


1. I take the license of calling the Temple the "church" and the Pharisees "churchmen" to bring out a parallel with churchmen of today. (There is precedent for using the word church generically, as in "church and state.") Similarly, the word heathen to describe Samaria and Sunday for Sabbath.

2. The gospeler likens it to the snake image that healed from a distance.

3. I don't take this and kindred expressions to refer merely or even particularly to life after death but rather to be like Blake's "eternity in an hour."

4. This miracle particularly bothered me at first, because unlike his other miracles, it seemed to have no immediate purpose and to be merely spectacular. The proposed interpretation solves this.

5. Spirit (Pneuma) itself is a sort of metaphor, for it means "breath."