The Well

A Parable for Good Friday

When I was a young teenager I lived in a village in Africa. One day my Mom said to me, “Will you draw up a bucket of water from the well outside?” “Sure” I replied. I got the bucket attached to the rope and began to lower it down, hand over hand, to the bottom of the well. When the bucket reached the bottom, I applied the usual technique if jerking the rope from side to side so that the bucket tips over – rather than float – and so can fill up with water. Then I slowly pulled the full bucket up by hand from the bottom, careful not to let the bucket hit the sides too often, otherwise too much water will spill out.

After a while, I decided to have a rest and I looked over the rim of the well opening to see how far I had pulled up the bucket, and how much further there was to go. As I looked down I saw the bucket about half way up, but to my surprise and horror I also saw a snake! It had obviously got stuck in the well and then caught up in my bucket. In a bid for freedom it was now slithering up the rope towards me!!

I panicked and let go of the rope. The bucket and rope both fell to the bottom of the well.

My mom understood my instinctive reaction, but was also annoyed as we had lost our rope and bucket; how were we to get any water now? News got around about the problem and a brave man came and said he would climb down to the bottom of the well and get the bucket and rope. He placed his feet on the far wall of the well, and his shoulders and hands on near side, and slowly and bravely shuffled down the sides of the well towards the bottom. There was no safety net or rope, so if he slipped or fell….

Near the bottom he stopped and we let down a long string which he tied to the end of the rope. We could then pull on the string until the rope was once again in our hands. The stranger rescued our bucket. He braved the dark pit of a well, with a snake at the bottom of it, so that we could have life giving water, and then he safely climbed back out again.

Does this remind you of anything?

I had made an understandable mistake and I was ashamed, and I could not put it right – because I could not climb down the well and get back what I had lost. And we needed water daily to live. On Good Friday, Jesus also goes the place I am unable to go, descends down to the bottom of the pit to where the snake lived – and rescued what I had lost. Like the man in the story, Jesus takes it upon himself to make everything right once again.