Luke 22:7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

This scene reminded me of some kind of spy call-sign in James Bond 007 and Mission Impossible movies. What is happening here? Was it prearranged by Jesus? How much did Peter and John know?

  • This does sound awfully like tradecraft... Compare with this from John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: "Somewhere along the Racice road they would pass on the left side a parked black car, most likely a Fiat. The first two figures of the registration would be 99. The driver would be reading a newspaper." Commented Jul 7 at 17:10

7 Answers 7


This has to be a matter of interpretation but it does not have to be a matter of mere speculation.

In scripture, it is usually a woman who would be carrying a pitcher of water.

One's thoughts immediately go to Rebekah who gave water to the unnamed servant of Abraham who was tasked with the responsibility of finding a bride for Abraham's son, Isaac, Genesis 25. And, of course, thence to the incident of Jesus meeting the woman of Samaria at the same well, some eighteen hundred years later.

Abraham, the father, had sent an unnamed servant to find a bride for the son. And one cannot but think of the Father desiring a counterpart for the Son, and the involvement of the Holy Spirit in that enterprise.

But in the figure in Genesis 25, as often is the case in spiritual allusion and imagery, the concept moves from the unnamed servant to the woman with the pitcher of water (Rebekah) who then waters the camels, a spiritual allusion if ever there was one, indicating the same concept as we see at Cana of Galilee, the filling up with water by servants. The baptism of repentance.

Add to this the discourse of Jesus with the woman at Jacob's well in Samaria - the matter of life and water - and again there is spiritual allusion.

I would suggest, though since it has to be a matter of interpretation it cannot be 'proved' as such, I would suggest that the man with the pitcher of water is performing a humble service, actually the most basic form of service possible, really - the provision of water.

I would suggest that this is to be seen as the service of the Holy Spirit in guiding the 'bride' - the whole company of the body of Christ - to the place where the passover will be eaten. Again, a figure of the partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

I repeat, this cannot be 'proved' and it can well be disputed and other interpretations can well be suggested.


I don't think it is possible to answer "was it prearranged."

One idea comes from Bargil Pixner. He discovered the Essene Gate near the SW corner of the city wall. One of his books is called Paths of the Messiah

The South-west corner of Jerusalem was called the Essene Quarter (hence the Essene Gate which allowed them to access the latrines in the valley so they would be able to keep the command from Deuteronomy 23:12-14).

The Essene community was male-dominated. In the 1st-century only women carried water. But in the Essene Quarter - you would have men carrying water since there were no women available.

The reference to a "man carrying water" - would indicate that he was from the Essene Community. The Essene Community had in their writings a "Messianic Meal" (see this article from James Tabor here). This would indicate that the meal Jesus and his disciples are about to eat - while celebrating a Passover - is also THE "Messianic Meal" from the Essenes.

Although the Essene community is never directly mentioned by Jesus in the New Testament there are remarkable similarities between the Essenes and the early Church. If you haven't considered it before, it is a profitable study.

You can see on this map the location of the Essene Quarter, the upper room, and the Gate of the Essenes:

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If allowed I will answer this in a way which will hopefully plant a seed and help you in the right direction. My answer will reference a few of many possible places in the bible:

Jude 1. Why do you think the false teachers were referenced as "clouds they are without water" in verse 12?

Job 22. Why is Job told that an abundance of water covers him in verse 11?

I want you to think what the water might represent, spiritually?

These are but many of the instances I can help you understand what is meant with your question.

Again, why did David take the small rock with which he killed Goliath out of a stream of water?

I hope this invokes something in you.

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    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 9:11

[Luke 22:10] refers to “the meal offering of remembrance” which recalls adultery - fulfilling [Numbers 5:17] “The kohen shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and some earth from the Mishkan floor, the kohen shall take and put it into the water.”

  • This ‘meal offering’ was to restore Torah law and forgive the nation of Yisrael led by the adulterous King Herod who deified Caesar instead of remaining devoted to one God YHVH.

Mar 14:13 NKJV - And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Also, in Luke 22:10. The Greek gives the meaning of pitcher as an earthen vessel.

The constant continuous task of fetching water, usually from quarter of a mile were women’s tasks. According to a 2017 “Conversation” journal, UNICEF, and the WHO report that 2.1 billion people around the world face that challenge every day. And the task of providing water for households falls disproportionately to women and girls, especially in rural areas of India, and Africa. It is heavy work with large earthen pots. The pot is very heavy usually unable for men to quickly do the task as these women because the women receive on-the-job training when they are young girls. In Biblical times, usually women carry water because it is a “shagal niswan” (Persian), “woman’s job!”

Therefore, the sight of a man carrying water would more readily attract attention. A man carrying water violates first century gender norms. Hence Jesus’ mention of a man carrying a pitcher or an earthen vessel on the streets of Jerusalem was a sign. This sign had 2 unusual elements. First, the person carrying the water was a man. Second, the man was carrying a pitcher. It is not that men did not carry water in Jerusalem, it is that men did not carry pitchers. Men carry water in skin bags (Joshua 9:4).

As it would be today, a man carrying a pitcher of water on the streets of Jerusalem was a strange sight. This was the only man in the city that day carrying a pitcher of water, or he was a Gentile slave laborer because Jewish men would never do such a task. Peter and John must have marveled and glorified Jesus when He gave this sign and when witnessing its miraculous fulfillment.


my thoughts.....the Bible is all metaphors, speaking of YOU, for me "follow the man with the alabaster jar " where the water represents SPIRIT. WATER ALWAYS REPRESENTS SPIRIT. it can be man or woman because GOD IS NON GENDER, a frequency beyond understanding, a safe place , a loving space, a caring face! "for those who have ears to hear , and eyes to see" be blessed, seek JESUS everyday he will find you, negate the EGO it will destroy you. Be in the Spirit put GOD FIRST in ALL you do! harm no one be righteous!

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    Commented Jun 27 at 14:16

The significance to me besides it being someone disposing of urine in a clay jar outside the city walls is that the English is a misleading translation that draws the attention to the male gender. The actual words are intended to be gender neutral. It could be either a male or female.

And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.

The Greek does not specify if it is a male or female. https://biblehub.com/text/luke/22-10.htm

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