Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
~ John 4: 6 - 10
We all know something about what it means to be thirsty. With so many options available to us to "quench our thirst," even being able to define what we are thirsty for has many options.
On this day in scripture, however, only water was available. So it seems.
You would think that the thirst would be obvious. Getting a drink during the hottest part of the day, especially for one who has been walking dusty roads, and who did not own a home where he could enter a cool space, and relax. No, Jesus and his nomadic lifestyle, and this woman, someone who enjoyed the company of different men, and found going to the well during the hottest part of the day, so she would not be the focus of other women, and those who might cast more than just shade looks would be absent.
This was purely an unexpected meeting. Well, in Biblical perspective, there isn't necessarily ever the unlikely when God has a message, or a plan.
There is simple talk. Not so much about the weather, but the obvious. She was a Samaritan, He was a Jew. She was a woman, and he was a man (even with their cultural differences, this was a common thread, and even talking was questionable.)
The talk turns to thirst, and then it gets interesting. Subsequently he tells her things about herself that are both revealing and embarrassing at the same time. It's similar to a "This is Your Life" game show without all of the guest appearances.
The thirsty Jesus meets the woman at the well who has obviously thirsted for other things.
I think that people are often hard on this woman when the story is told. I grew up in a household with a single mother during the 1970's when women were being vocal about equal pay, equal rights, and many other issues that effected women directly. Television shows painted single women with children as somewhat powerless, but yet, they used their intuitive prowess, and let's face it, if you find that you are just surviving, survival mode can look very different for others who have not had to resort to such things.
I'm not saying this woman didn't sin. But according to scripture each one of us have sinned and missed out on something.
It's not that this woman was a Samaritan, a lover of many men, and the subject of controversy. She is us. Our lives are challenged each day by roles that might not be what God wants for us. The message is clear. We must thirst for God's presence, while realizing that we have sinned, and that like the woman, each day we are challenged to go and "sin no more."
I find it amazing that no matter how "wrong" this encounter may have looked, it was the encounter that she needed, and that God provided. While we walk down valleys where we encounter darkness, God still seeks after us to provide goodness and mercy. To provide living water when we thirst, and shows up in the places where we least expect the encounter. That's how much we mean to God.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, as I encounter You today, may I not be shocked at the where, but be ready to drink in Your living water. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.