O God, you are my God, and I long for you. My whole being desires you; like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land, my soul is thirsty for you. Psalm 63:1, GNT
Come, all you who are thirsty. Isaiah 55:1, NIV
Have you ever known someone who did not fit in? We are about to meet such a woman . . . from another time and another place. Let’s take a peek into her story.
It’s high noon and the stage is set for an encounter between Jesus and a sad, empty woman. The story begins at the well in Sychar. Jesus is tired and needs a rest so He sits down by the well. His disciples have gone into town to buy food. In His humanness, Jesus is thirsty, but the water is out of reach and He has nothing with which to draw. But His focus is elsewhere and she is walking towards Him right now. He knows all about her as she approaches for her daily chore. Essentially she’s an outcast in the village, so she comes to fill her jug during the heat of the day when she can be alone. All the other women come to the well early to avoid the blistering heat, but she is an exception. She is the topic of town gossip. The women talk about her behind her back. They don’t like her. She has a checkered past, so she is bullied by the women and gawked at by the men.
She approaches in spite of the stranger sitting next to the well, a bit too close for comfort, but she needs water and must get it now during the daily siesta. She plans to ignore His presence even though she is so close she could reach out and touch Him. She sets down her jug to catch her breath and Jesus asks her a question,
“Will you give me a drink?”
Startled, but trying hard not to show it, she looks up and meets His gaze. He foiled her plan by asking her for a drink of water ~ He has some nerve, she thinks to herself. She notes His heritage and in her discomfort and nervousness she attempts to divert the conversation elsewhere by bringing up a hot topic which usually sparks a debate, since Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another. The conversation exchange is priceless. Note how quickly Jesus confronts the woman’s heart ~ and instead of immediately dipping her jug, she dares to point out their racial disparity by asking,
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
Jesus knows her daily struggle trying to live peaceably as a scorned woman. He has her attention and is about to get personal.
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Ouch! Instant exposure! Can you imagine your surprise at hearing your private life aired before you by a total stranger? But there is a heart connection that Jesus wants to make; He wants to share a priceless gift, a life-changing gift with her. She is eager to receive so He pours it into her thirsty soul. She becomes so excited she forgot all about drawing water and rushes back to the village to share the good news. Suddenly she has something so special to share that it overcomes her previous feelings of inferiority and emptiness.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
I have a thirsty soul too. Mine is from loss. I am a mom outliving my child who died by suicide. It is a death so overwhelmingly tragic that it can leave one curled up in a fetal position and hoping to die. This was not the story of the woman we are reading about today whose failed marriages, one after another, had left her scarred and bone dry, but we are all broken and bone dry in some way, are we not?
The living water Jesus offers is eternal life, forever quenching the thirst of hurting hearts. And there is not a soul on earth who does not need what He offers and only He has the answer. Does my heart thirst today like hers did then? It’s so like Jesus to zero in on the innermost part that is in need of healing refreshment. Liquid love, the healing springs of living water Jesus offers, cuts across all barriers of human existence, demonstrating once again that the ground is indeed level at the foot of the cross.
Scripture story taken from John 4:8-18, 39-42, NIV