“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” John 4:6-7 NIV
Noon in the Middle East is fearsomely hot, I imagine, so no wonder Jesus was tired and thirsty especially after a long walk. It’s hard sometimes for us to remember that God incarnate took on board everything that being flesh means. We have so much art that gives our saviour haloes and clean white robes that look fresh from a washing powder advert. We struggle to imagine him dusty, exhausted and longing for a cool draught of water in his humanity.
So thirsty is Jesus, that he foregoes all protocol, not that protocol was exactly something he ever bothered with, and talks to someone female (shock horror) and who is also not a pure virgin or chaste wife (double shock horror) and who is not even (triple shock horror) Jewish. The quadruple shock horror is that she is also a Samaritan, and for a Jew, let alone a Rabbi, to speak to a Samaritan woman, well it is hard to convey just how badly Jesus is breaking the rules here.
When the disciples come back, their jaws pretty much drop to the ground. But Jesus is tired and thirsty and he sees, not only an opportunity to get some much needed water, but a chance to change a life, and through that, many others. In short, he sees that the woman before him is much thirstier than he is.
How long has she sought for the something that will satisfy her? On her fifth serious relationship, this is no youngster, but most likely a middle aged woman with a lot of life experience and a shed load of disappointments behind her. I think she is probably thirsting for a taste of real love, and of integrity. A dose of truth. Probably too, she thirsts to be seen as a person, rather than as an object of either lust or derision. We all know the cruel names given to women who’ve been unlucky in love, or passed around as playthings. We don’t need to say them again here. But we do need to see the way Jesus does. He sees the heart. He sees a genuine seeker, he sees a whole human being in need of a long cool drink of living water. And so the woman at the well, whom history tries to negate by not even bothering to record her name, becomes the first evangelist, and two great thirsts are slaked at Jacob’s Well.
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14 NIV
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