Among the last words of Jesus as he hung dying on the cross is the cry “I thirst.” He was not simply expressing a desperate human need as he hung dehydrated in the blistering afternoon sun on Good Friday. In that cry he was giving voice to his deep longing for each one of the human race, as he thirsts for our love and our response to his love. However fervently we pray Psalm 62 (“O God, my soul thirsts for you”) we cannot match the infinite depth of his longing for us.
When the woman of Samaria, thinking no-one else would be about in the midday sun, comes to the well to draw water, she is disturbed to find someone is there. Relieved, she sees it is a stranger, not one of the locals who know her shameful secrets. And he’s a Jew who, like all Jews, avoids and hates Samaritans.
Except this one doesn’t. He initiates the conversation with the cry he will make from the cross: “Give me a drink.” Her thirst for love and acceptance and an end to her isolation and pain is not being met; on the contrary, this hated Jew is demanding his thirst is met. What an insult! “You ask me for a drink!” You can almost hear her unspoken retort: get it yourself!
Jesus’ unexpected response disarms her completely. “If you only knew what God is offering you!” She thinks the only thing God offers her is shame, guilt, condemnation, a wagging finger of disapproval. If only she knew!
Her bucket remains empty, and Jesus doesn’t get his drink. But from being an outcast she brings the whole town with her to Jesus. “He told me everything I have ever done” – and did not condemn me.
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