A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, would ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink.” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4: 7-10 (NRSV)
Have you been thirsty without the ability to quench it? I remember times as a teenager of intense thirst while picking apples in the apple orchids of West Virginia from sun-up to sun-down with only a one quart canning jar of water to drink. By early afternoon, my water was gone with hours left to pick.
Being thirsty is a miserable. When we are hit with thirst that we cannot satisfy, we get tired, anxious, and feel like fainting. Thirst is what compels us to seek physical water that is essential to our survival.
One day, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well while passing through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem. The woman had come to get water to quench her physical thirst, but ended up having a different kind of thirst satisfied—a deeper spiritual thirst.
Jesus asks her for a drink of water. She is surprised by Jesus’ request because Samaritans and Jews were enemies and avoided interaction. In her question, Jesus hears her search for spiritual water to satisfy her deeper thirst for answers to questions about her troubled life. Jesus’ reply is provocative: “You should be asking me for a drink of living water.”
Like the woman, our deepest thirst is not for physical water that we can quench with bottled water usually in our hands or by walking a few steps to the water dispenser on the refrigerator, a faucet, or water fountain. Our deepest thirst is spiritual, and we want it quenched.
We thirst for the One who first loved us and cares about us, for hope, for joy, for peace, for forgiveness, for relationships. We thirst for answers to our deepest questions to help us make sense of life and our experiences.
Jesus offers himself to us as “living water” to quench our spiritual thirst. During Lent we have the opportunity to recognize our deepest thirst for Jesus, the living water that gives us life, and to drink deeply of it. The Samaritan woman apparently drank it because she went back to the city and told people that she had met the One who knew everything about her.
As we drink deeply of the living water Jesus offers us through prayer, worship, sacrifice, service, and sharing, we spiritually grow and are changed.