In the Palestinian setting of the 1st Century AD, normally women fetched water in the morning and in the evening. But, John, the fourth evangelist, tells the story of a woman who went to the well in the noon time for fetching water. Why did she come to the well braving the midday heat? Was she trying to avoid the company of the other women? Or was she so thirsty that she already used all the water she collected in the morning? Those who see her unusual thirst as indicative of her abnormal desires see support in her having had five husbands. Well, was she a women of inordinate desires, thirsting for the pleasures of this life?
Whoever was that woman and whatever was her thirst, Jesus shows a genuine interest in her case. He strikes a conversation with her, starting from the topic of her interest: water. He pointed to her that in spite of her umpteen attempts to satiate her thirst and in spite of drinking so much water, she was still thirsting. In the final analysis, her thirst was not to be seen as a blessing, as something that would lead her to water and hence to satisfaction and joy. Rather, her thirst was a curse and source of perennial dissatisfaction.
There is a Samaritan woman in every believer. A part of our heart always thirsts for this and that: human love, recognition, wealth, power, pleasures… The tragedy is that this part is never satisfied no matter how often they meet their needs. But, Jesus does not leave the Samaritan woman after showing her the futility of drinking the water from the well of Jacob. He reveals to her a deeper thirst in her heart – a thirst for God, a thirst for meaning in life, a thirst for a definite goal in life, a thirst for genuine joy and happiness. The conversation Jesus makes with this woman awakes her deep seated desire for God. What sorts of desires are kindled in us when we converse with others!
Jesus promised her living waters, drinking which will not only quench her thirst but will also make her a source of water for others. Jesus was speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit. He fulfilled His promise while hanging dead on the cross. The water flowed from His side was indicative of the Holy Spirit – the living water (Jn 7:39). There was a thief on His either side when He fulfilled His promise of the Holy Spirit. These thieves had tried to satiate all their thirsts the way they liked. Finally they were taken to the gallows. Their bones were broken to hasten their death. But the two thieves were not altogether the same. One of the thieves, the so called “good thief” had the promise of paradise. Still he suffered the same fate of the other thief. His legs were also broken and he too died in extreme pain. There was no marked difference in the death of the two; but there was a definite difference in the destination to which both of them headed. The style and circumstances of one’s death has nothing to do with one’s fate. The most horrible death of the victims of oppression and persecution is no sign that they are abandoned by God. A man in the gallows received the cleansing, life giving Spirit from Jesus exactly at the moment of the former’s death. What the Samaritan woman was promised at the well of Jacob was received by the thief at his death bed.
Tradition says that the soldier who pierced the side of Jesus was Longinus and he had some impairment in his eyes. As the legend goes, his eye was fully healed when some drops of Jesus’ blood fell on his eyes. Whether the story is true or not is not our concern. But, it communicates a vital truth in Christian faith. The blood of Jesus shed for the love of the world is capable of opening our eyes to see the love of God. When, and only when, we recognize the great love God manifested in the death of Jesus, will we be fully healed.
The cross of Christ convinces us about how great God’s love, how deep His mercy and how unconditional His forgiveness are. It also teaches the extent God will go to save us. To be soaked in this conviction is to drink from the living water, to be content and fully so.