by Rashion Santiago
Reading: John 4:1-29
Thirst is a universal human experience. In the fourth chapter of John, Jesus and the Samaritan woman are both thirsty. Jesus is thirsty from physical exhaustion, and the Samaritan woman is thirsty for a new life. Jesus’ conversation is with an unlikely character. The unnamed woman had five husbands; her race made her to be avoided; and her life choices made her one to be condemned. Jesus did not allow these barriers to stop him from offering his living water. Jesus’ concern is always for the people, especially those who are marginalized by society. Since the norms of that time would not allow a male Jew and a Samaritan woman to be in conversation, their conversation at the well is dam breaking.
In John 4:15, the woman states, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” She is thirsty for acceptance and a new way of living. She is searching for hope. Hope lies in a request to have one’s thirst quenched and not just in the moment, but to have one’s spiritual thirst quenched with living water. She realizes that this water is life-changing and wants to drink deeply of this living water.
In our society, people are thirsty for justice, hope, forgiveness, acceptance, and, most of all, love. They are searching to understand why the world treats them so differently. The Jews of those days were not accepting of the Samaritans to the point that they would bypass Samaria, even if it meant adding days to their journey, as if there were a dam dividing the two lands. Treating people differently and acting as if they are to be avoided is not the mind of Christ. We, as a society, need not bypass the marginalized. We are to embrace all to reflect the mind of Christ.
The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman put a crack in the dam, which allowed living water to flow to the Samaritans. Living water is passing on the knowledge of Christ by giving honest testimony, both in our words and actions. This will allow people who do not know Christ to enter in a believing relationship with him.
We need people to crack the dams of racism, classism, and genderism in our society like Christ did with this conversation.
Through my travels I have met numerous people who are like the Samaritan woman. They know who Christ is to them, someone who loves unconditionally even if their lives are still hard. This must be living water, to have the knowledge of Christ and have hope in his saving grace, even when marginalized by society.
I have studied this text for years, yet I just realized that the Samaritan woman left without her water jar! This jar was necessary for her to get water from the well; without it, she had no way to quench her physical thirst. The living water allowed her to leave her jar behind and to tell others about her experience with Jesus.
The water we receive from Jesus calls us to give and live our testimony and help lead people to Christ. We are called to live out our baptism by making cracks in all the dams that hinder God’s people to be one in harmony. The marginalized are told by society that they do not matter; their needs do not matter, whether spiritual or earthly needs. With God, all people matter. God sent Jesus to earth for us all, not just the chosen people.
We are all children of God, and God’s water is freeing, everlasting, and unifying. The world is thirsty for spirit and truth, and we are called to serve all!
1. When have you been thirsty for God?
2. As servants, what are ways we can put cracks in dams that do not allow God’s water to flow?
3. Share your testimony and see the living water flow.
Rashion Santiago is an ELCA pastor serving St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tannersville, Pennsylvania.