Thirsty? The Israelites complained to Moses when their camp at Rehidim was found to lack any water. On the surface, their complaint seems legitimate. However, a review of their recent history in sojourning the desert wilderness reveals a different context. As needs have arisen on their trek, God has provided, purifiying the foul water at Marah, and sustaining them with manna and quail in the Desert of Sin.
Behind the hostility of God's people, and Moses' own rather exaggerated sense of victimization, among the Israelites we find longings for assurance, and for independence. They need to know once again that God was with them, providing for them, faithful to the covenant of new life and the Promised Land ahead. Thirst was the object around which their complaint arose, but their true thirst concerned their relationship with God and the meaning of their new life as God's people.
It's the pretext of thirst that has Jesus ask for water at Jacob's Well in Samaria. Far from his normal travel destinations, he has come to a place where relations are always on edge. Jesus breaks every rule in the book as a Samaritan woman comes to the well and Jesus, a Jew, engages her in conversation. For a Jewish male to enter into conversation with a Samaritan female was off the charts. Fortunately his disciples were elsewhere because they would have freaked out. (They did later when they caught up with Jesus.)
In their dialogue, Jesus makes mention of "living water" that is unlike any kind of water. Intrigued, but feisty, the Samaritan woman challenges him on this, citing the long history of Jacob's Well taking care of the people. Is this "living water" superior to the water of Jacob's Well?
John's dialogue runs extensive as he is wont to do. What we find emerging is her likely submerged desire to belong, to have meaning and connection with her God. She is a seeker of new life, but perhaps had pushed aside that longing amid life's demand and the need to move on. In Jesus, she is awakened to a thirst that she had for God and new life.
Check out the whole windy dialogue (that goes far beyond this sample selection) and get the full commentary in the sermon video below, and note downloads below the video panel.