It has been the driest summer I can remember – and no, I was not here in 1976. That feeling of waking up thinking we must be abroad somewhere…? Parched grass, humidity, watering plants every evening, no longer needing to take a coat anywhere, and no rain breaks in Wimbledon. Then the more serious consequences, farmers having to use their winter food supplies for livestock and serious fires!
Our family began to follow the advice of staying inside during the hottest part of the day and venturing outside again later on when temperatures finally dropped.
A little detail from John 4 which describes Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan women at the well is that it takes place at midday (the sixth hour.) This means she had chosen to go to the well at the hottest part of the day. Perhaps she was reluctant to meet others?
We are currently looking at various passages from John’s gospel that reveal more about Jesus, and I think this passage certainly highlights more about who this Jesus is that we follow. He does not associate with people he is expected to associate with. This lady is a female Samaritan who has had five husbands and is currently unmarried. Religious teachers often did not speak to women in public. Her life would have been considered immoral, and he knows about her mistakes without her telling him, but he does not avoid her. Jews were not expected to associate with Samaritans and in fact often travelled a completely different way so that they did not have to go through Samaria.
He asks her for a drink when a Jew would have been considered to be ceremonially unclean if he used a cup touched by a Samaritan. He wants this lady to know that he is able to give ‘living water’ that ‘whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.’ It will become ‘a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ In these dry, parched conditions this imagery of water, welling up, conveys the life Jesus wants to give to those who do not know him, to those who society may consider immoral or best avoided, to those who are tired and burnt out and searching for life in the wrong places, to all of us. It is a refreshing life, an abundant life, and ultimately eternal life.