There are many thirsts in life: thirsts for power, thirsts for relationship, thirsts for more material goods. Jesus conversation with the woman at the well started with a basic thirst – a thirst for a drink of water.
The sixteenth century reformer Martin Luther once said, “Young fellows are tempted by girls, men who are thirty years old are tempted by gold, when they are forty years old are tempted by honor and glory, and those who are sixty years old say to themselves, ‘What a pious man I have become.’” Our thirsts change, but underneath all these surface level thirsts there is a deeper one.
The late fourth, early fifth century theologian Augustine once said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in you.” The seventeenth century mathematician, physicist, and inventor Blaise Pascal is attributed with saying that there is a God-shaped vacuum in every person that can only be filled by God.
Jesus used the natural thirst for water to talk to this woman about the ultimate thirst that only God can fill. Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and the one who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).” Jesus went on to say, “Everyone who drinks this water [by which he meant the well water] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
This image of water was commonly employed by the Old Testament prophets to describe the life-giving goodness of God. The prophet Isaiah once said, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
Jesus had said all she needed to do was “ask” and she would receive this living water. “Take the first step in faith,” the civil rights leader and pastor Martin Luther King Jr. allegedly said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Will you take the first step and ask Jesus for this living water and receive?