Once again, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for a critical encounter. This time he meets not Satan, but a most unlikely angel. In the heat of the day, a messenger of God joins him for a life-giving exchange.
Tired from his journey, Jesus sits down at Jacob’s well, then realizes that he has no cup or bucket with which to draw water. The disciples have gone off to buy food and he is alone. But someone else is out in this desert heat, and she’s carrying a bucket. She may be the last person on earth Jesus wants to encounter, because not only is she a woman, she is a divorced woman. A woman with a shady past. A Samaritan. By custom, Rabbi Jesus ought not even speak with her in public, let alone drink from her Samaritan bucket.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).