Journey Through The Gospel of John: 4:1-26 Jesus meets the woman at the well
Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
The story of the Samaritan woman is well known in scripture. It is a story of hope that no matter our past or our background, that Jesus not only cares, but He is pursuing us. Racial background does not keep one from the gospel of Jesus Christ. God so loved the entire world that He sent His only begotten Son. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. Christ daily is pursuing those who are in darkness, knocking on the door of their heart, and through the Holy Spirit, opening their eyes to the truth.
Here we find because of the popularity of Jesus that the Pharisees had become aware of Jesus activities. We also find that it was not Jesus who was baptizing, but it was His disciples. John added this clarification if people had simply seen Jesus as another John the Baptist who came to baptize and preach repentance. But we know from earlier in John’s gospel that it is John who baptizes in water and Jesus who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. If Jesus was indeed personally baptizing people it would have created incredible issues because people could claim they were personally baptized by Jesus and somehow held in higher regard than those who were merely baptized by His disciples.
We see for a period of time that Jesus time in Judea has come to an end and Jesus will now travel from Judea to Galilee and it would require Him to go through Samaria. The relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was a complicated one and because of the history that existed there was much hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews would often avoid traveling through Samaria at all costs. But we must remember that in all things Jesus was guided by the Holy Spirit and did all things according to the Father’s will. The Father led and directed Jesus specifically to move at certain times and the life of Jesus would not be taken until it was His appointed hour.
Jesus had to pass through Samaria to get to Galilee not because it was the shortest route but because it was the Father’s will. Some translations state He needed to go, it was necessary for Him to go through, or He had to pass. But this was the Father’s will. Even though the Jews viewed the Samaritans as half-breeds and not pure Jews, The Father’s viewed them as broken and in need of a savior. Because of Jesus' obedience and the encounter with the women at the well, not only was her life impacted and she came to saving faith in Jesus, but those from the town were drawn to Jesus to hear the truth. It is not always easy or convenient to live according to the will of God. But the key often to seeing the purposes of God accomplished in our lives and on the earth is surrender and obedience. Not questioning God about every way He is leading us, but simply surrendering to His desire and will. We must be very careful to overlook opportunities to share the gospel. Because we never know the impact we will have today on a single life, and who in turn that person will touch for God and His kingdom.
Here we see the humanity of Jesus. It is believed that if Jesus and the disciples traveled from where they were baptizing to Galilee through Samaria on the Roman road that Jesus would have traveled about forty miles. Here we see as Jesus sits next to the well at noon he is tired and he is thirsty. This encounter is all by the hand of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Samaritan woman who came to the well most likely as we find out from Jesus encounter with her a woman of low reputation. Most likely shunned by other women in the town. This is why she most likely chose noon to come and get water at the hottest part of the day. But little did she know that on this day her life would be changed forever. She would come to know the Messiah. Jesus also shows the compassion and love he has for people in engaging the woman from Samaria. The Samaritans were viewed as half-breeds by the Jews and this encounter would have left a lasting impression upon the disciples.
Jewish men of Jesus day did not speak to women in public, that included even their wives. So first of all it is striking that Jesus spoke to this woman. But more than that Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. We know that Jesus was by Himself because His disciples had gone into town to buy something to eat. They would have been hungry from the journey. But their absence created an opportunity for Jesus to engage this woman in discussion. The simple question of asking the woman for something to drink began a dialogue that moved from asking for a drink of mere water to speaking about eternal life.
Oftentimes in the busyness of our lives we can miss the many opportunities we have around us to share the gospel with others. Jesus didn’t force His way into this woman’s life to talk with her. Jesus simply asked her a question which required a response. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in all things. How much more do we need to be led by the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives.
The Samaritan woman is surprised that Jesus would ask her for a drink. Number one Jesus has nothing to draw with so that means He would be drinking from her vessel. Second this woman was not only a Samaritan but was a woman who had a reputation that made many shun her. Thirdly this was a public place and was outside cultural norms especially based on the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. But Jesus asked this question because His desire was not only to meet His own physical need but also to meet the deeper spiritual need of this woman. This account shows that Jesus is fully human. But in everything Jesus did He went about preaching the kingdom. He came to seek and save those that were lost. This Samaritan woman who was overlooked by so many was a lost sheep that Jesus was pursuing.
Jesus says “if you knew the gift of God”. Our salvation in Christ is a gift. Here Jesus begins the conversation with the Samaritan woman asking for a drink as He rests by the well. But ultimately Jesus asks this question to draw this woman in. She is perplexed that Jesus asks her because He is a Jew and has nothing to draw with. But Jesus says to the woman if she not only knew the gift of God but who was asking her for a drink, that she would turn around and ask Him and He would turn around and give her living water.
Our lives apart from Jesus are spiritually dead. But when the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, we come alive spiritually and we are reconciled in our relationship with the Father. This living water that Jesus speaks of is the work and person of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The more we surrender and grow in Him, the more the Kingdom of God grows within us. This woman fails to understand but as this conversation moves forward, her life will forever be changed because of her encounter with Jesus.
The woman doesn’t yet comprehend what Jesus is talking about. She is merely thinking about physical water. She sees that Jesus doesn’t have anything to draw with. She is probably wondering if Jesus desires to use her bucket but this surprises her because again she is a Samaritan and He is a Jew. She also examines the depth of the well and can’t wrap her mine around what Jesus is talking about. But through this interaction she is being drawn into conversation with Jesus. Jesus speaks of eternal life. The reason Jesus compares eternal life to living water is because of the importance of water in this part of the world. Because of the hot, dry arid temperatures, water was essential for survival. Especially water from a well. But Jesus speaks not about physical water from a well, Jesus speaks about living water that only He can provide.
This woman now asks “are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well”. This woman may be beginning to wonder exactly who she is talking to. When people got into the presence of Jesus, they knew something was very different. Jesus' words would have touched her heart and this mention of Living Water drew her in to desire and know exactly what this man spoke of. She didn’t know it at the time but she was being drawn by the Holy Spirit.
This is the case for all of us. When we come to Christ it is the Lord who is drawing us. It is the Holy Spirit who is doing the work, opening our eyes, and bringing us to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Until we come to saving faith in Christ, living water is nonexistent. But once we come to Christ, living water begins to fill us and the more we abide in Him, the more the character and nature of Christ is produced.
The water Jesus speaks of is everlasting life. It is the work and person of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the individual. Upon coming to Christ our lives are forever changed. This woman was focused on physical water. But as Jesus spoke He moved the discussion from simply talking to her about having a drink, to the eternal life that He offered. This woman who was a Samaritan was not restricted from the water because she was a Samaritan. It was available to all who would believe upon Jesus Christ. Many were drawn to Jesus because Jesus offered something the religious leaders could not. They weighed the people down with heavy burdens, but Jesus offered freedom and hope. The moment we come to faith in Christ we are set free. Our sins are forgiven. This woman and her checkered past would be forever changed by her encounter with Jesus Christ.
The woman still believes that he is speaking about physical water. She is amazed that a man who has nothing to draw with, and is asking her for a drink in the beginning, now speaks about water that will cause someone to never thirst again. While she is focused on physical water, Jesus is speaking of everlasting life. Abundant life begins from the moments we begin to walk with Jesus. The more we abide in Him and His word, the more our lives are changed. It is a choice to surrender all to Jesus Christ.
Jesus now exposes the woman’s sin. Jesus has spoken about water that if one drinks they will never need to drink again. Jesus speaks about offering eternal life and salvation. This woman, like everyone, is in need of eternal life because she is indeed a sinner. She has had five husbands and the man she is currently with is not her husband. This is a woman who sexually is very loose. This is most likely why she was getting water at this time of day. She most likely did not want to be around other women as they most likely talked about her and her activities.
But through this statement Jesus also reveals that He is no ordinary individual. He knows about who she is by the Holy Spirit and this divine appointment is by the hand and working of Almighty God. Every person who comes to Christ does not come by accident. They come by the hand and leading of the Lord. Her heart was prepared well in advance for this meeting with Jesus.
The woman now tries to shift the conversation from her sin and her past to the conflict that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans claimed in their scriptures that God called them to worship on Mount Gerizim while the Jews worshipped on mount Moriah. But what she doesn’t understand is she is about to open the door to further discussion on eternal life and worshipping the true and Living God. Jesus came to bring forth eternal life by laying down His life. The worshippers the Father desires are those who worship in Spirit and in truth.
God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth. The woman of Samaritan first called Jesus a prophet and then focused on the difference between where the Samaritans worship and where the Jews worship. But Jesus came to reveal truth and spoke of things to come. For those who would come to saving faith in Jesus Christ would no longer have to worship in temples made by human hands. Their very lives and bodies would become temples of the Holy Spirit. Through faith in Jesus Christ we can draw near to the throne of God because the wall of hostility that existed because of our sin has been removed.
Through Christ we are brand new creations. This woman had a checkered past which caused many to avoid and shun her. But on this day the Holy Spirit had led Jesus to this spot. To not only engage this woman in conversation but to reveal to her the truth. For all of us who come to Christ let us never take for granted what we have through Jesus. Our sins have been forgiven. We have been brought into right relationship with Almighty God. Every part of our lives is simply an act of worship unto the Lord.
Being a Samaritan this woman’s faith was solely based on the first five books (Genesis - Deuteronomy). This woman most likely thought of Moses words in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. This woman has already said that Jesus is a prophet because of what He spoke about her without even knowing her. This woman most likely desired to know the Messiah because it was felt when he came he would be a liberator of the people. She failed to understand, like many of her day, that the Messiah had to come not to set them free from the bondage of Rome, but to set them free from the bondage of sin.
She speaks of the Messiah coming to reveal all things. Upon her words Jesus clearly and without question reveals who He is. When Jesus spoke to the Jews and especially when He was questioned by the religious leaders He would speak to God as His Father and in many different ways would reveal that He was the Messiah. But they were often looking for ways to trap Him and therefore charge Him with blaspheme. In all that Jesus said He spoke with wisdom and did so by the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
But here to this woman that everyone else shunned and avoided, the Son of God revealed exactly who He was without question. What truly changes the life of a person and the direction of their life is when they come to know Jesus. Not to merely know things about Him or merely sit in a church, but to truly know Him. For when we know Him everything changes. We understand the depths of our sin, but we also know the depths of His forgiveness.
This woman’s life was marred by sexual sin. But it was on this day through faith in Jesus that she came to salvation. As we will see she not only understood this for herself but desired to share it with those she came into contact with. May we never lose the wonder and joy of our salvation in Christ. Every person we meet who does not know Jesus is an opportunity as the Holy Spirit leads to share Christ and to plant seeds of truth.