Ministry in Samaria: The Woman at the Well

John 4:1–26 (NKJV)

4:1 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.”

John 4:1-15

This encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob is improbable and unusual for many reasons. First, true (pure blooded) Jews did not normally associate with Samaritans, a mixed-race sect of Jews who were forcefully settled in Assyria after a military conquest. They considered themselves Jews, but other Jews did not. This led to an ongoing civil war of words regarding status, theology, and religious practice (which surfaces in this story as the two quibble over the correct place to worship). Second, the woman showed up at the well at high noon. This was not the time that proper women came to the well. Instead, they came in the cool of the morning to get water. Third, this woman went to Jacob’s well, rather than the closer, perhaps more used, well of Sychar. She obviously was behaving unusually, and Jesus also knew her heart. He asked her for water, which was also unusual because a man spoke to a Samaritan woman (or a woman at all) in public! He then begins to speak to her about living water, and the great blessings of receiving such a gift from Him. It is powerful, full of everlasting life and thirst-quenching qualities. Therefore, she asks Him for that water, not realizing the spiritual nature of it.

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.”

John 4:16-26

Jesus then shifts the dialogue drastically. He asks the woman to go and call her husband. As God the Son, He knew her condition, but asked anyway, and she revealed the sordid past of her marital experiences, having been married five times and living with a man to whom she was not married at the present time.

She was taken aback, and sought to divert the rhetoric by complimenting Him as a prophet and then asking a question about the appropriate place to worship. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus answered Her question by establishing that worship is not confined to a space, but is conditioned upon the Spirit being present. She answered with an eschatological hope that the Messiah is coming, and surely He will explain it all to us. Then Jesus directly told her that He was the Messiah. What a revelation! Jesus, Who had not yet made a self-revelation about His’ being the Messiah, reveals it to this sinner, a woman with a failed life situation, giving her hope for a new beginning. We will discuss her response in tomorrow’s blog, but suffice it to say, this encounter changed her life. Let’s look for encounters where we might change someone’s life through the truth about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God!

Artwork from https://i.pinimg.com/236x/44/20/d0/4420d010f207bb8df09dfdb867e6e263.jpg and https://img.heartlight.org/cards/g/john4_24.jpg

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