Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jesus Witnesses to a Samaritan Woman

John 4:5-28a

“Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.” (John 4:5-6)

On the way back to Galilee, Jesus came to the Samaritan city of Sychar, in the area originally belonging to Ephraim and Manasseh.   It was the site of one of the wells Jacob had dug two thousand years before.  Since it was about noon and Jesus was tired of traveling, he sat on the wall around the well while his disciples went into the city to buy some food. 

“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.  (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. ” (John 4:7-9) 

One of the women came to the well to get water while Jesus was sitting there. And Jesus asked her for a drink of water.  It was an unusual time to be carrying water ads it would be far cooler in early morning or late afternoon.  It was obvious that Jesus was a Jew, and as mentioned earlier the Jews despised the Samaritans.  To drink water from a container a Samaritan had touched would be considered a terrible defilement requiring a special purification process.   The woman was surprised that Jesus would ask for a drink and asked him why he did. 
“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:10)

Jesus took advantage of the situation and her curiosity to witness to her, telling her that is she knew who was asking, she would have asked him for living water instead.  His comment piqued her curiosity even more. 

“The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?” (John 4:11-12)

She knew the history of the well and how that Jacob had had to dig it out to get water.  It was a deep well, and Jesus had no container to carry water so how could he give her water?  To do so, he would have to have powers beyond what Jacob had. 

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14)

Jesus explained that he was not talking about the water from the well.  If a person drank of that water, he would need to drink more later to stay alive.  A drink of what Christ would give would last a person for eternity, giving him eternal life.    They would never need salvation again. 

“The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” (John 4:15-18)

At this point, the woman was thinking of the physical benefits to herself.  She would never have to carry water again.  Many people come to a similar point when we witness to them.   They see salvation as a way to avoid going through the Tribulation, or getting out of trouble, but do not see the spiritual significance.  Jesus did not let her make a profession when she asked.  Instead he told her to go get her husband. 

The woman said she had no husband to call and Jesus pointed out that she had been married to five different men and was not legally married to the one she was living with.  She had probably come to the well at noon to avoid humiliation and snubs by the other women.    

“ The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.   Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” (John 4:19-20)

The woman acknowledged that she was guilty of adultery, recognizing Jesus as a prophet because he knew this about her.  Recognition of one’s sinful state is vital for salvation.   Without it one assumes they can earn their own way.  I John 1:8-10 states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  At this point she could either accept her guilt and believe in Christ, or she could reject his message of salvation and cling to what she was doing.   She had been taught certain things and she asked about them.  Obviously she was taking what Jesus said seriously, and was asking clarification on some things that troubled her.        

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)

Jesus did not dismiss her question in an effort to get a profession.  Instead he addressed the question seriously so that she could make an honest and considered decision.  He explained that the Samaritan belief was based on their traditions and had no secure standard.  The Jewish belief had God’s law as a basis and thus provided a much better approach to pleasing god, but ultimately no one could be saved by keeping either religion.   God is a spirit, and no amount of physical service can make us suitable to him.  The only way to please him is by spiritual service, by serving him from the attitude of the heart rather than mechanical actions.         

“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4:25-26)

The woman said that she understood that the Messiah would make them understand these things, and Jesus told her he was the Messiah. 

“And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, (John 4:27-28a)

At this point, Jesus disciples returned and were amazed that he was talking to a Samaritan, but they had learned to trust him and didn’t question him.   Their return did interrupt and end the conversation.  Many today would be concerned about such and interruption quenching the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was not.  He allowed her to leave without asking her to make a decision. 

This passage gives us and unprecedented opportunity to see how Christ won people.   It behooves  to examine how he won people.


  1. I love this story because it illustrates so many truths: it's not about numbers, but about winning souls one by one, no matter what race or culture they are; we can be forgiven no matter what our past; we can witness to others as soon as we know Him, and bring them to Him without waiting to have formal Bible training. My husband and I choreographed a dance based on this story for our dance ministry, and I rewrote lyrics to a song called "You're Not From Here" also telling this story. Thanks for the great post & God bless,

  2. this passage teaches some vital concepts about winning others to Christ.