One of the wonderful things about the Good News that Jesus Christ brings is that it meets the basic need that all people have. You can be the president of a country, be a well educated person with multiple degrees, or you can be someone in the most remote place on the globe, in the most primitive setting, and the message that needs to be heard is the same – that Christ died for his sins and was raised from the dead, and that by trusting in Christ we receive eternal life as a free gift. Since all people are sinners who need to be reconciled to the Holy Father, who need to be redeemed by the Holy Father, the same gospel applies to all: Jesus saves all sinners who trust in Him.
Follow this series on the Gospel of John here:
John 4: 1-42 gives the account of Jesus’ encounter with the immoral Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus skillfully shows her that she needs the living water that only He can give. It is such a wonderful message in that it metaphorically describes that the water Jesus provides is for all to receive. Whether you are a seasoned Christian or completely new to Christianity, the message is exactly the same – You need Jesus, you need the living water only He can give, You need to Gospel.
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Many Samaritans Believe
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman who is drawing water from a well. Jesus both confronts her about her sin, and comforts her with the truth of the Gospel. In particular, He explains that even though He knows her sins, He still seeks after her, and those like her. The woman returns to town, eventually bringing many people to meet Jesus.
The same applies to us, Jesus knows our sins and yet He still seeks after us.
Jesus’ decision to travel away from Jerusalem, heading back towards Galilee,is to avoid conflict with the Pharisees, at least for time being. His ministries are still new and were being investigated, so anyone conflict wasn’t warranted, at least not yet. The shortest path to take is through Samaria, even though most Jews would avoid it, as they hated Samaritans entirely. Jesus is not only committed to the Father’s timeline, He is submissive to the Father’s will. Christ had to take this route, Daddy’s orders! The reason why is evident in His discussion with the woman at the well.
Note how after Jesus left Judea to return to Galilee, verse 4 uses the words “he had to”. Why did He “have to”? Because it was part of His Father’ plan. We should all be listening for God’s voice and His plan for us, and follow it faithfully.
From verse 5, we come to hear one of the most famous stories in Jesus’ early ministry. He has a conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well near the land Jacob gave his son Joseph. As mentioned earlier, Samaritan’s were a hated mixed race (Jew and Gentile). This conversation to come with the woman at the well provides valuable Spiritual teachings and is the beginning of the Gospel message for the entire world.
Around noon, Jesus grew tired from His journey and rested at this well. This teaches us that Jesus truly was fully God and fully man in that He grew weary from travelling, as all humans would, and He had to battle Spiritual issues too. The time of day is important to this story as it gives clues about the Samaritan woman whom Jesus speaks with – not only is she travelling alone, but comes at the worst time of day to fetch water. Her immoral lifestyle spoken of in John 4:18 meant she was not welcomed by the other women in the town, so she had to come alone.
We can all relate to this woman, not her lifestyle choices specifically, but rather that we are all sinful and would feel unworthy to speak directly to Jesus in the flesh.
For most, Jesus conversing with this woman would be a surprise because it was not typical for men and women to speak to each other in public, especially if there wasn’t some prior knowledge of each other at least. I’m sure the woman must’ve felt nervous and wondered about His intentions, as from a social standpoint there was no clear reason for her why Jesus would ask her for water.
Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and the woman questions Jesus, “but why would you ask me?”. Jesus response is unexpected “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and 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). In saying He would have given her living water, Jesus is declaring to her that He is the Messiah and that only He could give this gift and satisfy her (and our) soul’s desire.
The woman’s response in verse 11-12 reminds us of two errors people commonly make when confronted with Spiritual truths. The first is to assume a physical, worldly interpretation of a Spiritual need, a frequent mistake made by the Pharisees in later chapters, and by us today. We’re often quick to look at the physical tangible need first. The second error is responding with disbelief, instead of asking for more information directly. She knows Jesus has a different meaning in mind, and yet she seems dismissive. She’s not really seeking an answer, at least not yet. This helps to explain why Jesus responds to her as he does in verses 17 and 18, by exposing her sin.
The woman asks Jesus for this water assuming a physical need would be satisfied permanently, but Jesus changes the direction of the conversation. He instead asked for her husband. Jesus knew that she didn’t understand yet, and wasn’t ready for the message of the Gospel. In the same way, when planting seed in hard soil, you have to break the soil, before the seed will take root. Two reasons that Christ had for asking for her husband is to expose her for her sin and to point out that in spite of this, God still seeks people like her, like us too.
Jesus continues to explain the Gospel. The woman’s question revolves around the proper location for worship. Jews only worshiped in the temple. Samaritans only worshiped on Mount Gerizim. Jesus explains that, once His mission is complete, that worship will not be confined to any one place on earth.
In the times we are facing now, where even churches are closed because of the global pandemic, this is such an important remark from Jesus – we do not need a physical building to worship, we can literally worship anywhere, anytime.
Jesus has just revealed a deep knowledge of Spiritual things. She must’ve heard a few things about the Promised One, but does not Jesus directly if this is who He is. She brings up the idea of the Messiah to see how Jesus will respond. Of course, we see that this is exactly what Jesus is trying to get her to understand: He is the Messiah – “I am He”
When the disciples rejoin Jesus, and He gives them a Spiritual lesson too. As it turns out, this supposedly unclean woman will soon bring back many people to meet Christ, while the disciples have brought no one. Jesus explains that some work to plant Spiritual seeds, while others might be the ones collecting the harvest. Both are valuable and we should be ready for opportunities in either case.
The excitement of the woman in how she returns to her village to tell the others what she had just witnessed and how she brings them to see for themselves, is how we should also be toward to Gospel. In bringing others to meet Jesus, many others believe that He is the Saviour of the world.
Let us all take an example from this. Be excited about the Gospel. Be joyful about the Gospel. Be joyful in your daily living. Then, when others ask about where your joy comes from; you can tell them your joy comes from the Lord.