The story we’re looking at in the Gospel of John is one of my absolute favorites.
There is so much happening in the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman from Sychar at Jacob’s well in John 4. Let’s read the story. Note: as I often do in the narrative sections of the Scripture, I’ve removed the verse numbers to aid in reading.
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
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.)
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.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.”
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.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 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.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
New International Version
Jesus sets the stage to be in the right place at the right time to meet this woman. The Son of God crossed cultural lines by even speaking to her.
First, she was a Samaritan. The Jews didn’t like the Samaritans because they were the offspring of the Jews and Gentiles centuries prior to this meeting. They basically hated each other. The fact Jesus (a Jew) was even there was shocking to her.
Second, she was a woman. The only reason a lone man would have spoken to a lone woman in the middle of day was for sinful reasons.
She had been rejected by others and she was probably in no mood to be rejected by a Jew. She dismisses Him as quickly as He addresses her.
But Jesus has a habit of cleaning up anything He touches.
Although she tries changing the subject, Jesus still cuts straight to the heart of the problem. By living with a man that she wasn’t married to, she was an outcast…rejected…“unclean”…damaged…and this Jew was talking to her and told her about her sins before she even confessed them.
Finally, she knew enough to know the Messiah will explain things to them. Jesus makes one of the boldest declarations (at this point): “I am he” (verse 26). A soul lost on her way was overtaken by the light of the Messiah, Jesus. In that moment, she must have felt the words of Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
It’s interesting Jesus didn’t try to win the argument. He certainly could have; He was the Son of God! Instead, He kept working towards her soul. Jesus had formed her in her mother’s womb and knew what her soul needed.
Jesus stopped for a drink, but offered her living water.
As it turns out, she was the one needing a drink that day.
Do you remember being spiritually thirsty like she was? And do you remember how sweet the living waters of Jesus’ grace tasted?