The Woman at the Well
4 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.)
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.”
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.
1. The transcendence of the gospel
I want you to first notice how scandalous this situation was in Samaria. First, the fact that Jesus traveled through the hated territory of Samaria would have been a shock to most people. Second, the fact that Jesus, as a famous Jewish rabbi, would take the time to speak to a woman was in itself shocking and scandalous. But it only shows us that the gospel is transcendent of any cultural milieu, tradition or custom. Christianity is utterly color blind and unprejudiced. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. The New Testament teaches that God does not play favorites and that Jew, Greek, male and female are all equal in value. The concept of equality was first and foremost a Christian ideal and that is undeniable in human history. Equality is not a Greco-Roman, Phoenician, Egyptian, Chinese or Assyrian invention- it was brought about purely by the gospel of Jesus.
2. The importance of coming clean
The second thing to see is that Christ insisted that this woman come clean. He used the analogy of thirst while they were standing by the well to point out to her that she had been trying to satisfy a thirst that can only be satisfied in her relationship with God. He spoke to her plainly about her sinful condition and caused her to admit to the real problem.
In the same way, we cannot come to Christ until we are willing to confess our sin. As they say in Celebrate Recovery, ‘denial is not just a river in Egypt’. Until we admit we are powerless, we have no hope in advancing our spiritual condition. As long as you believe you can be your own god and do your own thing, you will never find life in Christ.
1. The deepest need of the human heart
Notice in this story that when the woman as confronted with her sin and how that pointed to a deeper thirst than physical thirst, she immediately brought up the subject of worship. It almost seems as if she was trying to change the subject- but was she? Upon closer examination it makes perfect sense that this woman would want to talk about worship, because after all, the struggle she was really having was at it’s core, a worship issue. She had fallen into sin because she as putting other things at the center of her heart other than what belonged at the center- the purposes of God for her life. You and I were created for worship, and in our sinful condition, we put other things at the center of our worship. This woman was worshipping her relationships with men and that obsession was the basis for all of her problems. Jesus’ confrontation of that issue was what caused her to pivot toward a discussion of “true worship.”
3. The evidence of a transformed life
When the woman leaves Jesus she immediately goes back to town and tells everyone she knows about Him. The clearest evidence of a transformed life is how we tell others about Him. People who have been transformed by the work of the gospel are enthusiastic about telling others about what has happened to them.
- What does it mean that Jesus deliberately goes into Samaria and speaks to a woman who had a bad reputation?
- What does it teach us about the transcendent nature of the gospel?
- If the gospel is unprejudiced and indiscriminate, why do you believe people are?
- What does this passage teach us about treating people equally?
- Why is it important to be truthful about our sinful condition?
- Why is it so hard for us to be truthful about ourselves?
- What happens when a person stops living in denial?
- Why do you think this woman wants to talk to Jesus about worship?
- What do we learn about worship from this passage?
- What happens to the woman after she encounters Jesus?
- What does this passage say to us about our own personal witness?