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John 4:1-26 The Woman at the Well


1. John 4:1-26, The Woman at the Well

Explanation:

If you grew up in church, you likely heard this story as a child. It is difficult passage to grasp fully as a child. Even as an adult, I struggle with the full understanding of what happened that day when Jesus met this Samarian woman at the well.


There are a few clear facts. First, Jesus was clearly out of route for a Jew. He led His disciples through Samaria rather than through Judea to get to Galilee. Jews had an ages old animosity toward the Samarians. It was quite unusual for a pack of Jewish men to have traveled that way at all. Second, Jesus was left alone at the well at the precise time of the day when the other men had gone to find food. There He met a woman, who would introduce the next peculiar fact. Jesus spoke directly to the woman who came to the well. Not only did He speak to her, He revealed many things to her. His divine authority created a scenario in which He would profoundly impact the Samarian woman, His disciples and all of Samaria because of this moment at the well.


As Jesus invited the conversation with the woman, she knew the boundaries for acceptable public discourse with men and with Jews in that day and age. Perhaps with a bit of cattiness, she responded to Jesus’ request for a drink. I do not believe her first response was in humility, but in resentment to Jesus’ request. Jesus was gracious in His response to her. Because He can see her heart, and is all knowing, He challenged her a bit rather than condemning her for her response. He told her she did not know who He is but that she should. If she did know, she would have asked Him for living water. What is that? The woman answered as any Earthly minded person would have answered. (For even though they are at Jacob’s well, she was certain that the water was just water.) She told Jesus the facts, the water was deep; He had nothing to gather it. Yet Jesus countered her again. He told her that this water was just a temporary solution to thirst. He offered a quenching solution to her real need. She needed eternal life. She was thirsting for something more. There was a hankering in her heart that she could not suffice, it appeared that she had tried to pacify it many times.


Jesus asked her to go get her husband, fully knowing she was not married and had many men in her life. She saw that He knew things only someone who would be a prophet could know and she told Him she suspected He is a prophet. It is profound that she mentioned to Him the history of her ancestors. She was trying to draw a familial connection to Jesus’ Jewish roots. She also made a clear distinction that she was not allowed to worship God according to modern Jews outside of Jerusalem. In a perfectly appointed and timely response, Jesus assured her that there was coming a time that all will be able to worship God, inside or outside of Jerusalem. He expanded His statement by saying that not only the Jews will be able to take part in salvation, but all who would come to the Father. Jesus explained that God is Spirit (not walls and people) and that those who will worship Him, would worship in spirit at truth, (not in false pretenses and ritual.)


The woman quickly affirmed what she knew to be true. She has heard of the Messiah, the Christ who would come and reveal things to them. Jesus spoke the words few would ever hear simply to her, in private, “I who speak to you am He.” Jesus had just proclaimed His deity to a woman from Samaria. Certainly not the way the Jews, who had waited millennia for their Messiah, would have announced Him.


Application: Who am I that God would Choose to Reveal Himself to Me?

I am a smart, witty and self-proclaimed incredible person. I am no different than the woman at the well. I am a sinner, who is unworthy of relationship with a Holy God, who has pacified myself throughout my life by fulfilling the desires of my flesh to feel full and satisfied. Why would God have pursued me? Who am I to have received such honor? Furthermore, how did He soften my heart to respond to His pursuit of it?


At first, the woman at the well was cold and distant toward Jesus at first. He had to pursue her in conversation. Even though he kept pursuing her she remained indifferent for a time until Jesus spoke directly to her heart. Essentially, He did to her what He did to me. He said, I know you, I know all about you, and if you knew Me, you wouldn’t hurt anymore. While none of us deserve to be pursued and reckoned to God, He loves us just as he loved this desperate woman at the well. And He does what He came to do. In verse 23 He explains, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, where true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.” Jesus saw this degenerate woman as worthy of worship for the Father, and He saw me that way too. I cannot question Him. I can only respond as this woman did, in awe and in worship and spiritual truth.

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