I’m continuing my series of takeaways from favorite Bible passages. This week’s DHD focuses on John 4 and Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.
I’m not going to be elaborate in my takeaways, but I hope you would read and study for yourself, especially if you have never done a study on this passage. There’s a lot packed in this unique encounter.
- An unconventional meeting
Jesus and his disciples were traveling back from Judea to Galilee (vs. 3-4). The quickest route is to go through Samaria, but many Jews did everything they could to avoid traveling through Samaria because of the hatred formed over thousands of years. Samaritans were a mixed race of Jews and Assyrians who were living in this region.
Jesus rested at Jacob’s well after a long journey (vs. 6-9). A woman from the village came to get water, and Jesus asked her for a drink. All the years of hatred caused her to be shocked to receive a simple request of a drink of water. Jewish men did not EVER speak to women in public and ESPECIALLY Samaritan women.
But this modest inquiry led to an amazing encounter.
- A great blessing comes from an indirect answer
This is an interesting case study for Christians sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever. One thing about it, neither the Samaritan woman, as far as we know, nor Jesus directly answer each other’s questions. John never tells if she ever gave Jesus a drink of water, and Jesus never tells her why He, a Jew, is talking to her, a Samaritan (vs. 10).
He does, however, reveal a great description of God as living water, and through His intriguing response, she learns about satisfying a spiritual thirst.
- Being relational can cause inquiry
The Samaritan woman wanted to know more about this living water Jesus mentioned. Of course, she thought Jesus was talking about fulfilling a physical satisfaction. Many unbelievers know they have needs and would be willing to connect with Christians if they knew such needs could be met by doing so. This is why it’s important for Christians to be understanding of what it takes to connect with people, finding out what they seek and being able to help them in a time of crisis or needing answers, results or support.
Unbelievers won’t understand the Gospel. If they did, they wouldn’t be unbelievers. It takes a process through the Holy Spirit’s intercession to fully grasp the greatest message ever given to mankind. Being relational is part of the process.
- Sharing uncomfortable truth
I mentioned last week about Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus went straight to the point in telling Nicodemus his issue. Nicodemus needed to be born again, and Jesus boldly told him so.
With the Samaritan woman, Jesus wasn’t as direct, but He did point out a concern in her life. Though we don’t know all the details, Jesus does reveal that she has been previously married– five times as a matter of fact, and she was in a live-in relationship with a man who wasn’t her husband.
Jesus was subtle in how he brought this up. It appears He was able to comment about her personal life in such a way that didn’t cause her to shut down and leave or get defensive and tell Him off. We should pray for Jesus to give us this great discernment and communication skill that He demonstrated with the Samaritan woman.
- Sharing deep truth about worship
Instead of getting huffy and puffy with Jesus when He directly addressed her five marriages and her adultery, the woman keeps talking to Him and brings up a popular theological issue of the day – where to “correctly” worship God. Samaritans worshipped at Mount Gerizim, while Jews worshipped in Jerusalem. It was a hard segue, but Jesus plays along and gives a powerful explanation about genuine worship (vs. 21-24).
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, NLT). Jesus stressed the location of worship is not important, but how we worship is.
- Sharing Who He is
My favorite part of the conversation between Jesus and this woman is in vs. 25-26. First of all, though it may be easy to judge this woman as having a rather loose reputation, she presents herself as being knowledgeable of the Scriptures.
“The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah will come – the one who is called Christ. When he comes he will explain everything to us’” (John 4:25, NLT).
“’I am He,’ Jesus told her, ‘the One speaking to you’” (John 4:26, HCSB).
So the first person to hear Jesus reveal who He is, according to John’s Gospel account, is an unknown woman with a troubled past. Of course, she immediately becomes a changed woman after Jesus told her He is the Messiah. After living in such a way to avoid people in her community, she sprints back to town, leaving her water jar, a valuable resource, to declare to everyone she just met the Messiah.
People who meet Jesus are loved and accepted, no matter who they are. But after they meet Him and come to grips with Who he is, they are changed people who want to tell others about Jesus.
What a great story about meeting Jesus!