John 4:1-26 (NRSV)
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3he left Judea and started back to Galilee.
4But he had to go through Samaria.
Why? Many Jews often avoided Samaria by crossing the Jordan and traveling on its eastern side back and forth to Jerusalem. Did Jesus’ decision have less to do with geography and more to do with mission?
5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)
A good Jewish man did not speak in public to women he did not know. A rabbi did not speak to any woman in public — not his mother, not his wife.
We have to note that this conversation with the Samaritan woman follows exactly the same pattern as the conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus makes a statement. The statement is taken in the wrong sense. Jesus remakes the statement in an even more vivid way. It is still misunderstood; and then Jesus compels the person with whom he is speaking to discover and to face the truth for herself. That was Jesus’ usual way of teaching; and it was a most effective way, for, as someone has said: “There are certain truths which a man cannot accept; he must discover them for himself.”
9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Revelation 21:6 (NRSV)
Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”
13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
We long for eternity! There is a thirst in our souls that only Jesus can satisfy.
16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”
17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”
19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Some commentators see this as a clever change of subject on her part, to divert Jesus from a more sensitive topic. I read it differently. She immediately recognizes his supernatural knowledge of her, and then asks a question which has obviously been a point of confusion for her. I believe the woman was disappointed in her own life and had a heart that was tender to spiritual things. Jesus knew from afar her longing for healing and forgiveness, and sat by the well waiting for her to come, to redeem her. Oh, the kindness of our Lord!
21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and TRUTH.”
What a wonderful discovery for her! We do not need to go here or there, to this shrine or to that holy place. God will find the true worshiper wherever he or she is.
25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”
26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
This passage closes with a great declaration. There had opened before this Samaritan woman a vista which bewildered and staggered her. Here were things beyond her understanding, things full of wonder. All that she could say was: “When the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God comes, then we will know all about it.” Jesus said to her: “I who am speaking to you am he.” It is as if Jesus said, this is not a dream of the truth; this is the truth itself.
This is the only occasion before his trial that Jesus explicitly acknowledges that he is the Messiah — and he tells it to a woman, a Samaritan woman, an immoral Samaritan woman.
Dear Woman at the Well:
You can never be so sinful so as to erase Jesus’ love for you!
HERE is the story sung by Anne Millen Longacre. It’s a new song to me and I quite like it!
1) Who are the Samaritans in our society/in your community?
2) Do you know a “Samaritan woman” who needs to meet Jesus-in-you?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.