Chatting with the Woman at the well

Wooden bucket Our Friday Bible Study focused on John Chapter 4. There were some interesting facts about this passage that I will share today.

John Chapter 4 – New Living Translation:

4 Jesus[a] knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.

4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.[b] She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[c] where our ancestors worshiped?”

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”[d]

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[e] for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

We had quite a discussion of this passage of scripture. That, coupled with my reading today of a book my “cousin-in-law” 😉 sent me called All the Women of the Bible, by M.L. del Mastro, gave me lots of ideas.

First, Jesus had to go through Samaria to go from Judea to Galilee. So Jesus knew He was going to run into this woman. It’s was those of us call “a divine appointment” in churchology-speak. 😉

So here it is, noontime, and this Samaritan woman is drawing water from the well. In this culture, women would go to the well early in the morning before it got too hot, and get their water for the day. Why was this woman there at noontime? Well, a little further in the story, we learn she had 5 husbands, and the guy she is now with is not her husband. Imagine the gossip and ridicule if she showed up at the well in the morning with all the other “nice, married ladies.” It was better in her mind, to withstand the heat of the day and go to the well when she knew no one else would be there.

Except, of course, today, Jesus is sitting there. Jesus is Jewish; this woman is Samaritan, which is basically a “half-breed,” Samaritans were considered “unclean” by the Jewish people of that time. Besides you’ve got the whole cultural male-female relationships of this time frame going on.

Jesus asks her for a drink. She’s like, “What? you want me, an unclean woman to give you a drink? You’d be touching a cup that I touched. You didn’t bring your own bucket or rope, and I don’t think you would want to touch the bucket and rope that I touched.” (not her exact words, mind you, but what’s going on)

Then Jesus tells her about Living Water. She doesn’t know this is spiritual Living Water. He says whoever drinks the living water will never be thirsty again. She thinks this means she never has to go to the well again, and wouldn’t that be great! She doesn’t have to be ashamed in front of the town!

He tells her, “Go get your husband.” Uh-oh. “I don’t have a husband…” she hopes it ends there, but it doesn’t. “That’s right, you’re not married to the guy you’re with, and before that, you had 5 others,” Jesus tells her. But He’s not judgmental;  just tells the facts.

Wow. “You must be a prophet,” she decides. How else could He know all this stuff? He’s obviously not from around here. Hmm. Ok, maybe this guy can tell me something that I’ve always wondered about: “Who’s right? The Samaritans or the Jews? Which is the right place to worship God? Mount Gerizim, or Jerusalem?”

Jesus, of course, picks none of the above. “The Father is seeking those who worship in spirit and in truth.” The location is not that important? I don’t really understand– let me try this one: ” I know that Messiah is coming, and when He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

Jesus then tells her, “I am the Messiah.”

Yikes. Didn’t see that one coming. But I believe He really is the One we’ve been waiting for!

The disciples show up just then, and no one asked him, “Why are you talking to her?” They had learned by now He had a reason for everything.

The woman then drops her water jug, leaves it there, and runs to the village to tell the people she found the Messiah. The shame of her life, and the reason she was getting water at noon was gone. She ran to tell the people in the village, the very people who looked down on her, that she had found the Messiah, and for them to come and see for themselves. And the townspeople believed her.

They came out to talk to Jesus, and to listen to Him, and begged him to stay.  [ This is in contrast to the people of the Gadarenes, who begged Jesus to leave. (Matt. 8: 28-34)]

So the people of the village believed Jesus, and knew that He is the Savior of the World.

It’s not about the messenger — she was as big a sinner as anyone — it’s about the message:

He is the Savior of the World.

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