John 4:1-26 (ESV)
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus 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." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." 13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."
16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." 19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." 25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."
I love it when Jesus has a lengthy conversation with a person because something huge happens at the end of the conversation.
To understand this conversation properly we must understand the cultural context, that is how Jews and Samaritans related to each other at that time. But first, did you notice that the passage said that Jesus "had to" go through Samaria (vs.4)?
Devout Jews, especially those who were considered holy, would never travel through Samaria. The optics of such a choice would have a negative impact on the Jewish person who chose to travel through Samaria. But Jesus had to pass through Samaria. I believe Jesus does this because He has a divine appointment with this Samaritan woman and with the people of Samaria in general.
The cultural context of this encounter tells us that this woman has three strikes against her as she talks to Jesus, three things regarding who she is that make this conversation totally unusual; she is a Samaritan, a woman, and a total sinner (especially by their standards but even today most people, Christian or not, would question her behavior).
The conversation is also unusual in that no "respectable" Jew of that time would ever be where Jesus is in Samaria, let alone talking to a woman in public, especially a sinner like her.
But here Jesus is, and Jesus begins the conversation.
The conversation starts off casually, much like with Nicodemus, but then Jesus just keeps on cranking up the intensity until He finally draws attention to her sinful life. To change the subject, the woman shifts the conversation to worship and long-held differences between Jews and Samaritans on this subject.
For her part, I believe the woman is trying to deflect the conversation away from herself, away from any further talk about the mess of her life. However, the woman, not understanding Jesus’ answer about worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth, tries again to change the subject. “The Messiah,” she says, “when He comes, everything will be clear and set right.”
I imagine Jesus waiting for this moment. I imagine a big smile on Jesus’ face as He replies to this Samaritan woman whose life is a total mess, “I who speak to you am he.”
In the middle of the mess of this Samaritan woman’s life, she suddenly encounters true living water in Jesus. No longer does she have to live in the mess of her life. Jesus is offering her new life in Him, and this woman’s life is about to be changed forever.
The whole encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman would have been shocking to the first readers of John’s Gospel because the point of it all is that the new life which is offered in Jesus, the living water, is for anyone regardless of gender, nationality, or moral background. This new life is for all who will come, who will accept the invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
This new life in Jesus isn't just for Jewish people. It’s for hated Samaritans and for Gentiles. It’s for the boss or teacher that irritates you, it’s for that annoying person in your social group, it’s for the estranged family member, it’s for the person that has wronged and even painfully hurt you. The new life that Jesus is offering is for everyone!
This is the revelation of God's great love for all people, and it’s literally being lived out in this conversation with this woman, this Samaritan woman, this blatantly sinful Samaritan woman, in her divine appointment with Jesus.
This new life in Jesus is for you and me as well. It never stops, never quits, and never depends on how great we are. God loves you. What are you going to do with your invitation to new life in Christ Jesus?
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.