“Samaritan Woman Finds Living Water”
Lesson Text: John 4:7-15, 21-30
Background Scripture: John 4:1-42
Devotional Reading:Revelation 22:10-17
John 4:7-15, 21-30
7There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
27And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
28The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
30Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
To understand that only Jesus can satisfy our deepest needs and longings.
To explain the significance of Jesus’ discussion with the woman in light of the cultural, political, and religious taboos He ignored.
To know that we spend our time acquiring ordinary things. But what Jesus offers—an everlasting, spirit-and-truth relationship with the God of the universe—is what we really need and want.
Awkward Conversations, “Aha” Moments
All of us have had awkward conversations. Perhaps a remark was misinterpreted. Or someone raised a sensitive issue that others wanted to ignore. Maybe someone said something hurtful. Or maybe we realized later that our own words made the conversation awkward. On the other hand, we also have pleasant memories of “aha” moments—those rare occasions where we suddenly realize something vitally important. Earthly “aha” moments involve sudden awareness of a truth that had been knowable but was unknown until something “clicked.” Divine “aha” moments are different. These involve sudden awareness of something unknowable until God makes it known.
Sometimes in the Bible awkward conversations and divine “aha” moments come together. In Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, He said things that were difficult for her, even offensive. But through the conversation she had the greatest of “aha” moments: an awareness of who Jesus was as a result of divine revelation.
TIME: A.D. 27
Because the Pharisees were trying to incite competition between Jesus and John the Baptist (John 3:25-30), Jesus left Judea and started north for Galilee. He could have taken one of three possible routes: along the coast, across the Jordan and up through Perea, or straight through Samaria. Orthodox Jews avoided Samaria because there was a longstanding, deep-seated hatred between them and the Samaritans.
The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes in 727 B.C. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mt. Gerizim. This only fanned the fires of prejudice. So intense was their dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48).
Because He was on a divinely appointed schedule, it was necessary that Jesus go through Samaria. Why? Because He would meet a woman there and lead her into saving faith, the land of true faith that would affect an entire village. Our Lord was no respecter of persons. Earlier, He counseled a moral Jewish man (John 3), and now He would witness to an immoral Samaritan woman!
Jesus’ Request (John 4:7-9)
1. What was the scenario when the Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well (John 4:7,8)?
John 4:6 notes that it is now “about the sixth hour.” That means it is six hours since sunrise, or about noon. This is an unusual time to draw water from a well, since the custom is to draw water in the morning and again in the evening.
The woman, perhaps coming at this time to avoid conversation, probably is surprised to find anyone else at the well at such a time. That she finds a man is an additional surprise, since women normally draw the water in this culture (compare Genesis 24:13; Exodus 2:16). That she finds a Jewish man is more surprising still, since this location is Samaria.
Then comes an even greater surprise: Jesus asks the woman for something to drink. This level of conversation between a man and a woman might be acceptable were Jesus not a Jew. But the hostility between Jews and Samaritans is such that any remark from a Jewish man to a Samaritan woman probably is shocking.
Meanwhile, the disciples went to the nearby town for food while Jesus deliberately waited at the well. He was weary, hungry, and thirsty. John not only presents Jesus as the Son of God but also as true man. Our Lord entered into all the normal experiences of our lives and is able to identify with us in each of them.
2. How did the Samaritan woman respond to Jesus’ request for a drink of water (v. 9)?
The woman is astonished that a Jew would speak to a Samaritan, especially a Samaritan woman. She surmised that He was a Jewish rabbi, and perhaps she tried to "read between the lines" to find another meaning to His request. What was He really seeking? Respected Jewish teachers of that day rarely, if ever, volunteered to speak to a woman in public. Also, no Jewish man would ever make himself ceremonially unclean by drinking from a Samaritan’s cup. Given this cultural context, it is understandable why the woman at the well was astonished by Jesus’ request.
But Jesus is more concerned with fulfilling His mission to draw all people to himself (John 12:32) than He is with the social boundaries created by past hatreds.
Talking Points for Your Discussion
-Boundaries regarding gender
-Boundaries of a socioeconomic nature
-Boundaries of culture and ethnicity
-Boundaries of national borders
Jesus’ Comment about Living Water (John 4:10-12)
3. What truth did Jesus really want to share (v. 10)?
Jesus begins to reveal that He is interested in a much more important topic. At this point, the woman knows Jesus only as a Jewish man, forbidden by custom to speak to her. But Jesus is much more than that. He is the gift of God who provides life (John 3:16). If the woman can be made to understand this, then the roles will be reversed: she will be the one to break convention by asking Jesus to give her something. That “something” Jesus calls “living water.”
4. How did the woman interpret Jesus’ words (vs. 11,12)?
We sense the woman’s confusion as she takes “living water” in a conventional sense of “flowing water.” But seeing no nearby water source except for the well, she assumes that this stranger imagines that He can get flowing water from there, without a container and rope. The idea is preposterous, so her question may have a note of sarcasm.
Samaritans and Jews claim Jacob as a common ancestor. Tradition is that Jacob dug this well centuries before. Jacob is the father of all Israel (v. 12). So it is unthinkable that anyone can surpass him. So the woman phrases her question sharply, expecting a clear no for an answer (compare John 8:53).
Jesus Explains What He Meant (John 4:13-15)
5. How did Jesus take the emphasis off the need for physical water and place it in the woman’s need for spiritual water (vs. 13-15)?
“Jesus adroitly sidestepped the Samaritan woman’s provocation by noting that even water from Jacob’s well quenched thirst for only a short time (John 4:13). But the eternal life Jesus offered would abundantly satisfy the spiritual thirst of people forever (see 10:10). God’s gift of salvation was comparable to a fountain of water that vigorously welled up in believers in an inner, unending, and overflowing supply (4:14). The idea of a perpetual torrent of water intrigued the woman, who pictured it as something that would replace her daily trips carrying a heavy pot to and from the well. She took Jesus literally and focused on personal convenience rather than anything spiritual (v. 15).
The Redeemer, however, had a different agenda, one that involved getting the woman to see her need for eternal life. To achieve this goal, Jesus focused on the woman’s sin, which stood in the way of her accepting what He offered” (Cook).
Jesus commands her to call her husband, and reveals her sinful condition in verses 16-20 (not in today’s text). She was morally bankrupt. She acknowledges Jesus as a prophet, and in so doing admits her personal sin which Jesus revealed. The woman now desires to be taught by the prophet. Should she worship in Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem?
True Temple (John 4:21-24)
6. Why did the woman raise the issue of proper worship (John 4:21-24)?
Perhaps in an attempt to deflect the conversation away from her sinful lifestyle, the woman brought up the controversy between Samaritans and Jews regarding the proper place to worship (v. 20). To her it was a suitable religious question for a prophet to give his authoritative assessment.
However, Jesus reveals to the woman that where a person worships is unimportant. It is not limited to Mount Gerizim or Jerusalem. Jesus clarifies a point that the Samaritans knew very little about the one they worshiped (v. 22). God had chosen the Jews to be the vehicle through which he would reveal His plan of redemption.
Nevertheless, the hour cometh, and now is when God is to be worshiped “in spirit and in truth” (v. 24). Two separate concepts are implied. The worship of the Father is not confined to a place but is rather an action of the heart. Second, all worship must be in keeping with the truth of God’s revealed Word.
God’s nature demands spirit-and-truth worship. God’s nature is that He is Spirit (compare 2 Corinthians 3:17). He is not limited by the physical. As the life-giving Spirit, He is more powerful than any other being. As an invisible Spirit, He is mysterious. But now He has made himself known in Jesus. So those who truly worship Him do so in spirit, not just according to outward forms (compare Philippians 3:3). And they worship in the truth as revealed by God in Christ.
Talking Points for Your Discussion
-In the way you prepare your heart for corporate worship
-In the way you approach your personal devotion time
-In the way you conduct yourself as a living sacrfice (Romans 12:1)
Christ the True King (John 4:25-30)
7. What truth about the Messiah did the Samaritans share with the Jews (vs. 25,26)?
In spite of her ignorance, there was one truth this woman did know: the Messiah was coming and would reveal all things.The Samaritans share the Jews’ belief that God will one day send a great Redeemer to fulfill God’s promises and bless His people. Messias (or Messiah) and Christ mean “anointed one” (John 1:41).
This seed had lain buried in her heart until that very hour, and now it was going to bear fruit. Our Lord's response to her statement was, literally: "I that speak to thee, I am!" The implication from the whole of John’s Gospel is not just that Jesus is the king whom God sends, but is God himself—visiting His people as their true Ruler and true Redeemer. In this conversation, Jesus’ power to know and do what only God can know and do reveals who He truly is.
8. What unconventional behavior did the disciples notice of Jesus on their return (v. 27)?
When the disciples returned from obtaining food, they were shocked that Jesus was conversing with a woman, and especially a Samaritan. What the disciples do not yet know is that what Jesus has just said is even more amazing than to whom He has said it. But the disciples hesitate to voice their amazement. They have seen Jesus’ authority before, so in respect they hold their peace.
9. Why did the woman leave her waterpot and return to the city (vs. 28-30)?
For one thing, she had the living water within and was now satisfied. Her excited response shows the profound impression Jesus made on her (v. 28). At this point, the woman put her faith in Jesus Christ and was converted. Immediately she wanted to share her faith with others, so she went into the village and told the men she had met the Christ.
Jesus has spoken to the woman about her shameful past. Yet she is joyously excited about what Jesus has said. He reveals a kind of knowledge that can come only from God. And He has promised what only God can promise. When she asks “is not this the Christ” (v. 22)? she asks in a way that insists the answer is yes.
The woman’s message draws a crowd to see Jesus firsthand. This unlikely meeting—between a Jewish teacher and the Samaritan audience gathered by an immoral woman—will last for two days. As a result, many Samaritans will join the woman in her belief (John 4:39-42).
This woman did not come to faith in Christ immediately. Jesus was patient with her, and in this, He sets a good example for us in our own personal work. Certainly she was the least likely prospect for salvation, yet God used her to win almost an entire village!
After the woman left, they urged Jesus to share the meal with them, because they knew that He was hungry (v. 31, not in today’s text). "I have food to eat that ye know not of was His reply and, as usual, they did not understand it. They thought He was speaking of literal food, and they wondered where He got it. Then He explained that doing the Father's will—in this case, leading the woman to salvation—was true nourishment for His soul.
Jesus then changed the image from that of food to that of the harvest (v. 35), which is the source of the food. He quoted the familiar Jewish proverb about waiting for the harvest, and then pointed to the villagers even then coming out to the well to meet Him, thanks to the witness of the woman. The disciples went into the village to get food for themselves, but they did no evangelizing. The woman took their place!
POINTS TO PONDER
1. Jesus didn’t shy away from strangers, and neither should we (John 4:7-9).
2. Like Jesus, we should look beyond what people think of others, and see their deeper spiritual needs (vs. 10-15).
3. God is seeking people to worship Him in spirit and in truth (vs. 21-24).
4. God wants us reach out to others with His message of grace and hope (vs. 25-30).
Something Much Better
With disregard for social convention, Jesus opened the door for the Samaritan woman and her neighbors to learn the amazing things that God was doing. Coming to the well at an odd hour for ordinary water, she found the one who could give her what she and others truly needed.
Our situation is not much different from hers. We spend our time acquiring ordinary things. But what Jesus offers—an everlasting, spirit-and-truth relationship with the God of the universe—is what we really need and want. When we have that gift, we have everything we have ever wanted.
O Lord, You have offered us more than we deserve and more than we can imagine. May we in turn be people who worship You constantly, genuinely, and truly. In Jesus’ name, amen!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Seek living water above all else.