The Woman at the Well
Text: John 4:1-43
I. Many miss the fact that Jesus and his disciples were baptizing believers before Jesus’ death on the cross.
A. Often we think of baptism as a rite established with Peter on the day of Pentecost.
B. More began to follow Jesus than John
II. Jesus left the Jordan River Valley to travel into Galilee.
A. His route was unusual. He chose to travel through Samaria.
1. Samaria was the region populated by half-Jews.
2. They followed a form of the Jewish religion that was modified heavily.
B. Most Jews traveling between Judea and Galilee would cross over the Jordan to avoid Samaria.
C. Jesus went from the Jordan into Samaria to the town of Sychar.
1. The town was noted as being near the land owned by Jacob, which Joseph inherited.
2. It was also the location of Jacob’s well.
D. Depending on who’s time system you use, it was either noon or 6 p.m. when Jesus and his disciples entered the town.
E. Being the customary diner time, Jesus’s disciples left for the market to buy food while Jesus waited by Jacob’s well.
1. Notice that the walk was tiring. They had crossed a mountain range that day, climbing about 4,000 ft
III. A woman came to the well and Jesus politely asked for a drink
A. Again, Jesus violated Jewish customs
1. A Jew would not talk to a Samaritan voluntarily, let alone drink from vessels used by Samaritans.
2. A man would not normally speak to a woman in public (see later).
B. The woman expressed surprise that a Jew would be willing to violate his own nation’s customs.
C. Jesus told her she asked the wrong question.
1. If she knew who she was talking to, she would have asked for living water.
2. By this Jesus was referring to the word of God which gives eternal life.
D. However, the woman misunderstood. After all, Jesus had just asked for water while sitting next to a well.
1. She pointed out that he had nothing with him to draw water out of the deep well.
2. They revered Jacob in that city. This man was claiming to be able to give water without a vessel, and not just plain water but living water!
3. Was Jesus claiming to be greater than the man who originally dug this well?
E. Jesus points out that she was thinking about the wrong type of water.
1. Water from a well only satisfy for a short period of time.
2. The living water of God’s word satisfies the soul permanently.
3. Not only does it satisfies, but the receiver of the word becomes a source of living water himself. Each person who learns the word of God becomes a source to pass it on to others.
F. All the woman hears is that she will not be thirsty after drinking living water. What a wonderful thought to never have to fetch water from a deep well again!
IV. Instead of answer the woman’s request directly, Jesus tells her to bring her husband.
A. The woman wanted living water. Jesus was willing to give her the words of God, but there was sin in her life that must be first addressed.
B. Notice that he doesn’t confront her directly, but comes to the topic from a unique and unexpected angle.
C. The woman is willing to admit that she was not married.
D. Jesus pointed out that she answered well, because she had five husbands in the past and is currently living with a man.
E. Jesus’ answer amazes the woman because they had just met, yet Jesus knew details of her life.
1. She concludes that Jesus must be a prophet, because only God could reveal such knowledge.
2. What is more interesting is that realizing she was talking to a true prophet, she had a question she was dying to learn the answer to: Where should people worship?
a. The Samaritans worshiped in Samaria, probably because they were not welcomed in Jerusalem.
b. The Jews stated firmly that true worship could only be done in Jerusalem.
3. Jesus replies that a time is approaching when it will not matter where a person worships God.
a. The Samaritans did not worship God correctly. They worshiped in ignorance.
b. The Jews were worshiping God correctly at that time.
4. However, the time was coming when true worship would be in spirit and truth.
a. Spirit refers to worship from the heart. It would not be just a formal show, but a sincerely held belief. This is what the Jews lacked.
b. Truth refers to the accurate following of the teachings of God. This is what the Samaritans lacked.
F. The talk of a time of change caused the woman to think about the Messiah
1. Jesus bluntly states that he was the Messiah.
2. The impact of Jesus’ statement is greater in the Greek, because Jesus says “I am” – the name of God.
3. It is amazing that Jesus was more direct with a Samaritan woman, than his own countrymen. He told a Samaritan before he told the Jews that He was the Messiah.
V. As they talked, the disciples returned from the market
A. They were amazed that Jesus was conversing with woman, yet they were not bold enough to ask him why.
B. The woman, learning that the Messiah was at their town, ran to tell others. In her excitement, she leaves the water jar behind.
1. She tells the men of the town that a man who could tell details about her past is outside the town.
2. She express her belief that he must be the Messiah
C. Meanwhile the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat the food they had just bought.
1. But Jesus is not hungry. He says he had food that they did not know about.
2. Jesus is referring to the satisfaction of teaching God’s word to a receptive audience, but the disciples are still thinking about the food they had bought.
3. They could not figure out where he would have gotten food.
4. Jesus then explains in plain words what food to which he was referring.
5. There was work to be done for the Father right then. There was a harvest of souls waiting to be reaped.
a. Some sow the word, gaining people’s interest in God.
b. Others reap bringing in the results.
c. Jesus was sowing the seed of God’s word so that the disciples would be able to later reap souls for God.
VI. The men came out of the city because of the curiosity the woman’s word aroused in them.
A. They asked Jesus to stay a few days with them. Another violation of custom between the Samaritans and the Jews.
B. They learned much from Jesus and independently concluded that he really was the Messiah.
1. Such a contrast from the Jews, who refused the words of Jesus.