There is an interesting story told to us in the book of John in which Jesus and the disciples travelling with Him were going through Samaria. Samaria was not a country of people who the average Jewish person would associate. They were not considered a holy people by the Jews and yet necessity for a shorter journey often required that Jews would travel through the countryside of Samaria. Remember that most people walked to get from one place to another in the time of Jesus and so finding the shortest route to take could be very advantageous to tired feet! Let’s read the story together.
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” John 4:1-26, (New International Version or NIV).
Jesus met a woman about noon as He and His disciples paused in their journey at the well-known as Jacob’s well. Jesus stayed to rest while the disciples went into Sychar to buy some food and while He was resting a woman came to fill her jar with water from the well. I remember learning in Bible College that the fact this woman came to the well alone and at noon was very informative as to what kind of woman she was. Most women would have already been there earlier in the day and would have gone in a group to the well. This woman, however, was coming alone and later than the other women which probably means she is not liked or approved of by the other women in the village. Jesus speaks to her and it startles her because men normally didn’t speak to women when they were strangers especially while both were alone. She recognized Him as a Jew and knew that Jews didn’t like Samaritans and so she asked Him why He would speak to her and ask her to share water with Him. She was obviously not a naïve woman; she knew it was strange He would do such a thing. His reply is so typical of Jesus. He ignores the cultural differences and goes straight to the heart of the matter. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” And there begins a theology debate of great importance because we see in the woman’s response that she knew the Jewish nation was waiting for a Messiah to come. Jesus sees how thirsty her soul really is for salvation, for the love that only God can give to a person, for acceptance into society and acceptance from God. Jesus saw it all and has great compassion for her. She responds not completely understanding He is the Messiah that everyone awaits but she knows enough to realize He must be a prophet. How often Jesus was thought of as a great prophet, and so He did what we see so often as He deals with broken people, he asks her to go get her husband. He knew her story without her telling him, He knew she wasn’t married, He knew why she was coming to the well alone and at noon. He knew every dark detail of her life.
“I have no husband,” she replied. This woman was so truthful to Jesus, most broken people are when they meet Jesus, don’t you think? She probably thought that He had read the signs of her coming alone and at noon to draw water from the well so why not be truthful to this stranger! But Jesus didn’t shrink away from her sinfulness; rather He viewed her as she was, a tired and aging sinner. He commends her for telling the truth by telling her that He knew she had no husband. He probably surprised her in the description of her life. Jesus basically told her what He knew. She had been married five times and was currently living with a man. Obviously she hadn’t lost through death all five of her husbands but we aren’t really told this for sure. It is probably safe to say that she had been divorced numerous times. She had been passed from man to man to man to man and finally was not even bothering to marry but living with a man. Jesus knew it all and she was obviously surprised! She knew instantly that this Man was not ordinary. She asks if He is a prophet and talks about the fact that Jews don’t accept her or her people and Jesus tells her that the day is coming when she will be able to worship God and that the Jews would no longer be the only Holy People. She was given hope! How did she respond?
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:27-42, NIV).
Jesus gave many people hope and still today broken sinners are finding hope in Christ! Hope that a day will come when they will be broken no longer. Hope that the day is coming when they will not be so sinful. Hope to overcome their sins of addiction, of sexual immorality, of idolatry, of so many agonizing sins! Hope! Jesus gives us hope today as well. What is the result of the hope offered by Jesus? It is simple really; many people come to salvation through Jesus! This woman at the well whom we never are even told her name was changed that day and like all of us today we too are changed when we encounter Jesus. I like that, don’t you?