Samaritan Woman

INTRODUCTION: This passage is found only in John's gospel, and it has a variety of unique elements. Jesus had been in Jerusalem, and as he and his disciples were returning to Galilee they passed through Samaria. While Jesus was resting alone by Jacob's well, he had an encounter with a Samaritan woman.

NOTE: Bible verses are taken from the 1833 Webster Bible.


A - SOME very UNUSUAL EVENTS BEFORE JESUS RETURN TO GALILEE

John 4 "1 When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria."

COMMENTS: Before Jesus went up to Jerusalem with his disciples, his first miracle was performed at a wedding in Galilee, as he turned water into wine in a very subtle manner. John 2 "11 This beginning of miracles Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

When Jesus was at the temple in Jerusalem his surprising actions raised strong objections from the religious leaders, and his answer about his authority made no sense to them. John 2 "15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said to them that sold doves, Take these things hence: make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. 18 Then answered the Jews, and said to him, What sign showest thou to us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body."

Jesus did not plan to stay in Jerusalem after this Passover for this was not time for his final appearance there. John 2 "23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he performed. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men. 25 And needed not that any should testify concerning man: for he knew what was in man." So Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and Judea to return to Galilee. The most direct route was to go north through Samaria.


B - BRIEF BACKROUND OF SAMARIA FROM 2 CHRONICLES

2 Chronicles 11 "1 And when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin a hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam. 2 But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3 Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done by me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam."

2 Chronicles 11 "13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him from all their borders. 14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office to the LORD: 15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. 16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice to the LORD God of their fathers. 17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon."

COMMENTS: When Rehoboam the son of Solomon assumed the throne of his father, Jeroboam led ten tribes in rebellion and formed the separated northern kingdom of Israel. King Rehoboam followed the guidance of the prophet of the LORD, and did not go to war against Jeroboam but strengthened the cities of Judah and Benjamin. The priests and Levites from the north left their possessions and went into the southern kingdom to truly follow the LORD. Jeroboam set up calves to be worshipped and appointed priests who were not of the tribe of Levi. People of the ten tribes who were loyal to the LORD God of Israel left the north and relocated in the southern kingdom as true worshippers.


C - FALSE WORSHIP OF CALVES REVIVED BY KING JEROBOAM IN ISRAEL

Exodus 32 "1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people assembled themselves to Aaron, and said to him, Arise, make us gods which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said to them, Break off the golden ear-rings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me. 3 And all the people broke off the golden ear-rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose early on the morrow, and offered burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings: and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."

1 Kings 12 "26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to perform sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and return to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Upon which the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other he placed in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. 31 And he made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi."

2 Kings 17 "20 And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in its cities. 25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. 26 Wherefore they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. 28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. 29 Yet, every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities in which they dwelt."

COMMENTS: Exodus 32 has the account of how Aaron was persuaded by the people to fall back into worship of idols while Moses was out of the camp. Chronicles describes the actions of Jeroboam as the first king when Israel became the separated northern kingdom. The parallel account in 1 and 2 Kings shows the clear way in which the ten tribes in the north were willing to abandon God and do the same thing that had been done over five centuries earlier when Israel was led out of Egypt by Moses. But after even more centuries of long suffering by the LORD through the reign of many kings in Israel, he brought judgment as the northern kingdom was carried into captivity. Gradually some Jews were allowed to return to Samaria with some degree of worship of the LORD. But the Samaritans would not worship at the temple in Jerusalem after it was rebuilt in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. It was another four centuries or so before Jesus met this Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar.


D - JACOB'S WELL AT SYCHAR IN SAMARIA

John 4 "5 Then he cometh to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground, that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples had gone to the city to buy provisions.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria to him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."

COMMENTS: The name Sychar for this city which was in the territory of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, appears only in the above passage. Another passage gives a brief explanation of how this became part of the inheritance of Joseph in the territory of the descendents of his son Ephraim. Joshua 24 "32 And the bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph." Jacob had purchased this area from Hamor, the father of Shechem. The Samaritans still called the well on this property Jacob's well, and they identified themselves as descendents of Jacob.

Since Jesus was weary from his journey, he sat down on the well, and it was about noon. We are not told whether he and his disciples had drawn water from the well to quench their thirst before the disciples left Jesus to go into the town for provisions, and there is no explanation of why Jesus remained there alone. When a woman of Samaria came to draw water, Jesus asked her for a drink. She was quite surprised because she apparently could tell he was a Jew and she said Jews had no dealings whatever with people of Samaria such as herself. Jesus had made his request not to get a drink of water, but to open the conversation.


E - WELL OF WATER SPRINGING UP INTO EVERLASTING LIFE

John 4 "10 Jesus answered and said to her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith to him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said to her, Whoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again: 14 But whoever 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."

COMMENTS: Jesus told the woman that if she knew who he was, she would have asked of him, and he would have given her living water as the gift from God. As the woman followed a literal train of thought, she asked where he would get that living water since the well was deep and he had nothing with which to draw. She did not ask what he meant about "living" water or a gift from God. She then clearly referred to Jacob as the father of the Samaritans, and asked if Jesus was claiming to be greater than Jacob. Jesus differentiated between the natural water in the well that quenches thirst temporarily; and the water he offered that would become a well of water springing up into everlasting life for the person who received it. This was quite a claim for this Jew to make to a woman who knew him only as a stranger.

This was a wonderful example of the grace of God being offered to a Samaritan while most of the Jews had still failed to recognize Jesus as the Christ. At a later time in Jerusalem, Jesus spoke again about living water. John 7 "37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this he spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) 40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, In truth this is the Prophet. 41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Will Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh from the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43 So there was a division among the people because of him. 44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him." It was not yet time for Jesus to fully surrender himself. The Christ was always doing precisely what was according to the will of the Father in heaven.


F - SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS

John 4 "15 The woman saith to him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith to her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband: in that thou hast spoken truth. 19 The woman saith to him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith to her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews."

COMMENTS: The woman addressed Jesus as sir since she did not even know his name, and she asked him to give her some of that water he described. She seemed very willing to believe that if she drank of the water he offered, she would no longer need to draw water from Jacob's well for her physical thirst. This may have been her way to test what he was saying to her, or she may have just been eager to receive such a gift. Jesus did not immediately explain the spiritual implication of what he had said to her, but instead he asked her to go and bring back her husband. When she responded that she had no husband, Jesus told her that she had answered correctly. He then told her that she previously had five husbands, and the man she was now with was not her husband. When he said she had spoken truthfully, he clearly showed that he knew more about her than what she had simply revealed in her response. he did not make any further comment about her previous husbands or about her current living arrangement with a man.

The woman said to him that she could tell that he was a prophet as she apparently believed that is how he could know things of her past since they had never met before. Over many centuries there had been prophets in both Judah and in Israel, and their distinction was that they spoke of hidden facts and of future events. The woman then began to probe about the proper place of worship since the Jews said that Jerusalem was the only acceptable place to worship God. Jesus advised her to believe him as he told her that a time was coming when worship of the Father would not be in the Samaritan mountain nor in Jerusalem. He said the Samaritans did not know what they were worshipping, but the Jews knew, for salvation is of the Jews. The woman did not dispute what Jesus had just told her, and she did not ask him to explain more clearly about salvation being from or of the Jews. Since she knew about the Christ, she may have known from scripture that he would be a son of King David and therefore of the tribe of Judah.


G - GOD IS SPIRIT AND MUST BE WORSHIPPED IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH

John 4 "23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith to him, I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith to her, I that speak to thee am he. 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? 28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man who hath told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came to him."

COMMENTS: Jesus continued by stating that the time was coming, and in fact it had now arrived, when the true worshippers would not need to worship in that mountain or even in Jerusalem. The Father looks for those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. Jesus declared that God is a Spirit: and those who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. This woman was aware of scripture that gave prophecy of the Christ who was to come, and she said she believed that he would tell the people all things. She may therefore have thought that what Jesus had just told her was something that could come only from the Christ. Next, Jesus told her very directly that he was the Christ .

Before there was any more conversation between the two of them, the disciples of Jesus arrived at the well. They were quite surprised that he was talking with a woman, but none of them asked him what he wanted or why he talked with her. Without another word, the woman simply left her water pot at the well and quickly returned to the city. The things she had heard from Jesus apparently stirred within her thoughts so much that she completely abandoned her original reason for going to the well for water, and she rushed off to tell others about this encounter. . She told the men of the city to go with her to see the man who had told her everything about herself. Knowing how many husbands she had in the past, and that she was presently with a man who was not her husband certainly were things a complete stranger would not likely have known. her conclusion from this personal exchange was that he must be the anticipated Christ! The woman and the men left the city and came to see Jesus.

Sometimes it does not take extensive proof to open the heart to belief when God has planned to call someone to himself, such as when Jesus was first calling out his disciples. John 1 "43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith to him, follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him, We have found him described by Moses in the law, and by the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith to him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith to him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, dost thou believe? thou shalt see greater things than these." Even though Nathaniel apparently knew from scripture that the Christ was not anticipated to come from Nazareth, his direct encounter with Jesus touched his heart. He knew that Jesus could have only seen him supernaturally while he was still some distance away under the fig tree. This caused him to exclaim that Jesus was the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus did not chastise him for believing in that manner, but rather told him he would see even greater things.


H - ONE SOWS AND ANOTHER REAPS THE HARVEST

John 4 "31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said to them, I have food to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat? 34 Jesus saith to them, My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit to life eternal: that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that on which ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye have entered into their labors."

COMMENTS: Since the woman was gone, and the disciples had returned with their provisions, they encouraged Jesus to have something to eat. Jesus did not speak to them of living water, but he gave them a curious reply that he had food to eat that they did not know about. The disciples did not first ask Jesus, but they asked each other if perhaps someone else had brought him food. then Jesus began to talk in the spiritual realm as he told the disciples that his food was to do the will of the one who sent him, and to finish His work. Jesus had told the woman that the time had now arrived when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Jesus reminded the disciples of how it is said that in four months it would be time to harvest, but he urged them through a figure of speech to look upon another type of field to see that harvest time had arrived. The ones who reap this harvest will receive the wages of the fruit of eternal life. Then the ones who sow and the ones who reap will rejoice together. Jesus told them that others had made preparation as they labored for the LORD, and now the disciples would begin to harvest, but also enter into that labor to continue the process of sowing and reaping for the spiritual harvest.

The Word of the LORD is the seed that produces the harvested product by His will and for His purpose. Isaiah 55 "6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that proceedeth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

After the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Peter gave us these thoughts for the believer to cherish about the gift of everlasting life from the incorruptible seed as well as having the living water supplied by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1 "23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and its flower falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached to you."


I - JESUS CHRIST IS SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

John 4 "39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans had come to him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed, because of his own word; 42 And said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. 43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee."

COMMENTS: God had prepared not only this woman, but a number of people of Samaria who accepted her testimony about him. Perhaps the fact that they were not tied to the extensive ceremonial worship of the Jews , made them more ready to accept a gift, rather than believe they had to merit everlasting life by their deeds. When they came out from the city in belief because of the report of the woman, they invited Jesus to stay with them and he accepted a visit that lasted two days. The hope of the coming of the Christ seemed to be the preparation God used for them to accept Jesus into their midst. During the two days they would have had meals together, and there would have been overnight sleeping accommodations provided for Jesus and his disciples. There is no record of any part that the disciples had in this opening of the gospel to the ready hearts in this city of Samaria.

After the two days, many more had believed because of the words of Jesus that he personally spoke to them. They told the woman they now believed because of the words of Jesus, and they knew he is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. After the two days with the Samaritans, Jesus left their city and went on into Galilee. How interesting it is that many Jews had yet to receive the Word of God and that living water of the Holy Spirit offered as a gift by the Christ of God; but many in this Samaritan city confessed Jesus as not only their Savior, but of the whole world. Later the Apostle john wrote this phrase in one of his letters. 1 John 4 "14 And we have seen and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, I thank you for the way your Word had been around me through individual Christians who knew me, and through the Christian ministry on radio and television. Though I had no real desire to go to a local church for worship, when the circumstances of my life caused me to turn to you, you accepted my weak faith as I asked you to take control of my life. I now know Jesus, that you are the promised son of King David, the Christ, and the Son of God. The water of life that you gave to me by your Spirit has helped me to search the scriptures to learn more about your kingdom and the manner of life you desire for me to follow as one of your subjects. I want to worship my Lord in spirit and in truth, and to be part of the continued sowing and reaping for the spread of the gospel of Christ. May many more accept the words of the Apostle John, that "The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." Hallelujah, Amen.

Published 5 November 2016