Read John 4
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 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.)
10 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.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 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?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
15 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.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 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.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
27 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?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 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. 36 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. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 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 Samaritans Believe
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 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.”
Jesus Heals an Official’s Son
43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
John 4 is a remarkable story in the Gospels for many reasons. For starters, the fact that Jesus chose to go to Samaria was practically unheard of in that day. Their racism was so deeply entrenched that Jews avoided Samaria like the plague. If they had to go through it, they went through quickly. Yet, here Jesus stops at a well in Samaria for a chat and stays for a few days. And who did He talk to? A woman! At that time, a woman’s place in society was so low that some rabbis wouldn’t even address their own wives and daughters in public. But here, Jesus engages a woman in a conversation (alone, nonetheless). As if this all wasn’t shocking enough, the woman He talks to isn’t just an ordinary Samaritan woman, but a woman who was leading a lifestyle of perpetual sexual sin. Her own people probably avoided her, rejected her, and judged her for her sin so much so that she came to the well in the heat of the day just to avoid being around them. The beauty of this story is that Jesus seeks her out specifically.
Perhaps the most shocking part of it all is that, for the first time in Jesus’ public adult ministry life, He reveals His identity as Messiah to this woman! To the adulterous, outcast, Samaritan woman, Jesus first publicly proclaims who He is. This is scandalous and shocking. But such is the way of Jesus and such is the grace of Jesus. It’s scandalous and shocking and unexpected. It doesn’t make sense. It’s unearned. The people who seem like they deserve it least get it first. Jesus doesn’t ignore, reject, or forget the ones that the world ignores, rejects, and forgets. He draws even nearer to them. He gives them the second chance the rest of the world refuses to extend.
To this woman, the grace she receives from Jesus propels her to offer it to the very people who once withheld it from her. She runs into town, to those who’ve more than likely rejected her because of her sin, and brings them to Jesus. You see, she got it: they might be undeserving of Jesus, but so was she. Once we encounter the life changing truth and grace of Jesus, we should be this quick to offer that same grace to those around us, regardless of whether we think they deserve it or not. Because the truth is none of us have earned it, yet we all still have access to it. And that’s what’s so good about the Good News: it’s for everyone.
- What part of this story is most shocking to you? Why?
- Do you have a hard time extending God’s grace to a particular person or group of people? Why? Ask God to change your heart toward them.
- A lot of times we think that acknowledging sin leads to shame, but here we see this woman find freedom when Jesus confronts her over her sinful lifestyle. How have you seen confession lead to freedom in your own life? Is there any sin you need to confess today in order to find freedom?
Did You Know?
The last part of John 4 details the second sign of Jesus in this book: The healing of an official’s son. Jesus rebukes the crowd for needing to see signs in order to believe. And, instead of healing the son publically, He heals from a distance out of the public eye. None of the crowd who just wanted another sign would’ve seen it–only the father who acted in faith would witness this sign.
2 thoughts on “John 4”
If this chapter doesn’t wreck our hearts in the best way, I don’t know what will. Jesus first declares himself to be the long awaited Messiah to one society deemed a scourge. Just speaking the name “Samaritan” meant an insult. This woman was most likely criticized, looked down on and deemed unclean. She was abandoned by husbands and her community. But Jesus sees beyond her sin laden past and sees what she CAN be. Verse 39 says “many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said and testified.” Freed people free people! Someone is waiting on us to share our testimony/experience of coming to salvation. Why is it so hard to break through the barriers and share? I can only imagine the excitement and joy this woman exuded as she returned to her people! I’m sure her countenance glowed with hope and freedom. Today, I want to take the light entrusted to me and shine a path of freedom that comes only from knowing Christ. Someone awaits on the other side of our obedience.
Recently the sermon at our church focused on the Great Commission. Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19). The pastor noted how Jesus commands us to go out in the world. Nowadays many of those around us are wary to enter a church, so if we’re waiting for our neighbors to accept our invitation to church as the opportunity to make disciples, we may be missing an important dimension of Jesus’ injunction. Rather, we are to go out into the world to share the Good News.
In this chapter, we see Jesus doing just that. Rather than spending his time in the temple, he was to be found by the lake, in neighborhoods, and here by a well in the despised region of Samaria, conversing with sinners and meeting them at their point of need, sin, and brokenness. An encouragement to us that we can be faithful disciples right where we are, pointing others to Jesus, the living water (v. 14), who alone satisfies our deepest needs.