Jesus And The Samaritan Woman At The Well
Free online resources based on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well near the village of Sychar. This story can be found only in the Gospel of John. See below for links to sermons, stories and entertaining sites for this important story.
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?”— John 4:4-7 NIV
Jesus and the Woman at the Well – Summary
I love how this story begins, with John explaining that Jesus had to go through Samaria (John 4:4). Jesus had a divine appointment with a woman that would never make anyone’s top ten list of potential evangelists. But that is just the way God operates. He looks at what is in your heart, and sees the potential for greatness in everyone who will believe.
The Samaritans and Jews hated each other. Jesus would sometimes use Samaritans in his parables, most notably the Good Samaritan, to point out that love is not restricted to just your race, religion, or nation. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem, and had different customs and traditions than the Jews during the time of Jesus. All these factors created division between the two groups to the point that Jews would travel around Samaria rather than the shorter path through it. With this background in mind, this encounter is all the more wonderful.
As Jesus was resting next to Jacob’s well, the Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus breaks the ice by asking her to give him a drink. What follows is one of the most interesting dialogues in the Gospels.
The Samaritan woman was surprised by the request. By asking for a drink, Jesus was breaking both cultural and religious boundaries. She responds by questioning his motives. Why was a Jewish man, much less a spiritual leader, talking to a woman in public? This was highly unusual in her time.
Jesus answered, “If you knew who was speaking to you, and the gift God has for you, you would ask me for living water.”
God has a gift for her? What exactly was living water? These thoughts raced through her head. She was intrigued by his offer and wanted to know more. How would Jesus get this “living water” and was he suggesting that he could provide water that was better than what came from the same well that had nourished their ancestor Jacob?
Jesus knew she was confused, so he provided more information, “People who drink this water will thirst again. The water I give is eternal, and those that drink it will never be thirsty.”
This sounded very good, a water source that would make her daily trips to the well unnecessary. Unfortunately, she was missing what Jesus was actually offering. Jesus needed to get her focused on her need for a Savior, and not just her physical needs. What Jesus was offering was much greater than anything in the natural.
Jesus said, “Go call your husband and come back.”
This question probed a little too deep into her life. Their banter had been interesting up until this point. Now it was stirring some difficult emotions inside of her. How could she answer this question honestly?
“I have no husband.”
Jesus summarized her situation, “What you said is true. You have had five husbands and the man you live with currently is not your husband.”
There was no condemnation in Jesus’ statement. This was her reality. She gave a shrewd answer that was painful for the woman to admit. Jesus already knew the answer before he even asked the question. He needed her to admit her greatest need, so Jesus could lead her to the solution.
Note her tone. A divorce, or death of a spouse, can produce feelings of rejection, unworthiness, loneliness, and remorse. God created marriage as a lifetime commitment, with a man and woman united as one in Covenant together, and with Him. It was never to be dissolved short of death. The reasons for so many marriages is not known. It may have been infidelity, death, or simply a series of bad marital choices. Divorce was easy in those days, often leaving women without means of support. This might explain the number of marriages, and her living with a sixth man that was not her husband. Some commentators have attempted to make this woman a prostitute, a serial adulterer, or something far worse.
Sin is sin. Everyone is born with a sinful nature and needs Jesus as their Savior. This woman was no more, or less, a candidate for God’s Grace than anyone else. And besides, had she been an outcast, or a notoriously sinful person, it is unlikely the entire village would so willingly consider her report about Jesus. And it is doubtful she would have spent much time pondering theological differences between the Jews and Samaritans.
I can sense her bitterness in her short answer. She wanted to be once and for all free from her sin consciousness, and in a committed relationship based on Love as God intends.
Recognizing Jesus’ prophetic wisdom, the woman wanted to start a theological debate on whether one should worship on Mount Gerizim as the Samaritans, or in Jerusalem as the Jews did. Again, Jesus gently guides her back to the most important issue in her life.
“Its time to worship God the way He really wants it, in Spirit and Truth. The location will not matter.”
This got her attention. Because then she confessed, “I know the Messiah is coming. And he will explain everything to us!”
Jesus answered, “I am the Messiah.”
This is why Jesus visited Jacob’s well in Samaria that day, and was present at the precise time this woman came to draw water. There was a deep thirst for the Messiah inside her. Note her language, “I know the Messiah is coming. And he will explain everything.” Read through the Gospels and see if you can find many folks that express such an eagerness to know the Messiah, and hear the Truth. More often than not, even the slightest hint that Jesus was the Messiah was met with persecution, or attempts at killing him. This is a remarkable confession from a very unlikely source. It reminds me of the Centurion’s faith, and how Jesus said he had found nothing similar in Israel.
She spoke from her heart a confidence in the promised Messiah, and bold faith always gets results. Jesus makes a rare admission that he is in fact the one she is waiting for, the Messiah. One can only imagine what thoughts and questions raced through her head. She was speaking to God’s Son, the one that would explain everything. This was a wonderful revelation that she had to share.
She left her water jar and ran to her village announcing to everyone, “Come see the man that knows everything about my life. Is he not the Messiah?”
About this time the disciples returned from buying food. They were a little surprised that Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman. It is interesting that the disciples, those with Jesus 24/7/365, were more concerned about social customs, or the propriety of their Master talking privately to a Samaritan woman, rather than what was being discussed.
The disciples encouraged Jesus to eat, but he told them that he was nourished by doing the will of God. And then he gave them an object lesson on sowing and reaping. The Word of God, unlike other seeds, can produce a harvest immediately. Such was the case in this Samaritan village, where the woman’s testimony was bringing the entire village out to meet Jesus. They gladly listened to his message for two days. And as John reports in his Gospel, many believed.
Because of this one woman’s faith and testimony, hundreds of Samaritans met Jesus. No matter where you are in life, how bad you think you have been, Jesus can change your life in an instant. Such was the case with this Samaritan woman.
Are you eager to know Jesus and share the Truth with your community?
Now numerous Samaritans from that town believed in and trusted in Him because of what the woman said when she declared and testified, He told me everything that I ever did.
So when the Samaritans arrived, they asked Him to remain with them, and He did stay there two days.
Then many more believed in and adhered to and relied on Him because of His personal message [what He Himself said].
And they told the woman, Now we no longer believe (trust, have faith) just because of what you said; for we have heard Him ourselves [personally], and we know that He truly is the Savior of the world, the Christ. — John 4:39-42 AMP
Read the Jesus and the woman at the well story in five popular translations – AMP, KJV, HCSB, NIV, The Message:
Samaritan Woman At The Well With Jesus – John 4:3-42
Additional Jesus And The Woman At The Well Resources
The Woman At The Well – A slide show story for kids
The Thirst Quencher – Children’s sermon & links to activity pages
Living Water – Children’s sermon & links to activity pages
Jesus And The Woman At The Well – Bible story and summary
Jesus And The Samaritan Woman – An object lesson outline (Note: the chapter should be John 4 not 2)
Jesus And The Samaritan Woman: Reading A Familiar Story Differently – A lengthy and helpful post looking at the story and its Old Testament connections. It rejects, as I do, the common premise that this was somehow an especially immoral woman of her day, and makes a compelling case for this perspective.
The Samaritan Woman – A brief blog post
The Samaritan Woman Meets Jesus – A blog post looking at the disciples reaction and what Jesus was teaching them.
Jesus And The Samaritan Woman – Another commentary on the encounter at the well
The Samaritan Woman In Film – Here are two video clips of the story, the first from the Gospel of John (2003) and then The Living Christ Series (1951). Ignore the extra-biblical overacting of the Peter character in the 2nd, and focus on each actress playing the part of the woman at the well, and their interaction with Jesus. Two different interpretations that may help you appreciate this story even more.
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Suggested Search Terms: Jesus, Samaria, Samaritans, Sychar, woman at the well, Samaritan woman, Jacob’s well, living water, John 4:3-42