The Woman at the Well

The Samaritan woman in the New Testament Book of John told other Samaritans of the prophet she met at Jacob's well, and that he had told her about the “living water.” She believed he was the Messiah, and Jesus confirmed it. Because of her, many Samaritans came to believe that Jesus was Christ the Savior (John 4:42). But this woman answered one question that Jesus asked in a roundabout way, and he called her on it.

Jesus' travels took him from town to town. He had left Judea and entered Samaria in order to return to Galilee. By the time he reached Sychar, near a plot of land owned by Joseph (Jacob's son), he was tired and thirsty. Jacob had a well, and Jesus went over to it and sat down. His disciples continued on to the town to purchase food. While Jesus rested at the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus asked her to give him a drink.

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:9–10)

The Woman Has Many Questions

The woman observed that Jesus had nothing with which to draw water from the well. She told him the well was deep, and asked him where he got the living water. But she didn't stop there. She might have been a Samaritan woman talking with a Jewish man, but it was the sixth hour, and no one was around. She had more questions for him: Was he greater than Jacob who dug the well, drank from it himself, and provided water from it to his cattle and children? After Jesus told her that his water would give everlasting life, the woman asked him to give her some of the living water.

Jesus told her to go and find her husband and come back. The woman said she had no husband. Jesus replied, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband…” (John 4:17–18).

Jesus Reveals How to Worship God

The Samaritan woman told Jesus that she could see he was a prophet; how else would an ordinary individual know such things about her? Then she pointed out that, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). Jesus replied that the hour was coming in which her people would worship neither on the mountain nor in Jerusalem, for “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:21–22). As they talked, Jesus further explained that God is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth.

Jesus Reveals He Is the Long-Awaited Messiah

The Samaritan woman became fully engaged in her chat with Jesus. She told him that she believed that the Messiah, who was called Christ, was coming, and when he did, he would explain everything to the people. Jesus made an astonishing and powerful declaration to her: “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26).

When Jesus' disciples returned, they were surprised to discover him talking with the foreign woman, “…yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?” (John 4:27).

The Woman Shares Her Story

The woman returned to town and told the people that Jesus had been able to tell her everything she had ever done. Then she asked, “…is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). The townspeople hurried to see the Christ for themselves, and many, after seeing Jesus, believed he was truly the Messiah. They told the woman that they believed, not because of her word, but because they'd heard for themselves, and were convinced that Jesus was the Savior of the world.

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