The Woman at the Well
Tim Temple


Turn in your Bibles to the book of John, chapter 4. The first 26 verses have to do with the wayward woman. In verses 27-42, we have the wondering disciples. The disciples came along and discovered Jesus talking to this woman, and they could not believe their eyes. This was something that was never done, and so they were wondering about that. Jesus taught them about that and some other things they were wondering about. Then, in verses 43-54, we will see the story of the worried nobleman. He was a man who knew his son was dying, and he came to Jesus. He exercised great faith in Jesus, and Jesus actually healed this boy long distance. It is an interesting story about the false teaching that says that God only heals if we have enough faith. He did this miracle without the boy being present. It is a wonderful story of how God solved that problem.

Circumstances Leading Jesus to the Woman

We will begin our study by thinking about the wayward woman described in verses 1-26. The first thing that John brings out in these verses is the circumstances leading Jesus to the woman in verses 1-5.

We look at something that the Lord has done and we usually think of it in terms of the finished product, but if we were to analyze the things that God has done in our lives, we will find in most cases that He used a whole series of circumstances to put that together. If you think about it, you probably can quickly identify some situation in your life where, as you look back on it, you can see a whole series of things that God did to put that circumstance together.

That is the case here with this woman of Samaria. The first circumstance that God used in getting this woman in touch with Jesus was a conflict that is described in verses 1-3. It seems to be totally unrelated, but as we look at it, I think you will see how it all fits together. Notice verse 1:

John 4

1When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

Here we see some of the confusion, or even jealously, that was developing between the disciples of John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus. Not only that, but the Pharisees were getting wind of it. They were finding out how Jesus was gaining disciples and how there was this competition on the part of the disciples as to whose master was baptizing more. Jesus knew that the Pharisees could really make some political hay out of that and that they could really capitalize on that kind of conflict, so Jesus just avoids all of that by taking His disciples and leaving that whole area.

Isn't it interesting how God uses even seemingly unrelated things to work together for ultimate good? As Jesus leaves the area and decides to go back to Galilee, He comes across this woman who we are going to see as the major character in the first part of this story.

Jesus was in Judea in the southern tip of Israel as it was laid out in Jesus' day. Then right in the middle of Palestine there was this area called Samaria , and in the northern third was Galilee. Jesus had grown up in the village of Nazareth, and He was going back to Galilee, getting out of Judea, and going up north. The whole area north to south in Jesus' day was about 120 miles. Of course, they walked in those days, and that would have made the time and the distance much greater.

Jesus' Compassion for the Samaritans

As Jesus heads toward Galilee, we see a second circumstance in the meeting of this woman. It is a circumstance that is always present in God's dealings, and that is the circumstance of Jesus' compassion. Look at verse 4:

John 4

4And he must needs go through Samaria.
5Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

There is one word that is a key to this whole point and that is the word need in verse 4. The reason that word is so significant is that the Jews went out of their way to avoid going through Samaria. As I said, Samaria was roughly in the middle of the country, separating the two countries, and Samaria was that area of Israel's property in which the King of Assyria had settled. When the Israelites went into captivity under the Babylonians in the time of Daniel (II Kings 17:24-34) hundreds of years before Christ, the king of Assyria moved some Assyrians into Israel's old territory, settled them there, and they stayed there until after the Israelites came back from their captivity.

When the Israelites got out of their captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah, they didn't drive the Assyrians out. The Jews intermarried with those Assyrians, and yet they never made them a part of Israel, so the Samaritans were a despised minority. The Jews despised them so much that they developed their own religion which was an amalgamation of Assyrian religions and Jewish religions. It was a real touchy racial situation there in Palestine. By the time Jesus was on the earth, there was a very bitter feud between those two groups of people.

Let me digress here and say that all of that is the background out of which Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. The Jews did not ever think in the terms of a good Samaritan . You did not find those two words together in Jewish thought, but the Jews had worked out a little road that went around Samaria. They would leave Judea down in the south, and they would go up and around the perimeter and would come back into Israel's territory up in Galilee. That is why verse 4 is such a surprising statement.

Why did Jesus need to go to Samaria? There are two reasons for that. First, I think He knew that what the Jews were doing was wrong. It was discrimination and pride, and though the Scripture has little to say specifically about those things, the principles of God's Word always puts down discrimination. I think that Jesus needed to go through Samaria to demonstrate how wrong that was.

Much more importantly, He had compassion on the Samaritans. He knew that they were worthy of His attention, and they needed a Savior as much as anybody did, so He needed to go through Samaria to make Himself available to those people.

Love of Christ and desire for ministry for Christ always gives a different perspective of the word need . We have our human ideas of needs, but when a person becomes committed to serving Jesus Christ, that word need takes on a different meaning. What people in Samaria needed was the Gospel. Therefore, Jesus needed to go to Samaria.

Prelude to Their Conversation

Those are the circumstances—the conflict that was going on between Jesus' disciples and John the Baptist's disciples and the compassion that Jesus had for the Samaritans. Out of those circumstances, in verses 6-26, we see the conversation that Jesus had with this woman. First, we find the prelude to the conversation in verse 6 and the first part of verse 7:

John 4

6Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water…

Let me point out something that is easily overlooked as we just quickly read through the chapter and that is the humanity of the Lord Jesus. In the middle of verse 6, we see, “Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey…” Here is one of those places where the humanity of Jesus is demonstrated. He got tired. Jesus knows what it is to be tired, and as He represents us to the Father in Heaven, He knows how tired and sleepy some of you are. Jesus knows what it is to be tired and to be sick and to be disappointed and to be grief-stricken. He understands all of those things, because He was a human. In several places, these little references to His humanity are made. Jesus was tired, so He sat down by the well there in the village of Sychar in Samaria.

Something else that I want to point out in verse 6 is as it ties in with Jesus giving the Gospel. Jesus was there because He had compassion on the Samaritans. He wanted to reach the Samaritans with the Gospel. Isn't it interesting that He just sat down? He didn't go into the nearby city and start passing out tracts. He didn't go there and try to line up an auditorium to preach in. He sent the disciples to get food, but He just sat down at the place where He was.

This is an important lesson that we can learn about witnessing for Christ. In fact, one of the reasons that it is important to look at these verses is that not only does it delineate some details about salvation, but it also gives us some good information about witnessing for Christ. It tells us how Jesus witnessed.

The first point about the way that Jesus witnessed is that He just used natural circumstances to reach out to other people. In other words, He reached out to people who were where He was. The verse tells us that it was about the sixth hour, which would be noon by Jewish reckoning of time, and a woman came to the well. The Scripture doesn't make any comment about that, but putting our reasoning together, we can figure, based on their customs, that Jesus probably knew when this woman came to the well at noon, that for some reason, she was an outcast.

It was the women's responsibility in that society to draw the water. Obviously, they didn't have running water, and they had to go to the well on a regular basis, but the women would never come to the well at noon because it was too hot at that time of day. They would come earlier in the day or in the evening when it was not so hot, but here is a woman coming to the well at high noon. Jesus knew that there was something strange about that. In His humanity, He picked up on that. All of that is the prelude to the conversation. These are the circumstances that set up this conversation.

The Nature of Water

In the next verses, we find the specific points of the conversation. Oddly enough, the first thing that they talked about was the nature of water, in the last part of verse 7 and going on through verse 15. Notice very carefully the last line of verse 7:

John 4

7…Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

This woman came walking up to the well where Jesus was sitting. As far as we can tell, she didn't say anything to Jesus; Jesus approached her. That ties in with the fact that God always reaches out to man. That is always the case even if we can't see it, and this was the God-man, Jesus Christ, reaching out to this woman. This would have been unheard of in Jesus' position. We have already seen that Jesus was often referred to as Rabbi . As I mentioned, that is an honorary title, and it is more an adjective than a title. It is something that the Jewish teachers and scholars loved to be called, but it was a term that the disciples of a teacher would apply to him if they really wanted to honor their teacher. It wasn't a degree that you earned or a designation that you would take an exam to get. It was just an honorable term, and Jesus was often referred to as Rabbi .

One of the unwritten rules about Rabbis was that they would never speak to a woman in public. In fact, Rabbis wouldn't even speak to their own wives and daughters out in public. That just wasn't done, and here is Jesus, Who was gaining a reputation as a Rabbi, yet He opens the conversation with the woman. It is not that she spoke to Him and He spoke back; He initiated the conversation. I think that the statement behind the lines here is that Jesus wasn't worried about His image. He didn't care what people thought about Him because His heart was pure and holy. He knew that whatever they thought about Him, He didn't need to worry, because He had nothing to hide, and He didn't have anything to be ashamed of. He knew that this thing about not speaking to women was just discrimination and legalism, and He did not hesitate for a minute to speak to this woman. There was nothing in the Bible that said He should not speak to a woman, so He spoke to her.

In verses 9-14, notice the reaction of the woman. She expresses her reaction to Jesus. Jesus just says, “Give Me a drink of water,” and she expresses her reaction in the form of three questions. As He answers those questions, He brings her face-to-face with the deepest need in her life. Incidentally, in doing it this way, Jesus teaches us a great technique to use in witnessing. He finds a starting point for the conversation. In this case, He finds a starting point in their surroundings. We can look for a starting point in something that we know they are interested in. We can look for a starting point in whatever it is that has drawn us to the same place. We can look for a starting point in some common topic of conversation, maybe in something that everyone in the area is talking about.

If we are going to witness to somebody, it is not the biblical approach, although many Christians do it, to go up to somebody and say, “Hey Buddy, do you know Jesus?” That cold approach is not biblical. Jesus Himself did not do that. He just started out talking about where they were and what they were doing. He just said, “Would you give Me a drink of water?” If you are in a situation with another person where you think you might have an opportunity to witness, the thing to do is to look for an opening. Pray that God will give you direction in what to talk about. Pray that God will give you the opening and that God has made them willing to hear.

You may discover as you open a conversation with somebody that they are not the least bit interested in talking about the Lord. Unless God has specifically impressed on you that you should talk to this person, then probably the best thing to do is to drop it. Leave this matter of witnessing in God's hand. If you are willing to witness for Christ—that is the first big hurdle—He will show you to whom to witness. When that time comes, the way to do it is to look for a way to get into a conversation. That is what Jesus did here. In answer to that, her first question is, in verse 9:

John 4

9…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.

If we were reading this in the Greek text, we would find that she says there in the middle of the verse, “How is it that you ask a drink from me, a Samaritan and a woman?” Jews wouldn't ask for a drink from a Samaritan under any circumstances, and they certainly wouldn't ask for a drink from a Samaritan who was also a woman. There was a great deal of prejudice in that society.

This totally amazed this woman. Incidentally, this tells us that Jesus was so obviously a Jew that she could tell it by looking at Him. Jesus was not some kind of an other world looking creature with a halo over His head. He just looked like a Jewish man. She knew immediately that He was a Jew. The overall tone of her question really is not objection. We find out later what kind of a woman she was, so she probably didn't object to a man speaking to her. This was just curiosity. She really wanted to know what in the world would cause a Jewish man to speak to a Samaritan woman.

Jesus was probably thirsty, and that was a very logical reason for Him to ask her for a drink, but He had a much bigger reason in mind than just meeting His own needs. In fact, if you look at the story, you see that He never did get a drink of water from her. They get off onto other things, and Jesus never complains about that. Jesus was thirsty, but it was much more important to Him to deal with this woman on a spiritual basis. He just forgot about His thirst in order to meet her spiritual thirst.

From the fact that she doesn't turn away, we know that Jesus already has won her confidence and interest. He has begun to get her interest in what He wants to say to her, so in verse 10, He takes the conversation back, and He develops the opening a little further with His answer to her question:

John 4

10…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.

What an understatement Jesus made: “If you knew Who it was that said unto you, ‘Give me a drink'…” Don't you know this Samaritan woman probably gets embarrassed up in Heaven every time she hears us read this story? Here she was, face-to-face with God Himself. If she had only known, I wonder how differently she would have acted. Here she was questioning God about something that He wanted her to do. “If you had known.” That is a real irony, but she is really no different from any other sinner with that attitude—having a great need, but not knowing that Jesus Christ is the answer to her great need. Here He sat, the answer to her every problem in life, and she had a lot of problems. She didn't know that, but Jesus did. He said, “If you only knew what I could give you,” and He proceeded to see that she found out Who He was and what He could give her.

This part of the story should inspire us to seek ways to make that story known. Think about this: If only people knew Who Jesus is and what He can do for them. We know Who Jesus is and we know what He can do, but there are many people like that Samaritan woman who do not know Who Jesus is and do not know that He is the answer to every need they have. It is our responsibility to get that message to them.

When you think about it, Jesus did not give her much of an answer. She said to Him, “What is this—You, a Jew, speaking to me, a Samaritan and a woman?” He came back and answered, “If you only knew Who I am…” That is not much of an answer from a human standpoint, so she comes up with a second question and a third question. Look at verses 11-12:

John 4

11The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

The woman is going along with His analogy. He says, “If you knew Who I was, you could ask and I would give you Living Water,” so she picks up on that. You can see that this woman is thinking all through this conversation. She doesn't understand, but she senses that this is something important, so her answer shows that she understands that He must be planning to get this living water from some other well. He doesn't have a dipper, and this well is deep. If He is going to give her living water, He must be going to get it somewhere else. If He is going to get it somewhere else, then He must be greater than Jacob, because she doesn't know of any other well around there. She is pretty confused, but she understands that there is something special about Jesus. She takes Him seriously, and she knows that there is something special.

That is typical of unbelievers in whose heart the Spirit of God begins to work. If God is working in the heart of an unbeliever when we are witnessing to them, they like to believe the promises of Christ; but at the same time, they think, “How can it be possible that God could meet my needs and solve my problems?” If you have witnessed to someone about Christ, maybe you have had them say to you, “You just don't know my problems; you just don't know what kind of a sinner I am. Christ couldn't help me.” They hope that maybe Christ can, but they just can't see how it could be possible.

That is the flow here in her conversation. “I would like to believe it, but I can't see how You can really do it.” She is beginning to get a glimmer, so Jesus, in His grace, tries to probe further. Look at verse 13:

John 4

13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14But whosoever 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.

You see, Jesus makes it clear that He is not talking about liquid water. He isn't trying to trick her or confuse her. He is just making a play on words. He is telling her, “I am not talking about liquid water.” He makes a very clear distinction here between liquid water and spiritual water. He says, in verse 14, “The water that I will give you will become a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.”

It is clear that He is talking about spiritual things, not just physical things. This is the third point to which every unbeliever has to come. He must realize that salvation is a supernatural process. As we witness to people, we need to bring them as quickly as we can without rushing them to the fact that salvation is not a physical process. It is separate and apart from any human effort or human device.

Human efforts at reform are like liquid water. They satisfy for a little while, but after a while, you get thirsty again. Jesus is really using the analogy here that trying to save yourself, trying to get yourself out of your own problems is like drinking water. It tastes good; it satisfies your thirst for a little while; but pretty soon you have to get more water. You can never do enough human good works to satisfy your spiritual thirst. Jesus is making that very clear distinction. Salvation is living water, because God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, lives within us and continues to direct and empower us. It is like having a fountain of spiritual life within us. That is what Jesus is saying in those verses.

In chapters 12 and 15, He is going to talk more about the Holy Spirit in terms of a fountain of living water. In terms that she can understand, without going into the theological specifics, that is what He is talking about.

Response of the Woman

We have been looking at the reaction of this woman to Jesus' request. In verse 15, we have the response that she gives. She gets more specific. She says in verse 15:

John 4

15The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

She is open to Jesus, you see. She wants what He has, but we can see from her response that she didn't fully understand what Jesus was talking about, but she was on her way. She takes a positive step toward God. She is not sure what the distinction is between physical water and spiritual water, but she knows that whatever it is, it is something that she wants. She says, “Give me this water,” and therefore, because she is positive to the degree that she can understand, God gives her the next step of knowledge just as He does to all seekers. Don't get discouraged if, as you witness to someone, they don't seem to get the point. Keep working with them. Stay with them, because God honors faith, no matter how fragile that faith may be. Remember, this woman had never heard a sermon on this subject. She had never heard this in Sunday School. This was new to her. She didn't know where this conversation was going, but the best way that she knew how, she said, “I want what You have.”

Nature of the Woman

Jesus begins the conversation talking about the nature of water, but He knows this woman is not going to be saved until she understands her true need, and so, in verses 16-18, after she manifests this much interest in spiritual things, He talks about the nature of the woman. Look at verse 16:

John 4

16Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

Here in verse 16 is a technique that Jesus often used and that God still uses in this age in which we now live. It is to bring a person to the realization of their need, He gives them a responsibility that they cannot possibly fulfill. When Jesus was teaching those 5,000 men plus women and children, and the disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, it is nearly noon and we don't have any food to feed all of these people.” Jesus said, “You go get them something to eat.” Then they quickly calculated how much money they had and they said, “All the money we have put together wouldn't be enough to buy food for all of these people.”

Jesus knew how He was going to feed those people. He knew that the disciples couldn't feed those people, but He told the disciples to go get food for the people. Why? Was it because He wanted the disciples to go get food? No. He wanted the disciples to see how impossible it would be to feed all of those people. He put them in the position of the impossible, and that is exactly what He does to this woman. He tells her to go get her husband. She could have said, “Which one?” She didn't know that Jesus knew that much about her, so she just said, “I have no husband.” Jesus did not really want her to call her husband. In His deity, He knew that she did not have a husband. He knew that she was living with a man, as He was about to tell her. This chapter illustrates very well the mixture between Jesus' deity and His humanity. His humanity was tired, and in His deity, He knew that she had had five husbands and was now living with somebody.

You can just imagine the tension in the air as Jesus said this to her. Think about this conversation back and forth between Jesus and the woman, just the two of them out there talking by the well. Just think about how this would have hit her right between the eyes. She, probably for the first time in years, is talking to a man who does not know who she is, a total stranger who does not know her story. He speaks to her with respect—that may be the first time in years a man has spoken to her with respect—and He speaks to her with compassion.

Jesus, being totally without sin, would have been a very appealing man to any woman. When Jesus, the perfect man, spoke, women listened. That is why there were so many women who were drawn to Him. They were not used to being around a man who was totally sinless, so this woman was probably very excited about the attention Jesus was paying her. I don't mean sexually excited. I mean just as a person, satisfied and happy that this impressive man was paying attention to her.

He comes to her and He says something that really puts her on the spot. He asks her to go get her husband. She is now going to have to tell Him the facts about herself. She has been hoping that she would not have to do this. She is not far from coming to grips with her sin, but she is still covering up the fact that she is living with a man. To bring the situation into the full light of conviction, Jesus takes it a step further. He tells her that He knows that she has had five husbands, and now she is living with another man. This really gets to her. At this point, she is ready to listen to anything that He has to say.

Jesus has already showed her that she has a need for something other than human effort by talking about living water in verses 7-15. Now He has brought her face-to-face with her own sin. He has made her face up to it in a way that she probably never has before. This woman now sees that Jesus knows all there is to know about her. He knows all about her sin, and yet He talked to her anyway. She sees now that He knew when she came walking up what the truth about her was, but unlike other men—especially religious men—He stayed and talked to her and engaged her in a meaningful, respectful conversation. In fact, He even offered to give her something—living water.

This is also God's method with every sinner. It is a wonderful truth for me to know myself, and I am sure it is a wonderful truth for you. It is such a wonderful thing that God knows everything there is to know about us, and yet He loves us anyway. There are probably very few human beings about whom you can say that. Human beings who know everything there is to know about you and yet love you are few. What a precious treasure that is. God knows everything about us, and yet He loved us enough to die for us.

I think most of us think that we somehow can keep God from knowing what we are doing or what we have done wrong, because we are afraid that He won't approve of us or won't bless us. This should never be any kind of excuse for continuing in sin, but it should be an encouragement to stay in fellowship with the Lord and to enjoy our fellowship with the Lord, because He loves us in spite of our sins. Jesus demonstrated that to this woman.

The Nature of Worship

Apparently, Jesus still knows that she has at least one other question that many believers have and that has to do with the nature of worship. He deals with this in verses 19-26. They have talked about the nature of water, then the nature of the woman, and now they begin to talk about the nature of worship.

Many times when an unbeliever is presented with the claims of Christ, he will say, “All right, that all sounds good. I am willing to believe that Christ is the only way of salvation,” but very often they will say, particularly in other cultures, “Why can't I just go on with this religion that I have?” To look at that question from another angle, very often we hear the question, “Can Buddhists be saved? Can this religion or that religion be saved? Do you mean that you have to become Christians in order to be saved?” That is exactly what this woman is thinking. Look at verse 19:

John 4

19The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

What an understatement! Here is a guy who told her everything there was to know about herself. He had never met her before. I guess she did perceive that He was a prophet. Immediately she begins to talk about what she knows about religion in verse 20:

John 4

20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

There is your question. “Do you mean that I have got to become a Jew? What are you saying? Do you mean that I have to adopt your religion, or is it all right for me to stay here and worship where our fathers say we should worship?” Jesus then explains this to her.

First, He explains the difference in religions. Notice verse 21:

John 4

21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Let's stop and think about that for a moment. The differences in worship in her day included the fact that the Samaritans worshiped on a mountain, and the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. Remember the tension between these two groups all through the years is because of the Jews' discrimination against the Samaritans. The Samaritans had developed their own religion, and it would have been a great opportunity way back there in the beginning for the Jews to get these people into the true faith of Jehovah. But they did not do that, so now they have this big argument about where the right place to worship is.

The Samaritan religion was a hodgepodge of some Jewish religion and some of the mysterious Syrian's religion. None of it was written down and that is why Jesus said, “You don't know what you worship.” The Samaritans could pretty well worship any way they wanted to, but the Jews, on the other hand, knew what their worship entailed.

Jesus is not saying, “The Jews are better than the Samaritans.” Jesus is saying something else. He is saying that one of the differences in the Jew and the Samaritan is where they worship. Another difference is that the Jews have it all written down and the Samaritans don't. But He does point out that salvation is of the Jews.

The Displacement of Religion

In verses 23-26, He explains the displacement of religion. Jesus understood that there were different religions. Notice what he says in verse 23:

John 4

23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Places of worship are not important to God. God doesn't care whether we worship in this beautiful building or if we worship out on the parking lot or if we worship out in the fields somewhere. Places are not important. In fact, individual religions are not important or denominations within individual religions. True worship, Jesus said, is done in the power of the Holy Spirit wherever it is done, in whatever context it is done. Of course, the only way to have the Holy Spirit is through faith in Jesus Christ.

In verse 25, the woman indicates that she understands something of the gateway into this salvation that Jesus is talking about. It is beginning to come together for her. Look at verse 25:

John 4

25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

Christ Makes a Full Revelation to Her

This woman indicates more and more understanding and more and more interest, and as she does, each step that she takes of indicating some interest, Jesus takes her the next step further. Now, in verse 26, He makes a full revelation to her. He says:

John 4

26…I that speak unto thee am he.

There are two things that I want to call to your attention. First, the liberals or unbelievers (sometimes they are the same thing and sometimes not) make the claim that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. They say that is something that His disciples attached to Him after He was gone because they revered Him so much. If anybody ever says that to you, memorize John, chapter 4, verse 26, where He says, “I that speak unto thee am he.” How could there be any clearer statement anywhere? In fact, in this verse, Jesus says, “I am the Christ; I am the Messiah.” Don't let anybody get by with telling you that Jesus never said that He was God. Here is a record of it.

To the sincere, seeking sinner, Jesus reveals Himself in a way that He did not reveal Himself to the learned Rabbi back in chapter 3. That is the other thing that is interesting about verse 26. Nicodemus was sincere to know about God, but he was so bound up in his traditions. He tells this woman, who just keeps being open with Him, a great deal more about Himself than He ever told Nicodemus. Nicodemus went away without accepting Christ. I think he did later on, and we will see that as we come to it later on in the book, but to this woman, He said, “I am the Christ.” He never said that to Nicodemus because, at that point in his life, Nicodemus was not that open to Who Jesus was.

The bottom line point in this passage is that God always responds to simple, trusting faith. Before salvation and after salvation, Jesus honored this woman with more information than is recorded that He gave anybody else. When Peter said, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said, “God hath revealed that to you, Peter. Flesh and blood did not reveal that to you.” But He says that in advance to this woman, who is the kind of woman to whom no Jew ever dreamed God would reveal Himself. She was a Samaritan; she was a woman; she was a sinful woman. Yet, she had a simple, childlike faith. She accepted more truth as God revealed it to her. That kind of person God honored with a personal revelation of Himself. That is also true as we walk with Christ, after we know Him as Savior.

I think the best illustration of what our attitude as believers ought to be in this matter of believing God and having faith in Him is found in the story of the father of the demon-possessed boy that is recorded in Mark, chapter 9. This boy was damaging himself, hurting himself, hurting other people, demon-possessed. The father came to Jesus and said, “My son throws himself in the fire; he throws himself in the water. He does all these terrible things. Can You help him?” Jesus said, “Do you believe I can help him?” The father makes this interesting statement: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” Jesus healed the boy instantly.

That is what God wants to hear. He knows that it is hard to believe. Probably every one of us has said at one time or another, “God can't help this situation. I know He has saved me; I know He has done this and that, but I am not sure with this situation that He can really help.” Some of us have said that within the past week probably.


Jesus honored the man who was honest with his belief and with his unbelief. He said, “Lord, I believe. Please help me with my unbelief.” That is a wonderful attitude to come to God with. “Lord, I believe to the best of my ability. I don't see how You can do it, I confess, Lord. I can't imagine how even You could solve this problem, but I believe. Help my unbelief.” God honors that.

The person Jesus deals with in chapter 3 and the person He deals with in chapter 4 are at opposite extremes—this godly, highly educated leader of the Jews and this prostitute Samaritan woman. Jesus' response to the woman is far more open and revealing than it is to this somewhat skeptical educated, religious person in chapter 3. Ultimately, He saves them both, but the one He responds to most openly is the one who comes to him with honest and upright faith.

This is a beautiful story of the process that God lovingly uses to bring sinners to Himself, but I think for those of us who are believers already, it is a reassuring illustration of the way that we should continue to approach Him after salvation as well.

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