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John 4:15-29


The Woman at the well.


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(It has been difficult to split this chapter into manageable chunks – you may want to make each section longer or shorter!)


Read 13-29

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 worshipped 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 worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers 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.’

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’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’



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.’


The woman’s thoughts were still fixed on water. Jesus needed to turn the conversation to the things that troubled her conscience.


16 He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’

17 ‘I have no husband,’ she replied.


A simple question and a simple response. But she knew and Jesus knew that behind it there was a lifetime of regret, and there was sin and guilt to deal with.


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.’


The term ‘husband’ might well be a euphemism; the fact that she went alone to draw water in the heat of mid-day, when all the other women would usually come in the evening, suggested that she was shunned by the others.

Why would that be?

People may suggest that she was a prostitute but that is unkind. Six men would not be sufficient for that; rather she was perhaps of doubtful morality - a ‘loose woman’.


But Jesus’ reply was unnerving. It awakened her feelings of guilt and shame, and it caused her to begin to wonder what kind of person she was talking to.


19 ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet’.


That must be the answer. But that too made her feel uncomfortable and now she needed to try to change the subject.


20 Our ancestors worshipped 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’.


Like many people, her thoughts were grounded in the here and now. But Jesus lived in a different time-scale which extended into the eternity from which he had briefly come. He knew that she would shortly be joining his Kingdom when she believed. Then she would worship wherever she was – now and for ever.


22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.


The Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible as the true scriptures. These contained suggestions of a coming messiah, but there was more in the Jewish bible (the Old Testament) that pointed to Jesus. The fact that he would be from the tribe of Judah was actually in both their scriptures:

Numbers 24:17

I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a sceptre will rise out of Israel.’


23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.


For both Jews and Samaritans, their worship had become mechanical, and legalistic, and was unacceptable. Amos (5:21-24) had prophesied:


21 ‘I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!’



24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’


God wanted people who would turn to him in repentance and faith, and offer true worship from their hearts. Not only that, but worship that was inspired by the Holy Spirit himself.


25 The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’


This suggests to me that she knew of the promised Messiah and that she had many questions she wanted answers to.


26 Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’


This would appear to be the first time that Jesus had openly declared that he was the Messiah; and he chose to declare it, not to his Disciples, but to a Samaritan woman! And his statement was emphatic, there could be no misinterpretation.


For the woman, I like to think it was enough. I think she believed, had her life turned around (repented) and was prepared to tell others.


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?’


'Just then'. Amazing! Jesus had sent his disciples away so that he could have a private conversation with a woman who had not yet arrived. When he had reached the crucial point, the Disciples returned, the trigger for the woman to go and tell the rest of her village.


How many disciples would there have been?

We saw in the introduction that there could have been quite a crowd; certainly many more than just the twelve apostles.


Remember that disciples copied their Rabbi’s behaviour, the ways they spoke, their whole attitude. All ‘religious’ Jews would avoid Samaria completely and travel on the other side of the Jordan. Yet here were a large crowd of disciples deliberately entering a Samaritan village for the purpose of trade.


What effect would this have had on the Samaritan villagers? Could someone describe the scene?


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?’


We are not told what conversations the Disciples had had as they forced themselves to ask the Samaritan villagers for food, but by the time they returned, speaking to Samaritans was no longer a problem – it was just surprising that a woman should be there at all.


But what of the villagers? What would they be doing now that the disciples had left? We can only guess, but gathering together to talk about it would be at least likely!


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’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’



John 4a John 4c NIV Copyright