I think I’ve gone through the Gospel of John more than any of the other Gospels. Today, I want to examine the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. After I read through this Scripture today and examined it verse by verse, it occurred to me that we had a foreshadowing of this event in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. I was struck by Jesus’ patience with the Samaritan woman. This woman’s mind was focused on earthly things while Jesus wanted to talk to her about spiritual things. Unlike Nicodemus, who knew Jesus was from God because of the signs and wonders He had done, the Samaritan women believed who Jesus was, not by signs or wonders but by the things He said to her.

I’m changing up my format a little bit today and will be presenting most of this in a verse by verse format with notes.

John 4 (NIV)

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

4:7

Focus on earthly needs and earthly things. Something everyone has. Thirst.

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.)

4:9

An earthly response with a spiritual overtone. Anyone, not a Jew is unclean (by the law). Jesus would be breaking the law by asking a non-Jew for a drink of water and defiling himself with the drinking container.

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.”

4:10

Jesus takes the earthly situation and brings the spiritual into it.

I think the Amplified Bible brings better clarity to what Jesus said.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life).”

John 4:10 AMP

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

4:11

The woman’s mind is still on earthly things.

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?”

4:12

This is the first indication that she might recognize something spiritually greater in Jesus.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,

4:13

On earthly things. Earthly things are temporary and can only provide temporary relief.

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.”

4:14

Contrasting the Spirit and eternal things with those of the world. The Spirit gives eternal life.

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.”

4:15

The woman doesn’t get it. She’s still fixated on earthly desires and the means to satisfy them.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.”

4:16-17

Back to earthly things. Jesus has tried to open the door to understanding to this woman, but she hasn’t gotten it yet. He recognizes she needs something easier for her to understand.

“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.”

4:18

Jesus tells her an earthly truth He couldn’t have otherwise known unless He had known her. As a Jew, this would have been impossible. Therefore, Jesus has told her something impossible for Him to know, except by the Spirit.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.

4:19

Now, she gets it. Jesus isn’t an ordinary guy. He’s, at least, a prophet of the Lord.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

4:20

Now that the woman sees Jesus as a holy man, she wants to address spiritual issues with Him. However, when spiritual things were presented to her, she couldn’t grasp that they were spiritual. Worship is still seen as something of the world and not something spiritual.

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

4:21-24

Jesus contrasts knowledge of material things with eternal things. Worship of God was seen primarily as a physical act. The merely physical acts of this world will be transcended by the Spirit. To have the Spirit is to have a heart for God and His ways. A desire to be holy like He is holy. The truth is to live in such a way. Literally, people will only be able to worship God if they have the Holy Spirit.

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

4:25

I’m not sure the woman got what Jesus just said. I think it was over her head so she basically responds, “Yeah, I don’t know about that. I really don’t understand it, but I know the Christ is coming and He will explain it all.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

4:26

I’m Him. I’m the Christ.

This is the first person to whom Jesus openly declared His identity. This is a very big deal. The first person Jesus reveals Himself to is a Gentile and a woman.

When the disciples return, they bring earthly things back into view, which makes sense. They went off to get food for Jesus, and when they return, they want Him to eat something (4:31). However, Jesus tells them that there’s something more important than satisfying the temporary desires of the body. He doesn’t say He isn’t hungry.

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

4:32-33

We shouldn’t be hard on the disciples. They went off to get their Master something to eat, and now it looks like He already has some food. We’re still contrasting earthly, temporary things with the eternal things of God. Jesus tells the disciples right away what He’s talking about.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 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.

4:34-35

I’m reminded of Elisha’s servant, who couldn’t see the armies of the Lord around them, so Elisha prayed for his eyes to be opened, and then his servant saw the horses and chariots of fire protecting them (2 Kings 6:17-20). Once again, in verses 34-35, Jesus is saying to stop thinking about earthly matters and be focused on eternal matters.

John 3 (NIV)

The conversation with the woman at the well was with a layperson. However, the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3 is with a teacher in Israel. Although Nicodemus knows Jesus is from God (John 3:2), he doesn’t recognize or understand spiritual things. Jesus starts off by telling Nicodemus about spiritual things and then tries to tie in earthly things.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

3:3-4

Nicodemus is thinking of earthly things. We might think that Nicodemus should have a better understanding because of his background.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

3:5-8

Although Jesus explains the issue to Nicodemus, an educated religious teacher in Israel, he still doesn’t understand, “How can this be? Nicodemus asked” (3:9).

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

3:10-12

Nicodemus believed because of signs and wonders. Yet still did not understand, nor did he accept Jesus’ testimony. Jesus performed no signs or wonders for the woman at the well, yet she, and many others, believed because of His words.

And because of his words many more became believers.

John 4:41 (NIV)

Conclusion

The only requirement to be eligible for salvation is to be a human being. Our education, or status in the world, doesn’t matter for a hill of beans when it comes to being saved. All of the knowledge we think we have about the world and how it functions won’t help us in obtaining salvation. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He talked to someone at the height of Jewish culture. An educated, rich Jewish man who was well versed in the teaching of the law. The Samaritan woman was an outcast to her own people and considered unclean by the Jews (and was a woman!). She had to go and get water when no one else was getting it because of her shame. She knew very little of the law, wasn’t rich, and certainly wasn’t educated. Yet, she understood who Jesus was, not because of signs and wonders, but by listening to Him and believing what He said to her.

Like the woman at the well or even Nicodemus, we need to turn away from thinking so much about the temporary things of this world, and think more about the eternal things of God.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.