The Lonely Woman:
A Sinner Learns True Worship
He [Jesus] left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 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 4:1-10)
Jesus had been travelling and was tired and thirsty. He had arrived outside the city of Samaria and sat down on a well of water. It was noon, and must have been very hot. Normally, the women would come draw water to fill their pots during the cooler time of the day. But Jesus knew one woman would be coming all alone at this time. She was lonely and had a bad past, as we will soon learn.
Truth about the Samaritan Woman
When the woman from Samaria arrived, Jesus was sitting there alone at the well. He had sent his disciples into town to buy food. As we learned earlier, God came to mankind when he entered the world through a virgin birth. He came to earth because man needed His help. Now Jesus is coming to this woman in need. Even when we don’t know who God is, he knows and cares about us!
When Jesus asked her to give him water, she was quite surprised. In their culture, Jews despised Samaritans. Samaritans were not pure Jews, but rather half Jew and half Gentile. They had worshipped false gods and departed from the true faith. They were considered to be the “untouchables” of society. It is understandable that this woman was surprised that Jesus wanted anything from her – especially water to drink himself! Jesus was actually honoring her and showing her that she had value to God, even if others didn’t recognize it.
Because all people are made in the image of God, each person is important. Our identity is not based on our ethnicity, culture, or status in society. But rather, our identity should come from our Creator!
Truth about Christ’s Water
Jesus proceeds to talk about spiritual matters. He makes the physical connection of the need for water for our body to the need of living water for our spirit. Drinking water comes from earth, the living water comes from heaven. We must work to obtain physical water; but the spiritual water of life is a gift from God!
The woman still did not understand the analogy and thought about the well of water Jesus had been sitting on. But more importantly, she did not realize who the person was that she was talking with. She asked Jesus if he was greater than Jacob who had dug the well.
Jesus answered her by making a contrast of the results of physical water which temporarily quenches the thirsty tongue and the spiritual water which eternally satisfies the soul. Now Jesus repeats this topic of “everlasting life” that he had taught Nicodemus. Jesus had said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This everlasting life has no ending. Only an eternal God can offer this eternal gift!
But the woman still did not realize that the water Jesus is talking about cannot be obtained by physical means. She wants this gift so that she will not have to return to the well. Many people want the spiritual blessings for their own physical benefit. Beware of religions that offer health and wealth obtained through practices such as giving offerings and repeating prayers. Earthly practices can only obtain earthly rewards. A heavenly home and eternal life can only be given by an eternal God by spiritual means.
Truth about our Wickedness
Jesus told this woman to go call her husband. Before Jesus would give her this “living water”, he had to reveal an important truth to her. Many do not receive the truth today because they are trusting in their own works according to their traditions, history, and culture. Some may even be willing to add Jesus to their belief system with their other ancestral deities. But truth is exclusive. Once you are confronted with truth, all conflicting teachings are exposed as error. Worshiping the true God must be exclusive. God said not to worship any other God. He will not share his glory with another.
Jesus continues the conversation by showing the woman who she was (a sinner) and revealing who He was (the Savior from sin). She first recognized that he is a prophet.
The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet” (Verses 17-19)
Before we can be liberated by the truth, we must be honest about ourselves and confess the truth about who Jesus is. This is very humiliating, and thus, very hard for most people. No one wants to admit how bad they are to someone else, especially to a stranger. This woman was listening to Jesus tell her that she had already failed in five marriages and was now living in adultery!
Feeling ashamed and guilty, the woman attempted to justify herself. She started to talk about religious matters saying, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (verse 20). Like we all naturally do, this woman shifted the focus off herself and tried to look “holy” by talking about God. She talked about the place of worship. Many people talk about religions as though they all lead to the same God. But contradicting beliefs do not come from the same source. There is only one God, thus, there is only one way to knowing Him and worshiping him.
Truth about God’s Worship
Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But 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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)
Jesus taught this woman the most significant truth about worship. It is not about the place, but rather about the Person we worship. Many people go through the motions of worship, perhaps ringing bells and lighting candles. But how can these rituals make any difference if we do not know the God we are supposed to worship?
True worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth. We must understand the truth of who God is. We find here that we are to worship only the true God. This God is referred to as the Father and as a Spirit. Thus, we “must worship him in spirit and in truth.” In verse 22, Jesus says, “we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” Remember that Jesus is God who became a man. He was born a Jew. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets about the Messiah. In verses 25 and 26, the woman from Samaria recognized that Jesus is the Messiah for whom the people had been waiting. We each must worship the Triune God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. He is one God in three distinct Divine persons.
Man is made in the image of God, in that we are one being yet made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. As we already learned, the body is the physical part with which we relate to others. Our soul is the invisible part of us where we have thoughts, feelings, and make decisions. But it is with the spirit that we must worship God.
When people like this Samaritan woman do not know the true God, they do not know who to worship. Because we are born in sin, we are spiritually separated from God. Spiritual freedom is only possible when we get honest about our bondage to sin. Because we are not perfect, it is impossible to please God with our works! This is why the coming of Jesus is such good news!
When the disciples returned, the woman left her water pot and ran back to the city in excitement! She told them how Jesus had told her about her past. The people surely were curious and came out to meet Jesus. (verses 27-30)
Many believed on Jesus because of the testimony of this woman. But many others believed because of Jesus’ own words. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word. The people testified of Jesus, that he is “indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (verse 42).
It is embarrassing to admit that we have offended a holy God. But this is necessary if we are to worship God in truth. Jesus does not only want us to be honest about who we are as sinners, but also recognize who He is as the perfect God who came to rescue mankind from sin.