Jewish culture in the first century treated women as second-class citizens. They had very few of the rights that men of that time had. Jesus respected all people equally, but he showed a special care for women. In this category, I will be sharing from God’s word about some of the encounters Jesus had with different women during his ministry on earth.
This first entry will be of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well. You will find this story in John 4:1-26. It begins with Jesus leaving Judaea and traveling to Galilee because of mounting opposition from the Pharisees. Most Jews of that era hated the Samaritans and avoided them like the plague. Jesus had no use for such cultural limitations, and since the route through Samaria was the fastest one to Galilee, that is the way he chose. I like to think that our Father in Heaven told him something like this, “Hey, Son, since you are going that way, there is this Samaritan woman who needs to know that we love her, and we have a cure for her sin.”
Before, I continue with the story, we must first understand the history behind the Jewish hatred of the Samaritans. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom before it was conquered by the Assyrians. When they invaded the Northern Kingdom, many Jews were exiled to Assyria and foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim were brought in to Samaria to settle the land and keep the peace (2 Kings 17:24). Most Jews who remained in Samaria married the foreigners and they became a mixed race.
The Jews from the Southern Kingdom considered themselves to be a pure race of Jews. They became very prejudiced against the spoiled blood line of Samaritans because they felt that they had betrayed their people and their nation by mixing their Jewish blood with foreign blood.
Now at Jacob’s well in Samaria: Jesus was weary from his journey “and it was about the sixth hour” or noon. Usually the women went to fetch water from the well in the morning and in the evening. This woman came at noon to steer clear of others, probably because of her poor reputation.
John 4:7-9 “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9. 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.”
This woman must have been quite taken aback by Jesus’ (a Jew) request for a drink of water. First of all, she was a woman. Second, she was a hated Samaritan woman who was known to be living in sin, and she was in a public place. No respectable Jewish man would talk to a woman under such circumstances. But Jesus did.
Verse 10 “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.”
I believe that Jesus knew full-well who this woman was and what her life was like. I can imagine him resting near the well, watching the woman looking this way and that as she approached with her water pot. His heart must have ached knowing the pain her sin was causing her. He offered her “living water.”
The Old Testament compares thirsting after God to one who thirsts for water (Psalm 42:1; Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 2:13; Zechariah 13:1). God is also called the fountain of life in Psalm 36:9, and the fountain of living waters in Jeremiah 17:13. When he told the woman that he could give her living water, he was laying claim to being the Messiah, the only one who could offer this gift that gratifies the very soul.
He also knew that if she accepted his gift, her life would change drastically for the better. He does not wish for any one to hurt or suffer, and a life of sin is very damaging to the human spirit.
Verses 11-15 “The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14. but 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. 15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”
No one had ever talked with her about her spiritual hunger and thirst before. She misunderstood and thought that Jesus could give her an endless supply of water so that she would never have to return to the well. He was teaching her that our souls hunger for spiritual food and water, just as our bodies do for physical food and water.
Verses 16-20 “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18. for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
The woman became uncomfortable when Jesus hit her sin square on the head. She was quick to shift the focus off herself by changing the subject. It was a smokescreen to keep Jesus from her deepest need. It happens to all of us at one time or another, especially when we are under conviction about something. Jesus did not let her get away with that tactic. He brought up the very important point that where we worship is not as important as our attitudes when we worship.
Verses 21-26 “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23. 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. 24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.“
Wow! Can’t you just hear the authority ring from that passage? When Jesus referenced “salvation is of the Jews” he was saying that only through the Jewish Messiah would the world be saved. Jesus knew that the woman was familiar with the passages in the Old Testament that foretold of the coming Messiah. He finally got through to her.
As we read on we see that the woman was so excited to share what she had found that she left her water pot at the well and told people to “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (Verse 29) Then in verse 39. “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.”
As we can see, Jesus spent not a little time with this woman because he cared about her. I know from experience that it does not matter how sinful we are, we are worth Jesus’ time. He stands waiting with open arms to give to each of us “living water.”
- The Woman at the Well – Part 1 (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
- Jesus Talks With A Samaritan Woman (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
- Living water (reclaimingourchildren.typepad.com)