This is an excerpt from the Devoted Bible Study book.

Familiar Bible stories have the potential for taking us deeper in our understanding of God’s truths. But this often means we have to be intentional about reading them with fresh eyes and the expectation of receiving something more. If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for some time now, then the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4 is likely one of those familiar stories. Let’s see what insights God has for us from the story about Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well.

On His journey to Galilee, Jesus ventured through Samaria where He met a Samaritan woman. It’s difficult for us to understand just how unconventional Jesus’s trek through Samaria would have been (v. 4). Jewish rabbis considered Samaritans to be in a continual state of uncleanness. The Jews detested the mixed marriages and idol worship of their northern cousins. The animosity was so great that Jews would bypass Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea, going an extra distance through barren land to avoid passing through Samaria.

Jesus, however, did not fear being defiled. His compassion toward people superseded prejudice. Even more so, Jesus told Nicodemus that His Father loved everyone in the world (John 3:16). It would have also surprised the woman that Jesus talked to her simply because she was a woman and she was alone. This shouldn’t surprise the Gospel reader, though. Jesus’s compassion toward women was highlighted as He repeatedly interacted with them during a time when women were placed in a lower class than men.

"She did not ask Jesus for anything, but He offered her everything."

Christina Zimmerman

Jesus’s request for a drink of water (v. 7) and the woman’s response (v. 9) led to a lengthy conversation. She did not ask Jesus for anything, but He offered her everything. He acknowledged that she did not know who He was, but He said if she knew that He was the Giver of life, she would ask for “living water” (v. 10). The woman had no idea what Jesus was talking about. The only thing she knew for certain at this point was that He was a Jew.

The woman wanted answers to pointed questions and thoughts. In verse 13, Jesus responded to her questions with mercy and with blessing. He offered her living water for her dry and sin-sick soul. This concept of living water is a theme in John’s Gospel, and Jesus defined it explicitly in John 7. He said, “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him” (v. 38). Jesus offered this woman the gift of eternal life and the presence of His Spirit.

As their conversation continued, Jesus opened the woman’s eyes to His divine nature by revealing just how much He already knew about her (vv. 15-17). The woman’s despair, her brokenness, and her deep need for salvation were exposed. Jesus first connected with her, then He offered her eternal life, and then He made a pathway for her to deal with her sin.

The Samaritan woman no longer saw Jesus as a peculiar person acting against the norm, but as a prophet to whom God had revealed things about her. Slowly the woman’s heart was being transformed and her soul was bowing down. Verse 20 reveals she wanted to be right with God and believed this was a matter of worship, but she didn’t know where to go. Should she worship where she was, or should she go to Jerusalem?

In verse 24, Jesus reminded the woman of the nature of God. He said, “God is spirit,” which means God cannot be contained in one place. God is everywhere, not just on a mountain or in Jerusalem. Therefore, God can be worshiped anywhere. In essence, Jesus told her to stay right where she was. He revealed that all she needed to worship was a heart that loves God.

But how do you get a heart that loves God? Through the living water of Jesus’s Holy Spirit. When Jesus pours out His living water—His Spirit—into our hearts, we find ourselves with a heart that loves and worships Him in Spirit and in truth. Here Jesus brought together everything He discussed with the woman, which culminates in verse 26: “Jesus told her, ‘I, the one speaking to you, am he.’” Jesus revealed Himself to her as the Messiah. With the hope and joy of salvation, she forgot about everything, including the water, and she ran back to the town to tell everyone about Jesus. Because of the testimony of this woman many people in Sychar, Samaria, were saved and came to know Christ.

The Bible mentions countless women who bear witness to the faithfulness and love of God. While each woman is unique, they all have one thing in common—a life interwoven with God's story of redemption.

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