The Gospels: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4)

Dan: Good morning. It’s good to see all of you here today. We’ve had a nice time singing and worshipping together and good time of prayer. Now, it’s time for us to get into God’s word and talk about our message for today. As you know, we’re going to be reading from John chapter 4 and the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Before we actually get into the text, I thought it might be interesting just to talk about the background of Samaria and that part of the world and the Samaritan people so that we have a little bit of background to work with as we get in to the story.

Anybody here who wants to volunteer some information about Samaria or the Samaritans? What can you tell us about that country and the people who live there?

Female: They were hated by the Jews. I know that. Here, Jesus was walking through it.

Dan: Okay.

Female: That’s interesting.

Dan: There was some kind of antipathy between the Samaritans and the Jewish people. Anybody know what that’s all about? Why? They’re neighbors. How come they don’t like each other? Anybody remember?

Female: Different religion.

Dan: Yeah. How so? How was it different?

Female: They worshipped at different places.

Dan: Aha. Did they worship a different god?

Female: Yes.

Dan: Did they think they worshiped a different god?

Female: No. They thought they …

Dan: The Jews thought they worshiped a different god, but the Samaritans thought they worshipped the same god as the Jews but as Barbara said, they did it in the wrong places, and the Jewish religion, in the Old Testament, was very place-conscious. Jerusalem was God’s headquarters on earth and how dare they not worship in Jerusalem and worship somewhere else? Anybody know where they liked to worship? Anybody can remember?

Dan: We could figure it’s probably going to be on the top of a mountain.

Female: Yeah.

Dan: What mountain was it? Anybody remember?

Female: No.

Dan: Okay. Mount Gerizim. You knew that, didn’t you?

Female: We knew that.

Dan: They built a temple on the top of Mount Gerizim and they worshipped their god who they thought was the God of Israel. They almost considered themselves Israelites, which was a real insult to the Jews because it was like they were lying about their national identity, claiming to be the true people of God, claiming to worship, and doing it in a false place and in a false way with false priests. The Jews hated this defilement, as they saw it, of the true religion which they had and yet the Samaritans, sometimes, could not understand this because they thought they were worshipping the same god as the Jews did.

But then, during the Maccabean period just prior to the birth of Jesus by a couple of hundred years, John Hyrcanus led an armed force of Jews up Mount Gerizim and destroyed their temple which was an affront to the Jews, but now this became a very horrible thing in the life of the Samaritans. The Samaritans never got over the Jews coming up and destroying their temple. For years afterwards, they continue to go up Mount Gerizim and to worship in the rubble of the temple that the Jews had destroyed.

Over the centuries, this animosity have been building and reached a fever pitch. Everybody know where Samaria is?

Female: Real close to Israel.

Dan: Israel, to the Jews, to Judea. I have a little map here and if you can see it, it might be helpful just to give you an illustration. If you can see that there is Galilee in the north and there is … Samaria is in the middle and down here is Judea. You can see that you have Galilee to the north, and who came from Galilee?

Female: Jesus.

Dan: Jesus and… 11 of his 12 disciples came from Galilee, and then there’s Samaria.

Female: In between.

Dan: Judea is to the south of Samaria and Galilee is just to the north and you notice the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River flowing along there and sort of dividing the land from what they call the Transjordan.

Dan: If you were going to go from Jerusalem down here, it would appear you had to go through Samaria but wait … Jews don’t like Samaritans and the Samaritans don’t like the Jews, so what do you think that the Jewish people going north and south from Galilee to Jerusalem would tend to do?

Female: Go around it.

Dan: They would tend to go around it and it was an easy trip. They just had to cross the Jordan River, go up that side, and then cross back over into Galilee, and they preferred that, lest they encounter any Samaritans and touch any unclean Samaritan or some Samaritan thing that had been touched. It was typical to go around Samaria to get from Galilee to Judea and Judea to Galilee, kind of an interesting little detour that they had to take.

We have some pictures here too on the TV screen. You might want to look at this area. This is in the late 1800s. This is what the site of what’s called Jacob’s Well in Samaria looked like. You might notice that it’s in the side of a hill, and we don’t typically think of having to go into a cave-like area to get to a well, but that’s what it looked like in the 1800s, and then we have a more modern picture. As you notice, they’ve turned it into tourist attraction and built a wall around it and now, people can file in and it’s labeled in three languages there, Jacob’s Well. Both Jewish scholars, Muslim scholars, and Christian scholars do agree that this was Jacob’s Well that’s spoken of here in John chapter 4. It’s pretty good archeological evidence for that.

I think we have one more picture. This is what it looks like inside. Can you see the bucket? Of course, it has been touristified to make it a shrine worthy of visiting, but it gives you an idea of where it was, and it’s still there to this day. You can actually go to Jacob’s Well and visit.

All right. We got some pictures to give us a little bit of background, a little bit of geography. Now, let’s go to our text at John chapter 4. We read here that “the Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John.” This is not good news for the Pharisees. The Pharisees thought they controlled the territory outside of the temple. If you want to know the religious marketplace of the day, the Sadducees controlled the temple. The Pharisees had everything else.

Now, here’s this what we would call wild card, John the Baptist. He is not exactly an Essene but he kind of looks like one. He is not a Pharisee. He is not a Sadducee and he is getting followers. This is marketplace competition.

Now, John is gone, but of all things, there’s another guy coming on the scene who is taking away people after him, and that’s Jesus. He is getting “more disciples than John. Although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.”

You remember our little map there where everything is? Now, notice verse 4. “Now, he had to go through Samaria.” What do you think John means, he had to go through Samaria? Did he have to go through Samaria?

No. Most Jews did not want to go through Samaria and went around it. Could John mean something more?

Female: He was led to go through Samaria.

Dan: He felt led, felt a compulsion, felt a need. This gives you the sense of what? A mission?

Female: Yes.

Dan: The wonderful thing about reading the fourth Gospel is the writer, John, loves to use double entendres and two and three and four layers of meanings in so much of what he says. We always have to read beyond what appears on the surface when we read John. “He had to go through Samaria. He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son, Joseph. Jacob’s Well was there and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well and it was about the sixth hour.” Anybody got the time in your translation?

Female: Noon time.

Female: Lunch.

Dan: What do you make of this “Jesus was tired from the journey?”

Female: Been walking a long time.

Female: It was hot.

Female: He needed something to drink?

Dan: What do you think John is telling us about the nature of Jesus?

Female: He’s very human.

Female: He too gets tired.

Dan: He got tired? Yeah, he wanted to rest and he was thirsty.

Female: He needed food and drink.

Dan: It’s noon time. Verse 7: “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’”

Okay. It’s noon time and we have a Samaritan woman coming out from the city of Sychar. The well was outside of the city, so she has to come out of the city, walk out to this area where we saw the well located, go in there with her pitcher or bucket or whatever she had, her rope and all of that and draw water. Does anything strike you as unusual about this scenario of the Samaritan woman coming out at noon time to draw water?

Female: That seems an odd time to draw water. You would either do that in the morning or at night when it’s not so hot.

Dan: Right.

Female: To come out in the middle of the day seems out of place.

Dan: Right. Do you notice anyone else coming out?

Female: She’s by herself.

Female: No friends.

Dan: If you read the Old Testament, as Suzie indicates, there are many examples of women coming out for water in the stories as you read the Old Testament and they always come out at morning or in evening. Never at noon.

Why else might a woman not want to come out to a well outside of the city by herself?

Female: Safety.

Female: Robbers.

Dan: Who would typically stop by wells during the middle of the day?

Female: Strangers.

Female: People passing through.

Dan: Travelers, right. Probably caravans, and who knows who they are and what they’re up to, so it would be kind of a dangerous time for a woman to come outside of the city walls by herself in the heat of the day to draw water. There’s something strange going on here, and as Barbara suggested, she does not seem to have any friends. She has to come out by herself all alone—an unusual situation.

Male: It could be she’s avoiding other people.

Dan: Maybe she doesn’t want to be with them, right? “Jesus says to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ His disciples had gone away into the town to buy food.” Every time I read that verse, I think of kind of the jokes that go like, “How many disciples does it take to buy lunch?”

Male: All of them.

Dan: What’s with that? Would it take 11 disciples to go into town and buy lunch? What do you think is going on here?

Female: He sent them all.

Female: It was the plan.

Dan: Yeah. He sent them to buy lunch. I don’t think you needed 11 to go into town to buy lunch. That would be a pretty big lunch for 11 people to have to carry. Do you think Jesus had something in mind here?

It looks like this was planned. He had to go through Samaria. He stayed by the well and sent them all away so that he could be alone and, “aah!” Surprise, here comes the Samaritan woman. We don’t know the background. We don’t know how Jesus knew all this, whether he was led of the Spirit or whether he had word that this happened or how. All we know is the story, so we have to take it at face value.

Let’s see what we can glean from it. Jesus said, “Will you give me a drink?” Then, in verse 9, the Samaritan woman said to him, “You’re a Jew. I’m a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Then John, for the benefit of his writers who don’t know history, said, “For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” Something very unusual is going on here. What do you make of Jesus asking her, “Will you give me a drink?” What do you think is happening here? What’s going on? Why would he do this?

Female: A Jew would never address a woman and never address a Samaritan.

Dan: Right.

Female: He was showing acceptance of her which was …

Dan: Yes. Even though he asked her a favor, he was showing that he accepted her equal to himself.

Female: So weird. He is breaking down some major walls here.

Dan: That’s very strange. Some major barriers of religion, of genderism, of classism and all those isms are being dramatically broken by Jesus. She gathers that he is Jew, we read that in the text. How do think she figured out he was a Jew?

Female: The way he dressed.

Dan: Yeah. Without even hearing him speak, but then when he said, “Will you …” “Mhmmm … I recognize that accent.” It’s Galilean if you ask me.

You must be a Jew, but I think the way he dressed and he was probably dressed somewhat like the rabbis of his day. Here you have someone who possibly is not only a Jew, not only a male, but possibly a rabbi, and he is talking to a Samaritan woman. This is earth-shattering. This is just not done.

She even almost mildly rebukes him for his nerve. How dare you speak to me?

Female: Don’t you know you’d be contaminated? You may be hurt.

Dan: Verse 10: Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asked you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” What do you make of some of these statements? We’ve got the gift of God, we got living water. What do you think these things are talking about here? Let’s start with the gift of God. What do you think that might be? “If you knew the gift of God …”

Female: Jesus.

Female: If you knew who is talking to you and what I can offer you, you would beg me for the living water.

Female: He is being very plain in one sense with her because he hasn’t talked to others in this way before.

Dan: In the book of John, he hasn’t even talked to his disciples this way. He’s talking to her in a more open way than he did with anyone that he met, at least, in the book of John to this point. Is there anything called the gift of God in the New Testament you can think of other than Jesus?

Female: The Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Dan: If you knew the gift of God, that Spirit. If the Spirit worked with you, if you just know the gift of God and know he’s with you and who it is that asked you, the Son of God … Whoa! He’s getting into a Trinitarian theology here.

Talking or hinting about the Spirit, hinting about who he is, assuming that she knows some God in heaven who unbeknownst to her is the Father but he is really working with her in a Trinitarian way which he has talked to no one else about, at least at this point, his ministry throughout the Gospels.

Female: He must have known that she’s very receptive in her circumstances, of coming at noon and that she was a candidate to be very open with.

Dan: What made her a good open candidate?

Female: He knew her heart. Just her brokenness probably.

Female: No friends and …

Dan: Coming out alone at dangerous time of the day.

Female: She was vulnerable.

Female: Felt very empty.

Dan: What do you think of her, let’s say, intelligence and understanding?

Female: I think she was curious already and obviously was wondering about him and she was almost seeking an answer from him.

Dan: The first thing she does to him when he says, “Give me a drink of water,” is to do what?

Male: Ask him a question.

Dan: What do we call people today who ask questions about Jesus?

Female: Seekers, learners.

Dan: She was, “Hey, wait a minute. I want to know more here. This is interesting. Tell me what’s going on.” She was indeed somewhat receptive. He said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asked you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” What is living water? What does that expression mean?

Female: Water that will make you live forever.

Dan: That’s how he’s going to interpret it, as water that will make you live forever but let’s say if you were just … took him at face value, do you know what they would mean by living water in that day?

Female: It would be fresh water.

Dan: Fresh water because it’s alive and not dead like the Dead Sea but not full of salt but living water. Where did living water usually come from?

Female: Springs?

Dan: Springs, yeah, flowing water from … but wait a minute – this is not a spring. This is not flowing water. This is a well. He says, “I asked you for a drink out of the well but if you ask me, I would give you living water, flowing water.” Rushing water, not just sitting-still water at the bottom of this well.

“Sir,” very respectful. “Sir,” the woman said. “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” What? You’re going to go down to the very base of the well and find out if there’s anything running in from outside somewhere? You don’t even have a bucket. You don’t even have a rope. How are you going to do this? “Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” What do you find interesting about that statement?

Female: She’s very feisty.

Female: She really thinks that he might be. she’s hoping that he might be.

Dan: She’s engaging with him as an equal, isn’t she? “You may be a rabbi, but I know a thing or two.”

Female: Right, because she’s saying that she knows something about her ancestor Jacob. She knows a little bit about the … maybe she even knows something about living water what he is referring to.

Dan: She could have been tongue-in-cheek saying, “I get your message but I don’t understand how you’re using it.” Yeah.

What do you think of this, “Our father, Jacob?”

Female: That’s probably who she thought was the most important person at that period of time.

Dan: Does anyone know where the Samaritans actually came from who were living in Samaria at that time of Jesus, their national origin or their regional origin? Do you know where they originated from?

The northern tribe of Israel was taken captive in about 722, 721 BC by the Assyrians. The Assyrians brought in people from some of their inhabited lands to replace the northern kingdom of Israel that they’ve taken. They didn’t take all of them. They only took a small portion (relatively, probably) away, but they did replace them with others, and then there was intermarriage between the northern tribes of Israel that remained and all of these, let me call them Macedonians as a generalism of where they came from, that were replacing them. You got kind of a mixed breed. You know how the Jews feel about mixed breeds?

Dan: That’s bad.

Dan: What does she say?

Female: She’s giving a common link.

Dan: She’s saying we’re related to Jacob.

Dan: If you were a Jew, who would you have said your father was?

Female: Abraham.

Dan: Is that interesting? The Jews say our father, Abraham. The Samaritans say, our father, Jacob.

A little difference in theological views here. Are you greater than Jacob? After all, Jacob is the greatest of all the patriarchs from their estimation. Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him, will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

What a statement! What is he saying to her? How do you interpret that statement? What do you think it meant to her?

Female: Life.

Dan: What kind of life?

Female: Good.

Dan: Good life, the best life.

Female: Fresh and clean.

Male: Eternal life.

Dan: Had Jesus offered anyone else that you know of in the Gospels at this time in his ministry eternal life?

Female: No. I don’t think so.

Female: He talks about it gushing, so it’s a lot. It’s not like he’s going to just give her a little portion of it but a lot of … the whole amount.

Dan: There’s a power there. There is a force in the sense of a spring of water welling up from the source, and flowing out and up to… the source will give you eternal life. I am impressed at the theology that Jesus is laying on this Samaritan woman. This is pretty deep and evidently, he feels she can process it.

I’m also amazed at how he … if you noticed, he leads her step by step and he began by saying, “Will you give me a drink of water?” That one question, based on her response, he then went a little further. Then based on her response, he went a little further and now, he’s going, “You can have eternal life, if you will.”

Female: Yes. Exciting.

Dan: At verse 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.” She’s interested, isn’t she? “Okay. You’re offering, I’m buying.”

Female: She sounds excited.

Dan: “I don’t know exactly fully what you’re talking about, but it sounds good to me. I want it.” What’s the reason she gives for wanting this water so that she will never thirst?

Female: She doesn’t like her life.

Dan: What makes you think that?

Female: She doesn’t want to come there ever again.

Dan: There’s something about coming to the well that she doesn’t like.

Female: By herself in the heat of the day.

Female: It could be her business.

Dan: It could be something, the way … something going on in her life.

Dan: It could be her business. It could be something going on in her life. We don’t know yet. Of course we do, because we’ve read the end of the story, but we don’t know yet what it is, but she’s not happy.

She wants some changes. She wants to change her life. This is really quite remarkable. Jesus has not dealt with anyone like this. Of all people, the first one he deals with is a Samaritan and a woman. The 12 are “out to lunch.” [laughter]

So he says to her in verse 16, “Go call your husband and come back.” She says, “I have no husband.” Jesus seems to have known that.

That always reminds me of asking the children, “Did you eat that cookie?” You know that they did, so why do you ask them?

Female: See what they’ll say.

Dan: I think he asked her just to see what she would say, and she said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You were right when you say you have no husband.” He didn’t say, “I know you’re a whore.”

Dan: What did he do? What approach did he take with this woman?

Female: Very gentle.

Female: Respectful.

Dan: He complimented her, didn’t he? Because she told the truth. She didn’t lie to him. She didn’t try to deceive him. She could have, but she was just honest and forthright and said, “Yeah. I am who I am and I don’t have a husband.” Jesus said, “You’re right.”

Female: She made herself very vulnerable to someone who was giving her hope perhaps. He held something that she wanted that sounded interesting. It was giving her hope. She was being very forthright.

Dan: You get the feeling that her life had hit bottom. She’s, “I got nothing to lose. You got some living water? I’ll go for whatever it is. I don’t fully understand but I’ll tell you, where I am, I’ll take whatever you have to offer.”

Female: It seems like that … just from reading and I know it probably was a lot harder than it seems, drawing water and going out in the middle of the day, but that could not have been the end of the story. Just that she was this desperate to get out of that particular job. It seemed like there was layers underneath that she really wanted to get out of.

Dan: Yeah. Her whole way of life, perhaps. She wants to leave.

Jesus said to her, “You’re right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands.” The interesting thing here is that he said she had five husbands.

Female: In that culture, you had to have a protector. You had to have a husband.

Female: Somehow, she had five husbands.

Dan: Yeah. We don’t know what happened to these five husbands, do we?

Female: No.

Dan: Do you think all five died?

Female: It doesn’t sound like it and why not?

Dan: Unless she’s a more dangerous woman than … but she had five husbands.

Female: She may have had abusive husbands.

Dan: She may have had abusive husbands and so we’re assuming perhaps she had had five husbands. Maybe she was divorced. In Jewish law, how many times were you allowed to divorce?

Female: Once.

Dan: Actually more. They allowed three. None was the ideal. One, you were kind of “errrr.” Three, that’s the limit. She had had five.

Male: I don’t know what Samaritan law was. I have no record of it but …

Female: Three, five … five men put her away maybe.

Dan: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask next. Could a woman put away a man?

Female: No. Rejected.

Dan: Five men had put her away.

Female: Rejection.

Dan: Who was it awhile ago? I think it was it Pat who said she was feisty.

Dan: A strong woman. A strong-willed woman, which was probably not very favorable in her culture.

Dan: Five men had put her away.

Dan: Do you think it was because she was strong willed? There could have been other reasons, various reasons.

Dan: We don’t know what they all were, but five men …

Female: She seems very intelligent too, so maybe that was intimidating to the men.

Female: She seems like she had some sort of education. She does talk about as if she is aware of Jacob, of what’s going on.

Female: She understands where he is from, so she doesn’t sound uneducated, and he is engaging her as if she understands what … And perhaps that was intimidating to five husbands.

Female: That they were supposed to be very quiet.

Dan: I’ll share a comment, this man is giving me water and saying, “What are you talking about?” Immediately, she spars with him.

Now, it tells us something about her nature. Here in verse 18, Jesus says, “The fact is you have had five husbands.” Evidently five legitimate, legal arrangements, and the man you now have is not your husband, an illegal, immoral arrangement. What did he say to her? “You adulterer, you harlot, you whore?” What did he say?

Female: He said, “You spoke the truth. You were honest about this.”

Dan: He did not put her down. He did not rebuke her. He did not criticize her. He complimented her for her forthrightness and her honesty. She again speaks to him with respect at verse 19. “Sir,” the woman said. “I can see that you are a prophet.” What do you make of that statement? She said, “I see you are a prophet.”

Male: He knew stuff that he couldn’t have known.

Dan: He sees things that other people don’t. He obviously is an intelligent man versed in knowledge of his day.

Female: She sees that he’s a rabbi. She doesn’t see a Jew. He’s probably …

Dan: Probably a rabbi, a teacher, a Jew, yeah, and he is not a Pharisee or Sadducee who she may be familiar with, but he stands outside of them like a prophet. Sort of like John the Baptist type of prophet, but it’s interesting to note that in the Samaritan religion, they were looking for one sent from God who would be the descendant of (of course) Jacob, who would come and free their people and they did not call him the Messiah. They called him, the Prophet.

They were looking for not just a prophet but The Prophet, but I think that we can see here that Jesus is already leading her to think in a certain direction about just who he might be and he’s already offered her eternal life. Wow!

Female: She must have been really surprised too that he didn’t condemn her. She must have been so surprised by his response. I can only imagine her bracing for the rebuke that was to come when it was obvious that she had five husbands and was living with a guy now. His response I think triggered some of that respect that she seems to display in the ways she talks to him because she’s probably floored.

Dan: Yeah. I think so. She’s now very respectful, calling him a prophet and I think she’s deeply touched. This is moving her emotionally.

Female: She was probably ready to put up her defenses if he had come back.

Dan: Probably used to it, don’t you think? Daily … yeah.

Female: Yeah. She’s got gloves on.

Dan: She was ready, but his approach was totally different from what she was used to or expected. She says to him, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain. [That would be Mount Gerizim.] But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” There is a key difference.

If you worship in the wrong place, you can’t be God’s people. The place is what’s important, and that’s what divided them primarily. Jesus declared,

Believe me, woman. 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 now has come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God the Spirit and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Wow! What a message! “A time is coming,” he said to her, when who is going to worship the Father?

Female: All people. It says … yeah.

Dan: But in particular?

Female: The Samaritans.

Dan: The Samaritan woman, first of all, and the Samaritans secondarily. There is a time coming when you – that seems to me a prediction.

Female: He’s very personal to her right now.

Dan: Yeah. When you, the woman, you the Samaritans, you’re going to worship.

Dan: Who are you going to worship?

Female: The Father.

Dan: Anything about that strike you as unusual?

Female: Because it was Jacob that they worshipped? …

Dan: Yeah. I wonder what she thought he meant when he said, “You will worship the Father.” He might be right she might tell. He means Jacob.

Female: Or maybe he means Abraham since he is Jewish.

Dan: Or maybe he means Abraham. How many people did Jesus teach about the Father in his ministry?

Female: His disciples?

Dan: Very few—and I don’t think [it included] the disciples. They haven’t heard about the Father. He is telling her about the Father, maybe before anyone else hears. He is revealing the Father to her and saying that, “You are going to worship the Father.” To worship him, probably you ought to know who he is. Again, we get back to (in my estimation) some very heavily Trinitarian theological utterances here by Jesus to the Samaritan woman, of all people, but neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. What does that mean? You’re going to worship the Father.

Female: A place …

Female: The place is not important here.

Dan: Yeah. The place would not be important any longer. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” They didn’t know the Father. They honored Jacob, looking for a prophet. They were a little bit confused. “We worship what we do know.” At least we Jews have some things right.

What do you think he means, “salvation is from the Jews?”

Female: He was born Jewish. He is the Son of God.

Dan: The Messiah comes from Judah. One of the reasons the Maccabeans (who freed the Judeans from the Syrian armies and so forth) and they were very pleased throughout the Seleucid reign and all of that), but as much as Judas Maccabaeus and the Maccabean family did, the Judeans never really quite fully accepted them. You know why? They weren’t of David.

You got to be of David. Salvation is of the Jews and in particular of the line of David, if you’re going to be the Messiah, so they were looking to Jacob and they were looking for a prophet and Jesus is saying, “No. Salvation is from the Jews.” A son of David, from the tribe of Judah. [Jesus may have said that, but John likes that phrase a lot, and he uses it quite frequently.]

“A time is coming and now has come when the true worshippers…” What do you think he means by true worshippers?

Female: For me, what stands out, he didn’t call them the Jews or the Samaritans. He just calls them the worshippers so …

Dan: That’s a very good observation.

Female: … taken away the … basically, the background of the person.

Dan: It’s irrelevant whether you’re a Jew or Samaritan.

Female: Your identity now is the worshippers.

Dan: It’s not the location. It’s not your national identity. It’s who you worship.

Female: It’s not your gender.

Dan: It’s who you worship and you come to know him. The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. What do you make of the triad? The true worshippers will worship the Father in the spirit …

Female: And in truth.

Dan: … and truth, and who is the truth?

Female: Jesus.

Dan: Jesus is the truth. We’ve got worshipping the Father and the Spirit through the truth. “For they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” Anything strike you as interesting about that statement there?

Female: He doesn’t seek the ones that just give lip service or to him, goes to the temple and they think they’re the worshippers.

Dan: He’s still looking for people like the Samaritan woman of all people who are authentic, who are open, right?

Dan: Anything else?

Female: That have the spirit of God in them and are using it.

Female: It sounds like he’s still seeking and he’s looking.

Dan: Who’s doing the seeking?

Female: The Father.

Dan: Anything interesting about that? Wouldn’t we expect that in most religious circles that you must seek God …

Dan: … and yet Jesus says, “You’re not seeking God. God is seeking you.”

Female: Jesus went to seek her.

Dan: Aha. He sought her out. God is seeking for people like you.

Female: He knew her and he understood her.

Dan: Wow. I’m not a Jew. I’m a woman.

Female: I’m a sinner.

Dan: Exactly. God is seeking true worshippers like you.

Female: I think it’s interesting too it says here a couple of times “in spirit and in truth,” connecting those two together, that spirit and truth, they go together, they are inseparable. It seems that he did it two times here.

Dan: Right. As he says, “God is spirit and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth. The only way to the Father is in the Spirit through the truth, the Son.” Any other worship that is not Trinitarian, I would say you’re missing the boat.

I am amazed at how Trinitarian his teaching is to this woman… While as you know that disciples who are still down at McDonald’s buying lunch while this deep Trinitarian theological discussion is going on out by the well.

Female: He didn’t do it there, instead of with her, so they couldn’t add their two cents.

Dan: What do you think would have happened, that Barbara raises an interesting point?

Female: They couldn’t believe that he was talking to her, first of all. They would make her feel that she was condemned. They couldn’t help themselves, but Jesus came not to condemn.

Dan: They probably would have been judgmental. They would have judged both Jesus and her. They would have tried to stop him. They would have sent her away. He knew he had to get rid of them in order to do …

They were not yet ready for the level of discussion that he was having with this woman. Verse 25, the woman said, “I know that Messiah [and John helpfully adds for us Greek speakers] called Christ, I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Female: Here she says, “So, she must have known something.”

Dan: She knows about the Messiah.

Female: She knew about the Messiah which is a little unusual for a Samaritan.

Dan: She’s probably familiar with the Jewish customs, evidently, so she is educated, well-read, well-versed. Now, Jesus, I think, has led her thinking and has shifted it away from Samaritan by saying, “Salvation is of the Jews,” she has come back and connected the dot and saying, “I know the Messiah… I know he will come,” and what does she say her understanding of the Messiah is?

Female: He will proclaim all things.

Dan: Right. He will explain everything to us.

Female: She’s probably very happy about saying this. This is probably something that’s always been inside of her. She knew that the Messiah was going to come someday to rescue and now she could verbalize it because she’s happy, she’s excited. The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming,” and she didn’t have any Samaritans denying her of that or anybody else.

Dan: Yeah, that’s a pretty straightforward statement, “I know …”

Female: She just let it come out. It’s there. It’s hidden. Now, it’s out.

Dan: Then, Jesus declared, “I who speak to you, am he.” How many people has he revealed himself as the Messiah to? You can read the whole of book of Mark and they call it the Messianic Secret because he never tells anybody who he is, and this Samaritan woman meeting her for the first time, he says, “Hey, I’m the Messiah.”

Female: Wow.

Dan: Now, for some comic diversion, the disciples return. “Just then, his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. [That’s just not right. This is improper.] No one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’” What do you think the scene must have been like?

Female: They couldn’t believe it.

Dan: I’ve almost imagined them nudging, “You ask him.” “No, I’m not going to ask him. You ask him.” “Peter will ask him.” “No, I’ve had enough trouble. I’m not asking him.”

Female: I think the body language probably revealed everything, though. They didn’t need to say anything. When you have that kind of shock and surprise, most people can’t hide that. They probably were already revealing their true feelings about it without having to say anything.

Dan: Non-verbal expression said it all.

Female: Our children’s Bible says, “What do you want from her?” That’s what he said …

Dan: Ohhh, that’s not a nice thing to say.

Female: I know. That’s what this says. I know. You’ll never know. Maybe they knew.

Dan: That maybe what they were thinking …

Female: Maybe they knew that was her business and …

Dan: They thought that she was a woman of ill repute.

Dan: They just said … You know what? It reminds me of this Sergeant Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes, “I see nothing. I know nothing. I’m going to pretend like I don’t see this. Don’t anybody say anything.” They were shocked indeed.

Female: They probably were worried about their reputation too if this is leaking out to the public …

Female: … that our Master is talking to her …

Female: What are people going to think of us?

Female: … and how does this reflect upon us?

Female: He will lose his credibility.

Dan: Definitely. This is a major scandal.

Dan: Verse 28: “Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town.” What does that indicate?

Female: She was excited.

Dan: Excited. She forgot she came out to get water. That’s not important. Interesting, that water is not important anymore — I found the Living Water.

Female: She didn’t really let the disciples deflate her feeling that she just experienced with Jesus. She just, “Oh, I’m out of here, to tell everybody.”

Dan: Does she keep her mouth shut?

Female: No.

Dan: No, but she said to the people, “Come! See a man who told me everything I ever did.” What do you think that may indicate?

Female: That he could possibly be the Messiah.

Dan: Right. Do you think her fellow citizens of Sychar knew a lot of the things she had done?

Female: Yes.

Dan: They knew, and this man told her everything she had ever done and showed her nothing but love and respect. How had the city folks treated her?

Female: She was fetching water in the middle of the day …

Dan: By herself. You get the feeling she was kind of ostracized, marginalized by the city because probably they knew everything she had ever done, and yet Jesus knew everything she had ever done and treated her with respect and offered her eternal life.

Female: She was happy. She had a different attitude if somebody that wasn’t repentant or … you told what they did then, “Oh no, I didn’t do that.” I may be very mad and angry … But instead she was very excited.

Dan: She’s very honest about it and excited. Yeah. Some people call her the first evangelist. If evangelism is indeed an overflow response, this is what we see here. This woman was filled with this spirit. In a sense, she was overflowing with good news and couldn’t wait to share it, even with people who didn’t particularly like her or respect her. She couldn’t help herself. She is so filled and so excited she has to tell people about Jesus. Indeed, in the Gospel of John, she is the first evangelist and she is a Samaritan and a woman.

The 12 are still standing around the well.

She says, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” I think she thinks it is, but I believe she asked that question to get their interest. “Come and see him. What do you think? What do you think? This could be…” In other words, if I say he’s the Christ, you’re going to say, “Nah.” You come and decide for yourself and see if this is not the Messiah.

Male: Why does she say Christ and not Prophet?

Dan: Yes, isn’t that interesting. It’s a good point. Why?

Male: Because hey weren’t looking for the Christ.

Dan: No. This would have been a shock. I thought he went to the Jewish folk.

Female: And he’s here.

Dan: He’s here, the Jewish Messiah is here, in Sychar in Samaria? I’ve got to see this for myself. I think that’s a good point. Got their curiosity up. “I have to see what’s going on here. This doesn’t make any sense to anything I know about what’s supposed to be happening religiously.”

Female: I think, to me, what strikes me here is she must have really been filled with the love of Jesus at this moment because instead of the response of, “Oh, I just had this great exciting experience, but I am who I am and nobody is going to believe me. Nobody is going to … They’re going to laugh at me. They might kick me out even further.” She didn’t have any of this response. She was filled with confidence and love to share this good news, which to me seems would be very supernatural. This is the love of Jesus that filled her. This is not a natural response.

Dan: Her eyes appear to be open and her ears appear to be hearing at this point and she’s really connecting with Jesus. We find verse 38, “the people came out of the town, made their way toward him.” Meanwhile …

Male: Back at the ranch.

Dan: … back at the ranch, Jesus’ ever deeply, spiritual disciples, are urging, “Rabbi, eat something. Eat! Eat! It’s lunch time.” He said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then the disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him some food when we weren’t looking? We were in town. Where did he get food?”

Female: They were talking to themselves too. They still didn’t ask him any question.

Dan: Yeah. I think they were smart enough not to ask. Verse 34, “My food,” said Jesus, “Is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Hmm…. finish his work. Whose work do you think the Samaritan woman was?

Female: His.

Dan: Yeah, the work of the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

“Do you not say four months more and then the harvest?” What does that mean? Anybody know what, agriculturally, that refers to? Four months to the harvest.

Female: You plant and then you wait for the harvest to be ready to reap. He’s saying, “I plant …” It’s almost like he’s saying, “I’ve planted the seed and the harvest is already ready.” There’s no waiting here.

Dan: Yeah. That’s interesting. What I’ve read about the agriculture in Palestine is that when the rains come from like November to March and the soil is tillable and you till the soil and then you plant the grain (usually the barley and the wheat), and then you do nothing. You’ve done all you can do. You just wait and God has to do the rest.

I’m struck by that analogy of cultivating, planting, and then waiting for God to bring the harvest and do the work. Normally, in the agricultural cycle of things, that took four months. Indeed, they would cultivate, plant and say “four months to the harvest, four months to the harvest,” and sit back and do nothing.

Female: Hope.

Dan: “Do you not say four months more and then a harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. Even now, the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. [Interesting.] Thus the saying, one sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

What do you think is going on there? “Open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest.”

Female: Maybe he’s teaching the disciples that the harvest may look different than what they might have expected. It might be in the form of a woman, a sinner— that might be the harvest, where the disciples would not have looked at her as somebody to bring to Jesus. They probably would have tried to shield him from her and get her away, and he’s turning things around and says, “No. My harvest looks very different. You need to look around. It’s ready.”

Dan: Right.

Female: Then, the time too.

Dan: Yeah. I imagine the setting something like … I don’t know there was. I imagine it this way, that Jesus is speaking and the disciples are on one side and have their backs to the city. Who’s coming out of the city?

Female: All the people.

Dan: All the people are coming out of the city and the disciples are just standing there with their backs to it and Jesus was going, “Hmmm… the harvest is here and the fields are ripe and here comes the harvest.”

The disciples are going, “What’s he talking about?” Then, you can imagine the look when they turned around and saw the whole city coming out. I wonder if they even got his words then, but he told them, it’s a process. Isn’t that interesting? There is cultivating, there is sowing, and there is reaping. Not necessarily one person does it all, but it’s all a part of what God does, but it’s people participating with him in various phases as he works with the people.

Verse 39,

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” When the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them and he stayed two days. Because of his words, many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said. Now, we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.

According to John, the first group of people to say this …

Female: Are Samaritans.

Dan: … are Samaritans, of all things.

Male: Yeah, a little village.

Dan: Who would have thought in a little village led by an evangelistic female? What conclusions does anybody draw? What really stands out in this story to you? Something that really strikes you?

Female: The harvest is there. It’s finding it. It’s looking around and seeing it.

Female: He helps you see it too, because he says, “It’s here. It’s coming.”

Female: And do not cut. They’re saying that, “They can’t know Christ. They’re not good enough. They haven’t done all the right things.”

Female: To look beyond.

Dan: They’re people of another religion, of another country.

Female: It’s not a matter being good.

Dan: How should we preach to them? They won’t get it.

Dan: Hmmm … maybe they will better than some who’ve grown up in Christianity. Anyone else?

Female: It’s the manner of his love and their background. She was prepared for this time and place and he had her in mind.

Dan: The least, the last, and the lost …

Female: Yeah. He knew exactly what she did.

Dan: … are the ones that Jesus tends to go to first and they tend to be the first to receive him, the most open.

Dan: It’s a remarkable story that tells us many things about God’s love for all people, and there’s goodness and there’s God working in the lives of all people in all countries, all nations, all ethnic groups, all religions or no religion at all. God is still there loving those people and working with them. It’s quite a story, Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Let’s conclude with a closing hymn and a final prayer.

Author: Dan Rogers

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