The woman at the well

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 3 - People who met Jesus during his early work for God - Part 4

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An online Bible Study course by Barrie Wetherill about the life of Jesus. This book is in EasyEnglish Level B. Use the links below for other online Bible Study books and commentaries that will help you. Or go to the Word List, which explains words with a *star.

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John 4:4-42

Jesus was travelling from Jerusalem to *Galilee. He went through Samaria.


Samaria was between *Galilee in the north and *Judea and Jerusalem in the south. The shortest way to go north from Jerusalem was through Samaria. For hundreds of years the Jews and the people of Samaria had been enemies. They did not agree about where God’s people should *worship. All Jews *worshipped at Jerusalem. God had told them to build the Temple there. The Samaritans had made another place for *worship. It was in their land, on the top of a mountain. Jews and Samaritans hated each other. Most Jews would not travel through Samaria. They went by a longer route to avoid Samaria.

But at this time Jesus travelled through Samaria. He stopped at noon in a small town called Sychar. Jesus was tired. He sat by the well outside the town. The *disciples went to buy food.

Jesus speaks to a woman

While Jesus was alone, a woman came to the well for water. It was not the usual time to go for water. She probably came then because she did not want to meet people. Later in the story we read that she had lived a bad life. She had been married to several men. Now she lived with a man  who was not her husband. Perhaps nobody would talk to her. Jesus spoke to her. He asked the woman for a drink. It surprises us that she did not refuse him. It surprised her that a Jew would ask this. She told Jesus that she did not expect his request. Then, Jesus replied:

John 4:10: Jesus answered her, ‘You do not know the gift of God. You do not know who asks you for water. If you did, you could ask me. I would give you living water’.

The gift of God

This is what Jesus meant. The ‘gift of God’ is the *Holy Spirit. The woman could not have understood that. But Jesus came to change us by his *Holy Spirit. If we want a drink, water helps us. If we want God, Jesus can help us. We know this from the *prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34. We have mentioned this earlier in this course. But the woman did not think about her *spiritual life. Then Jesus explained the purpose of the ‘gift of God’.

John 4:13, 14: Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks water, from this well, will need more water later. Whoever drinks my water will never need more. My water will be like a stream that gives *eternal life’.

Our real needs are *spiritual. Jesus alone can satisfy them. Here is what God promises to do for us. All that we must do is to ask him. Again the woman thought about what she needed in her own life now. But Jesus stopped her. He said to her, ‘Go, get your husband’. This immediately made the woman think about the wrong things that she had done. She said that she did not have a husband.

The woman's *sin

Jesus now said that she had married five men. And the man that she lived with now was not her husband. The woman immediately knew that Jesus was not an ordinary man. An ordinary man could not know these things about her. So, the woman thought that Jesus was a *prophet. She tried to change the subject. She did not want to talk about her *sin. She talked about the argument between the Jews and the Samaritans. She talked about the right place for *worship. Jesus replied. He said that a new time was coming. Then men would not *worship at either place. They would *worship God in *spirit and truth.

The *Messiah is coming

The woman said that she knew this. She knew that the *Messiah was coming. He would explain everything. Jesus now told the woman, ‘I who speak to you am he’. [That is, 'I am the *Messiah. You are speaking to the *Messiah now.'] This was a wonderful thing to say. Jesus had been very careful when he spoke about himself to the priests in Jerusalem. They thought that they were very good men. But it was to this woman that Jesus said this. He told her clearly who he was.

After this, the woman went to her town and told everybody. Jesus stayed there for two days. Many people believed in him. This shows us much about what Jesus did. People often said that he should not spend time with bad people. He should not be with *sinners, because good people would not talk to them. His reply was this:

Luke 5:31, 32: Healthy people do not need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to help ‘good’ people. I came to tell *sinners to *repent.

Each person matters to Jesus

The story of the woman of Samaria teaches us that each person matters to Jesus. Why did he choose to go through Samaria on this journey? Usually he would have gone the longer way. It seems that he went just to meet this woman. He wanted to bring new life to her. As a result, the town of Sychar heard about Jesus. A number of times Jesus went out of his way to meet just one person. See Mark 5.

The story also teaches us this. Jesus offers to forgive everyone. He offers new life to all, even if they have been very wicked. Jesus also came for people from every nation. His *kingdom is for everybody, from every country and every culture. Perhaps his visit prepared the way for this command to the *disciples. Before he returned to *heaven, he told them:

Acts 1:8: But the *Holy Spirit will come on you with power. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all *Judea and Samaria, and in all the world. [That is, in every country].

Jesus had told the woman:

John 4:10: Jesus answered her, ‘You do not know the gift of God. You do not know who asks you for water. If you did, you could ask me. I would give you living water’.

Living water

He came to give this ‘living water’. It is to be like a stream that is in us. From us it will go out to help other people. The world is full of people who need *spiritual help. But Jesus could do nothing for people who did not know this. Some people think that they are good enough. They will not confess their evil deeds to God. They will not confess their wrong attitudes. They will not let Jesus save them from their *sins. They do not know that he can give them hope. We cannot have new life from Jesus until we ask for it. Before we ask, we must want it. We must realise that we need it. So, we must know about our *sin.


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