4 The picture was becoming clear to the Pharisees that Jesus had gained a following much larger than that of John the Baptist, the wandering prophet. Now He could see that the Pharisees were beginning to plot against Him. 2 This was because His disciples were busy ritually cleansing many new disciples through baptism,[a] 3 He chose to leave Judea where most Pharisees lived and return to a safer location in Galilee. 4 This was a trip that would take them through Samaria.
For Jews in Israel, Samaria is a place to be avoided. Before Solomon’s death 1,000 years earlier, the regions of Samaria and Judea were part of a united Israel. After the rebellion that divided the kingdom, Samaria became a hotbed of idol worship. The northern kings made alliances that corrupted the people by introducing foreign customs and strange gods. They even had the nerve to build a temple to the True God on Mt. Gerizim to rival the one in Jerusalem. By the time the twelve are traveling with Jesus, it has long been evident that the Samaritans have lost their way. By marrying outsiders, they have polluted the land. Israel’s Jews consider them to be half-breeds—mongrels—and the Jews know to watch out for them or else be bitten by temptation.
5-8 In a small Samaritan town known as Sychar, Jesus and His entourage stopped to rest at the historic well that Jacob gave his son Joseph. It was about noon when Jesus found a spot to sit close to the well while the disciples ventured off to find provisions. From His vantage, He watched as a Samaritan woman approached to draw some water. Unexpectedly He spoke to her.
Jesus: Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?
Woman: 9 I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink.
Jews, you see, have no dealings with Samaritans.
Also, a man never approaches a woman like this in public. Jesus is breaking accepted social barriers with this confrontation.
Jesus: 10 You don’t know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob’s well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.
Woman: 11 Sir, You sit by this deep well a thirsty man without a bucket in sight. Where does this living water come from? 12 Are You claiming superiority to our father Jacob who labored long and hard to dig and maintain this well so that he could share clean water with his sons, grandchildren, and cattle?
Jesus: 13 Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. 14 I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.
Woman: 15 Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I’ll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well.
Jesus: 16 Then bring your husband to Me.
Woman: 17-18 I do not have a husband.
Jesus: Technically you are telling the truth. But you have had five husbands and are currently living with a man you are not married to.
Woman: 19 Sir, it is obvious to me that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped here on this mountain, but Your people say that Jerusalem is the only place for all to worship. Which is it?
Jesus: 21-24 Woman, I tell you that neither is so. Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers. You worship what you don’t know while we worship what we do know, for God’s salvation is coming through the Jews. The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain, if you do not seek the Father, then you do not worship.
Woman: 25 These mysteries will be made clear by He who is promised, the Anointed One.
Jesus: 26 The Anointed is speaking to you. I am the One you have been looking for.
27 The disciples returned to Him and gathered around Him in amazement that He would openly break their customs by speaking to this woman, but none of them would ask Him what He was looking for or why He was speaking with her. 28 The woman went back to the town, leaving her water pot behind. She stopped men and women on the streets and told them about what had happened.
Woman: 29 I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?
30 A crowd came out of the city and approached Jesus. 31 During all of this, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat the food they gathered.
Jesus: 32 I have food to eat that you know nothing about.
Disciples (to one another): 33 Is it possible someone else has brought Him food while we were away?
Jesus: 34 I receive My nourishment by serving the will of the Father who sent Me and completing His work. 35 You have heard others say, “Be patient; we have four more months to wait until the crops are ready for the harvest.” I say, take a closer look and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready for the harvest. 36 The harvester is collecting his pay, harvesting fruit ripe for eternal life. So even now, he and the sower are celebrating their fortune. 37 The saying may be old, but it is true: “One person sows, and another reaps.” 38 I sent you to harvest where you have not labored; someone else took the time to plant and cultivate, and you feast on the fruit of their labor.
39 Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed—many Samaritans heard and believed. 40 The Samaritans approached Jesus and repeatedly invited Him to stay with them, so He lingered there for two days on their account. 41 With the words that came from His mouth, there were many more believing Samaritans. 42 They began their faith journey because of the testimony of the woman beside the well; but when they heard for themselves, they were convinced the One they were hearing was and is God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, sent to rescue the entire world.
43-45 After two days of teaching and conversation, Jesus proceeded to Galilee where His countrymen received Him with familiar smiles. After all, they witnessed His miracle at the feast in Jerusalem; but Jesus understood and often quoted the maxim: “No one honors a hometown prophet.”
These old friends should be the first to believe, but it takes outsiders like the Samaritans to recognize Him.
46-47 As Jesus traveled to Cana (the village in Galilee where He transformed the water into fine wine), He was met by a government official. This man had heard a rumor that Jesus had left Judea and was heading to Galilee, and he came in desperation begging for Jesus’ help because his young son was near death. He was fearful that unless Jesus would go with him to Capernaum, his son would have no hope.
Jesus (to the official): 48 My word is not enough; you only believe when you see miraculous signs.
Official: 49 Sir, this is my son; please come with me before he dies.
Jesus (interrupting him): 50 Go home. Your son will live.
When he heard the voice of Jesus, faith took hold of him and he turned to go home. 51 Before he reached his village, his servants met him on the road celebrating his son’s miraculous recovery.
Official: 52 What time did this happen?
Servants: Yesterday about one o’clock in the afternoon.
53 At that moment, it dawned on the father the exact time that Jesus spoke the words, “He will live.” After that, he believed; and when he told his family about his amazing encounter with this Jesus, they believed too. 54 This was the second sign Jesus performed when He came back to Galilee from Judea.
- 4:2 Literally, immersing, to show repentance