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A Thirsty Savior

The news quickly reached the Jewish religious leaders known as the Pharisees that Jesus was drawing greater crowds of followers coming to be baptized than John. (Although Jesus himself didn’t baptize, but only his disciples.) Jesus[a] heard what was being said and abruptly left Judea and returned to the province of Galilee, and he had to pass through Samaria.[b]

Jesus arrived at the Samaritan village of Sychar,[c] near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6–8 Wearied by his long journey, he sat on the edge of Jacob’s well,[d] and sent his disciples into the village to buy food, for it was already afternoon.

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”[e]

She replied, “Why would a Jewish man ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew who I am and the gift that God wants to give you, you’d ask me for a drink, and I would give you living water.”

11 The woman replied, “But sir,[f] you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is very deep. So where do you find this ‘living water’? 12 Do you really think that you are greater than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well and drank from it himself, along with his children and livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “If you drink from Jacob’s well, you’ll be thirsty again, 14 but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never be thirsty again. For when you drink the water I give you, it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, flooding you with endless life!”[g]

15 The woman replied, “Let me drink that water so I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to come back here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said, “Go get your husband and bring him back here.”

17 “But I’m not married,” the woman answered.

“That’s true,” Jesus said, 18 “for you’ve been married five times,[h] and now you’re living with a man who is not your husband. You have told the truth.”[i]

19 The woman changed the subject. “You must be a prophet! 20 So tell me this: Why do our fathers worship God on this nearby mountain,[j] but your people teach that Jerusalem is the place where we must worship. Who is right?”

Jesus responded, 21 “Believe me, dear woman, the time has come when you will worship[k] the Father neither on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in your heart. 22 Your people don’t really know the One they worship, but we Jews worship out of our experience, for it’s from the Jews that salvation is available.[l] 23–24 From now on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with a right heart. For God is a Spirit,[m] and he longs to have sincere worshipers who adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “This is all so confusing, but I do know that the Anointed One is coming—the true Messiah. And when he comes, he will tell us everything we need to know.”

26 Jesus said to her, “You don’t have to wait any longer, the Anointed One is here speaking with you—I am the One you’re looking for.”[n]

27 At that moment, his disciples returned and were stunned to see Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman, yet none of them dared ask him why or what they were discussing. 28 All at once, the woman left her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done![o] He could be the One we’ve been waiting for.” 30 Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.[p]

The Harvest Is Ready

31 Then the disciples began to insist that Jesus eat some of the food they brought back with them, saying, “Teacher, you must eat something.” 32 But Jesus told them, “I have eaten a meal[q] you don’t know about.”

33 Puzzled by this, the disciples began to discuss it among themselves, “Did someone already bring him food?”

34 To clarify, Jesus spoke up and said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and bring it to completion.”

35 As the crowds emerged from the village, Jesus said to his disciples, “Why would you say, ‘The harvest is another four months away’? Look at all the people coming—now is harvest time! Their hearts are like vast fields of ripened grain—ready for a harvest. 36 Everyone who reaps these souls for eternal life will receive a reward. Both those who plant spiritual seeds and those who reap the spiritual harvest will celebrate together with great joy! 37 And this confirms the saying, ‘One sows the seed and another reaps the harvest.’[r] 38 I have sent you out to harvest a field that you haven’t planted, where many others have labored long and hard before you.[s] And now you are privileged to profit from their labors and reap the harvest.”

39 Many from the Samaritan village became believers in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony: “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 Then they begged Jesus to stay with them, so he stayed there for two days, 41 resulting in many more coming to faith in him because of his message.

42 The Samaritans said to the woman, “Now we’ve heard him ourselves. We no longer believe just because of what you told us, but we’re convinced that he really is the true Savior of the world!”[t]

Jesus Returns to Galilee

43 On the third day Jesus left there and continued his journey to Galilee, where he had been raised.[u] 44 Now Jesus knew that prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometown. 45 Even so, as Jesus arrived in the province of Galilee, the people welcomed him with open arms. Many of them had been in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival and had witnessed firsthand the miracles he had performed.[v]

46–47 Jesus entered the village of Cana of Galilee where he had transformed water into wine. He met there a governmental official from Capernaum whose son was very sick and dying. When he heard that Jesus had left Judea and was staying in Cana of Galilee, he decided to make the journey to Cana.[w] When he found Jesus, he begged him, “You must come with me to Capernaum and heal my son!”

48 So Jesus said to him, “You[x] never believe unless you see signs and wonders.”[y]

49 But the man continued to plead, “Come with me to Capernaum before my little boy dies!”

50 Jesus looked him in the eyes and said, “Go back home now. I promise you, your son will live.”

The man believed in his heart the words of Jesus and set off for home. 51 When he was still a distance from Capernaum, his servants met him on the road and told him the good news, “Your son is healed! He’s alive!”

52 Overjoyed, the father asked his servants, “When did my son begin to recover?”

“Yesterday,” they said, “at one in the afternoon. All at once his fever broke—and now he’s well!”

53 Then the father immediately realized that it was at that very same hour that Jesus spoke the words to him, “Your son will live.” From that day forward, the man, his servants, and all his family believed. 54 Healing the official’s son was Jesus’ second extraordinary miracle in Galilee after returning from Judea.[z]

Footnotes

  1. 4:3 Some manuscripts have “The Lord.” This is included here from v. 1 for the sake of the English narrative.
  2. 4:4 Since the Jews despised the Samaritans, they often traveled east of the Jordan River to avoid Samaria while traveling between Judaea and Galilee. The Jews wanted nothing to do with the Samaritans because they had mixed Jewish and gentile blood and centered their worship at Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus needed to pass through Samaria because there were needy souls who needed a Savior.
  3. 4:5 Sychar lies near modern-day Nablus in the northern region of the West Bank. A village named Askar, which was formerly known as Sychar, lies about one kilometer north of the well.
  4. 4:6–8 Jacob’s well was “a spring-fed well.” This well becomes a picture of the “spring” of the Jacob-life inside of every one of us. Fed by Adam’s fall, this spring has flowed through all of humanity. But Jesus sat as a “lid” to Jacob’s well, sealing its polluted stream. In Christ, Jacob’s clever striving has ended. A living well became a lid to Jacob’s well as Jesus sat there ready to give his living water to all who would come and drink. A well sat upon a well.
  5. 4:6–8 The “water” Jesus wanted was the refreshing, satisfying pleasure of her devotion. He says to each one of us, “Nothing satisfies me except you.” When the sinner drank of the Savior and the Savior drank of the sinner, both were satisfied. Neither ate or drank, but each satisfied the other.
  6. 4:11 The woman used the Greek title kurios (“lord”) when she addressed Jesus. However, kurios is not a word used here for “exalted or sovereign Lord,” but more like “sir.”
  7. 4:14 The Greek verb for “springing up” is hallomenou, and is never used for inanimate objects (water). It is a verb used for people (living things) and means “jumping” or “leaping up.” The Septuagint translates this verb elsewhere as an activity of the Holy Spirit.
  8. 4:18 In a sense, every one of us has married five husbands: our five senses. The six men speak of our fallen humanity, for six is the number of man (who was created on the sixth day). Our heart can never be satisfied with what is on this earth; we must drink the living water that comes from heaven. Christ is the seventh husband, the only One who satisfies. Christ is the real husband. See 2 Cor. 11:2.
  9. 4:18 After offering the woman living water, Jesus first confronted her with her sin and steered her away from religious debates (the proper place to worship, v. 20), and unveiled himself to her as the true Messiah. Jesus does the same thing to everyone who comes to him.
  10. 4:20 This “nearby mountain” is most likely Mount Gerizim where the Samaritans had a shrine to worship God. However, Jacob’s well lies at the base of Mount Ebal, the mountain that Yahweh told the Levites to curse. See Deut. 27:12–26; Josh. 8:33. Both Gerizim and Ebal are mountains in Samaria.
  11. 4:21 The Aramaic word for “worship,” seged, means “to bow down” or “to surrender.”
  12. 4:22 Or “the life-givers are from the Jews.”
  13. 4:23–24 Or “God is breath” or “God is wind.” Jesus referred to “Spirit” more than one hundred times in the four Gospels.
  14. 4:26 Or “I am the I AM who speaks to you.”
  15. 4:29 No doubt, this woman was the talk of the town. Having had five marriages, she was well known for what she had done. For her to say these words was an honest confession of her past. The miracle here is that the people believed her and went out to see for themselves.
  16. 4:30 Although unnamed in the biblical account, church tradition identifies the Samaritan woman to be Photini. An internet search of her name will yield many interesting stories about her post-conversion ministry, including her being named as an “apostle” of Jesus and her eventual martyrdom. Regardless of the validity of the extrabiblical references, history records her as the first New Testament evangelist to win a city to Christ. God is faithful to use anyone to reach others when we are honest to tell others that Jesus knows everything we’ve ever done and still loves us.
  17. 4:32 There is a fascinating word play here in the Aramaic. The word Jesus used isn’t the common word for “food,” but a specific word that means “nutrients.” It also has a homonym more commonly translated “kingdom.” Jesus has a kingdom feast that no one else knows about. He feasts upon the devotion of his bride. See Song. 4:15–16; 5:1. The church is truly the “woman at the well.”
  18. 4:37 See Job 31:8; Mic. 6:15.
  19. 4:38 See Deut. 6:10–11; Josh. 24:13.
  20. 4:42 They acknowledged Jesus not just as the Messiah, but the “Savior of the world,” including the Samaritan people who were outcasts from Judaism. The word Savior in Aramaic is literally translated “Life-Giver.”
  21. 4:43 See v. 44.
  22. 4:45 See John 2:23.
  23. 4:46–47 The distance from Capernaum to Cana was over seventeen miles.
  24. 4:48 Or “You all.”
  25. 4:48 The Samaritans believed without seeing miracles. See John 20:29.
  26. 4:54 There is an interesting parallel in Jesus’ ministry in John with Acts 1:8. Jesus began first in Jerusalem (Nicodemus—John 3), then went to Judea (John 4:1–3), then to Samaria (the Samaritan woman—John 4:4–30), and then to the people with no Jewish heritage (the healing of the nobleman’s son, a gentile—John 4:46–54).