The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42)

I love the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin. In extolling the glory of God, he sings: “You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same. You are amazing, God.” In John 3, Jesus met a well-respected religious leader and told him “you must be born again” (3:3). In John 4, Jesus meets a much despised woman and tells her to ask Him for “living water” (4:10). The Samaritan woman and the townspeople of Sychar add their testimony as they declare: “We…know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:29). 

Photo by Frans van Heerden on

The Shunned Woman (4:1-15)

A shunned woman had a special meeting with Jesus. Jesus left Judea and traveled north to Galilee. On the way he “had to pass through Samaria” (4:4) since that is the best means to go from Judea to Galilee. At noon (6th hour) Jesus and his disciples arrived at a town in Samaria called Sychar. Jesus sent the disciples into town to buy food (4:8). He then sat by a well and noticed a woman arrive at the well to draw out water. What was this woman doing at the well at noon? Women, in this time period, would come as a group (protection and fellowship) in the morning (cool of the day) to get enough water for the day. That this woman came alone at noon indicates that she is shunned by the people in the town. 

Jesus told her “Give Me a drink” (4:7). She was surprised that Jesus, a Jewish man, would speak to her since “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (4:9). Seeing her surprise, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water” (4:10). Like Nicodemus in John 3, this woman did not understand what Jesus meant. She replies, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?” (4:11). So far, the woman is thinking physically: “You have nothing to draw with…” Jesus tells her that living water isn’t drawn out, but placed inside. He said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (4:14). Hearing this, she gladly requests this water.

The Sinful Woman (4:16-26)

It becomes clearer why this woman would come alone to the well at noon. When she asked Jesus for living water, Jesus replied: “Go, call your husband and come here” (4:16). Oh no! Any hope that this woman had that she could escape her past and start afresh with this stranger’s living water has now disappeared. Her past, which she is painfully aware of, keeps coming back to haunt her. Surely, she would not be able to receive this living water since she is a sinful woman. She replies, “I have no husband” (4:17). Jesus commends her for speaking truthfully and He adds “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you have now is not your husband” (4:17-18). We do not know all the details of why this woman has had five husbands, but we do know how shocking it was (and is) for her to live with a man who is not her husband. She is living with a man who is not her husband and is therefore living in unrepentant sin. 

The conversation was intentionally brought to a recognition of her sinfulness, but the conversation did not end there. Jesus commended her for her honesty to Him and continued to share with her about eternal life. Jesus offers her salvation and a life free from the bondage of sin. Even when she tried to distract Him away from her sinfulness with questions about worship, Jesus told her “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (4:23-24).

The Saved Woman (4:25-29)

The shunned, sinful woman heard Jesus speak about God and knew that the Messiah would come and “declare all things to us” (4:25). Jesus declares to her openly, “I am He, the One speaking to you” (4:26 HCSB). Jesus is the Messiah and He has met her at this well in order to give her eternal life. It is important to note that Jesus did not shy away from being seen with “undesirables”. Matthew records that Jesus was eating with many tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees saw this and were indignant. Jesus replied, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt 9:12). Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners and met the sinful, shunned woman at the Samaritan well, not because He wanted to appear tolerant and inclusive, but because He came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus calls sinners to repentance and to receive eternal life. Jesus came to heal the sick, not affirm their sickness. Jesus frees us from bondage to sin.

The Surprised Disciples and Sycharians (4:30-42)

The disciples were shocked that Jesus spoke with the woman at the well. Jesus used it as a teachable moment to get their focus off the things of the world and “lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (4:35). Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (4:34). We are to know Jesus and to make him known. The woman told the people of Sychar about Jesus and “many more believed because of His word” (4:41). They declared “We have heard for ourselves and know that this One is the Savior of the world” (4:42).


It is amazing that Jesus knows the sinfulness of this woman and He still offers her salvation. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is great news because Jesus knows our sinfulness and our sinful past and still offers us salvation and freedom from the bondage of sin. The way you receive this salvation is not by being a good person, but by confessing (acknowledging) that you are not a good person. Salvation is a gift to be received by faith (Eph 2:8). Jesus’ first sermon was “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). 

Do you know Jesus? Does Jesus know you? Do you confess He is the Savior of the world? Our God is an awesome God! He sees the depths of our heart and He loves us the same. He is amazing! Let us worship Him and praise His holy name. 

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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