John 4:4 says that He “needed” to go that way, through Samaria – really? He “had” to go? No – Jesus lived every moment of His life with purpose, so He “chose” to go – talk about being driven! The purpose of God takes a straight line approach to meeting needs. Bias and preference don’t enter into the equation.
People in Jerusalem not only didn’t “need” to go through Samaria, they made sure to avoid it; but Jesus took the shortest reasonable path to where He was headed, knowing He would encounter this needy woman.
There’s a lot of bad history between these two societies, Judah & Samaria. This is sad considering they are together the 12 tribes of Israel. The problems began during and after the captivities, when the northern tribes returned to their land and began to intermarry with non-Jewish cultures.
When Jesus and His disciples arrived at Jacob’s Well, they had traveled perhaps 20 miles. (Maybe take a minute to find a map and take a look at the route.) He would have been hot & dusty, tired & thirsty. It was likely 6pm (Roman time), a typical time for the women to come for water.
2. A Conversation with Reality
Setting things straight — Nicodemus had a different conversation with Jesus in John 3 – he wanted everything to be orderly. What this woman needed deep in her soul was to have a clear conscience. Her background , her theology, her understanding of God, likely accommodated a desire for convenience and hiding, maintain distance between her and true worship of God. “We’ll just worship here on our own mountain” — “I have no husband.” She was likely bitter for all the hard turns in her life, skeptical of genuine caring, and quick to judge.
Once again, Jesus offers a remarkable statement. With Nicodemus, Jesus opened the “real conversation” with a striking statement (“Unless a man is born again.” Nicodemus had attempted to start a conversation, but the Lord knew it needed to go in an entirely different direction). He does the same thing here with this woman (“If you knew the gift of God…”). He catches her off guard, and is able to nudge her towards Truth.
Removing barriers — They both knew that a Jew would never ask for a drink from a Samaritan, much less consider drinking out of their cup. Yet Jesus openly asked, and she was amazed – and perhaps just a little willing to talk and listen.
Taking Jesus at His Word — Once the sinner is willing to listen to God’s words, participate in the “real conversation”, they can begin considering what He is saying. She interacts, considers, struggles, then takes small steps towards the Savior.
Put it all on the table — She moved from hostility to apathy, then to contrition, then to outright rejoicing. What a beautiful picture of the salvation experience. As she took her steps to Him, He sought to make the Gospel both relevant and desirable.
“I AM” — The summary of it all, He is God, He is sovereign, He is truly our Savior, He is to be worshipped. Her feeble attempt of distraction by mentioning the defiant Samaritan worship of God at their own place on Mt. Gerizim served only to emphsize Jesus’ point. True worship of the Only True God clears up all the questions and opens the way for rejoicing together. Place doesn’t matter – the heart does!
For further study…
1. Use a Harmony of the Gospels outline to discover the next few events in Jesus’ life after John 4.
2. Read Matthew 14:15-36 – What godly characteristics does Jesus demonstrate in these verses?
3. From these verses, when we get disappointed or frustrated with people, how can we respond in a Christlike way?