When Jesus learned that the Pharisees were making much of the fact that He was attracting and baptizing more disciples than John, He left Judea and returned to Galilee.
It became necessary for Him to travel through Samaria. One day, around about noon, at a town in Samaria called Shechem, Jesus felt so wearied by his journey, He just had to rest. So He sat down on the rim of Jacob’s Well, just as He was. (This well is close by the piece of land which Jacob gave to his son, Joseph).
When a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water, Jesus asked her to give Him a drink. (His disciples had gone off to buy food in the town).
The Samaritan woman was amazed at His words. “You’re Jewish!” she exclaimed. “How can you ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan?” (Jews hold Samaritans in contempt, and vice versa).
“If you only knew what God wants to give you, and who it is who’s asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him for the same thing, and He would have given you Living Water!”
“But, sir, you have nothing to draw water with. Not even a small bucket, and the well is deep. So how will you obtain this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who not only gave us this well, but drank from it himself. And his sons too. And his cattle.”
“Whoever drinks water from this well of yours will grow thirsty again, but the person who drinks My gift of water will never thirst any more; for My gift will become a spring, a fountain that wells up inside the body and leads that person into eternal life.”
“Sir, let me have this water right now. It will make me very happy never to suffer thirst again. And I won’t have to walk for a mile to draw water from this well.”
“Go and get your husband and come back here.”
“I have no husband.”
“True enough! You’ve had no less than five husbands, but the man you’re living with now is not your husband. There you’ve spoken the truth!”
“So, you are a prophet, sir! [I’ve always wanted to meet a prophet. I’ve a question for you]. Our fathers worshipped God on this mountain. In the temple they erected on this very mountain, sir. [Mount Gerizim]. Yet you Jews maintain that we ought to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. In fact, you say that Jerusalem is the only place where God can be worshipped.”
“Believe me, madam, the time is coming when people will worship the Father neither in the temple on this mountain nor in the temple at Jerusalem. Right now, however, you Samaritans are worshipping God with your eyes shut. You don’t see Him because You don’t know Him. On the other hand, we Jews are worshipping the Father with our eyes right open. Indeed all mankind will be saved through My race. We Jews will save the whole world [and if it were not for us, no-one would be saved at all]! Yet the time is coming—and indeed that time is already here—when all true worshippers will honor the Father and give Him glory everywhere. God is a Spirit. He cannot be tied down to a particular place. He looks for people everywhere to worship Him in the Spirit. Now that is true worship, real worship!”
“You speak in riddles, but I do know the Messiah is coming. The Christ! When He arrives, He’ll make everything plain to us.”
“I am the Christ. You are speaking to Him.”
At this point, the disciples returned and were so astonished to find Jesus talking with a Samaritan—and a woman at that—they simply couldn’t find words to ask Him what it was all about and why He was talking to her!
Leaving her water-jar at the well, the woman sped off to the town and said to the men, “Come back with me and you’ll see a Man who’s told me my whole life story. He claims He’s the real Messiah, and maybe He is!”
The men left the town and ran back with the woman to Jacob’s Well.
In the meantime, the disciples were begging Jesus to eat some of the food they’d purchased for Him.
“I have food to eat which you know nothing about,” He told them.
“Someone must have brought Him food,” they said to each other.
“You don’t know the meaning of the word,” Jesus answered them. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and complete His work. Haven’t you ever watched the seasons? Haven’t you ever said, ‘Another four months to harvest time!’ Well, look around you! Look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest.” [Jesus raised His arm to indicate the approaching townsmen]. “The reaper can already see his reward. He will gather his crop for eternal life, so that both sower and reaper will equally rejoice. How does the proverb run: ‘It is one thing to sow, another to reap?’ And now that proverb is verified. I’ll send you to reap where you’ve done no work. Others have done the planting and the cultivating, but you’ll enjoy an equal benefit.”
Many of Shechem’s Samaritans believed in Jesus because the woman had witnessed that He knew her whole life history. They asked Him to stay with them. And He did for two whole days. And many more came to believe in Him because of what He said directly to them. In fact, they told the woman, “We no longer believe He is the Savior of the world simply because of what you declared to us. Now that we’ve heard Him ourselves, we’re thoroughly convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God’s promised Messiah.”
[John, the Elder, adds at this point]. Yes, truly, He who comes from Above is superior to all. The man who is worldly, remains worldly, and speaks in a worldly way; but He who comes from heaven is above all earthly things. He relates to what He has seen and heard in heaven, but few people accept His testimony. Those who do, however, can confirm that God is true . The Man that God sends, speaks God’s words because God does not place any limit on His Holy Spirit of Wisdom. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. He who believes in the Son has eternal life. On the other hand, he who disbelieves the Son will never see life, because the wrath of God remains on him forever.