John 4 – Jesus and the Woman at the Well

Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well is a favorite story for preachers.  Here Jesus meets with a woman of ill-repute and crosses cultural and social boundaries to share the gospel with her.  As a result, she returns to her village and many people in her village believe in Jesus. There are some obvious preachable points in the story which make for a rousing missionary conference sermon, encouraging evangelism and reaching out beyond one’s normal social circle.

The Woman at the WellThat is all very good, but that is not why John has placed this story in his gospel. John tells us that his purpose in writing his Gospel is so that the reader might know Jesus is the Messiah and have life in his name.  This story contributes to that purpose.

Jesus has revealed who he is with a private sign at the wedding at Cana (2:11-12) and again publicly when he cleared the Temple (John 2:13-25).  After these two signs, he encounters three people who illustrate three ways in which people reacted to Jesus. Nicodemus is a representative of the Jews, the woman at the well represents the Samaritans, and the official in John 4:43-54 is a Gentile, albeit a God-fearer. These three responses relate to the initial question of the book from Jesus: “what do you want with me?” Nicodemus wanted a Jewish scholar, the woman looked for “living water” and the official needed healing for his child.

These three categories of people appear elsewhere in the New Testament. In Acts 1:8 Jesus commands his disciples to be witnesses of the gospel “in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  In John 3-4, Jesus has presented himself as the Messiah in Judea to Nicodemus, in Samaria to the woman at the well, and to the “ends of the earth” by healing the Gentile official’s son. Each of these people misunderstand who Jesus is, to Nicodemus he is a teacher, to the woman he is a prophet, and to the official he is a healer. Each becomes a witness in the Gospel of John, and each “believes” and influences others to believe.

While Nicodemus fades from the story, the Samaritan woman slowly understands Jesus, first questioning his motives, then accepting his offer of water, then believing he is a prophet, and finally that he is the messiah. Like Nicodemus, we are left wondering if she becomes a believer. Like Nicodemus, she is never identified as a believer in John 4. Yet her village does in fact come to faith in Jesus as a result of her imperfect testimony.

Jesus makes several important theological statements to the woman at the well and she responds with questions (John 4:7-25). First, Jesus asks for water, and offers the woman living water which brings eternal life (4:7-18). This question seems literal; Jesus is thirsty, so he asks the woman to give him some water since he does not have anything with which to draw water. His request makes perfect sense on the literal level.

But Jesus quickly turns the conversation to “living water” which results in true spiritual life (vs. 10). As with Nicodemus and being “born again,” this “living water” is likely an allusion to the Hebrew Bible. In this case, Jesus may have in mind God’s provision of water in Numbers 20:8-11. In that case, God saved the lives of the people of Israel in the wilderness by providing them with drinkable water “gushing out of the rock.”

The prophets use the image of water in the wilderness to describe the coming age of peace and prosperity. Jeremiah 2:13 and Isaiah 12:3, for example, use the image of provided water in different ways. In Jeremiah, God provided water, but the people of Israel preferred their substitute water (false gods). But Isaiah sees a time coming when Israel will be in her land again drinking the water provided by God. Jesus is therefore telling this woman that he can provide her with the same life-giving water that will mark the eschatological age. The woman misunderstands, thinking “living water” means that Jesus has a source of fresh water that could help her to avoid coming to the well (vss. 11-15).

Second, Jesus offers some extraordinary knowledge which shows he is a prophet. It is possible that the woman’s response “I see you are a prophet” is sarcastic, since obviously a woman getting water alone at noon has some social problem which separates her from other women. The woman’s response is accurate, although deceptive. She has no husband, and may never have had an actual, legal husband. The noun (ἀνήρ) can refer to a husband or more generally a man.

Third, Jesus clearly states that he is in fact the Messiah (4:26). This is the main theme of the gospel of John. The writer tells us that he wrote so that the reader could know that Jesus is the Messiah; he is the one to whom the prophecies looked forward.

As with Nicodemus, Jesus confronts the woman with the truth and demands she decide what she will believe about Jesus. He tells her he is the fulfillment of the prophecy, therefore she must decide if she believes he is the Messiah or not.

How can the story of the woman at the well provide a model for evangelism? Does Jesus’s discussion with the woman provide analogies to modern evangelism and apologetics (as some claim)?

33 thoughts on “John 4 – Jesus and the Woman at the Well

  1. In response to the literalness of this passage, it is important to note that back then “living water” could have been translated into clean water, or water that was good for drinking. It is possible because of the fact that they did not keep their water clean, and had no method of purification that the woman was confused at first when Jesus asked her about the living water. If we observe in verses 11-12 we can clearly see she is pondering what Jesus just said to her. After Jesus explains what he is talking about, she understands. For me this translates over to modern day evangelism because it is bringing the truth to people where they are. This woman was drawing water from a well, going through over five marriages, and being with someone who is not her husband. Which by the way, would be extremely looked down upon in their culture, but she was struggling and Jesus could see that. Jesus approached her, in her own mess, and told her something simple, relating to what she was already doing. Jesus knew what was key to reaching this woman, because Jesus knew what mess she was in. The reason this would work for modern day evangelism is because we are meeting people right where they are. We understand their pain and their struggles, and we offer our love regardless of what that looks like. Modern day evangelism would just need to be more love focused. Christ went up to a Samaritan woman, something that he would not have done, and he spoke to her. To us we need to be willing to do the uncomfortable thing and witness to people that maybe we wouldn’t feel we need to.

    • Jordan, I liked your opening point on how living water could be taken and understood as clean fresh water. I never thought about that and now am able to think of this story in a different way understanding what true living water will look like in Jesus.

  2. I think that it is interesting to note that it is stated above that each of these three people misunderstood who Jesus was; and yet they still brought others to believe in Him. Jesus goes by many names and some mean more to others based on life circumstances such as these three people. So, why is it that this is called a misunderstanding on their part? None of us are able to fully comprehend who Jesus really is, the fact that He is fully God and fully man alone is incomprehensible. As for Jesus and His interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, here He is starting out with something that is relatable to the human body and mind, tiredness and thirst, and then making it a spiritual conversation of eternal life which is meant to reveal who He truly is (Köstenberger, 73.) This story goes into the theme of John’s book quite well. If John is trying to tell of who Jesus really is and give the Gospel message, then this interaction portrays that well. Jesus is telling of His power to grant eternal life, and He is doing so to a Samaritan woman showing that He is not just here for the Jews, but for everyone.

    • I agree that Jesus goes by different names. Something I think is interesting is that although the reader believes each of the three people Jesus reveals who he is misunderstand at first. Jesus is in fact a teacher, he is in fact a prophet, and he is a healer of man in one way or another. Each of the three think in the most human way at first. If any of us were put in each situation, without the background we have, we would probably think the same way as they did. Nicodemus thought Jesus was simply a teacher and because he was a Pharisee, he did what he knew as normal, talk about biblical teachings at night. The Samaritan woman thought Jesus was a prophet because he told her things that she had never mentioned once. The soldier believed he was a healer because he may have heard of the one who came to save lives because he may not have had a good understanding of the Old Testament prophesies like Nicodemus or the Samaritan woman.

  3. As I think about the evangelism that Jesus provided for the woman at the well, I think it is a very good model for current day evangelists. Jesus knew her sin yet saw her for more than that. It is easy as a follower of Christ to see unfollowers and only see a sinner. In reality, we need to see all people as children of God even if they are currently lost.

    Jesus was so indifferent about what the people who saw Him interacting with this woman would think and was rather focused on His mission. He did not sugar coat the gospel and did not ignore her sin. He made sure to let the woman know that her sin was recognized, but did not have to be the end of the story (John 4:16-26). That is a message that changes lives and should still be apart of evangelism today.

    I am so glad that Jesus is not the Messiah people were expecting. I am grateful that He did not come to enforce religion, but to provide a love that surpasses religion. I think the Messiah people were expecting would not have sat with this woman and given her the same ability to choose living water as the true Messiah did.

  4. The woman the well is such an eye opening story. It also reveals something about who Jesus is. He chooses the times when he wants to reveals aspects about himself. one of these aspects correlates with John’s “word became flesh” phrase. This is because Jesus is fully man, but is also fully God. As Kostenberger says, “John highlights the amazing divine condescension that caused the preexistent Word to become flesh and take up residence among his people,” (Kostenberger, 73). John shows us that Jesus reveals himself as the Word through the story of the woman at the well. He came to well the thirsty as is said in John 4:7, so it shows that he has flesh nature because a deity would never have to be thirsty, but Jesus is because he is also human. So through this, I believe that the woman at the well does believe that Jesus is the Messiah because she sees that even though Jesus is God, he is also flesh and lives among men and drinks with them just as they crave for water. Through this story, it models how we can evangelize because we should learn how to spread the Gospel by word of mouth. by using the story of the woman at the well, I think that people can use this example to show the Gospel and that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God.

  5. The story of the woman at the well is started as a simple interaction. Jesus is thirsty and tired, resting by the well when the woman approaches. Then he takes a common, everyday task and turns it into an example of new life through the Messiah. This can be seen as a model for an evangelism method as everyday actions in our current lives can be used to show an example of how God gives salvation. What may start as a general conversation during the workday could turn into a conversation that points your unbelieving co-worker towards God by applying the environment around you, or something that they understand, in relation to the gospel. Kostenberger says in his book, “Thus, the primary topic of this narrative is clear: mission.” (Kostenberger, 73). Not only did Jesus declare himself as the Messiah to the woman, but then took it to the next level and explained to the disciples that the mission work that they are doing is for everyone and not just the Jews. This reflects Galatians 3:28 saying that everyone is one in Christ, which means that salvation is for whoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Therefore, he was continuing to teach his disciples through his interaction with the Samaritan woman. Kostenberger states, “This creates a window of opportunity for Jesus, which he promptly uses to instruct his disciples.” (Kostenberger, 74). They already understood him as the Messiah, and now they had to understand how to spread the message to others than just those who were like them. This also is an example of how in the workplace, a fellow Christian can learn from your actions on how to share what you believe and why you believe it. In doing this you give a firm example of Romans 1:16 that they can learn by.

  6. I find it interesting how despite the fact that Jesus talks to all different kinds of people about himself, they all generally follow the same path to understanding who he is. As in the post, when they first meet Jesus, they think He is someone else, or rather, something else. Whether that is a teacher, prophet, or healer, they are right, but wrong. They only see him in part, not whole. He will often also say something, speaking on a spiritual level, that the person will not understand, because they are thinking on a physical level. This can be seen with Nicodemus and being born again and the Samaritan and living water. And towards the end of when Jesus is speaking with them, He will often allude to how He is the Messiah and/or His death on the cross. There are several conversations that Jesus has that go like this, and it is interesting to read how people react after. With Nicodemus, we don’t see how he responds to Jesus’ foreshadowing of His death because John goes into his exposition of Jesus’ words. With the Samaritan woman, she runs to tell others what happened, and wonders whether he could actually be the Messiah, but we don’t learn if she does believe. And then the people who Jesus did not even talk to, but that the woman talked to, “believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). People either believe, wonder if He is telling the truth, or turn away from Him.

  7. One thing that I had not thought of before was why John placed this story in his Gospel to begin with. We are told that John’s purpose for his Gospel is “so that the reader might know Jesus is the Messiah and have life in his name” (Long) I wonder if the story of the woman at the well is placed within John’s gospel to show that no matter how messed up or how many times you have been pushed back down, the Messiah will still be there and talk with you. No matter what, the Messiah is available to you. Jesus asks for water as a way to talk to the woman about the living water he can offer her. Jesus is the living water. However, the woman does not understand and takes it literally than he can offer her a water that will make her not become thirsty anymore. Additionally, Jesus shares his knowledge with her, and she calls him a prophet; still unaware of who this man truly is. Finally, Jesus shares with her, after she mentions the coming of a Messiah, that he is in fact the true Messiah. After the woman finds out that He is the Messiah, she goes back to her village and tells everyone, and they believe. A question I have here is: If she was seen as such an outcast that she had to go out for water in the heat of the day, why and how did the village women believe her?? This is another thing that I had not thought of prior.

  8. While I think that John did indeed intend the woman at the well to be used to showcase another view Jesus as the Messiah.It is interesting how many aspects we can get from these three people. It goes in order of people who has the least amount of faith to the person who has the most amount of faith. Nicodemus is first, he should see Jesus as the Messiah instantly, yet he didn’t and actually didn’t understand much of what Jesus said. The woman at the well questioned Jesus and tried to understand what Jesus was saying and in the end she and her whole village believed. Lastly, the gentile a person who has no business knowing who Jesus was and didn’t understand why Jesus came to earth and really that Jesus was the savior of the world. Yet, the gentile expressed the most faith by not questioning anything about Jesus and really believing that Jesus could heal without even going to his house. It is interesting because I feel like if Jesus came back today we might have similar reactions.

  9. Throughout his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus speaks life to her the whole time. Often, I think, Christians don’t feel as if they can evangelize to people who are “actively living in sin”. This story shows us that this is not true! Yes, obviously, Jesus points out to the woman that she is with a man who is not her husband but he was doing this for a higher purpose of showing her that he is the Son of God. Jesus speaks in love and life to this woman, he doesn’t degrade her. He builds a relationship with her and invites her into holiness – and I think this is a technique we should use in modern evangelism as well.

  10. It is a well known fact, as Kostenberger elucidated in his reflection of this section of Scripture, that Jesus had to lower His status in order to converse with the Samaritan woman at the well. Typically, Jews had absolutely no dealings with the Samaritans because they were a cross-breed, so to speak, of different cultures, and they disagreed about where true worship ought to take place. When I read the story, however, what comes to my mind is not the particular methodology Jesus used to evangelize to the women, but the fact that He chose to minister to her at all. Consequently, I realized that Jesus really has no business ministering to anyone–whether they be a Jew or Gentile or Samaritan. I extrapolated this thought in my mind, and I applied it to my generation. Frankly, just as Jesus was gracious to minister to the Samaritan women, considering that she was an outcast from her society and living in sin, He is just as gracious to minister to us. In other words, we should be just as astounded that God would choose to work in our current society–saving individuals, spreading the Good News through them. While the story of the Samaritan women is a good example of evangelizing out of our comfort zone, I think it has more theological substance than that. I think the interaction He had with her was a little microcosm of His incarnation–the fact that Jesus would humble Himself to become like one of us (John 4:26).

    • Great post Paul, you bring up an important point of what Jesus does in the passage. Jews were not suppose to associate with Samaritans, yet Jesus was evangelizing to one. Kostenberger p73 says that “using a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan would inevitable defile him”. I believe there are many Samaritan comparisons in today’s society, and we should not stay away from them, but we need to find a way to connect with them. I think something that is different in today’s world is that as you said, the Samaritan women was considered to be an outcast of her society, while from a worldly perspective her doings would not be as crippling to her status. I wonder if Jesus was in a similar situation, assuming that He would not be meeting a women at a well in today’s society, would his conversation be similar? I think that His approach would be similar with how He opens up the opportunity to talk to her but lowering himself and asking her for something. Kostenberger also touches on how Jesus shows how critical it is that we look for any opportunity that we can to speak about the Word. Jesus knew that she would be going to the well for water, and found a way to connect it to His mission. We all have a mission in this life, and it may seem small, but just planting a seed in someones life can have a big impact on their future.

  11. There are a few things that I notice about the story of the women at the well that could serve as a model for evangelism. First is that Jesus started by asking the Samaritan women for water. This may seem like such a simple unimportant part of the comparison for a evangelism model, but it holds value. How often has the thought crossed our mind of how we will start talking to someone about the Lord, Jesus shows us right here that it can start with something as simple as asking them for something. Jesus then uses this to open the door to telling her about the living water that can save her. The Samaritan women was intrigued and began to ask question to Jesus of how she can receive this water, although she did not fully understand the concept that Jesus was alluding too. She then went to town and began to tell other people about what she had experienced, and she did not necessarily even have all the answers. In verse 29 she asks, “could this be the Messiah?”. I think this is another key point we need to remember. The first time we talk to someone about God, we cannot expect them to know everything immediately and get saved right away. We need to remember 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 when Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow”. Jesus set the spark in the Samaritan women’s mind, and God did the rest.

  12. The story of the woman at the well can actually be a really good story of evangelism. Since each of these accounts where people have an encounter with Jesus, He offers the lady at the well some water. Then proceeds to teach her in a way that explains who He is. This can be a good analogy of modern-day discipleship/evangelism. If we are teaching the word, we offer something out, such as our time, taking someone to dinner or coffee and then when they get into a vulnerable position it is easier to spread the word. Since the woman at the well was already in a vulnerable position and Jesus knew of her sins, Jesus knew this was great timing.
    I think that this is a great story to relate to, when I was at first deciding to follow Jesus I felt like I had to question it all. How can Jesus do this, or that? Now I don’t hesitate one bit when it comes to The Word. The woman questioned Him at first, then spread the word to her village. This is huge in the world of evangelism.

  13. I love how both of these stories correlate with each other, with both not totally able to grasp the idea of what Jesus is trying to explain. Personally I think both of the stories are great examples of evangelism, but the women at the well stands out a bit more than Nicodemus. The women at the well doesn’t comprehend at all what Jesus is saying let alone believe that he is the Messiah but slowly starts to accept Jesus piece by piece. When she finally understands and believes in Him she is overwhelmed with emotions, then goes on to tell her village bout Him. This is how evangelism is supposed to work, it says in the Bible we are to go and tell people about His kingdom. “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth’.” Acts 13:47 (ESV) The story told in John reflects the steps of what preaching to an unbeliever looks like, but by the end she goes on to tell her whole village thus what the ending result should look like in evangelism. As we read further on past the Gospels it is reflected until the end of the Bible, on how we must go and spread the Word of God.

  14. In this article I like how is able to split the points into 3 different areas of the story along with that being able to be one of the most impactful stories to use in a conference and as a missionary. The first point, Jesus asks for water, and offers the woman living water. I take this as Jesus was kind of asking about her faith and what she believes. I take this story with a lot of symbols and analogies as much of a lot of people do. Jesus asks for living water asking about eternal life. The second part was about, Jesus offers some extraordinary knowledge. At this time the article says that he poses to the women that he may be a prophet. I like the part about how it says that this woman was cast out and not “excepted” with the other women as she has no husband. And Jesus was able to tell her about herself. The final part, Jesus clearly states that he is in fact the Messiah. The article states this, “he is the one to whom the prophecies looked forward.” I like how Jesus was able to talk to this lady and that she is able to understand what he was saying and as they walked their separate ways, she knew that Jesus was the Messiah. This story has a lot of interesting knowledge in here to investigate and understand how much faith this Samaritan women had in Jesus at their talk at the well.

  15. I truly do love the story of the woman at the well. It is such a good story to tell people of all ages. I think that we all have had an experience where we have had to get out of our comfort zones, whether young or old this story can apply to all of us in the context of how to do ministry in paces where we may not be comfortable. I do like how you mentioned how Jesus does start out the conversation about reel water, and then how He changes it to mean the living water that is Jesus. As to your question of how we can use this in our evangelism today? I think that there are some things that we can, and some things we cannot. I don’t think that we cannot model the fact that Jesus just knows the woman’s sin and is able to just call it out, especially because going into a different culture we do not know where the people are coming from, however in regards to just waling up to someone and start a conversation with them, I do like this idea. The idea of being able to go talk to anyone no matter what race, or gender, or just anything. I love the idea of being able to go up and just start having a conversation with someone just about life. I believe if we can do this, we will have a better foothold on sharing the gospel with others.

  16. How can the story of the woman at the well provide a model for evangelism?
    When we read the story of the women at the well, we can use this story as an example of evangelism.
    We see how Jesus crossed boundaries to get to this woman. He went through Samaria, a place where Jews did not like travel through and then He sat and talked with a woman. This was culturally looked down upon on, for women were not valued like they are now. He crossed these boundaries, so that He could revel Himself to her and love her.
    We are to do the same thing.
    We have permission to cross the boundaries lines, for the sake of Love.
    I am reminded of the psalm that says,
    The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
    -Psalm 16:6
    The boundary lines have fallen for us, so that we make His love know to others, just like when the women dropper her jaw and shared her testimony with others for the sake of His glory.

  17. If I were to place myself in Jesus’ shoes when He met the woman at the well the story would be very different. If I am being honest, I probably would have judged her, looked down upon her, felt uncomfortable being with her, and my pride would have kept me from talking with her. This did not happen with Jesus. Jesus loved her, He saw her immense value, and he was comfortable and confident speaking openly with her. When we evangelize today, it must be in the same Spirit as Jesus (the Holy Spirit). If we attempt to share the Gospel without allowing the Spirit to do the speaking, we will not be showing them the same kind of love Jesus shows this woman. The way Jesus shares the truth about Himself with the woman provides an example for us of how to evangelize to others. The first step Christ displays is interacting with others on a personal level and dignifying them. Jesus did this by speaking plainly with her despite cultural differences (John 4:7) (ESVSB, p. 2027). Köstenberger (2013) goes on to describe how great the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans was and that Samaritans were seen as ceremonially “unclean” in the eyes of the Jews (p. 73). The second step Jesus shows us is to acknowledge the fact that sin is real. By explaining how sin has affected us and helping others understand how it has affected them, they can be brought to the realization that they need a savior. Jesus did not sin, but He acknowledges the sins of this woman by telling her about her many “husbands” (John 4:18). Lastly, Jesus presents Himself as Messiah by claiming to be Him (John 4:26). This last step is important because it shows, whoever you are witnessing to, that Jesus is in fact God, and He came to take away the sins of the world (1 John 3:5). John stressed the importance of this; so much so that his entire Gospel points to it. Long (2011) states: “John tells us that his purpose in writing his Gospel is so that the reader might know Jesus is the Messiah and have life in his name” (para. 2). Using this story as an example of evangelism is helpful and applicable, yet the main intent of John, to display Jesus as Messiah, must be the focus when evangelizing to others.

  18. The story of the woman at the well was not one that I grew up with, rather, I learned about it after coming to college. I had heard of the story before, but I never had gone into depth with it until I took my Bible and theology classes at GCU. For me, learning the cultural context surrounding the story of The Woman of Samaria, specifically with the divisions between the Jews and Samaritans, helps me understand the significance of Jesus’ actions in this story and how it applies to evangelism today. In John 4, Jesus approaches a Samaritan woman at the well, and gives her the synopsis of Salvation, using the imagery of living water, as well as clearly presenting himself as the Messiah. Not only that, but he reports to her personal information about her married life, to which he should have had no background information. As Long pointed out, Jesus had three major steps that he took when he evangelized to the Samaritan woman. An interesting thing to point out is that John 4 does not specifically clarify that the Samaritan woman became a believer after Jesus spoke with her. Long states, “Like Nicodemus, she is never identified as a believer in John 4. Yet her village does in fact come to faith in Jesus as a result of her imperfect testimony.” To me, this statement, and the story altogether, point out a few things about what evangelism should look like and what it can do. Firstly, Jesus spoke to a woman as an equal (which is already counter-culture), and the woman was a Samaritan. Kostenberger states, “Jesus took the initiative in speaking to a Samaritan woman–an astonishing break with culture and tradition, showing his desire to save the lost” (p.2027). This teaches me that Jesus was willing to break outside of social norms and reach anyone with the Gospel. This teaches me that the Gospel is not meant for one specific people group– it is meant for everyone. The second prominent lesson of evangelism that I can see from John 4 is what was stated earlier, that the Samaritan woman was not pronounced a believer, yet her whole town heard of her testimony with Christ, and many came to believe in Christ. Though the woman may have not immediately made a decision to follow Christ, she spread her testimony, resulting in a growth of the body of Christ. Planting a “seed” within people is often what happens with evangelism, and the “fruit” of evangelism may come many days, or years later. It is important to keep that mindset when telling others about Christ, and to remember that God can use people, even those who are not immediately saved, to share their experiences and spread the word of Salvation.

  19. Regarding how the story of the woman at the well provides a model for evangelism, I think it works best when compared with Jesus’ other encounters with individuals.
    When He encountered Nicodemus, He immediately launched into the nuts and bolts of Salvation. He made references to the Old Testament, which Nicodemus had studied extensively, to explain the inner workings of God’s plan and purpose.
    When He encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, He began with an earthly topic which he quickly used as an illustration for how to gain satisfaction in this world (something the woman had most likely been seeking based on her numerous relationships). He then went from there to instructing her on her level of understanding.
    Finally, his short encounter with the official held no instruction about spiritual things at all. Instead, Jesus does an act of kindness for the official and immediately gives him the chance to respond in faith. This simple act which could have been nothing but an act of God carried out through (by) Jesus was enough to convince him and cause not only him, but his entire household to believe.
    The point I’m trying to make is that there are different methods for evangelizing people from different backgrounds and with different knowledge levels. The story of the woman at the well illustrates how someone living in sin with a basic understanding of God can be reached, but it will not always be effective. For Nicodemus this conversation would probably be a lost cause as he is already seeking satisfaction in God, while it would most likely go over the head of the gentile official. I think that part of John’s point in providing an account of these encounters is to illustrate that there is no cookie-cutter method for evangelism what will work in all cases with all people. Everyone is slightly different and needs slightly different things. The example Christ sets is that we need to understand those needs, and meet people where they’re at instead of trying to use the same wrench on bolts, screws, and nails, and wondering why it only works one third of the time.

  20. This has always been one of my favorite stories in the Bible because it is a classic example of the passage Mark 12:29-31, “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Shortened, love God, and love people as a lot of people get tattooed from the song from Danny Goeke, “Love God, love people.” As most know it was uncommon for a Jew to interact with a Samaritan, but in Jesus’s eyes she was made in the image of God, made for a purpose, so he did as the father asked of him, to spread the gospel throughout all the nations, to all people. This is a great example of evangelism because God does call us to share the gospel to the ends of the earth, to all people, no matter the differences in race, ethnicity, religion, and the list goes on. By us not sharing to people we are essentially hypocrites, and clearly do not understand the great commission as we should. It is interesting how our society is so fed up with racism which personally I agree is a major issue as well that needs to continue to be worked on, but what’s interesting is how racism has dated all the way back to the beginning of time and we see that through the story of the Samaritan woman. So, essentially we can take what we see today in our modern world regarding racism and follow what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, because essentially it is the same thing. Ultimately, we need to love God and love people as the book of Mark states.

  21. The story of the Woman at the Well in Samaria is often used to illustrate people coming into the faith. The purpose of the gospel of John is stated to being the determination of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, at the time they are ministered to by Jesus or His followers (John 20:30-31, ESV). When the Samaritan woman was approached by Jesus, there were so many cultural and social boundaries crossed. While this is something often discussed, the theological approaches of Jesus are often overlooked. In the blog post, Jesus was determined to have 3 of these approaches. First was the analogy with living “water” referring to eternal life. Next was Jesus’ confirmation as a prophet as He demonstrated a vast knowledge. Finally, Jesus tells the woman that He is in fact the Messiah (John 4:26). Soon after this was a time in which the woman departed to gather witnesses and the disciples questioned Jesus. Jesus’ approach to this woman, and the analogies, are still able to be applied to evangelism in modern society. As Christians, we are to be bold in our faith. We have witnessed Jesus’ ministry and His glory and we should tell others about it. The analogy of water is also applicable to evangelism, as well as another analogy, “the bread of life”. “Water” and “bread” are both things that are relatable to people, as something that sustains us, making these analogies applicable to our lives. The boldness also is a model for evangelism, as Jesus broke so many social and cultural boundaries in His approach to the woman at the well.

  22. I have always liked the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well. There is so much that happens here and it is all important and significant. I believe that this story is a good lesson, as well as a good example of evangelism, like many others believe. The woman went and told people about her encounter with Jesus and many of the people that she told came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. I think that is incredible and shows that we should go and share our testimony with others because we might be able to help people come to know Jesus so that they can eventually believe in Him as well. I also like the fact that even though the disciples were shocked that Jesus was talking to the woman, He did it anyway. I think this is also a good lesson that we should treat people with respect and love everyone. We should treat people nicely regardless of how others may perceive it or the differences that you may have with the other person. One more thing that I really like is that Jesus told the woman things that He knew about her. I think that this is really cool to show that not only her, but also the audience that Jesus knows all things.

  23. Through his encounter with the woman at the well, I believe that Jesus set a great example for modern evangelism. First, Jesus chose to interact with the Samaritan woman, despite cultural norms telling them that they should have nothing to do with each other. At that time, there were extreme tensions between the Jews and Samaritans, and by talking with the woman, Jesus broke several social and cultural norms (Long, 66). Long states, “A Jewish person would likely not strike up a conversation with a Samaritan nor ask the Samaritan for help, nor would they likely accept water from the hand of a Samaritan,” (p. 67). Jesus was willing to talk to her, even though he would be looked down upon for talking with someone from a different culture than his own. Like Jesus did, as we are evangelizing, we need to look past the differences of people and see them for who they truly are: children of God made in His image. Also, Jesus models the importance of acknowledging that we are all sinners. Jesus acknowledged that the woman was a sinner, and offered her to have the living water in order to be given life instead of death due to her sin. As we are telling others about Jesus, we should not overlook that we all sin, and because of our sin, we deserve death and eternal separation from God. If we aren’t telling people that each and every person sins and needs a savior, why would they think about having Jesus in their lives? Some people believe that showing love and calling out others for their sins are mutually exclusive, however, we would not be loving others by overlooking their sins because they would have no reason to know Jesus if they believed that they did not sin.

  24. The reason why John put the story about the woman at the well in his gospel was to prove Jesus’ Messiahship. After Jesus revealed who He was in John 2 when He performed His first miracle privately and cleared the temple. Later, Jesus has encounters with 3 people; Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and the official who was a Gentile. These 3 interactions answer Jesus’ question of what do you want with me? “Nicodemus wanted a Jewish scholar, the woman looked for ‘living water” and the official needed healing for his child” (Long). The Samaritan woman thinks that Jesus is a prophet at first when he expressed knowledge about her life he could not have known without having supernatural power/knowledge. Jesus offers the woman “living water: or the Holy Spirit. The image of water used a lot in the Old Testament and is used to describe the coming age of peace and prosperity. In John 4:26 Jesus claims to be the Messiah. This story can provide a model for evangelism in many ways. Jesus overlooked what the Samaritan woman though she needed (physical water) and introduced to her what she actually needed. He was not turned off by her sin and saw her as someone who was loved by Him and needed Christ. He told her about “living water” what she needs to have salvation and to be in relationship with God. We should stop defining people and looking at people in a certain way because of what they’ve done. Instead, we should see who Jesus sees. A person who is loved by Him, someone who needs to be introduced to the key for their spiritual well-being.

  25. The story of the woman at the well is used as a cautionary tale that depicts the effects of judging a person too quickly. When Jesus is Samaria, he cares little about the character of the woman at the well only that He is physically thirsty, the woman questions why He is even talking to her. Jesus does tell her that if she truly knew who He was she would get him a drink. Jesus uses this interaction to confront that woman with her truth demonstrating His knowledge of her lifestyle and at the same time offering her the chance to admit her downfalls. Through her admission she is offered the living water and a chance at salvation. She tells of her knowledge of the coming Messiah, and Jesus tells her that He is the one that she is speaking of. While the woman at the well in her sinful lifestyle would be viewed as the least likely to say anything to anyone due to her level of shame, she openly goes into town proclaiming the presence of Jesus and telling of her interactions. She became a strong advocate for Christ even though the Bible never confirms that she personally becomes a believers, the villagers do.

  26. The woman at the well is quite an interesting story indeed. I always wondered how her village believed her testimony of her meeting Jesus when she was an outcast? Nevertheless, it was a great big deal for Jesus as a Jew to talk to a Samaritan, and a woman no less. During this time Samaritans and Jews have extreme tension because of their history (Long, 66). As for a Jewish man is not likely to even strike a conversation with a Samaritan, let alone accept water from one (Long, 67). Not only ethnically that Jesus broke the cultural boundaries, but also socially. For in Jewish law does it say that “It is forbidden to give a woman any greeting” (Long, 67). The Samaritan woman is definitely surprised for Him to even talk to her and ask for water. I’d imagine she gets more surprised as she learns of His status being the Son of God, as the moral gulf between them seems to expand as she had five sexual partners (Köstenberger, 88). Be that as it may, Jesus continues to break Jewish customs and continues to change the world, even though it may seem pretty strange and flabbergasting to the disciples.

  27. The Woman at the Well is one of my favorite stories in John. Knowing that John wrote his gospel for his readers to “know Jesus is the Messiah and have life in his name”, I think the woman at the well is a great way of portraying that. First, I think it is so interesting that the Samaritan woman is just one of many people to not believe in Jesus as the Messiah in the first moments of meeting him. In this day, men were not seen to ever talk to women, let alone Samaritan women. This makes the scene extra significant because it just proves yet again that Jesus was willing to break out of the norm without hesitation, in order for this woman to be saved. Going back to the purpose of John, this makes so much sense regarding what Jesus was offering the woman! Living water and eternal life. I would confidently guess that this woman was not used to hearing this response/offer. Then, after realizing that Jesus was truly the Messiah, she goes to share the news and talk about the living water she had been introduced to. There was so much power to this woman’s testimony! Now, SHE was the one trying to show her town that Jesus is the Messiah and you can have life in his name. I think it is amazing how John’s purpose of writing his gospel was not only portrayed through the stories he shared, but through the outcomes and responses of those stories, like the Samaritan woman.

  28. The narrative of the woman at the well is significant as it contrasts to the account of Nicodemus. Despite Samaritans being greatly disliked by Jews, Jesus struck up a conversation with her, a woman of low social status even within her society. At first she did not understand Jesus’s reference to “living water” as she took it on a literal level. However, after Jesus called her out on her sinful behavior, she recognized that He had divine knowledge. Jesus crossed three main barriers when He began talking to this woman. According to Köstenberger, these barriers are ethnic, religious, and moral (p. 73). There was an ethnic divide as there was animosity between the Samaritans and Jews, as well as religious because they had different ideas on what books should be a part of the canon. Lastly, He crossed the moral barrier as Jesus talked with a sexually immoral woman. By the end of their encounter, she recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. Yet, similar to the story of Nicodemus, John never explicitly stated if she personally believed in Jesus. Regardless, her testimony led to the belief of the entire village of where she lived. John included this encounter in his gospel for a reason and according to Long it was to show readers Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

  29. As the blog mentions, the story of the woman at the well is well loved because it is a great model for evangelism. The first notable thing that Jesus did is meet the woman where she was as it (crossing the ethnic, religious, and moral gulf [Kostenberger, 144) illustrates how important it is to build connections with people no matter what point in life they are. The way the lady yearns for living water can be equalized with quenching spiritual thirst by ‘living water’ (John 4:10). Another essential thing to note during the dialogue is that although Jesus mentioned the woman’s sins, he did so respectfully without being judgemental about it, which I think we lack sometimes. We are so focused on evangelizing that we judge the wrongs of others even though we are called to not judge (Matthew 7). The way the lady left and spread the word can be likened to evangelizers sharing the gospel with an individual and praying to God that the seed grows and others can benefit from it as well. All in all, the way Jesus approached the situation to fit the context while addressing the woman’s theological misunderstandings with love and respect provide analogies to modern evangelism and apologetics. I think this is a model to be applied as Christians as we engage in conversations with fellow Christians and non-Christians alike.

  30. The story of the woman at the well has always been my favorite, and this is for all the same reasons that preachers love this message…what it has to do for me. By this I mean, many times I think people look at passages and apply them to themselves. I think this is a useful tool and some passages need to be read that way. But like you said John did not put this story in the gospel to tell of what it does for us, but to further help us understand Jesus and who HE is. Not only in this passage do we see Jesus describe himself as the living water and show that he is in fact the Messiah and God. But also this passage shows that Jesus was also a human, Jesus was tired and thirsty. Köstenberger writes that this passage creates a bridge between major gulfs at the time with just this interaction with this woman, even his disciples questioned him (page 74). Jesus was mission-focused as well as John, John wrote of this to share more about who Jesus is.
    I still think this passage is super powerful in other ways than just proving who Jesus is. I think when we read about the way he interacted with sinners it makes it easier for us to understand and to relate to. Knowing that while Jesus was on this earth he spoke to sinners, makes it easier to believe that he is reaching out to me.

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