Jesus Reveals His True Nature and Mission to an Inferior Samaritan Woman

 

The Samaritan Woman at the Well by Annibale Carracci Cir 1560-1609

Some of the Bible’s and the Lord Jesus’ detractors say that He never claimed to be the Christ. Well He did and revealed himself to a lowly Samaritan woman not to the arrogant religious authorities of His day.

John 4:1-4

1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria (KJV).

The Lord Jesus needed to go through Samaria on His way back to Galilee. He had previously told His disciples not to go the way of the Gentiles or to enter into any city of the Samaritans. (Matthew 10:5) His first mission on earth was to present Himself to National Israel. (Matthew 10:6; 15:24) He wanted Israel to have the first chance at the gospel and He did not want the disciples time diluted with trying to reach the Gentiles along with the Jews. Even now the gospel is to go to the Jews first then the Gentiles. (Romans 1:16; 2:10) The Lord did not create foreign missions and domestic missions. He simply said “go to the Jew first and then the Gentiles.”

When the Israelites divided into two kingdoms, because of the civil war after the death of King Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was established in the northern section of the Promised Land, in accordance with the lands allotted to the ten tribes in that area.

Shechem was the original capital, until Jeroboam moved it to Tirzah. Later, in approximately 880 B.C., Omri, the sixth king of Israel, established the capital at Samaria, a new town built on a hilltop about 7 miles (11 kilometers) northwest of Shechem.

“Samaria” came to be used interchangeably for both the city, and the region. After the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 B.C., the region then known as Samaria was reduced in size. The Assyrians in their conquest raped women and repopulated the area with other people groups causing the next generation to become half-breeds. This group of Samaritans worshipped Jehovah the same as the Jews and followed the Torah. Because of their arrogance the Jews would not talk or deal with the Samaritans in any way except to sell to them.

By the time of Jesus Christ, Samaria was bounded by Galilee to the north, The Mediterranean Sea to the west, Judea to the south (in which Jerusalem was located), and the Jordan River to the east. Today, it is in the so-called “West Bank” area.

Map of Samaria from Daily Bible study.

John 4:5-6

5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour (KJV).

Picture the Lord in His humanity resting by this special and providential well. He makes an opportunity to begin to reach the Samaritans with His message about who He actually is. He waited for a fallen poor woman whose story He knew well. This is one example of His divine grace reaching out to sinners with compassion. The greater the sin in our lives the greater then is the value of the forgiveness, which He offers. Only God can truly forgive sins. (Luke 5:21) For it is to Him that all sin is directed, whether we realize it or not. (II Samuel 2:13)

Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Jacob van Oost cir 1668

John 4:7-9

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans (KJV).

She realized that He was Jewish and astonished at the same time that He would have anything to do with her. He simply asks her for some water. It was just she and He alone. He realizes that she is ignorant and exhibits much patience with her in His desire to reach her with the truth of who He is. This is a much different way He treats her than He does with the Jewish religious rulers. For them, he had little patience and heaped upon them much condemnation. (Matthew 23) They should have known better. She was an innocent bystander so to speak on religious matters.

John 4:10-13

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again (KJV).

Now she is perplexed. Jesus begins to bring up water that she is not aware of, for she is thinking of actual water. But Jesus is speaking of a much greater water that that. He is speaking of the Holy Spirit, which is known as the water. (John 7:37-38) Jesus is always answering a different question than what was asked. In this instance Jesus is telling the woman that the water He brings will not quench thirst but would provide eternal satisfaction.

John 4:14-15

14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw (KJV). 

She was probably still thinking of actual water and not realizing the spiritual lesson He is teaching her. Never thirsting is a description of the fulfillment that saving grace knowledge of Christ brings to a human being. It provides purpose to our lives and gives us certainty of life eternal and allows us to endure the hopelessness that many on this earth are saddled with. This Christ satisfies the inner longing that each person on this earth has for significance and inner peace. Many try to find it through money, sex, intoxicants, work etc. But until we accept Christ and are filled with His Spirit we are continually longing for something that we can’t quite define.

John 4:16-19

16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet (KJV).

 Jesus now enters a phase of the conversation where He is going to uncover her sin. This is a self-realization that one must make. We are sinners by our very nature. When the Jews came to the Tabernacle and the Temple the very first step in that ancient worship process was the brazen altar. This was where the sacrifice took place. They were required to offer sacrifice to God so as to admit their sin and receive the temporary atonement. The same is true today. We must admit our sins in front of God to Him alone so we can draw close to Him.

John 4:20

20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (KJV).

The new worship is going to be introduced in the next verse. She was thinking He was going to tell her that the Temple in Jerusalem was where she should worship. The Samaritans worshipped on Mt Gerizim. She was pointing to that mountain as the place where their fathers had worshipped. This was the mountain where Sanballat had built a temple that was eventually destroyed by John Hyrcanus in 129 B.C. Sanballat was one of the chief opponents of Nehemiah when he was building the walls of Jerusalem and carrying out his reforms among the Jews. “Sanballat,” is connected with the Assyrian “Sinballidh,” and means, “Sin has vivified.” He was called also “the Horonite,” and was associated with Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arabian (Nehemiah 2:19, 4: 7). But his home was at Samaria. When the Jews threw off the yoke of the Greeks under John Hyrcanus that temple was destroyed.

John 4:21-24

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (KJV).

Jesus now begins to tell her of the dawning of the Christian era. Now we have no need for a Temple. Our bodies are now the holy Temple. This is where the Spirit takes up residence after a person accepts Christ and becomes “saved.” He is telling her that she will not have to worship the Father on any mountain or in Jerusalem. This only pertains to “true” worshippers. That is, those that love God and have accepted His salvation that He offers through Christ alone (John 14:6) Since God is spirit we worship Him in spirit too. We don’t have to go to some particular location to worship God. Anywhere will do so to speak.

Salvation comes through the Jews. It was given at the time of the Abrahamic Covenant. This is one of the unconditional covenants that God made with Israel. The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. The three major promises of this covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel and universal promises to all the people of the earth. God promised that He would bless him and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him. (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17) God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are: to make a great nation of his descendants; to give land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to his descendants forever; and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendants for ever. Finally, God made universal covenants to Abraham that would affect everybody on the earth; it would affect all families of the earth who would be blessed. This promise is intended to be applicable to Israel regarding the blessing and cursing effects. Parts of the covenant have already been fulfilled. For example God did bless him with wealth. His name is great and Israel is a great nation. The blessings to all have been given to all through the oracles of God they received and they brought forth the Messiah. The promise of the land has not been completely fulfilled yet. His descendants are in the land but, in unbelief and do not have the boundaries set forth in Scripture as of yet.

Appearance of the Messiah by Alexandr Ivanov Cir.1806-1858

John 4:25-26

25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he (KJV).

Jesus answers her about this Messiah that she knew was coming. The Jewish writings were rife with a God-Man that would appear on the planet some day and remove all of Israel’s problems. In Hebrew the word for this God-man is Mashiach which Anglicized is Messiah. It is the same as the Greek Christos or Christ.  Jesus tells her that He is the long awaited Jewish Messiah.

Some of the prophetic writings about Him are in the Old Testament, which is the Jewish Bible at the time of Christ. They have been fulfilled in Jesus just as He told this Samaritan woman.

Some OT Messianic Prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment:

  1. Born in Bethlehem:                 Micah 5:2 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:1
  2. The Son of God:                     Psalm 2:7 Fulfilled in John 3:16-17
  3. Of the tribe of Judah:              Genesis 49:10 Fulfilled in Hebrews 7:14
  4. Of a virgin:                              Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-22
  5. A prophet like Moses:           Deuteronomy 18:15 Fulfilled in John 7:15-17
  6. The King of Israel:                  Zechariah 9:9 Fulfilled in John 12:12-15
  7. Rejected:                                 Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled in John 1:11
  8. Beaten:                                    Micah 5:1 Fulfilled in Mark 15:19
  9. Silent:                                      Isaiah 53:7 Fulfilled in Matt 27:12-14
  10. Betrayed:                                Psalm 41:9 Fulfilled in Mark 14:17-20’
  11. Tried and condemned:             Isa 53:8 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:1-2
  12. Crucified:                                Psalm 22:16 Fulfilled in John 19:17-18
  13. His garments divided:             Psalm 22:18 Fulfilled in John 19:23-24
  14. Given vinegar and gall:            Psalm 69:21 Fulfilled in John 19:31-36
  15. His bones not broken:             Exodus 12:46 Fulfilled John 19:31-36
  16. He is our sacrifice:                  Isaiah 53:5-6 Fulfilled in 1 Peter 2:24-25
  17. And raised from death:           Psalm 16:10 Fulfilled in Luke 24:1-7, 47

 

Daniel E. Woodhead