Gospel of John-Chapter 4: The Samaritan Woman – 3

Samaritan womanAt this point, it would be nice if the Samaritan woman gets it. And she understands Jesus is talking about more than just water. But no, the ships are still passing each other, as we see by her response.

John 4:15 (NKJV)

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

She acts as if Jesus is still talking about literal water. Once more, the woman refuses to enter into a spiritual conversation. I say she acts here because I am beginning to wonder, aren’t you? He mentioned eternal life in the prior moment.

John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

It’s not as though He’s hidden He’s talking about something deeper than physical water. He’s made that abundantly clear. Even if you are the woman and you can’t quite understand where this is going or what it means. You know He is not talking about the water in the well anymore. She asks sarcastically, well give me some of this “water” so I don’t have to get thirsty again, so I don’t have to walk down here and draw my own anymore. Without her realizing it, she just put a perfect footnote to Jesus’ earlier comment. She says if I had the water you are offering, I wouldn’t have to keep trying to get my own water. That’s exactly right. That is essentially the gospel message. Jesus’ offer of eternal life eliminates the need for us to labor at obtaining our own solution to that eternal problem. We don’t have to labor in dead works anymore for what God offers freely by a gift.

Now at this point, you could give the Samaritan woman the benefit of the doubt, you can assume she is just missing the point, maybe she’s a little dense. But I have to believe given what John has talked about earlier in chapter 1 and chapter 2, you have to conclude this is an example of what he mentioned when he said, the darkness avoids the light. You won’t enter into the truth because it would require exposing your evil deeds. This woman is in the darkness but she won’t entertain a spiritual conversation because if she was to get into spiritual discussions, evitably that opens the door to conversation about her evil deeds.  Where she is in her walk. What she has exposed to the light of God. What debt she hasn’t paid. And no one wants to talk about that. That’s not a conscious process in all cases but it is certainly there, in everybody. It’s instinctive, a result of a sinful nature. Any conversation about Who God is with someone who doesn’t know Him through Christ’s blood is at risk of examining a life that is unworthy and unready for eternal judgment. So what is going to have to happen to this person, to this Samaritan woman before she steps into the light of Christ? Before she enters this conversation.

The Bible tells us once again, God has to act first. We have to be brought, the Bible says, to repentance with an expectation of forgiveness before we are willing to make that trip. She is still looking for an earthly solution. Why? Why hasn’t she understood Jesus’ words properly? What’s missing? She needs repentance. The woman hasn’t yet come to repent of her present circumstances. Now repentance in this context is not turning away from some specific mistake. The Bible uses this term when it is connected to salvation in the sense of turning away from man-made religion and toward obedience to the gospel. Repentance means seeing ourselves the way God truly sees us and is just as troubled as God is by what He sees. The Bible says repentance is the necessary preparatory step to faith and to salvation. In Mark 1 you hear Jesus being described as going out proclaiming

Mark 1:14-15 (NKJV)

Jesus Begins His Galilean Ministry

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Repentance has to precede true faith because we can’t pile the truth of the Gospel on top of a heap of false religion and jam it all together and assume more is better. That’s not how it works  You have to turn away from the darkness before you can come into the Light, according to the scripture. Even the repentance that leads to salvation is itself a product of God’s work in the hearts. Paul says in Romans 2:4. He says…

Romans 2:4 (NKJV)

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

2 Corinthians 7:9 (NKJV)

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.

So there is a kind of sorrow that is worldly and natural, simple results of things not going the way we want. Then there is the kind of sorrow that is the product of the will of God produced in our hearts for the purpose of leading us to faith and salvation. That’s the type of sorrow that comes as a consequence of His kindness we are told. And in kindness, Jesus takes the first step to provoke the heart of repentance in this Samaritan woman.

John 4:16-19 (NKJV)

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that, you spoke truly.”

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

Jesus tells the woman to go and get her husband. He is asking, He would like to address the authority in her home. That is a culturally expected response on Jesus’ part because if He just offered to give her a gift and she has accepted this gift, even if it was said sarcastically. In that day a man could not give a strange woman a gift. He would have to deliver it through the husband of the home. So Jesus is calling for the husband so He can transact the business. At least that’s the surface level sense of the conversation.

But both of them know that is not what’s going on. She was talking to Jesus sarcastically in the first place and of course, He’s not talking about giving her a gift He can hand someone. In this case, Jesus has an entirely different purpose in raising the question of her husband. Supernaturally, Jesus knew this woman’s situation.  Remember, John said in chapter 2 that Jesus knew all men and didn’t need anyone to testify to the nature of their hearts. Jesus knows what is going on. He knew this woman was living in sin. He knew she had been married five times. Which means she had committed adultery four times. Now on top of all that, she’s got a sexual relationship that is fornication going on. She was just one step above prostitute, honestly.

So by raising the question of a husband, what did Jesus just do? He just took the red hot spotlight of God and shined it right on her evil deeds and brought them into the light. Darkness won’t enter the light but light can illuminate the darkness when it is God’s purpose to do so. The woman’s answer to the first question, go get your husband, is circumspect. She says she has no husband but she never mentions her past relationships or her current relationship. This is no confession. Don’t get the wrong idea. At best, we can say she was truthful then, of course, Jesus Himself acknowledges that. But there is no sense of repentance in this response. She is still hiding her evil deeds, it is as if the Light has suddenly come a little close and she is doing her best to obscure her past.

But Jesus seizes on her answer to expose her deeds and in so doing, convicts her. He explains, first, her marital history, which I am sure was a great surprise to her. He calls her out for living in sin in her current relationship.and in the way He answers her, Jesus highlights she is hiding the truth  because notice He says “you have correctly said you have no husband…” In other words, He’s saying you have spoken more truth about
yourself then you are willing to acknowledge. There, in the end, Jesus says “this you have said truly,” that would mean this is the only honest thing you’ve said, that you have no husband.

The power of God’s Light is the ability to reveal the things hidden in the darkness of the human heart. This woman, you have to imagine, must have been a pariah in her society and in her town. She was a disgrace. In this day to live like this would have meant carrying tremendous guilt everywhere you go. Whenever she encountered anyone who knew her or knew of her circumstances, they would have shunned her. They would have no problem at all making it clear they condemned her. She had few if any friends. The only ones who treated her with any respect at all would have been strangers who knew nothing of her situation.

But here’s a stranger who knows everything about her and yet He isn’t condemning her. It’s a completely backward situation from her point of view. As a stranger, He shouldn’t have known anything, but He does. Given what He knows, she probably wonders why did He ever talk to her. That would have never been the norm considering her past.  Instead, Jesus treats her with respect and He even offers her a special gift, though one she doesn’t understand. She must have been totally taken aback by all of this and she responds by saying, “I sense you’re a prophet” referring to Jesus’ insight. She is saying a lot more here than meets the eye. Samaritans rejected all Jewish prophets after Moses. Moses was the last prophet they accepted because the other ones talked about Jerusalem. But there was one prophet they were willing to accept and look forward to, the one Moses himself said would come one day. The prophet described in Deut 18. Moses said…

Deuteronomy 18:17-19 (NKJV)

17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren and will put My words in His mouth and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

Like the Jews, the Samaritans understood this coming prophet Moses spoke of was to be the Messiah. The Messiah was the only prophet the Samaritans were willing to
acknowledge because He was the only prophet mentioned by Moses. When this woman says she perceives Jesus to be a prophet, what she is doing is raising the prospect that Jesus is the Messiah. Now if you’re the woman, there are a number of places you could take the conversation from this point. After all that has just been said, for example, you could ask Jesus how did He know all these things. Or she could become defensive and seek to explain her circumstances. Or maybe she gets embarrassed or she gets angry and runs away. But she does none of these things.

Next week we will see where this conversation goes at the well




“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”


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