The Woman at the Well

We have wrapped up Pursuit (women’s ministry on campus), and finals are underway.  Our theme this semester was women in the Bible.  Each leader chose a woman they wanted to speak on.  The messages were all very well done, simple, honest, and overall, it was a great semester.  Although it wasn’t necessarily intended, a few repeating themes came up over the semester.  One was that God truly values women. Another theme was that each woman we studied had a choice to make that would impact their generation.

I had the task of wrapping us up, and I have to admit, having the longest to prepare I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with information by the end.  Regardless, the woman I chose was the Woman at the Well.  The story is found in John 4:1-42.

The story of the Woman at the Well is very intriguing to me for many reasons.  First of all, within the first few sentences, we discover Jesus has broken many many cultural standards for the time.

First, he chooses to walk through Samaria instead of around it as all “good Jews” would have done.  Second, he is left alone with a Samaritan woman. Third, he SPEAKS to her.   Similarly to the previous woman we had studied, this scenario positioned the Woman at the Well to make a few decisions that would eventually impact her whole town.

John 4:9 the woman replies to Jesus pointing out his odd choices, and yet because of her decision to speak a conversation begins.  We discover that Jesus has started this intentional conversation to open this woman’s eyes to the truth of who He is.  As with many others, Jesus begins with a reference point this woman would understand and tells her He can offer her water that will never make her thirst again.

Of course, pulling water from a well every day is hard work, so this woman jumped at the chance to learn more.  As I reflected on this, I couldn’t help but see a similarity between this woman and myself.  Jesus was offering this woman eternal life, and yet she was willing to settle for comfort on earth, freshwater whenever she wanted.  How many times has my impatience or ignorance caused me to want to settle for less than God’s best for me?

John 4:16 reveals a transition in this odd conversation.  Jesus tells the woman to go get her husband.  It is at this point in the story we discover why this woman is all by herself in the well.  She tells Jesus she does not have a husband and Jesus tells her the whole thing.

 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

We don’t know the circumstances behind the multiple men in this woman’s life, but we do know that 1) only a man could initiate a divorce 2) living with a man was grounds for stoning.  I personally have also concluded this woman was looking for security and acceptance in men.  Jesus was asking her to find satisfaction in Him alone.  How many times have I settled for human satisfactions when God has been pursuing me to turn my eyes upward?

Verse 19 reveals yet another layer to this dear woman.  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”  She had a HEAD knowledge of who God was, but it had yet to penetrate her HEART.  Have you encountered that in your spiritual walk?  A realization that although you believe in God, there are aspects that just still seem far-fetched?

As the story continues Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah and this woman shows her heart in a beautiful way.  She accepts what Jesus says as truth, and then in the ending verses we discover the Woman at the Well not only had faith, but she was brave and cared for her town even if they didn’t seem to care for her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words, many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

As our time wrapped up, I asked all the women present to journal the following questions, and today I will ask you to do the same.

After reading John 4:1-42, how would you answer these questions?

  • What is it you need to empty at the well?
  • What is stopping you?
  • Is your heart engaged with Jesus or is it just head knowledge?
  • What is God calling you to do that you need to be obedient in?
  • When and How will you respond? What will your choice be?