A Woman Meets Jesus
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:1-10, NKJV)
4:1-3 He Left Judea
A Woman Meets Jesus. Remember in our last study that John the Baptist’s ministry was decreasing while Jesus’ was increasing. But when Jesus heard that the Pharisees knew this, He left Judea. Why?
Undoubtedly they would show up like they had when the crowds were flocking out to John. They had asked John point blank, “Are you the Christ?” Jesus wasn’t ready to answer that question directly yet. It was not yet time for Him to square off in a face-to-face confrontation. So He left Judea and decided to go to Galilee.
Between Judea and Galilee lay Samaria.
In the Old Testament, we read that after the deaths of King David and King Solomon, the Jewish kings went downhill. The nation of Israel was split by civil war into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah, and Samaria was the capital of Israel.
Both kingdoms had fallen into immorality and idolatry and were ripe for the judgment of God. The book of 2 Kings tells us that the kingdom of Israel was removed first by the Lord for their sins, being exiled into Assyria. The Assyrians populated Samaria with their people, and the remaining Jews intermarried with them, making a race known as the Samaritans; half Jew, half Assyrian.
Later, when the kingdom of Judah was judged by God and taken into exile by the Babylonians, they did not intermarry with other idolatrous cultures. So the Jews hated the Samaritans with a passion, esteeming them to be half-breeds, traitors, and idolaters. They would not associate with them, avoiding any and all contact.
He Had To Pass Through Samaria.
Now it seems strange then that verse 4 tells us:
But He needed to go through Samaria. (John 4:4)
You see although Samaria was the direct route between Judea and Galilee, the Jews always took the long way around. They would cross the Jordan River and take the route through Perea. To them, the extra hours on the road were worth not having to set foot on Samaritan soil or have contact with Samaritan people.
Taking the trip through Samaria towards Shechem, the route that Jesus and His disciples took could also prove to be dangerous. In the book of the prophet Hosea, we read,
As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man,
So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they commit lewdness. (Hosea 6:9)
Not the safest route by any means. But Jesus was not susceptible to bigotry or fear. So although He didn’t physically have to pass through Samaria, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, He did have to pass through Samaria – it was a divinely ordained missionary journey.
4:5-6 Jacob’s Well
Now in Samaria, Jesus comes to the city of Sychar (which is about a mile from Shechem). We learned about this piece of land near the end of Genesis 33. Jacob came to Shechem:
And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. (Genesis 33:19)
Jacob dug a well on that piece of land; then after his death, the land was given to his son Joseph and his descendants.
We see in verse 6 something that should amaze us: Jesus was wearied from His journey. One of the hardest things for me to grasp about Jesus is not His deity, but His humanity.
Remember in our last study we looked at the verse in Philippians which told us that although Jesus was God, He emptied Himself, and was made flesh; in the likeness of men. Hebrews 2 tells us:
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Jesus, although 100% God, is also 100% man. He got hungry and thirsty; He got sleepy and weary. One evening, He and the disciples got into a boat to go over to the Gerasenes.
And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. (Matthew 8:24)
Exhausted from the day’s ministry, He slept while they sailed. On the cross, Jesus said,
“I thirst!” (John 19:28)
Here, we see He is weary, tired, exhausted.
The Sixth Hour
In Jewish time, the sixth hour is the sixth hour after sunrise so that the sun would be straight up in the sky, about 12 noon.
4:7-9 A Woman Came To Draw Water
A woman comes to draw water at the hottest time of the day! That seems to defy common sense. Indeed, women drew water in the early morning or cool evening hours. This woman was an outcast from society. Her loose morals and sinful lifestyle had made her ostracized from the community. This was the only time of day that she could avoid the other women of the city.
A Woman Meets Jesus
The disciples have walked up to Sychar to buy food. Jesus, resting at the well, asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. She is amazed. Number 1, she is a Samaritan, and we’ve already discussed the difficulties and differences there.
Number 2, she is a woman. Remember the situation that women were in during this time of history. Women were not considered people or citizens. Plato wrote, “I thank the gods that I am a Greek and not a barbarian. I thank the gods that I am a freeman and not a slave. And I thank the gods that I am a man and not a woman.” At this time in India, the teaching of reincarnation was that bad people became dogs, worse people became spiders, and bad people became women! And in Judaism, most men, and certainly all Rabbis, refused to talk to women in public; even their wives and daughters. Some of the Pharisees wouldn’t even look at a woman publicly! They would close their eyes if a woman were on the street. This sect became known as the “bruised and bleeding Pharisees,” for they were constantly running into walls.
But Jesus created women just as He created men. He never refrained from talking with women publicly; He always reached out to them compassionately. Christianity has gotten a bum rap from feminism saying that it oppresses women. It is exactly the opposite: Christianity freed women. Paul wrote in Galatians,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
Jesus freed women, recognizing them in society as people, as citizens of the kingdom of God. Remember that although a woman’s eyewitness testimony meant nothing in court, Jesus made sure that the first people He appeared to after His resurrection were women.