Category: woman at the well


The story of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well, recorded only  in the Gospel of John, is a revealing one, full of many truths and powerful  lessons for us today. The woman at the well follows on the heels of Jesus’  interaction with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and prominent member of the Jewish  Sanhedrin (John  3:1-21). In John 4:4-42 we read about Jesus’ conversation with a lone Samaritan woman who had come to  get water from a well (known as Jacob’s well) located about a half mile from the  city of Sychar in Samaria.

This was an extraordinary woman not so much  because she was a Samaritan, a race of people that the Jews utterly despised as  having no claim on their God, but because she was an outcast and looked down  upon by her own people. This is evidenced by the fact that she came alone to  draw water from the community well when during biblical times drawing water and  chatting at the well was the social highpoint of a woman’s day. However, this  woman was ostracized and marked as immoral, an unmarried woman living openly  with the fifth in a series of men.

In spite of the similarities in the  two meetings between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, there are differences in  the way Jesus unveiled grace to them. While Nicodemus needed to see himself as a  sinner in order to understand grace, the Samaritan woman, who knew she was a  sinner, needed to see herself as a person of worth and value. And this provides  us with one of the most powerful lessons in all of Scripture.

This story  teaches us that God finds us worthy of His love in spite of our bankrupt lives.  God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to  rejoice in our worship. As a result of Jesus’ conversation, only a person like  the Samaritan woman, an outcast from her own people, could understand what this  means. To be wanted, to be cared for when no one, not even herself, could see  anything of value in her—this is grace indeed.

But there are many other  valuable truths we glean from this story. We learn that:

1) Only through  Jesus can we obtain and receive eternal life: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who  drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him  will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of  water welling up to eternal life’” (John  4:13-14; cf. John 14:6).

2) Jesus’ ministering to those outcasts of the Jewish society (the  Samaritans), reveals that all people are valuable to God and that Jesus desires  that we demonstrate love to everyone . . . including even our enemies (John 4:7-9; Matthew  5:44).

3) Jesus is the Messiah (John  4:25-26; 1:41; Matthew 27:22; Luke 2:11).

4) Those who worship God, worship Him  in spirit and truth (John  4:23-24; Psalm  145:18).

5) Our testimony about Jesus is the most powerful tool we  have to lead others to believe in Jesus: “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”’ (John  4:39-42).

Additionally, we learn that Jesus’ dialogue with the  woman at the well presents us with three absolute truths about salvation:

1) Salvation comes only to those who recognize their desperate need for  the spiritual life they do not have. Living water can be obtained only by those  who recognize that they are spiritually thirsty.

2) Salvation comes  only to those who confess and repent of their sin and desire forgiveness. Before  this immoral woman could embrace the Savior, she had to concede the full burden  of her sins.

3) Salvation comes only to those who take hold of Jesus as  their Messiah. For the absolute truth is that salvation is found in no one else  (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

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 The Bible is filled with characters, literally  and figuratively. Perhaps the best way to describe how the Bible portrays its  characters is “human” because they are, in fact, human. The Bible is true and  the people that inhabit its pages were real people with real problems, just like  us. The Bible does not shy away from presenting both the strengths and  weaknesses of those it portrays. This makes the characters in the Bible  “practical” in the sense that we can relate to them and educational in the sense  that we can learn from their successes and failures. Adam and Eve were  disobedient blame-shifters. Abraham was a liar. Jacob was a schemer. Joseph had  somewhat of the “I’m better than you” attitude. Moses made excuses. Saul was  jealous. David was an adulterer. Solomon was the smartest fool in the history of  the world. Elijah seemed to be somewhat bi-polar. Peter definitely had  “foot-in-mouth” disease. The list goes on and on. No matter your personality and  struggles, there is someone in the Bible you can relate to and learn  from. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the  example of Christ” (1  Corinthians 11:1). Ultimately, that must be our goal when we study Bible  characters. Where they were successful in following God, we are to emulate them.  Where they failed, we are to avoid making the same mistakes. “Now these things  occurred as examples  to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they  did…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as  warnings for us…No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And  God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But  when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up  under it” (1  Corinthians 10:6-13).

This makes a great study tool when read with the Books of the Bible. I have provided links to each of the categories. Listed below are “What should I learn from the  life of…” articles on some of the most prominent “characters” in the  Bible: I have included reference material to the tribes of Israel also: