Do you ever feel like you’ve messed up your life, like you’re too far gone for any hope of redemption? Have others confirmed that about you in the way they treat you? What if I told you it was never too late, and no matter what you’ve done, God loves you and wants to give you a new life? Today we look at the Woman at the Well, a sinful outcast who became a female evangelist.
As you know, All God’s Women is a journey through the Bible, working our way through the Bible, one woman at a time. It was pretty cut and dry in the Old Testament, but now that we’ve reached the New Testament, it’s become a little less clear. I’d planned to just work my way through starting with Matthew, but realized how much better it would be to meet the women in the order that they met Jesus. That way we get a clearer picture of Jesus’ ministry. So for now on, I’m using a chronological Bible to put the women in order. In doing so, that brings us to the Samaritan Woman at the Well, the first woman other than His mother who Jesus has a conversation with, and what a conversation it is!
John 4 opens with, “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.”
Things were getting heated in Jerusalem. Jesus knew it best to slip away and concentrate His attention elsewhere, so He and His disciples headed to Galilee, “But He needed to go through Samaria”.
Why does John say that? Yes, Samaria was in between Judea and Galilee, but the route that Jews typically traveled back then took them around Samaria rather than through it. Jesus, however, went through because he had something He needed to do.
So, Jesus and His disciples arrive in the city of Sychar around midday. It’s hot. They’re tired and hungry. The disciples go into town to buy lunch while Jesus, “being wearied from His journey” sits down by Jacob’s well. While He sits there, a woman comes to draw water.
Jesus catches her off guard when He asks her for a drink. She asks why a Jew would ask a Samaritan for water because they both know Jews try to avoid Samaritans. Not to mention, men don’t even talk to their wives in public, much less talk to a strange woman.
Jesus responds with, “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.”
Now the woman is thoroughly confused. How can He give her water? He doesn’t even have a way to draw it out of the well. Who is He? Is He greater than Jacob?
Jesus continues talking about living water, the kind that fills you up forever.
She’s interested. She wants it.
He tells her to go get her husband.
She says she doesn’t have a husband.
He knows that. He also knows that she’s had 5 husbands, and the man she’s living with she’s not married to.
She catches on that He’s not an ordinary man. He must be a prophet. If so, she has a question for Him. Where are they supposed to worship? Her people worship on their mountain. The Jews worship in Jerusalem. Which is right?
He explains it’s not about where they worship, but who they worship.
She says when the Messiah comes, He will tell them what they don’t understand.
He tells her He’s that Messiah.
At this point the disciples return, confused as to why He was speaking to this woman, but trusting His wisdom. She sees their return as a chance to slip away. Leaving her waterpot behind, she heads to town and invites the men to meet Jesus.
Because of this woman’s witness and invitation, many Samaritans came to hear Jesus, believed in Him, and were saved.
The Rest of the Story
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He went to where the people were. In this case, He went through enemy territory in order to minister to this woman and others who were hurting and in need of a Savior.
If the people of Sychar had ever voted for Least Likely to Succeed, this woman could have won the vote. She had spent her entire life searching for love in all the wrong places. At some point she gave up and decided to settle with an extramarital affair, but it only left her an outcast, forced to live in the shadows and draw her water during the heat of the day so as not to encounter the gossip and hatred of the other women.
Jesus knew who she was. He knew she would be coming to the well that day. He knew that sinful as she was, she was worth saving.
Why her? He saw past her hardened exterior. He saw a woman hurting and seeking. He knew that she was ripe for redemption. He also knew that she would be a witness for Him. Once she met Him, she was forever changed. She was no longer the woman she had been. She couldn’t wait to share the good news with those around her. When others saw her changed, it gave them hope that if Jesus loved and forgave her, He could love and forgive them as well.
Jesus was no respecter of persons. He knew what other Jews thought of Samaritans. He knew what proper society taught about when to speak to women, which women it was acceptable to speak to, and what to say to them. He knew that this Samaritan woman was someone who had been dismissed by everyone else. But He loved her anyway. He ignored the social norms in order to reach her and save her.
Even more amazing, Jesus didn’t have a problem with her going to men and having her lead them to Him. The Samaritan woman didn’t go through the women’s ministry at a church. Most likely, the church women would have never listened to what she had to say. No, she went to the men and they followed her to Jesus. Because of her evangelistic efforts, many in her city were saved.
What about you? Have you ever felt like you were too far gone to be of any use to God? If so, take comfort in this story.
God saw a hurting woman and made a point to personally meet her and draw her to Him. Not only that, but He used her to impact her community. If He did that for her, can’t He do the same for you? Not only can He, but He will, if you will just let Him.
The Samaritan woman had a lot of questions. She asked, and He answered. He’ll do the same for you. Come to Him with your questions. Things you don’t understand? Ask Him. We have the advantage in that we have His Word. We can go to it and find stories like this that answer our questions. We also have the Holy Spirit who guides us. He’s ready to answer and lead us in the right direction.
Then, once we meet with Him one on one, we get to share with those around us. He doesn’t give us limitations on who we can share with. We can tell the world about how He saved us. We can literally change the lives of those around us by telling them what Jesus has done for us and letting them know that He can do the same for them.
God loves you and He wants to use you in a mighty way to impact the lives of others. You just have to be willing to say Yes to Him then spread the word to others. Who knows the difference you might make.
Lord God, thank You for loving us regardless of who we are or what we’ve done in the past. Thank You for looking past the exterior, what the world sees, instead, seeing our hearts, and loving us even when we don’t love ourselves. Thank You for your forgiveness, for freeing us from the sins of our past. Thank You for allowing us to be used by You in amazing ways. We ask that You open up new doors for us to share Your love to those around us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at Peter’s Mother-in-law, the first women healed by Jesus.
Bible Study Review
- Why was Jesus in Samaria?
- What kind of woman was the Woman at the Well?
- What did she do as soon as she understood who Jesus was?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Jesus go out of His way to talk to this woman?
- What did the disciples think when they returned?
- What impact did the woman have on her community?
- Are you seeking love and affirmation in the right or wrong places?
- How would you respond if you met Jesus face to face?
- What can we learn from this story?
All God’s Women is expanding to radio. Starting May 3, All God’s Women radio show will be available for radio stations around the world. It’s a 2 minute show that zooms in on a single verse or aspect of a Bible woman. The first minute tells the story, the second minute has the life application.
You can help bring All God’s Women to your area by contacting your local Christian radio station and requesting it. Send them to www.allgodswomen.com for more information. Then, if you would, drop me a line and let me know so I can follow up with them. Hopefully, together, we can bring All God’s Women to the ends of the earth.
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2 thoughts on “Woman at the Well: Early Convert and Female Evangelist”
What an awesome job you’ve done with this story! Now, I want to go back and read other stories.
Carole, thanks! There are so many amazing women in the Bible, and I love studying them and bringing their stories to life.