9 January 2015

John 4:7-26

“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (v. 14)

Psalm: Psalm 27


Jesus' encounter with the woman of Samaria is one of a number of occasions in the Gospels where Jesus spends time with those who were not Jewish. While the Samaritans accepted some of the same scriptures as the Jews, they worshipped at a different mountain - Mount Gerazim - and there was a long history of hostility between the two groups. By spending time with a Samaritan, Jesus would have shocked his followers. They would have been further concerned by his encounter with a Samaritan woman alone at a well (John 4:27). And this was a woman with a past - a woman with multiple divorces now living with a man who was not her husband (verses 17-18).

Jesus began the exchange by asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, and this begins a dialogue in which Jesus offers 'living water', water that springs up into eternal life. The living water is that which ends all thirst, although verse 15 shows that the Samaritan woman has misunderstood Jesus. (Such misunderstanding of Jesus' message - which leads to further teaching - is a common theme within John's Gospel.)

In the second part of the dialogue, Jesus reveals his knowledge of the woman's situation - and so his status as a prophet sent from God. In response to her query about the proper place to worship, Jesus acknowledges that "salvation is from the Jews" (v. 22), but points to a future time in which believers will worship God "in Spirit and truth" (v. 23). The exchange ends with Jesus confessing that he is the Messiah that the Samaritan too hopes for - a further indication that the salvation Jesus brings is for all, even for those in seemingly hopeless situations.

To Ponder

  • In what ways have you experienced the 'living water' that Jesus speaks about?
  • Who are the marginalised in today's society that the Church might reach out to?
  • What do you think it means to worship "in Spirit and truth" (v. 23, 24)? 

Bible notes author

Ed Mackenzie

Dr Ed Mackenzie is the Discipleship Development Officer for the Methodist Church and an Associate Lecturer at Cliff College. He lives in Derbyshire with his wife Ali and their two sons.