The Woman at the Well Who Well Said

March 27, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Posted in John | 4 Comments
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If you’ve ever been a fan of old-school Western television shows or movies, you are probably familiar with the bigotry and prejudice that allegedly existed in the Old West against “half-breeds,” a pejorative term for the offspring of Anglo-Saxon people and Native Americans (who were known as “Indians,” but often pronounced as “Injuns” onscreen). These so-called half-breeds were often despised, shunned, or mistreated for no fault of their own. The half-breeds of Jesus’s day were called Samaritans. They were the descendants of the offspring of the settlers who came in to occupy the lands of the northern tribes of Israel after they were conquered by the Assyrians, and the Jewish people who remained there and intermarried with them. To say that the Jewish people in 1st Century Judea disliked them would be an understatement, but, of course, the love of Jesus transcended (and still does transcend today) the prejudices which exist between people of different ethnicities. Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman in John Chapter 4.

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

John 4:16

Jesus turned the conversation in a direction that would lead to conviction. This is not usually difficult to do in evangelism although it can be uncomfortable. Jesus was not indicating that talking to women about spiritual matters was a waste of time. He was not misogynistic or chauvinistic. He knew that the request to meet her husband would lead her to a place of confession.

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

John 4:17-18

The fact that she had five husbands probably meant that she had been divorced five times, although some of them may have died instead. Jesus apparently considered the second – fifth husbands to still be “husbands,” though, and the sixth man – merely a live-in sexual partner – was not a “husband.”

At this point in the conversation the woman did what many people to whom you are witnessing concerning the Gospel will want to do when the conversation gets too heated or personal for their liking: she changed the subject to religious worship preferences.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

John 4:19-20

Jesus responded using the same form of address that He used for Mary His mother at the wedding in Cana – a respectful but formal “Woman” – but He did not ignore her provocation.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:21-24

The Jewish religion was the correct and true revelation under the Old Covenant, but in Christ the importance of the earthly location of formal worship would be abolished. God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. He is not a “material” being, limited to meeting with His people only on one mountain at a time, or only in one building, one country, or one place.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

John 4:25-26 (emphasis added)

The Samaritan name for their expected “Messiah” was the Taheb, and they believed that, when he appeared, he would function primarily as a teacher. Jesus often discouraged His identification as the Messiah when He was ministering among Jewish people because of the political and military baggage associated with it in their minds. However, among the Samaritans He allowed and encouraged the affirmation that He was the Savior prophesied, typified, and foreshadowed in the Pentateuch, and He even used a form of the “I AM” statements generally recognized as prevalent in the Gospel of John.


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