Jesus and the Woman at the Well, Part II
The Samaritan woman’s witness turns into Jesus’ engagement with her entire city:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I
have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for
you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you
have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet” . . . The
woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he
comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is
speaking to you.” . . . Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him . . . Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the women’s testimony, bearing witness that “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to
him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more
believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what
you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly
the Savior of the world” (John 4:16-19, 25-26, 28-30, 39-42).
First, the woman responds to Jesus truthfully, and when he reveals just how much
more he knows about her past she calls him a “prophet.”
• Jesus affirms her initial truthfulness and encourages the continuation of their
• Later in this study we will define a “prophet” as someone who embodies and
proclaims a God’s-eye view of reality. Prophets have a keen perception of things
that harm a neighbor on the personal, interpersonal, and systemic levels. A
prophet gives witness to relations between neighbors that have become
distorted, forgotten and abused, so that corrective action may be taken to forgive,
restore, and reconcile broken relationships.
• Here, Jesus is acting as a prophet and she recognizes his status: it would appear
that she has been damaged or even abused from her many broken relationships
with men, although we are not told her role in each of these marital failures.
• Jesus does not judge or condemn her; he simply continues the conversation.
The story builds and the conversation does continue; the woman proclaims her
confidence that the Messiah is coming and will “proclaim all things to us.”
• She begins to sense that, through this encounter, her expectation for Messiah is
being met with Jesus, since he has told her many things about her own life.
• To confirm her intuition, Jesus affirms his identity as Messiah.
Because of the woman’s growing admiration for Jesus, she returns to her city to tell
everyone about her encounter with him and to seek their input about his identity.
• She bears witness to the people of her city about what she has seen and heard
from Jesus, and the fact that he knows everything about her life; this leads many
people to believe in Jesus because of her witness alone.
• Nevertheless, she still wonders whether Jesus really is the Messiah, so she invites
others to come out to the well to see for themselves.
• This provides many other people in the city with the opportunity to experience
Jesus for themselves; this in turn leads them to follow Jesus based on their own
encounter with him.
Jesus’ compassionate response to the woman’s history encourages her to continue
the conversation. In her estimation of Jesus, she has moved from first seeing him as
just another Jewish man, to characterizing him as a prophet, to wondering whether
he might be the Messiah.
This is a story about how one person – maybe even you! – can bring others to a an
enriching relationship with Christ!
Questions for Reflection
• Who brought you to Jesus? Did their testimony and witness about Jesus prove
persuasive? Why, or why not?
• Have you had your own encounters with Jesus that propel you to bear witness to
others about him?
• The woman openly acknowledged to Jesus a potentially embarrassing truth
about her life. Do you openly acknowledge to Jesus those parts of your life you
find embarrassing? If not, why not?
• In what ways has your view of Jesus changed or grown over the years? What
caused the change(s)?
God of mercy and forgiveness: Give me the courage to speak honestly and completely
to Jesus about my past, and the confidence to proclaim his identity and forgiveness to
those around me. Amen.