John 4 The Message (MSG)
The Woman at the Well
4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
1) What's the difference between a well and an artesian spring?
2) Do you feel like there is an artesian spring gushing with fountains of endless life within you? How can you match your experiences with the reality of this living water within you?
3) What barriers did Jesus cross to prepare the woman to receive from him? How did he cross them successfully?
4) What are some of the barriers you experience when sharing the good news? How can you cross them successfully like Jesus?
5) How can we redirect conversations so that they move in a godly direction instead of a negative direction? What are the signs to look for to know when people are getting offended or trying to start an argument?
When Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, it was surprising for more than one reason. First, Jesus was speaking with a woman alone. Second, a Jew was speaking with a Samaritan. Third, it should have been the woman who asked Jesus for a drink of living water and not him asking her for water from the well.
The woman was confused when Jesus spoke of living water, though, wondering how he could draw water without a physical bucket. Perhaps she thought Jesus could provide water from a different source or a different method so as to be greater than Jacob who dug the well to begin with.
Jesus gave her a comparison that hit the point head on. He told her that anyone who drinks the water he provides will have an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of eternal life. In comparison, an artesian spring is one that provides water on its own from the natural pressure underground. It requires no bucket to draw from, nor does it ever run dry as long as there is a source underground.
With such a stark comparison, it is obvious that the artesian spring is far superior to Jacob's well, even though that may have seemed offensive culturally. It was also more efficient, providing more water in both a quantitative and qualitative measure. It was the difference between quenching your thirst and finding eternal life. It's no wonder the woman asked Jesus for that kind of water!
There were a few barriers Jesus had to cross to get that water to her, though. The first was a cultural barrier. He did not deny Jacob was their ancestor nor that he did great things. He only showed her how much greater things he was offering. He focused on the truth instead of arguing about who was greater between himself and Jacob.
The second barrier was practical. She had no idea how to receive living water, nor had she even heard of it. If people don't know the good news, how can they believe? Or as Paul said it, how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? She needed knowledge, but more than just knowledge about what she could receive, she needed to know how to receive.
Jesus was a master at redirecting conversations. The woman might have found herself in a scuffle or argument had it been someone else asking her for a drink, but Jesus continually brought the conversation back to spiritual things. In doing so, he crossed over the barriers she had set up that would have prevented her from receiving and we discovered that she was more open to the good news than we would have believed at first.