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John 4:1–45

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water’” (v. 10).

A willingness to speak with and fellowship with the outcasts of society characterized the earthly ministry of our Savior. This set Him apart from other rabbis and prompted criticism from religious leaders who tended to view tax collectors and other social “undesirables” as beyond the grace of God and unworthy of attention from the teachers of Scripture (Luke 5:29–30). Jesus did not take such criticism to heart, however, for He well understood that He came as the Savior of all kinds of people and that the gospel is for everyone who has fallen short of the glory of God (e.g., see Matt. 28:18–20).

One of the most notable meetings between Jesus and an outcast occurred when He conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1–45). First-century Jews tended to look down on the Samaritans as ethnically impure. The Samaritans traced their origin to intermarriage between northern Israelites and non-Israelite peoples that the Assyrian Empire had resettled in Israel after the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC (2 Kings 17). Furthermore, ancient Jews rejected the Samaritans because they had some aberrant religious practices, including worshiping on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Because the region of Samaria was considered unclean, first-century Jews often traveled around it as they went north to south or south to north in the Holy Land even though traveling through Samaria was more direct.

Little wonder, then, that the Samaritan woman was taken aback when Jesus asked her for some water. Normally, Jewish rabbis would not accept a drink from a Samaritan woman, let alone speak to one (John 4:1–9). As their discussion progressed, however, it became clear that Jesus had asked for a drink not merely because He was thirsty but because He wanted to reveal Himself as the provider of living water that leads to eternal life (vv. 10–14).

At first, the woman thought that Jesus promised to satisfy only her physical thirst (v. 15), but as their conversation went on, He kept bringing the focus back to Himself to make it clear that He is the Messiah and the guarantor of eternal life in God’s blessed presence (vv. 16–26). She came to realize this and to drink deeply of that water of eternal life by believing that He is the Savior of the world (vv. 27–45). All who trust in Jesus today partake of that same living water.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Jesus alone can satisfy our deepest thirst for our Creator. In a world where people are encouraged to pursue sinful pleasures, material possessions, and other things as the ultimate answer to our thirst for God, Christians can point to the only true source of living water, Jesus Christ. Who in our lives needs to hear the truth that Jesus is living water today?

for further study
  • Isaiah 12
  • Ezekiel 47:1–12
  • John 7:37–39
  • Revelation 7:17
the bible in a year
  • Ecclesiastes 5–6
  • 2 Corinthians 10

How We Should Contend for the Faith

Mercy for a Woman Treated Unjustly

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From the September 2023 Issue
Sep 2023 Issue