Revd Sara's Reflections - w/c 12th March 2023
What Was the Significance of the Woman at the Well?
The story of the woman at the well is a rich example of love, truth, redemption, and acceptance. Also best of all, not only does Jesus accept her, but He accepts us, too. He wants us all in His holy kingdom, if only we, too, believe.
The woman is never named, yet her encounter with Jesus is the longest between the Messiah and any other individual in the Gospel of John. Representing the lowest of the low — a female in a society where women are both demeaned and disregarded, a race traditionally despised by Jews, and living in shame as a social outcast — she not only has a holy encounter with Christ but also receives eternal salvation. And her testimony convinces an entire town to believe, too.
What was the significance of the woman at the well, and why is her story important to Christian believers?
The story of the woman at the well is one of the most iconic encounters in the Bible. Told in John 4:1-42, it depicts how Jesus, traveling through Samaria on the way to Galilee, sat down at a well in the town of Sychar.
There, around noon, while His disciples were in town buying food, He encountered a Samaritan woman coming to draw water from the well. He asked her for a drink, and their talk took off from there — culminating in her salvation and many more from her town, too.
What Did the Woman at the Well Ask Jesus?
Her questions, without understanding inflection, tone of voice, facial expressions, and other characterizations, appear stark and pointed. She asked Jesus a series of questions when he requested a drink: How can you ask me for a drink? (v. 9) Where can you get this living water? (v. 11) Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock? (v. 12)
His responses were just as pointed — and astonishing.
In short, Jesus told her not only who He was, the Son of God, the Messiah, but that He had come to offer living water, the kind that “will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v. 14).
This story shows Jesus’ love for the world. The fact that the woman at the well was of such low standing — gender, race, and marital status — yet they talked so directly, almost as equal conversational partners, shows Jesus’ heart for all people, not just some.
It reminds us that only Jesus can offer salvation. Jesus offers living water — eternal life. This water is not like regular water but rather comes from God and lasts forever.
It shows the importance of offering our testimony. When the woman believed, she immediately ran off to tell others. Her words made an impact. As Scripture tells us, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (v. 39). It underscores how Jesus is the Messiah. He says He’s the Messiah, and the woman and the townspeople believe Him. As the Samaritans told the woman at the end of the story, “We know that this man really is the Saviour of the world” (v. 42b).
It reveals again how Jesus was rejected by His own people. That the woman was a Samaritan yet believed is probably not an extraneous fact but rather the point. The account of the woman at the well comes shortly Jesus’ encounter in John 3 with the Pharisee Nicodemus — a race and class of people her polar opposite.
The story of the woman at the well is a rich example of love, truth, redemption, and acceptance. And best of all, not only does Jesus accept her, but He accepts us, too. He wants us all in His holy kingdom — if only we, too, believe.
love and prayers Revd Sara