John 4:1-42 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How is the humanity and the humility of the Lord Jesus expressed in John 4:4-7 (printed below?)

Now it was necessary for him to pass through Samaria. (5) So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the piece of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph, (6) and Jacob’’s well was there. Jesus, being wearied by his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour of the day. (7) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, Give me a drink. (John 4:4-7)

Observe how the humanity and the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ are expressed in this passage. Jesus was wearied by His journey; that is why He sat down beside the well (verse 6). When a woman from the nearby town comes out to draw water from the community well, Jesus asks her for a drink (verse 7). Note: the state of weakness, exhaustion, and humiliation in which we find the Lord Jesus at the well in Samaria is just a preview of the great weakness, exhaustion, and humiliation He would endure upon the cross of Calvary, there offering His life unto God as the payment for sin so that He might offer unto us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, even as He now is about to make that offer to this Samaritan woman.

2. How does the woman respond to Jesus’ request (see verse 9 printed below?) What does Jesus now say to her (see verse 10 printed below?)

The Samaritan woman said to him, How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink—I who am a Samaritan woman? (for Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) (John 4:9)

Jesus responded to her by saying, If you knew what gift God offers and who it is who is saying to you, Give me a drink; you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. (John 4:10)

According to verse 9, the Samaritan woman is taken aback by this humble request for a drink of water: here is a Jewish man asking a favor of a Samaritan woman! Even though we find Jesus to be weary, thirsty, exhausted, asking this Samaritan woman for a drink of water, listen closely to what He says in response to her inquiry: “If you knew what gift God offers and who it is who is saying to you, Give me a drink; you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (verse 10). Jesus’ words emphasize the graciousness of God, as well as Christ’s own ability and willingness to impart to us this gracious gift of spiritual life, entering into the life and fellowship of God forever.

3. When Jesus informs the woman that He can give her water that will forever quench her thirst (verse 14), what is her response (see verse 15 printed below?) What does Jesus now tell her to do (see verse 16 printed below?) Why do you think He gives her this directive (note verses 17-18 printed below?)

The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. (John 4:15)

Jesus said to her, Go, call your husband, and come back. (John 4:16)

The woman responded by saying to him, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have spoken well by saying, I have no husband; (18) for you have had five husbands, and the man with whom you are now living is not your husband. What you have said is true. (John 4:17-18)

The woman expresses a strong desire for this mysterious water of which Jesus speaks. But not that she is still thinking in physical terms, she wants this water so that she will not have to keep returning to the well. She does not yet appreciate the fact that Jesus is speaking about spiritual “water,” the quenching of her soul’s thirst. At this point her conversation with Jesus suddenly turns from the heights of expectation to the depths of this woman’s personal life, exposing her sordid past. Jesus now becomes uncomfortably personal, He instructs her, “Go, call your husband” (verse 16). The woman immediately seeks to bring this topic to an abrupt halt with her response, “I have no husband” (verse 17). But Jesus will not let the matter rest there; He gently, but firmly, confronts this woman with her sins (verses 17b-18). When you encounter Jesus, you will find Him to be the Exposer of your sins—with the intention of bringing you to repentance and life!

4. How does the woman seek to steer the conversation away from her personal life and sinful lifestyle (see verses 19-20 printed below?) Are her efforts successful (see verses 21-26 printed below?)

The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. (20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; but you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (John 4:19-20)

Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. (22) You Samaritans worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews. (23) But the hour is coming, and has even arrived, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for, indeed, the Father requires such people to be his worshipers. (24) God is a Spirit; they who would worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (25) The woman said to him, I know that the Messiah is coming (the one who is called the Christ). When he comes, he will inform us of all things. (26) Jesus said to her, I who am speaking with you am he. (John 4:21-26)

The woman’s response at this point is that of respect for Jesus, but she still is not ready to honestly deal with her sins; thus, she says to Jesus, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (verse 19). The woman still does not truly know to whom she is speaking, and she now seeks to dismiss this whole matter, which has become very convicting, by asking a difficult question about religion (verse 20). But there is no way to elude the Lord Jesus Christ, every response the woman makes in her efforts to redirect the conversation results in a deeper encounter with God. Jesus warns that the days of public worship as it was practiced in the land of Israel are drawing to an end (verse 21). Jesus goes on to instruct the woman as to what is the essence of true worship (verses 23-24). The woman now suggests that rather than trying to deal with these “complex religious questions” (which are extremely convicting), they should wait for the Messiah to give the answers (verse 25). At this point Jesus reveals His true identity as the promised Messiah who has come to minister grace and forgiveness to sinners (verse 26).

5. After this encounter with the Messiah, what does the woman now do? See John 4:28-29 (printed below)

Leaving behind her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, (29) Come, meet a man who told me everything that I ever did! Can this be the Christ? (John 4:28-29)

After this encounter with the Lord Jesus, the woman left her water jar behind and ran back into the city (verse 28). She is so awestruck by the person of Jesus that she forgot the reason she came to the well in the first place. Upon entering the city she urges the whole community to “Come, meet a man who told me everything I ever did!” (verse 29) She is so awestruck by the person of Jesus that she forgets her shame and ostracism (a woman with her immoral lifestyle would have been shunned by the community) and compels everybody to meet this man for themselves.