Lessons from John 4 (Part 1)
John 4 tells the story of Jesus’ meeting and conversation with a woman of Samaria at a well. Jesus shows great patience and compassion to this woman as he reveals her need for a gracious Savior-King, and offers himself to her as her all-satisfying treasure (“living water”). Here are some observations from this passage (particularly from Jn. 4:7-9).
Jesus associates with people whom the world despises. This woman is probably an outcast in her community. It is strange that she comes to the well alone; normally, women would come to a well in groups (see Gen. 24:11; Exod. 2:16; 1 Sam. 9:11). They would also normally come to the well either in the morning or in the evening (see Gen. 24:11 again), when the sun was not so hot. The fact that this woman comes alone, and at noon (“the sixth hour”) suggests that this woman is not so popular among her neighbors. Not to mention the fact that she has been married and divorced five times, and has a live-in boyfriend (Jn. 4:16-18). But Jesus doesn’t hesitate to speak to her, regardless of her poor reputation.
Jesus is not afraid to break societal norms in order to engage people. Jewish men normally did not speak to women in public. If an observer had seen Jesus initiating conversation with this woman, they might have assumed that he was flirting with her. Also, most Jews did not associate with Samaritans, because they were considered unclean (see v. 9). Furthermore, men generally did not discuss theological issues with women. Regardless of all the societal rules he was breaking, Jesus talked to the woman anyway. He was more concerned with speaking to this woman who needed the grace of God more than he was worried about conforming to others’ expectations of him.