Focus Text: John 4.13-18

“Jesus answered and said to her [the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well], ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’” (John 4.13-18).

If the woman truly misunderstood the nature of the water that Jesus offered earlier, she could not misunderstand now; she was being offered “…water springing up into everlasting life.” This, as we might put it, was the “hook” intended to catch the woman’s interest, and indeed it did. Her response showed her interest in spiritual things. But, Jesus was not yet through with her; she wasn’t actually ready for the water, though she had an appetite for it. Her positive response led Jesus to challenge the woman once again.

“Go, call your husband, and come here.” This statement likely hit a tender spot in the woman’s heart. We know nothing of the circumstances that led up to her having had five previous husbands, but it seems highly unlikely that she could have had so many without sin being a part of her separation from them. Regardless of those circumstances, Jesus challenged her to think about that aspect of her personal life. She had no obligation to tell him the truth about her marital state, but she willingly chose to speak openly and truthfully about it. For that reason, that is for her honesty, Jesus commended her saying, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband.’” And again, Jesus said, “In that you spoke truly.”

The study of how God treats sinners is a revealing study, especially in private setting like this one. There was no one to impress and no games to play. If the woman had any intention of playing any kind of game, Jesus’ treatment of her soon dispelled any such notion on her part. His approach was serious and left little room for anything other than direct discussion between the two of them. There is a lesson here for all of us: If we are to impress the world for Jesus Christ, we must challenge the minds of those whom we wish to teach; only by opening minds that might otherwise be closed can the gospel have an effect upon the heart of any individual. It is not enough to try to demonstrate what we know; we must also cause our hearers to question what they know and how they may be enriched by listening openly to the gospel message.

The sensitive area that Jesus picked to challenge the woman’s thinking was one which could have ended the conversation abruptly. However, Jesus knew the woman’s heart and continued to lead her in the direction she needed to go. His timing was perfect! She was in a mode of self examination and Jesus capitalized on that mood. He did not force her to think as he was thinking, but adapted his approach to challenger her in that thinking.

Questions:

1. Think about it; why did Jesus ask about her husband?

2. What did her response prove about her?

3. Characterize Jesus’ demeanor. Was he cruel? Harsh? Prying? Demeaning? Judgmental?

4. Is it essential that a hearer be willing to openly examine him/her self? Why or why not? What profit results when the gospel is preached to someone who has no appetite for it?