Jesus and the Samaritan Woman:
The story of the Samaritan Woman is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It is a unique story, for the Lord meets this woman who is a Gentile in many ways, and carries on a conversation with her. He leads her away from the shames of her life and grants her the mission of evangelism. In a short period of time, she attracts the city with her preaching and leads its people to the Savior of the world.
The question is, why a Samaritan?
Throughout the stories of the Gospel The Lord underlines His interest in Samaria. He praises the Samaritan leper that He cured, because he returned to Him and thanked Him for purifying him. The nine Jews, who Jesus also purified, did no such thing. “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
So Jesus answered and said, ‘were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:15-19). The Lord also gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan; whose heart was moved with love and compassion for the wounded Jew.
The story begins when The Lord came into a city of Samaria called Sychar, which is near the plot of ground Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Our Lord was wearied from His journey and so He came to Jacob’s well and sat there. Father Tadros Yacoub says in his commentary that The Lord is tired because of us, for He has been looking for us for so long. Our lack of faith has worn Him out. Yet, in spite of that, when we come to Him, He will accept us to Himself.
Now I want to mention a few things before going on. First, I want to mention that Our Lord Jesus was a poor Man. Whenever He journeyed anywhere He went on foot. Not on donkey, but on foot. Second, He had no place to rest or even sleep. If you recall in Matthew 8:20, He told the scribe that wanted to follow Him, “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). This is the humility of Our Lord. St. John Chrysostom says, “The Lord came to that place by avoiding the life of comfort. He took the narrow path and struggled, as He did not use any donkey on this journey. He walked so much that He got tired during His journey. The Lord always teaches us this lesson: to struggle in our efforts to get our necessities without searching for luxuries." He wants us to get what we desire with struggle and perseverance. St. Ambrose also proclaims, “If you want to find The Lord, abandon the broken basins, for The Lord usually sits by a well rather than by a pool.”
“A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink…’ Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘how is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:7-9). How can a Jew speak with a Samaritan? Let’s not forget that the Samaritans were of Jewish origin whether from the perspective of blood ties or of religion.
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water’” (John 4:10). This woman was thirsting for the living water, and realized that she needs a Savior. St. Ambrose says, “This is the water that King David thirsted for, just as the deer ‘pants for the water brooks’ rather than thirsting for the poison of snakes. This is because the water granted by the grace of the Holy Spirit is living water. It purifies the inner parts of the mind and washes away every sin of the soul while removing the resistance of hidden sins.” When Our Lord says to the Samaritan, ‘…you would have asked…’ this means that true knowledge should motivate us to pray and ask. God is ready to respond to our prayers by granting our request. However, He waits until we reveal our desires and to ask so that we can receive. Referring back to the verse ’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,’ St. Cyprian says, “this is a reference to the redeeming water of baptism which has been truly offered once and will not be repeated again.” Now the water that Our Lord is speaking of is the Spirit of God. St. John Chrysostom evidences this: “The Holy Bible refers to the Holy Spirit sometimes as ‘fire’ and at other times as ‘water.’”
Father Tadros Yacoub compares the meeting between the Samaritan woman and Our Lord Jesus Christ to that of Rebecca, Rachel, and Zipporah. Through meetings at the well, these women were blessed with marriages to Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. In the same way the Samaritan found the Bridegroom of her soul at the well. Likewise, we too find our Savior and Bridegroom in baptism.
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water... Jesus answered and said to her, ‘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’” (John 4:11-14). What Our Lord spoke in figurative language, she took literally, for He spoke of spiritual matters. Here, Christ shows her that the water from Jacob’s well only yields short satisfaction. Just like all that we do in life and all that we have is only temporal and not eternal. But the Spirit of God, and His love, mercy, and compassion for us will last us forever… Even unto eternity. St Ambrose says, “The water in the dark depths of the well represents worldly pleasures. Mankind draws out of this using the utensils of lust... Consider lust as the bucket, and worldly pleasures as the water drawn from the depth of the well. When a person gets to taste worldly pleasures, which take the form of food, clothes, etc. how can he possibly not thirst again?”
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw’” (John 4:17). It is evidenced by this that the woman grew in knowledge while speaking to The Lord. Within minutes, she was able to understand what He was speaking of, yet she is still confused and has not comprehended the whole picture, because she still views this water as tangible and physical water that will dismiss thirst.
“Jesus said to her, ‘go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, “I have no husband” (John 4:16-17). In His conversation with the woman, The Lord, without hurting her feelings, reveals His knowledge to her. His intention is simple and pure: He wants to encourage her to recognize her sins and her need to repent. By replying, “I have no husband,” she convicts herself on account of her wrongful association with a man who is not her 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.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’” (John 4:18-20) “How great is this woman’s wisdom, and how humbly does she accept the Lord’s reproach... it is noteworthy to mention two points about this reproach: the Lord mentions the number of her previous husbands, and reproaches her about the one with whom she now lives although she tried to conceal this matter. So how does she react? She shows no sign of annoyance, she does not leave and run away, nor does she consider His words humiliating. On the contrary, she expresses her admiration and her respect for Him increased as she says: ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’ –St. John Chrysostom.
“Jesus said to her, ‘woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:21-24). St. John Chrysostom says, “He does not show preference to any place, but focuses on one’s intentions.” When He says, “you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation comes of the Jews…” The words “we worship what we know,” refers to the divine Books as a safe path to true knowledge and worship. We should not just worship God through the Holy Books, but we should worship Him with our hearts. Referring back to the verse “…But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him…” we shouldn’t want to worship God just because we are in Church, rather we should worship Him in our inner thoughts and have Him always within us.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’” (John 4:26). St. John Chrysostom adds, “Indeed, the Lord did not give the Jews a clear answer while they constantly said to Him: “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John. 10:24); whereas He clearly informs the Samaritan woman: ‘I… am He.’”
After the meeting with Our Lord Jesus Christ, the woman dropped her water pot and went into the city to preach to all peoples. St. Augustine exclaims, “having received The Lord Jesus Christ into her heart, what else could she do but abandon her water pot and run to preach the Gospel? She banished lust and hurried to proclaim the truth. May those who wish to preach the Gospel learn to abandon their water pot at the well.” The water pot is the source that gives us temporary satisfaction; this could be sin, lust, temptation, and the love of materialistic possessions and worldly care. The woman went to preach saying, “come see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” The words of the woman reveal her inner joy; she has met the Messiah, the Savior of the World and so she came to enjoy the One who satisfies the depths. The six men she was with did not give her this kind of joy. Yet, her meeting with the Savior created in her the spirit of joy and inspired her to work in order to bring others to this joy.
“There is no person who is happier than a Christian person for such a person has the promise of the kingdom of God. No one struggles with more than a Christian as he daily encounters dangers. No one is more powerful since a Christian is capable of conquering Satan... Can anyone be found who is more sinful than the Samaritan woman? Yet she is not the only one who believed... and after her six men, she finds the one Lord. She not only gets acquainted with the Lord at the well, that same One whom the Jews failed to recognize in the temple, but she brings salvation to many.” –St. John Chrysostom.
“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world’” (John 4:39-42).
Finally, we see that the work of God has prevailed and the Samaritan woman has been saved. Oh how wonderful is this reading and what amazing comfort it brings us! God, in His compassion and love for us, and His mercy towards us, doesn’t want to us to perish in the waters of this world, but He wants us to find the eternal water, the living water, that ONLY He provides. He came to the Samaritan saying “give me to drink,” yet He left without drinking. This is because He was nourished by the faith of the Samaritan. St. Augustine puts it perfectly when he says, “He asks you to give Him to drink while He is the Giver of all things. Yet He is nourished by your redemption and not from an overflowing stream. He drinks from your good deeds, and He drinks the cup or the suffering through which He will redeem your sins. Consequently, we quench the thirst of this world when we drink of His holy Blood.” May we always be nourished by God’s love for us and the living water He gives us, and may His mercy and compassion be manifested in us through Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is due the Glory, Honor, and Worship, with His Good Father and the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.
- Glory Be To God Forever. Amen.
Autor: Andrew Guerguis