Jesus and the Samaritan Woman


Most of us know the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Just in case, here it is:

John 4:5-26 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (6) Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. (7) A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (8) (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) (9) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

(10) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (11) The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (12) Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

(13) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, (14) but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (15) The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

(16) Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” (17) The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband'; (18) for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (19) The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

(20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” (21) Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (22) You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

(24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (25) The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” (26) Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

So we know the woman was shunned for she was mostly likely barren and would have been considered an adulteress as well. So, Jesus says that He has living water which will quench a thirst that her water is not doing. This is a relationship with God that will quench a thirst that religious practices and carnal attempts have not done. Jesus is showing that there is a spiritual need that can only be satisfied by a spiritual source. Fleshly attempts, or trying to satisfy by her own power, will never accomplish what they are trying to accomplish.

Let’s modernize the story a bit. What is the woman was a lesbian instead of an adulteress? Wouldn’t Jesus still be accepting of her? Jesus did not tell the Samaritan woman that she must stop sinning. He told her that He was the only source to fill the spiritual need in her life. Would the adultery or need to be with someone stop after her spiritual needs being met by Jesus? It is implied. So we don’t need to clean up our life in order to come to Jesus.

I heard a new take, by N.T. Wright, on the dialog between Jesus and Peter after Jesus had risen. Jesus asks Peter twice if he loves Jesus, using agapao. Twice Peter responds that he does love Jesus using the word phileo. The third time Jesus asks, He uses phileo and Peter is saddened and replies that he does love Jesus, once again using phileo. Wright suggested that Peter didn’t respond the same way because Peter might not be able to make that level of commitment to Jesus. Jesus came down to meet Peter on his level because Jesus was going to move him to where He wanted Peter. It is an interesting take.

Using that, Jesus doesn’t ask people to stop sinning to come to Him, but He will take them out of sinning as the have a relationship with Him. Isn’t that what we see happening?

That is not to say that adultery, homosexuality, or some other sinful lifestyle is acceptable. It is saying that it is a result of the person trying to satisfy a spiritual desire through physical means. As the Church, we should love the person, but not condone the lifestyle. That is the tricky part.

11 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity

11 responses to “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

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  2. societyvs

    “Let’s modernize the story a bit. What is the woman was a lesbian instead of an adulteress?” (Xander)

    If she were an ‘adulteress’ (as you contend) – how come she is not ‘stoned to death’ like the woman in John 8 (who had this attempt on her life)? Nowhere in the passage is she labelled as such – except that she is with a man she is not married to (as of yet)….which could also mean ‘courting/dating’. That seems like the more likely of the two options.

    “Would the adultery or need to be with someone stop after her spiritual needs being met by Jesus? It is implied. So we don’t need to clean up our life in order to come to Jesus” (Xander)

    The other thing, she could re-marry as was her right under the law (Moses allowed divorce – although this was not the original intention of the law). She was married 5 times and could be married a 6th time…in fact there is another gospel story about this exact thing where Jesus only addresses the idea ‘there is no marriage in heaven’ but not that someone could not do this.

    However, Jesus does not say ‘go and sin no more’…wonder why? Probably because the problem in the story is ‘racism’ and not ‘adultery’. Now she may get spiritual fulfillment from following Jesus – no doubts there – but this still does not mean she could not re-marry or that would of been stated clearly.

    In fact, if one reads this story from a Gentile perspective (which I think was the readership of this gospel) the story is more about usurption of Christianity over Judaism (as a better and more fulfilling religion for the Gentiles). That almost seems to total over-tone of this conversation…to prove this point and make Judaism look ‘2nd class’.

    “That is not to say that adultery, homosexuality, or some other sinful lifestyle is acceptable. It is saying that it is a result of the person trying to satisfy a spiritual desire through physical means. As the Church, we should love the person, but not condone the lifestyle. That is the tricky part.” (Xander)

    I still disagree. It’s like saying Christians should be celibate when they come to Jesus because all their ‘needs’ are met at this juncture. However, Christians still marry in the droves – yet they will claim their physical needs are met in Christ as well. However, someone that is gay cannot marry (which is the same condition as being ‘straight’) – so they have to ‘withdraw’ from this rite of passage and cannot seek this companionship (like a straight person). That’s not acceptance, that’s selective reasoning.

    You see, being gay is not like being an adulteress…unless someone is dabbling with being gay and are not. But if someone is ‘gay’ and this is what their biological condition tells them – we shouldn’t be withholding from them anything they cannot choose to change. My question, and the question will always be, can they choose to change and be ‘straight’? I would say ‘no’ in most cases.

    I think this is why gay people will never feel welcome in a church that holds this double standard – one for being straight and one for being gay (like either sexual leaning had a choice in the matter).

    • They were only stoned to death of caught in the act, like in John 8. She became an adulteress because of divorce. Four times over actually.

      I know. We disagree on if being gay is right or not.

    • Friend, The Point Of The Article, Is That The Remedy From Sin’s Curse And Sin Itself Is Not Trying To Be Perfect Or Abstain From It, Its Jesus,
      This Being Said, The Focus Of Salvation For Any Sexual Sinner (All Of Us To Some Extent), Or Sinner In General (Which Again, We All Are) Is Not To Try To Be Celibate, Straight Or Anything Else,
      it Is To Trust Jesus, Dont Doubt God’s Power, He Can Help Any Believer Overcome And We All Will, But Like Before, As None Of Us Are Perfect Our God Is, And He Alone Can Save….

      • “The Remedy From Sin’s Curse And Sin Itself Is Not Trying To Be Perfect Or Abstain From It, Its Jesus…” (Phillip)

        I always have this question surrounding the power of sin (and this curse you speak of):

        Are you free from sin while you live this life? I agree no one is perfect or abstains from stumbling through this life – but will you not sin again after you have found Jesus (or he you)?

        Sin’s curse…is a penalty – which is death. Do you think you will die?

        What I am getting at is – no one escapes sin’s curse – not even Jesus – which was death. Nothing was actually lifted by the resurrection of Jesus – you still die – which is the penalty of sin.

        Is there a remedy for sin’s curse except death itself?

      • Being saved does not stop one from sinning, but we are no longer under the penalty of sin.

        We still die a physical death, but i don’t see that as being the curse of sin. We look at spiritual death as the punishment.

  3. societyvs

    “They were only stoned to death of caught in the act, like in John 8. She became an adulteress because of divorce. Four times over actually” (Xander)

    They were only stoned (if caught in the act) – this is based on what exactly? As far was we know, from reading the law, adultery is adultery whether caught in the act or ‘admitting’ to it (as would be the case here). The fact she is so frank and open about having 5 husbands is shocking if that is an admission to ‘adultery’.

    Now Jesus had a more strict standard on divorce as compared to Moses – but Jesus is only emphasizing the point that when we marry it is ‘for life’ (and I believe this is true – specially when kids are involved). However, that is the standard/intent of the law…and I think it is perfectly sensible. Does everyone live up to the intent of the law? No. People divorce left and right – and did in Jesus’ society apparently.

    Jesus is simply raising the bar to try to curb this appettite and make people fight for their marriages and not give up on them so easily (he does make an exception for adultery albeit). I agree with Jesus 100% – people need to fight for their marriages and stop considering divorce as the ‘way out’. The spirit of what Jesus is saying is very true for us today.

    Do I consider people that divorce as ‘adulterers’…no. The point is they need to resolve all their responsibilities from that marriage as well – specially if kids are involved – this keeps people binded together for as long as that kid lives (and maybe this is the responsibility Jesus doesn’t want families shrugging off).

    • Deut 22:22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

      Found lying with. They have to be caught committing adultery to be stoned.

      Num 5:27 And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people.

      Numbers 5:12-31 deals with what happens when a woman is suspected of committing adultery. She isn’t killed.

      Mat 5:31-32 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ (32) But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

  4. societyvs

    In Deut we see that ‘if he is found lying with..’ – a caught in the action scenario (never good). However that could also be interpreted as ‘found (out)’. In Numbers 5:27 we see a ‘suspect’ being tried with some type of ‘water’ that would show they were guilty (some type of ancient lie detector test).

    However, those are not the only passages on adultery – here’s 2 more:

    “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) – says nothing about sex or being caught in the act just ‘don’t do it’

    “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10) – In this case – death for the both of them – without being ‘caught in the act’.

    The sure-fire way they have to be ‘caught doing it’ is rather ridiculous – if this were the case no one has committed adultery ever (at least 99% of these cases the person is never caught in the act – they sneak around and do it). Does being caught in the act make it worse than not being caught in the act? The pain is the same so not really.

    As for Numbers 5 – this is called a ‘law of jealousy’ not really a law of adultery. This only happens when a husband suspects his wife has been cheating – there are 2 outcomes: true or false. You see, the husband actually has no clue whether it is true or not – but he is taking his claim before the priests. In this case, he could be wrong and he stil made her drink the ‘bitter water’ (which is a punishment of itself I am imagining). This has nothing to neccesarily to do with adultery as much as it has to do with quelching jealousy…my guess is the water always worked or never worked.

    As for the passages on divorce – I am not disputing this is exactly what Jesus said. However, God does allow divorce – “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce…” (Deut 24:1)

    Divorce is concretely in the Torah law – as allowable…Jesus had to have known this. Now although ‘God hates divorce’ – it is still allowed under His law (fact). All it sets in motion is that divorce is not the intended result of a marriage and is to be avoided at all costs (if possible). Jesus seems to be re-ittirating the strength of this same idea with his teaching.

    The key thing is Moses would be more lenient than Jesus in his teaching on the Law. Jesus only lets people leave a marriage due to infidelity and that’s about it (if we only use the Matt 5 passage). Moses was allowing the writ of divorce for a variety of reasons…which could potentially include neglect, incest, or spousal abuse (things I am sure we might all have serious distaste over). Was Moses more kind than Jesus is the big question that arises out of that?

    However, we do not know why exactly Jesus needed to state this to his disciples…were they cheating on their wives while on the road? Was cheating becoming a problem and Jesus wanted to address it by calling it what it is ‘adultery’? Maybe the need for such a serious clause was this is what was happening and Jesus wanted his people to know ‘fooling around’ would not be tolerated in his group…thus the harsher viewpoint on the Law.

    However, I still see it – in much cross comparison of scripture passages as this:

    Marriage is a committmment to one woman – and it’s forever. However, if the marriage becomes unbearable for any variety of reasons (including as foremost, cheating) then the offended party has a right to go the court for an annulment of that marriage. However, this is not an action to be taken lightly and the idea ‘God hates divorce’ should be at the foremost of their thoughts – and if it can be worked out it should be tried at the least. If it does not work, they should feel free to accept a writ of divorce and annulment before the law. Can they re-marry? Yes.

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  6. But unless you either catch someone in the actual act or people discovered it and outed the couple, no one can actually be tried convicted of adultery. This saved people from being falsely accused of adultery, since it carried a stiff penalty for the act.

    As for Numbers 5, I was using it as a reference that suspected adultery was not treated the same as adultery. There had to be concrete proof.

    God allows divorce and had divorced Israel. If Israel would repent, God would take her back as His own. Marriage is used to show the bond between people. God never said I will make a marriage covenant with Israel until I find someone better or until she no longer pleases me. This is what Jesus was trying to get the people to understand. Moses allowed the divorce based under carnal reasons. For me, this represents the Levitcal laws. This was a performance based relationship. This is not what was ever intended by God when first made man.

    Some Pharisees came to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “It was because of your hardness of heart that he wrote this command for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘That is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must never separate.”
    (Mar 10:2-9)

    When the disciples asked about divorce, Jesus was clarifying the early statements He had made to the Pharisees. I am not sure why you would think that the disciples were out committing adultery based upon this. No one accused of sinning, so that is a rather large leap to make. It looks more like He was expanding on the two become one flesh part.

    Back in the house, the disciples asked him about this again. So he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
    (Mar 10:10-12)

    So according to Jesus, the Samaritan woman would be considered an adulteress. I know you pointed out racism earlier and I am confused as to how you came to that conclusion. The Jews did not like the Samaritans, that is true, but it was her own people that were shunning her. It doesn’t really seem like a true case of racism does it? I am not sure how John would be making a reference that following Judaism is like being a Samaritan. John’s gospel would have been read by both Jew and Gentile, but it is not saying a race is inferior but that the Levitcal law was inferior.

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