John 4:1-42

Author: Tara Sanders


Jesus and the Woman of Samaria


Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 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.[a]


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.[b] 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.”


27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.


31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”


39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”


Key Verse


23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (ESV)




I have always loved the story of the Samaritan Woman. We meet her at the well. She has lived in a community for some time where people have not been kind to her. So, in order to avoid being ignored or ridiculed or hurt, she goes to the well at the hottest time of day, when she knows no one will be there.


But this day is different, there is someone at the well. It is on this day that she finds Jesus sitting at the well. Now Jews did not speak to Samaritans, and they especially did not speak to Samaritan women, but Jesus did speak to her. He simply asked her to give him a drink.


This simple request resulted in a conversation. A conversation in which they talked about living water, worship, and the coming Messiah. The conversation concluded with the woman being so excited that she left her water jar and ran to town to have the whole community “come and see.” Jesus then stayed in that town for two days teaching the people of Samaria. And they believed.


Looking back at the conversation Jesus had with the woman, there is much discussion about worship, specifically about what kind of posture God desires and who he is seeking to worship him. During the conversation with the woman, Jesus says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”


So, there are two things we should look at in this verse.


First, what does it mean to “worship in spirit and in truth?” Spirit, or pneuma (Greek), is a noun which means wind or breath. That is to worship with our whole being, our whole spirit. We are to worship God with our whole self. Truth, or aletheia (Greek), does not merely mean spoken truth or what we say but truth of idea, reality, and sincerity. While the word, truth, is a noun, worshiping in truth is also a verb, meaning that “truthing” is what we do with that truth which we believe. How we live, how we act, what we do.


Additionally, “spirit” can also be translated to mean the Holy Spirit. When we look to John 14:15-17, it discusses the idea that the Holy Spirit dwells within us; the Holy Spirit here is called the “Spirit of truth.” In addition to how we worship as an individual, we can appreciate how we worship with the help of the Holy Spirit in us.


Second, what kind of people is the Father seeking? The word “seek” here is the Greek word, zetei, which means to desire or require. Therefore, God not only desires, but requires, that we worship in spirit and in truth. God wants to be in communion with us; he desires us to worship in spirit and in truth. The NLT interprets that phrase as “the Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” To know that God is seeking me, looking for me, desiring me, makes me want to worship Him in spirit and in truth even more.


While Jesus was talking with the woman, he told her that a time would come when you did not have to worship on a mountain or in Jerusalem, but that true worshipers with worship in spirit and in truth. While we currently cannot worship together as a body in the building, we can worship together in spirit and in truth.


Love you all. 


Discussion Questions


1.      What does it mean to worship with your whole self?

2.      How can you more fully worship in spirit?

3.      What does “truthing” in your life say about what you believe?

4.      How can you more fully worship in truth?

5.      Is God seeking you to worship Him?


Spiritual Disciplines/Practices


·       Who do you know, like the Samaritan Woman, that you can take time to invest in?

·       Invest by starting a simple conversation, sending an encouraging note, sending scriptures, or praying for daily.



Tara Sanders

Tara is a twin, one of four sisters, and a devoted dog mom. She is an acute care nurse practitioner working to give compassionate care to critically ill patients many struggling with Covid-19. Tara is devoted to God, loves her church family deeply, and is a loyal friend to many of us who are privileged to know her.