Woman at the Well – Session 4 – Part 1
Welcome back to our study – “Bad Girls of the Bible,” by Liz Curtis Higgs. We have looked at several bad girls in the Bible, including Lot’s wife, the woman who failed to listen to the two angel’s instructions. Do you remember what their last words were to Lot and his family?
“Flee for your lives. Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!”
But as we learned, Lot’s wife made a fatal mistake by turning around to see the events unfolding over Sodom and Gomorrah. And what happened to her as a result of her disobedience? Do you recall? She turned into a pillar of salt.
Disobedience can be a costly move and we know people who have paid the price and some the ultimate price for their disobedience. They failed to heed the instructions and, in some cases the warnings and they suffered the consequences. Maybe you are sitting here today as someone who ignored the warnings and/or advice of a friend or family member and you know what it’s like to suffer the consequences of those actions. And if you could do it over again, you would make a different choice. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife doesn’t get a second chance to follow instructions.
Don’t lose hope or give up now, but be encouraged as we dive into another study, this time about a woman known by her location, but not by her name.
In this lesson, as we did in the other lessons, we will take our directions from our feature book, “Bad Girls of the Bible,” by Liz Curtis Higgs, so if you want to join in the discussion, please pick up a copy of her book. Don’t worry about missing the other lessons. They do not link to each other, so you can go back and read those at any time. I will post the links below.
Also note, that I recorded videos of these lessons and they can all be found on my YouTube channel, The Teaching Lady. Subscribe and like the page so you can view all the lessons as well as other studies I have recorded.
Let’s get started with another bad girl – the woman at the well. Due to the length of this one, we have to split the lesson in half.
Please get your Bible, any form of Bible, either paper or electronic, and turn to the book of John, chapter 4, and let’s look at this together.
What’s our bad girl’s name? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but we do learn that our bad girl would have made the National Enquirer of her day.
Let’s start in verse 5 and go from there:
“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar” John 4:5
Who is he in this passage? Jesus.
What is he doing in Samaria?
You need to understand that back then Jews despised Samaritans. Why? Because Jews considered the Samaritans unclean. As a matter of fact, Jewish people would walk around the city of Samaria rather than through it to get to their destination. They would go the long way to avoid passing through that city.
But here we read that a Jew, namely Jesus, who was Jewish by the way, walked through Samaria and stopped in Sychar which was a small village near Shechem.
Jesus tired and thirsty stopped for a drink at what is known as Jacob’s well. It’s known as Jacob’s well, because Jacob from Old Testament scriptures, bought some land in the vicinity of Shechem.
“Jacob’s well was there.” John 4:6
Our notes tell us that it was the women of the time who drew water from the well, usually in the afternoon.
But our bad girl liked to draw water in the middle of the day around noon. Today, Jesus was thought to be at the well about noon. Let’s see what scripture has to say.
“And Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the 6th hour.” John 4:6
6th hour? We know that the world has several time zones and this was the case back then as well. According to Roman time, it may have been about 6 in the evening, and by Jewish time, it was around noon.
Jesus had been traveling all morning and like any of us, was tired and thirsty and stopped to take a break.
“when a Samaritan woman came to draw water..” John 4:7
One could say she had two strikes against her; 1) She was a woman and 2) A non-Jew.
I would suppose she didn’t expect to find anyone at the well, especially a man, but she did.
“Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” John 4:7
I like that he asked and didn’t demand. He was polite and forthright.
Note that this is the beginning of a lengthy conversation that we are going to read through, but stay with me because it gets good. This is the longest conversation we see in the Bible between a woman and Jesus.
This woman is a Samaritan. Recall what was said previously about Samaritans. Jewish people didn’t like them. Oh, those Samaritans! Ick!
This woman’s nationality and the fact that she is a woman are key points in this story.
Why? Because it drives home the universal truth of God’s fountain of grace: its refreshing waters are meant for every human being willing to hold out an empty cup.
This woman chose the heat of the day to draw water. One has to wonder why when everyone else went later in the afternoon when it was cooler. Picture yourself around the water cooler at work with fellow co-workers. We’re all standing around chatting about this and that. We’ve brought our cups. But there’s one person who never stands at the water cooler with us.
Let’s pick up with our story.
“His disciples had gone into town to buy food.” John 4:8
So now we know Jesus wasn’t traveling alone. He had companions and they went into town to find some grub.
While some would see this as a little problem, it allows Jesus and the woman at the well to have some time alone. No, not that kind of alone, but they could talk without interruptions. When we want to talk to someone about a spiritual matter, I think it’s good to talk one-on-one. My experience has been that it allows the other person to be more open.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” John 4:9
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
“If you knew,” left the door wide open. He didn’t insult her or say duh, it’s me.
The water from the well was just well, water. There was nothing special about it. We imagine it was mostly rainwater. Well water was common; everyday water, but living water is quite the opposite.
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” John 4:11
My first thought when I read this was, “That’s why I asked you for a drink woman.”
Jesus had been traveling and I’m afraid he left his camel pack behind.
“Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” John 4:12
Scholars call her skeptical, intelligent, and maybe a tad pushy. Let’s check out what Jesus says in response.
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again…” John 4:13, “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
The water Jesus spoke of was special. It was a holy water that would cleanse her and well up inside of her forever.
“The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:15
Remember what we read in the beginning? This woman came in the heat of the day so she could draw water alone. Jesus’ words surely piqued her attention. The thought of never having to come back to the well was certainly enticing. Now here’s something we least expect to arise from the conversation.
“He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” John 4:16
What? Wait. Call my husband? How did we go from talking about water to husbands? Jesus wasn’t being rude, but let’s remember that back in those days, good girls didn’t speak alone with a man in a public place. They are now engaging in back-and-forth conversation and Jesus, by asking her to call her husband to join them, is honoring her and not trying to take advantage of the situation or coerce her in any way.
Only one problem and Jesus knows what it is.
“I have no husband,” she replied. John 4:17
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.” John 4:17b-18
You gotta give her credit. She could have lied to him. She could have said, “Ok, I will be right back. You wait here.” Or she could have said, “I don’t have five husbands. I only married once and he died a long time ago.” But she didn’t and I would imagine several questions ran through her mind, but one in particular, “How does he know?”
Five husbands, five weddings, five outfits, five songs, five grain sacks. I would imagine she was up there in age, sun-baked skin, crow’s feet lines. We don’t really know, but she had five husbands and the sixth one, not her husband, well back then was fornication.
Let’s look at her response to him which I think is very interesting given everything we now know.
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.”
To me that is hilarious. She neither denied nor affirmed the Lord’s prophetic words about the six men with whom she had been intimate. Instead, she tried to shift the conversation in a completely different direction.
With that, we are going to pause here until next time.
Why? Because this begins a whole new conversation that gets deeper than the well they were talking next to and we don’t want to miss this.
Our bad girl, the woman at the well gets an education and a unique experience that changes her life.
Join me next time for part two on the woman at the well.