The Woman At The Well (the powerful truth you need to know)

The woman at the well is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It’s a fascinating story that records an interaction between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. 

But this story isn’t just interesting, it has a lot to teach us. The woman at the well teaches us about the freedom we can have in Jesus and challenges us to leave our previous lives to follow him. Wherever you are in your faith, this is a great story that will encourage you. 

If you haven’t read the story or want a refresher before we continue, you can read the story here: The Woman At The Well

The Story Of The Woman At The Well In The Bible 

He {Jesus} left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. John 4:3-4 

John notes that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria on his trip. That might not seem significant, but it is. 

The most direct route from Judea to Galilee passed straight through Samaria. But most Jews would not take that route. Most Jews would go around Samaria in order to avoid the Samaritans whom they hated. 

So this statement, “Jesus had to go through Samaria” would have come as a shock to most Jews. This was not the most common route, but Jesus had to go because he had a divine appointment. 

Jesus And The Samaritan Woman

So Jesus shows up in Samaria, Sychar to be exact, for his divine appointment. It’s the middle of the day in the desert… It’s hot. So Jesus heads to the local well for a drink. 

When Jesus arrives at the well there’s a woman there getting water for her household (John 4:6-7). This might not seem like a significant detail, but these two verses tell us a lot about this woman. 

In the ancient world, you had to go to the local well to get your water for the day. Traditionally this was the women’s responsibility, and they would do it first thing in the morning. This was so they could have enough water for all their tasks and avoid the heat. 

This time together was the water cooler of the 1st century. All the women would grab their water jugs and head to the well together. It was a time to connect and talk about what was happening. 

But for the Samaritan woman at the well, she was there at midday. The time when it was the hottest and no one else was there. But why? 

Later in the story, we find out why. Her life’s a mess and she is ashamed, so she’s hiding. But Jesus went out of his way to meet her. Really he’s not interested in water for himself, he has something for her. 

John 4:7-26 records this interaction. Jesus asks for water. Confused she counters. And then Jesus launches into what he is really after. He offers her a better way of life. 

Still using the illustration of water (John 4:13-14) Jesus offers her water that will quench her thirst so she will never be thirsty again. But she doesn’t get it. (John 4:15) In her mind, she’s thinking she will no longer have to make trips to this well, thus avoiding the glares of the other women. But what Jesus is offering is something different. Something better. 

What Jesus is really offering her isn’t physical water. Rather it’s a better way to live. The text only hints at the life she had, but it would seem she’s searching. She’s searching for something that will fill a void in her life. She’s tried other things, but it’s only left her empty, continually going back to the same well hoping for different results. 

Jesus is offering her an entirely different well. He’s saying, look you can keep trudging back to this same well, but you are going to get the same results. But if you pull your water from my well you will be satisfied. Jesus isn’t talking about literal water. Rather about her worth, her identity, her value, and her purpose. He’s telling her that if you get those things from me, you won’t need to hide in shame anymore. You will be enough, you will be satisfied. 

So far, Jesus has shown her grace, and now he’s about to tell her the truth. Knowing full well she’s been married five times and is currently seeing a guy she isn’t married to, Jesus tells her to go get her husband. That might seem rude, but Jesus is trying to show her a better way to live. 

Jesus is pointing out a painful part of her life where things aren’t going so well. Jesus goes right to her sore spot, not to be mean, but to show her there’s a better way of living. 

This is important. Jesus never shies away from telling the truth. But he always makes sure his grace is felt first. Real truth doesn’t condemn, it sets us free. Jesus doesn’t point his finger to make her feel bad. He’s pointing out the error in her ways so she can start living in freedom. And let’s not forget he’s already given her grace for her past failures. He’s offering her something better with grace AND truth. 

The result? Her life is changed. But not just her life. A couple of chapters later we find out that she went and told her whole village about Jesus. Their lives are changed too. With a little grace and a little truth, a whole village was changed. 

What We Can Learn From Jesus And The Samaritan Woman

The application from the woman at the well is twofold. For some of us, we will relate to the Samaritan woman. We’ve been going to the same well hoping that this time we will be satisfied. Jesus is inviting you into something better. He has living water that will not leave you thirsty again. 

If that’s you, go to Jesus. He is waiting with arms open and grace ready to extend. He will accept you and forgive you. But he will also tell you the truth so that you can not only find freedom but stay free. 

For others, the story of the woman at the well is a challenge for us to act as Jesus did. When we interact with others we shouldn’t shy away from telling the truth, and we shouldn’t be stingy with our grace. We often lean towards grace OR truth. But Jesus was full of both. 

Our culture lives in the extreme. We either bash people with the truth, misunderstanding that you can be right in your belief but wrong in how you carry it out. Or we excuse everything in the name of grace, not understanding that true love requires us to tell the truth. 

We need to tell people the truth about their actions. But we need to tell them in grace that sets them free and not holds them down in shame. We need to be full of grace and truth. 

So, where do you fall? How can you apply this story of the woman at the well apply to your life? 

Now check out: The Meaning Of The Parable Of The Good Samaritan (and 4 lessons)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
Follow Me

Share With A Friend

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affliliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. This is at no cost to you and helps keep Rethink up and running.
Notify of
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments