Formations 06.04.2023: The Samaritan Woman

John 4:7, 9-26

We don’t have to be biblical scholars or master interpreters to understand what’s going on in today’s lesson text. John tells us everything we need to know about Jesus’s encounter with the woman from Samaria.

• Jesus was alone, without his usual traveling companions (see verse 8).
• The woman was a Samaritan, and Jesus was Jewish, and they should not have spoken to one another (v. 9).
• Jesus was ready to be generous to this forbidden stranger (v. 10).
• The woman had paid attention to stories of the past and knew about Jacob (v. 12).
• The woman was hopeful about the idea of her life getting a little easier (v. 15).
• Jesus tested the woman, and she was truthful if not forthcoming (vv. 16-18).
• The woman recognized him as a prophet because of what he knew about her (v. 19).
• After a brief discussion about where to worship, the woman shared her hope for the coming Messiah, and Jesus revealed his identity (vv. 25-26).

According to the culture of the day, this encounter never should have happened. Or it should have had a very different tone. But the combination of a compassionate, interested Christ and a bold, curious woman made it a story that we still tell centuries later.

Our lesson text stops at verse 26, where Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that he is the one she is waiting for, the one who will tell her all she needs to know. But John doesn’t leave the woman here at the well. He offers the rest of her story (vv. 27-30, 39-42): The disciples return and suppress their astonishment, and in spite of their confused looks, the woman is not deterred. She leaves her water jar, goes out and shares what she has heard, and invites others to see for themselves whether the man at the well is really the Messiah. John’s last words about her are that “Many Samaritans from that city believed in [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony” (v. 39). And in time, they believed because they went and discovered the “Savior of the world” for themselves (v. 42).


• What examples from modern history can you think of that would mirror the dynamics of this forbidden conversation?
• What might have motivated the woman to keep speaking to this strange man instead of simply drawing her water and leaving?
• Why is it significant that she “left her water jar” (v. 28) when she went to tell others about the Messiah?
• What has become less important to you as your love for Jesus has grown?
• We never know how others will react when we share Christ with them. How can we stay bold and courageous as we encourage people to “come and see” (v. 29)?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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