Expectation Breakers: The Woman at the Well (Part 1)

For a person whose name is never given, the woman at the well is still one of the most well-known of all biblical figures—and incredibly blessed by God. 

The woman had many negative expectations placed upon her, and yet, Yeshua was able to see a far different future for her. One where she was as an expectation breaker… restored and serving as a witness to who Jesus is!

Join us as we explore why Jesus chose to reveal His identity as Messiah to her and how this decision changed her life and the lives of many others…

A Precious Encounter between Jesus and the Woman at the Well

It was the sixth hour—noon—when the woman at the well first encountered Jesus. He had been waiting by the well for her arrival, and for the incredible season where His identity as Messiah would be revealed! Yeshua was ready to change her life, to break the expectations of man and provide her with a precious encounter with Him—granting her Living Water. 

Through her story, through Yeshua’s decision to choose the woman at the well to reveal Himself to, untold lives have been saved. People beyond number have been able to receive the same Living Water that this woman did! 

So, what did that precious encounter look like?

Let us begin with the biblical account found in the book of John, when Jesus, coming from Judea, sat by a well in Samaria…

“…He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

“A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

“Jesus answered… ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’

“…‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’

“The woman answered… ‘I have no husband.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’

“…‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’

“The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’

“…at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, ‘What do You seek?’ or, ‘Why are You talking with her?’

“The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came to Him.”

—John 4:5-30
Shot of a female down on her knees while wearing a biblical robe.

Unpacking the Encounter

This Scripture, found in the book of John, is equally simple and confusing. This is in part because, though we understand that Yeshua is revealing His identity to her, Believers have largely lost the context of this encounter—the culture that our Messiah came from, and that those around Him were so familiar with. So, for us to understand it today, we must explore certain things about the history and culture of this moment in history.

Though there are many things that are important to recognize in order to understand this Scripture, a few keys include:

  • Jesus’ role as a rabbi (a famous one at that)
  • How Jews and Samaritans did not interact; Jews generally ignoring and avoiding Samaritans
  • Yeshua’s being alone when He interacted with the woman at the well
  • The sixth hour being noon (a hot and uncommon time of day for someone to be at a well)
  • How the woman was likely dealing with a level of heckling and/or rejection within her city
  • A change not only in the woman at the well’s view or understanding of Jesus, but also in her focus and priorities (shifting from the common priorities of her day to uncommon spiritual ones)
  • How this encounter did not appear as a positive thing to everyone at the time

Each of these aspects play a role in the encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well; in fact, they all connect to one another, giving us greater insight into the woman and Jesus’ choice to reveal His identity to her…

Join us in Part 2 to dive deeper into these historic and cultural context clues that teach us more about this precious encounter and, of course, Yeshua and the woman!