Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 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 woman from 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.) 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. 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.” (John 4:1-16)

The context:

This passage tells the story of Jesus encountering an immoral and adulterous woman who was a racial outcast of society. By all standards she was an undeserving person and in this encounter Jesus offers her something He calls living water. What is this living water? John gives us a clue in chapter one by explaining what it is that Jesus gives us. He says in verse 16: For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). Grace upon grace is and exponential number. It’s and incalculable figure. It’s all about grace. Grace is undeserved favor. Grace is something that you cannot earn. In fact it’s the opposite. It is a totally unearned gift. If you could earn God’s favor, it wouldn’t be grace.

The grace of Jesus is considerate and intentional.

It is likely that Jesus is being considerate of John’s ministry. Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee (John 4:1-3). It is probable that the Pharisees would begin to see the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus as competition. Jesus and John obviously did not see things that way. Jesus would have wanted His and John’s ministries to be seen as cohesive rather than competitive. So, Jesus, considerate of John’s ministry and reputation, left Judea and headed to Galilee.

He didn’t take the normal route, but was intentional to pass through Samaria. Verse 4 tells us he had to pass through Samaria (John 4:4). Did he have to go through Samaria? Truth be told, Jews avoided Samaritans. In that day, most Jewish people traveling from Judea to Galilee would take a slightly longer rout to avoid passing through Samaria all together. There was a racial divide that kept them from “mixing”.

After the Assyrians captured Samaria [the capital of the Northern kingdom of Israel] in 722–21 BC, they deported all the Israelites of substance and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion (2 Kings 17–18). After the exile [of the Southern kingdom in Babylon], Jews, returning to their homeland . . . viewed the Samaritans not only as the children of political rebels but as racial half-breeds whose religion was tainted by various unacceptable elements. . . . About 400 BC the Samarians erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim. (D. A. Carson,The Gospel According to John, 216)

When I first moved to the Saint Louis area I took a sales/service rout job. On one of my routes I had stops in Dupo and Cahokia, Ill followed by stops in Granite City, Ill. East Saint Louis, which was known for a lot of gang related crime, was between Cahokia and Granite City. My route manager told me to avoid East Saint Louis. She said it would be better to drive around it than to drive through it.

It’s better to go around Samaria than through Samaria! This was the mindset of a Jewish person of that day. But Jesus didn’t see it that way. He was deliberate. He had to go through Samaria. He had purpose and appointment.  So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 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. (John 4:5-6) He came to a specific town (Sychar) at a specific place (Jacob’s well) at a specific time (the sixth hour or 12:00 noon). 

The grace of Jesus os not haphazard, it’s considerate and intentional.

The grace of Jesus is relevant and relational.

 A woman from 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.) 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.) (John 4:7-9)

Relevant means being closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand. I want to point out how supernaturally relevant the grace of Jesus is. Relevance is the right thing at the right time and requires understanding. According to John 2:24, Jesus knew all people. Yes, Jesus completely knows and understands even the most complex women (LOL). He always knows exactly what is appropriate to the matter at hand. In his omniscience, he encounters the matter at hand.

The mater at hand:

  1. A woman – Socially unacceptable to address in public.
  2. A Samaritan- Considered to be racially inferior.
  3. An adulteress- A criminal by law deserving the death penalty.

These were three big problems by all standards of the day. But Jesus, in the most relevant way, meets her where she is. That’s what grace does. It doesn’t condemn, for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world (John 3:17). Grace is not condemning, but relevant. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

The relevant grace of Jesus is relational. Look how Jesus engages her in conversation. He speaks to her in a way that she connects with. He does not repel her, but draws her in. Thats what grace does. Grace does not mean that sins are ignored. If so, it wouldn’t be relevant. It simply means that an abundance of unmerited favor is given in spite of the sin. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9) “How is it that you would talk to me, a socially unacceptable, racially inferior criminal”? It is socially unacceptable to talk to you, but you need to know that you are loved. The world around us views you as inferior because of your religion and race, but I don’t see it that way. You might be a criminal, but I won’t let that stand in the way of a relationship. That’s the grace of Jesus; it’s relevant and relational.

The grace of Jesus is refreshing and sustaining.

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. 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.”