Read JOHN 4:27–42
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Many Samaritans Believe
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
New International Version (NIV)
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“The Christian life is based on the twin pillars of discovery and communication. First to find, then to tell, are the two great steps of the Christian life” (William Barclay, 1907–1978). In his unique way, Jesus proclaimed these two truths.
Today’s passage describes the reactions of the woman, the disciples and the Samaritan people of Sychar. The text is not explicit, but there are several clues to suggest that the woman responds to Jesus in faith. Her leaving behind of the water jar could suggest that her thirst has been quenched. Her invitation to people to “come, see” this Jesus echoes the invitation to discipleship in 1:39 and 46. Finally, when the townspeople confess Jesus as the Savior of the world, surely it includes the woman’s confession.
This account of the woman’s response does not immediately follow verse 26, as we would expect, because the disciples return from the town in verse 27. This interruption does not just postpone the story’s climax but actually heightens it. Like his dialogue with the woman, Jesus’ conversation with his disciples moves from an earthly to a spiritual level. Jesus explains that his “food” is to do the will of his Father and complete his work (34). The “harvest” (35,36) of people who are ready to profess faith in Jesus is urgent. Jesus implicitly invites his disciples to participate in his mission and start this harvest. The irony is that it is the woman, rather than the disciples, who actualizes Jesus’ invitation. The disciples only brought some food from the town, but the woman brought the entire village!
The response of the Samaritan townspeople is overwhelming. Many of them believe in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony; many more believe when they hear Jesus for themselves. The climax is when Jesus is confessed as the Savior, not just of the Jews but of the entire world. Everyone is invited to come to Jesus and drink of the “living water” (10).
What a change drinking the living water makes! Stagnant water eventually starts to stink but running water brings life and refreshment. How can you be such a spring to others? How can you keep fresh, the “water of life” flowing through you?