The Conversation with the Woman of Samaria
Returning from Judea into Galilee, Jesus Christ with His disciples went through Samaria, past a city called Sychar (in ancient times called Shechem). Before the city, on the southern side, there was a well, dug, according to tradition by the patriarch Jacob.
Jesus Christ, wearied with His journey, sat on the well to rest. It was about noontime, and His disciples went into the city to buy food.
At that time, there came to the well a woman of Samaria to draw water.
Jesus Christ said to her, "Give me water to drink!"
The words of the Saviour greatly surprised the Samaritan woman. She said, "How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."
Jesus said to her, "If thou knewest the gift of God, (that is, the great mercy of God which He has sent to you in this meeting), and Who it is that saith to thee, ‘Give me water to drink,’ thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water."
The Saviour called His divine teaching the living water. As water saves the man dying of thirst, thus His divine teaching saves man from eternal death and leads him to blessed eternal life. But the Samaritan woman thought that He spoke about ordinary well water, which by them was called "living" water.
The woman with astonishment asked Him, "Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with and the well is deep. From whence then hast Thou that living water? Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank thereof himself and his children and his cattle?"
Jesus Christ said to her in answer, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
But the Samaritan woman did not understand these words of the Saviour and said, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw."
Jesus Christ, wishing the Samaritan woman to understand what He had said to her, first told her to call her husband. He said, "Go, call thy husband and come here."
The woman said, "I have no husband."
Then, Jesus Christ said to her, "Thou hast well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. In that Thou saidst the truth."
The Samaritan woman, struck by the omniscience of the Saviour, Who revealed everything about her sinful life, now understood that it was not an ordinary man speaking. She immediately asked Him to resolve the ancient question between the Samaritans and the Jews: which faith was more correct and which service was more pleasing to God. Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain (by this she meant Mount Gerizim upon which were visible the ruins of the demolished Samaritan Temple); and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
Jesus Christ said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews." Until that time only the Jews had the true faith, their services alone were done correctly and pleasing to God. "But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit (unseen, bodiless): and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth;" — that is, the true and God-pleasing service occurs when people worship the Heavenly Father not only with their bodies and not only by outward signs and words but with all their being — with all their soul — when they truly believe in God, love and honour Him, and by their good works and mercy to others fulfil the will of God.
Having heard this new teaching, the Samaritan woman said to Jesus Christ, "I know that the Messiah cometh, Who is called Christ; when He is come, He will tell us all things."
Then, Jesus Christ said to her, "The Messiah — I am the One, Who is speaking to you."
Upon this scene came His disciples and marvelled that He talked with the Samaritan woman. Yet no man asked the Saviour about what He had spoken with her.
The woman then left her waterpot and hurried into the city. There she started to tell the people, "Come, see a Man, Who told me all things that I ever did. Is not this the Christ?" Then, they went out of the city and came to the well where Christ was.
Meanwhile, the disciples besought him saying, "Rabbi, eat." But the Saviour said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes and see how the fields (and the Lord showed them Samaritans — inhabitants of the city who at that time came to Him) are already white for harvest (how these people want to see the Saviour Christ, how they were inclined to listen to Him and receive Him). He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour."
The Samaritans who came from the city, of whom many believed in Him because of the words of the woman, asked the Saviour to remain with them. He went to them, and stayed there for two days, and taught them.
After this, more Samaritans believed in Him. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that He is truly the Saviour of the world, the Christ."
By tradition, it is known that the Samaritan woman who spoke with Christ at Jacob’s well, spent the remainder of her life preaching the Gospel of Christ. For preaching faith in Christ, she suffered in the year 66 (she was thrown by tormentors into a well). The Holy Church celebrates her memory on March 20th. Her name is the holy Martyr Photina (Svetlana in Russian).
Note: See the Gospel of John, 4:1-42.