In the biblical account of “the woman at the well,” Jesus had stopped midday near a well outside the town of Sychar while the disciples went into town to purchase food. Sometime later, a woman came out to the well to draw water.
Jesus asked this Samaritan woman for a drink of water. That took her aback because Jews typically shunned Samaritans (John 4:7). She questioned how He, as a Jew, could bring himself to ask her for a drink.
But Jesus didn’t waste time talking about trivial conflicts and controversies between Jews and Samaritans. Instead, He guided the conversation away from the well water and onto himself, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (v. 10). The woman was puzzled. First, that He would even talk to her and, too, by what He said.
Furthermore, she was already mistrustful of people in general. She had been married five times, and those husbands hadn’t been steadfast or faithful to her. Too, women snubbed her because of her lifestyle. She was becoming leery of almost everyone, so she typically shied away from people.
Even the supposedly religious experts differed in their doctrines about the proper way to worship God. Who could she trust or believe?
Still, while she was skeptical of people, she wanted to trust God. She was holding to God’s promise for the coming Messiah. She knew Scripture foretold the Messiah would be for all peoples and nations. But, even that seemed like a promise that would be a long time before coming.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
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?”
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:25-29)
There can be no doubt about who Jesus thought He was, or who He claimed to be. Jesus was straightforward in saying He is the Messiah. And, there are more scriptural accounts when Jesus affirmed He is the promised Messiah (Christ). We can either accept Jesus at His word or reject it. But, there is no room to dismiss or deny that He claimed to be the Messiah—the Son of Man and Son of God.
When Jesus first spoke to her, it would’ve shocked her because Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans. But, after Jesus said He is the Messiah, it probably clicked. The Messiah was to be for all people. He wouldn’t have the prejudices that have always been prevalent in society. That explained why He would talk to a Samaritan woman. More than that, while He is the Messiah for all peoples—she realized He is a personal Messiah who cares for each individual, including her.
We can see by her actions, reactions, and testimony that she believed and trusted in Him. During that short encounter with Jesus, she had such an immediate and life-changing impact that she couldn’t keep it to herself. She wanted, and needed, to tell others about Jesus.
She was so anxious that she left her water jar behind and hastened back to town. That was a stark contrast to how she conducted herself only a short time earlier when she appeared to be avoiding people. Now, she was more excited to talk about this man, Jesus, than she was afraid of being shamed and criticized by the townspeople.
When she asked people, “Could this be the Messiah?,” it wasn’t that she questioned it. Rather, she wanted them to look into it for themselves. She presented Jesus to them and asked them to examine this man to see whether He fulfilled the character of the Messiah, as portrayed and prophesied by Scripture.
She knew that, in telling the townspeople about Jesus and what He had said about things from her life, it meant she would have to talk openly about things she was ashamed of. Even so, Jesus made such an impression on her that she couldn’t keep it to herself. She felt a deep compulsion to share what she experienced with Him. She had to tell others about Him.
Isn’t that the way our testimony and willingness should be? Knowing who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and how He took our sin and shame upon himself, how can we contain ourselves? Regardless of the cost or possible embarrassment, we ought to be anxious to tell others about Him.
If, by my testimony, Jesus is exalted and people are drawn to Him, it’s a small thing to think about how I might look in their eyes. It’s about who He is!
Jesus, the holy and sovereign One, knows the depths of our soul, the wickedness of our deeds, and our vilest thoughts. Still, He took our sins upon himself at Calvary and bore our shame on the cross. The world needs to hear about this merciful, loving, and compassionate Savior who is ready to forgive all who call upon Him.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
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 is the Savior of the world.” (John 39-42)
As the woman talked to the townspeople, she spoke about what happened at the well and what Jesus said to her. She first told them about how Jesus knew things from her past that He shouldn’t have been able to know. She then said that Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah. And, in saying that, she spoke with conviction as she expressed her belief in Him.
What she experienced and how that encounter convicted her afterwards, was her testimony.
Our testimony, too, is telling others about what Jesus has done for us personally, and why we believe in Him. We testify to what we are witness to—those things we have heard, seen, experienced, and know for ourselves.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are not called to be an attorney; we are called to be a witness. As a witness, we are called to share with those around us what Christ has done in our life, how He proved Himself real to us, why and when we came to believe in Him, and who He is to us now.
Personal testimonies are powerful. The woman’s testimony didn’t take long to tell, but it had a huge influence and impact. And, because of her testimony, many from the town believed in Jesus.
Notice also in John 4:41, “And because of his words many more became believers”.
Along with our testimony, we should share His Word—the Bible. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The Word of God—the gospel—“is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteous will live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17).
Many from the town came to believe in Jesus because of the testimony of the woman. So, they urged Jesus to stay with them. He did, for two more days. As others listened to Him during those days, many more became believers.
All those who came to believe in Christ, then grew in Christ as they spent time with Him. Their fellowship, knowledge, and faith deepened as they interacted with Him. They became more rooted in their faith and developed a closer, personal relationship with Him.
Likewise, all believers come to Christ as newborns in their faith. But the Lord doesn’t want us to remain as “newborn” Christians. He wants us to grow in our discipleship and fellowship with Him. For that, we need to spend personal time with Him, seeking and listening to Him so He can teach us more about His ways, will, and Word.
Our salvation is sealed at the very moment we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Growing in Christ, though, is an ongoing process. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus wants daily (ongoing) fellowship with us.
Jesus died for us. As believers, we commit ourselves to live for Him, sharing His love and gospel with others in compulsion and conviction.
To this, we give witness: “The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Jesus is “a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious” (Isa. 11:10). And, “Everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:15).
If you missed earlier parts of this study, you can catch up at the below links:
A study of Jesus’ reaching out to the woman at the well (Part 3)