He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:16-18
Observation: What are the basic facts of the passage such as the meaning of the words? At this point in the conversation, Jesus is challenging the woman to experience a complete spiritual transformation. He first offered her eternal life, now He is invading her personal life so she can be free of her sinful past and embrace the path of holiness. His request for her to go get her husband opened the pathway for Him to get personal with the woman and help her understand what it means to be saved.
Despite her checkered past, Jesus did not condemn the woman. Instead, He gave her an opportunity to deal with the shame and guilt of her promiscuity. Yet she was so emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually scarred, that she replied, “I have no husband.” Though this was true in essence, it does not speak to the fact that she was having an illicit relationship with a man who was not her husband. It also did not address the fact that she has had five previous husbands. This is probably why she came to draw water at noon to avoid the humiliating stares and disdainful looks of other women.
Jesus did not let her get away with the misleading statement. He immediately brought up the fact that the woman was having an illicit relationship with a man who was not her husband. He did so because her sinful life had to be confronted. Her spiritual transformation required personal confession and repentance. The Lord challenged her to stop pretending that the man she is living with is her husband. Other people may not know or are able to tell the real dynamic of her current relationship, Jesus could. She could not hide her secrets from the Son of God.
Keywords: husband, prophet, ancestor, worshipped, mountain, Messiah, spirit, truth, salvation.
Interpretation: What did the author mean in his own historical setting? John carefully crafted his narrative to make several important points about what it means to be saved. He pointed out that Jesus challenged the woman to deal with her sinful past so she can be transformed and be restored to a right relationship with God. The passage certainly condemns illicit sexual relationships. He accentuated the fact that Jesus honored the covenantal relationship of marriage and made a clear distinction between living together and marriage.
Jesus did not expect the woman to remain in her sinful lifestyle if she were to accept the gift of salvation, He was offering her. He challenged her to decide between sin and salvation. Either she was going to remain in her illicit relationship, or she was going to confront her sins so she can be set free and partake of the living water she was offered.
Jesus could have easily walked away from the Samaritan woman without giving her an opportunity for redemption. He put His own reputation on the line by having an extended conversation with a woman with an immoral reputation. But He did not give up on her. Instead, He challenged her to embrace a life that would draw her closer to God
Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? We can come to Jesus as we are, but we cannot stay the way we were. The invitation to discipleship is also an invitation for personal transformation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
The good news is that Jesus did not give up on the woman despite her attempt to mislead the Lord. In the same way, God will not give up on us no matter our sins. This is the important message for today’s culture. As we proclaim the gospel to the world, we must do so without a spirit of condemnation. Yet, John reminds us not to condone sinful lifestyles. Though we may not be able to tell what is really going on in other people’s lives, we yet must uphold a standard of holiness for them to follow.
Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? This passage challenges all believers to worship God in spirit and in truth. Our lifestyles should clearly reflect that we are a new creation in Christ. Therefore, we should pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Our desire for a right relationship with God is predicated upon our willingness to be transparent and transformational in the sight of God. Christian discipleship requires a willingness to pursue a lifestyle of holiness. The woman at the well wanted the gift of salvation on her terms. She did not want to let go of her secret sin. Jesus exposed the sin so she could start a journey of godliness with integrity.
What sin must be exposed in your life so you can live in the renewal of your mind and in the power of the Holy Spirit? This is paramount for living a life of victory. We can all bring our weaknesses and flaws to God for spiritual cleansing and for restoration. God is not willing to give up on anyone. But the sooner we confess our sins and make up our minds to live with spiritual integrity, the sooner we will start experiencing the fullness of God’s transformational grace in our lives.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please search me and know my heart; search me and know my anxious thoughts. Expose my ungodliness and reveal my sins to me so I can walk with spiritual integrity in your sight. Please give me the courage to be transparent with you so I can experience your transformational grace, in Jesus’ name!