The John 4 story of the woman at the well is a favorite because it shows Jesus’ compassion. It also shows the change that can happen when someone encounters Jesus and how she fits into God’s plan to spread the gospel.
In this encounter, Jesus uses two areas of human need — physical thirst and thirst for companionship — to show that only a spiritual relationship with God will truly satisfy. He points out that water from a well satisfies for a short time and that the relationships with others still leaves holes to be filled.
At this point in the story, the woman realizes that Jesus is more than some Jewish man looking for a drink. She declares, “Sir . . . I can see that you are a prophet” (John 4:19), turning the conversation toward worship and where it should take place (Samaria or Jerusalem). Jesus responds, “Woman . . . believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (vv. 21, 23, 24.)
The woman goes on to say that Messiah will explain everything when He comes. In this, Jesus reveals His true identity as Messiah, causing this societal outcast to leave her water pot to go and tell those who had ostracized her about the man “who told me everything I ever did” (v. 29.) This woman’s testimony about Jesus brings a whole town to meet Jesus, causing some to believe. This was no chance encounter!
Jesus didn’t meet the woman at the well to condemn her; she had been condemning herself for a while. Jesus met her to change her. He took a broken woman looking for love and acceptance and gave her what she had long looked for: a relationship that satisfies.
Jesus mended her life by filling the God-sized gap in her heart — with Himself. How do we know the hole was filled? She went back to those ostracizing her to tell them about Jesus.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.