Jesus learnt that the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat beside the well. The time was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews normally refused to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans don’t know the one you worship, but we Jews know, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I am he.”
Just then his disciples came back. They were surprised to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?”
The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming out of the village to see him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But Jesus replied, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
“Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of him who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is for eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You also know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others have already done the hard work, and now you are reaping the reward of their labor.”
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”
When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”