In the first section of this narrative we are impressed with several things.
1. DIVINE PURPOSE. This sinner was one of His sheep whom He came to save, and He MUST cross her path.
2. DIVINE PROVIDENCE. She is brought to the well at the time He is there and the disciples are gone.
3. DIVINE PATIENCE. He bore with her prejudice, ignorance, and objections until He reached her heart and brought her to faith.
(Vs. 11) The Saviour spoke metaphorically in Verse 10, comparing His grace, His mercy, and His redemption to living water, as He often did at other times regarding the new birth, the vine and the branch, the head and the body. But the woman (blind to the glory of Him Who spoke to her, occupied only with material things, and ignorant of spiritual matters) replied much like Nicodemus when Christ spoke to him of the new birth. All natural men are ignorant of spiritual things until they are enlightened by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-14).
(Vs. 12) Still ignorant of the fact that she was speaking to Jacob's Lord and God, and ignorant of the fact that He was speaking of the water of life, she asked if He thought Himself wiser and greater than Jacob, who could find no better water for himself, his family, and his cattle.
(Vs. 13-14) Over all of the "wells of the world's providing" must be written, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again and again." The "true thirst" within men lies too deep for the waters of the earth to quench. The thirst of the soul is a SPIRITUAL THIRST, and that is why material things cannot reach it. Health, wealth, comfort, fame, luxury, and even ceremonial religion can be ours and still the heart be empty. But the person who receives the Holy Spirit, the grace of God in Christ, and the light and life of Christ shall never want any good thing that is necessary to peace, rest, comfort, hope, and eternal glory (Col. 2:9-10; I Cor. 1:30; I Cor. 3:21-23). Though the believer continually desires spiritual growth and fresh supplies of grace, yet, in Christ, he has all that he needs and wants (Col. 1:12; John 7:38-39).
(Vs. 15) The woman still did not understand that our Lord spoke of spiritual life and a true knowledge of the living God through Him. Her thoughts were only of the present life and her ease and comfort in that (Rom. 8:5).
(Vs. 16-18) The Saviour had crossed her path; He had engaged her in conversation and secured her attention and interest; He had sown seed of spiritual truth in her mind. Now He deals with her real "soul thirst" her sins and her unhappy, confused life. Now comes the work of conviction of sin and the realization of HER NEED OF HIM and the living water. He knew all about her adultery, her sins, and her present state of shame and unhappiness (this is what brought her to the well AT NOON when she thought no one would be there, for she was ashamed). But He must bring HER TO ADMIT IT AND FACE IT HERSELF! This accounts for questions like: "Adam, where art thou?" or "Cain where is your brother?" or "Whom do you say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Faith in Christ is born of personal, known, and admitted NEED! (Matt. 8:1-3; Matt. 15:22-28.) "To whom much is forgiven, he will love much."
(Vs. 19-20) "I perceive that thou art a prophet," whose office is to reveal the will and Word of God and to whom God reveals secret thingsone chosen and sent of God (Heb. 1:1; Eph. 4:11). Her eyes are beginning to open; she sees that she is in the presence of some mysterious person sent of God. But again the working of the flesh is evident, for she brings up the age-old contention between Jews and Samaritans about WHERE to worship God. The Lord had spoken directly to her heart and conscience about sin; and it may be that she either wanted to change the subject or she thought, being a prophet, He might truly enlighten her on WHERE to worship.
(Vs. 21) "Woman, the time is at hand when you shall neither in this mountain" (where your fathers have long worshipped God superstitiously, without any direction from Him) "nor at Jerusalem" (which is the place the Lord designated for the temple and worship) "worship the Father." God is putting an end to the Levitical ceremony, law, types, and holy places and days. They are all fulfilled in Christ (Heb. 10:8-10; Heb. 10:19-22; Gal. 5:1-4).
(Vs. 22) You Samaritans have no Divine instructions and rule for your worship in the mountain. You only do what your fathers in tradition and custom taught without any revelation of the Divine will. You really do not know what or whom you worship, being void of Divine instructions. At least the Jews know that God has revealed His will that His people should have the priesthood, the sacrifices, the mercy seat, and the day of atonement in the temple at Jerusalem. This was all done according to His Word to Moses and is acceptable to God (Rom. 3:1-2; Rom. 9:3-5).