John 4

Woman at the Well

The Woman at the Well

In the lower right corner of the painting Pharisees (dressed in grey with white head dresses) travel from Jerusalem (lower edge) to see John the Baptist at the Jordan River (right edge). Meanwhile Jesus leaves Judea and passes through Samaria on his way to Galilee.

Tired from the journey, he stops at noon at Jacob’s well (center of painting) near the town of Sychar (left edge) while the disciples go into town to buy food (on path below well).

When a Samaritan woman (dressed in red) comes to draw water, Jesus breaks two protocols—since Jews did not associate with Samaritans and men did not associate with women)—and enters into a conversation with her, asking her for a drink. He offers her living water and explains his water would become an eternal spring.

When he speaks to her about her five husbands, she recognizes that he is a prophet and they talk about their different traditions of worship. The mountainside in the upper left corner illustrates their dialogue about the differences between Samaritan and Jewish worship.

He tells her, “A time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

Just then his disciples return (right side of tree) and are surprised to find him talking with a woman.

She leaves her water jar and goes back to the town, telling the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

Because of Jesus’ words many Samaritans become believers, but they say 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 really is the Savior of the world.”