My Thoughts. . .
Jesus and his apostles came to Jacob’s well near the Samaritan city of Sychar. They were hungry and needed to buy food, but John uses the Greek word kopiao to describe Jesus’ condition. The word is translated as “wearied” by most English translations. The NIV renders it as “tired.” The word means “to feel fatigue from labor.” Whether one accepts the English translation of “wearied” or “tired,” the revelation of Jesus’ condition is intriguing.
Jesus and the twelve have been walking together. Hunger necessitates the need to buy food in the nearest town. Jesus is tired, so he rests while the twelve go to purchase food. Out of thirteen men, only Jesus is “wearied with his journey” or “worn out by the trip” (KJV, Message). In the previous chapter of John 3, Jesus goes to his cousin John to be immersed. That baptism takes place near Aenon which is about thirty miles from Sychar. If that is where their trip originated, it would be about an eight-hour journey on foot if four miles is covered each hour.
Jesus wished to rest while his companions went to Sychar to find and buy food. Being “wearied” illustrates Jesus’ humanity. The twelve were also tired, but not as much as Jesus. Notice that all twelve left him and went into Sychar, about half a mile north of the well. People from that city needed to travel to the well to replenish their drinking water. The woman who came was alone, which may have been necessary due to her way of life. That fact may have meant she was not socially accepted by the town’s women who came earlier.
Most Jews traveled around Samaria on their way to Galilee or from Galilee to Jerusalem. The translations do not make it clear as to why Jesus and companions decided to travel through Samaria. Luke informs us that Jesus was not welcomed prior to that when he traveled through the area (Luke 9:52-56). The KJV states, “he must needs go through Samaria.” The NIV translation is, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” The NKJV renders it as, “He needed to go through Samaria.” The Message translates it as, “To get there, he had to pass through Samaria.” Inspiration does not tell us why he had that need. Jews and Samaritans did not enjoy one another’s company. Can the reader imagine the reception the twelve received when buying food?
The woman is surprised that Jesus talks to her and asks him why he is doing so (John 4:9). The average man would have ignored that woman. Why? First, she was a woman and second, she was a Samaritan. No self-respecting Jewish male would talk to such a person much less drink water supplied by her. In fact, he would not ask her for water. No wonder the woman was surprised (v. 9). Jesus asked her for H2O but possessed “living water” that gave “eternal life” and she wanted it (v. 15). Then Jesus had an unusual request, “Go and get your husband” or “Go call your husband, and then come back” (V. 16). Most women would have reacted differently by concluding that this foreigner was getting too personal. She did not do so but treplied, “I’m not married” (V. 17). Imagine her shock when this stranger informed her that she had five husbands and she was not married to the man she was living with (V. 18). Some women today would have been shocked and refused to continue that confrontation. However, this woman thought he was a prophet and the Messiah which both Jew and Samaritans expected (V. 19, 25).
She rushed back to town and informed the male citizens that she had been talking to a man who could be the “Christ” or “Messiah.” It is surprising that a woman with her reputation would be believed by some of Sychar’s citizens (V. 39). Due to her testimony, the people invite Jesus and the apostles to be their guests and those hearing Jesus speak also believed. The differences between Jew and Samaritan vanished and the thirteen Jews accept the town’s hospitality for two days (V. 40).
The message of Jesus removed a lifetime of prejudice which was held by Jew and Samaritans with hospitality taking its place. If that could happen in the first century, there is no reason it cannot take place in the twenty-first one. Jesus was not too tired nor hungry to give them that “living water” which would last throughout eternity. He still offers it!