“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” (John 4:16-19).
Jesus directs or guides His conversation with the Woman at the Well much as He did with Nicodemas. In order for her to understand that the “living water’ of which He spoke is greater and more significant than the water in Jacob’s Well of which she spoke, He commands her to (1) go; (2) call her husband; and (3) have him also come here to the well.
The woman responded that she had no husband. Jesus, revealing His omniscience particular to her life situation, answered, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
At this point we make the following conclusions regarding the woman. First, she had known her share of heartache. She had been married five times and each marriage ended. We presume they did not end with her previous husband’s death but rather by divorce. Either way, she had known the pain of failed relationships, or at least relationships which had ended.
This leads us to our second conclusion: she had given up on finding true happiness in marriage and decided to rather live immorally with a man. She may have recognized the Patriarch Jacob, but she was disobeying God’s seventh commandment of not committing adultery or sexual sin outside of marriage (Exodus 20:14).
Thirdly, her current life situation would explain why she came to the well at the hour she did and alone as she did. We may presume the other women of the town ostracized her as being a man-chaser. They would want nothing to do with her, perhaps concluding she would also be after their husbands.
Pastor John MacArthur explains, “Since the woman failed to understand the nature of the living water he offered (v. 15), Jesus abruptly turned the dialogue to focus sharply on her real spiritual need for conversion and cleansing from sin. His intimate knowledge of her morally depraved life not only indicated his supernatural ability, but also focused on her spiritual condition.”
Another commentator states, “The woman’s misunderstanding explains why Jesus changed the subject with her, as we see in today’s passage (vv. 16–18). She could not understand the spiritual nature of the water Jesus offered unless she first saw her desperate need of soul renewal, so Jesus directed the conversation to her sin. Our Lord asked her about her husband, drawing from her a confession that she had no husband, and then He displayed supernatural insight into her sordid past. The Samaritan woman was living with a man who was not her husband after having had five husbands who had died or had divorced her. On the surface, her comment that she had no husband was correct, but it hid the fact that she was living in sin. Jesus, being God incarnate, exposed her sin to draw her attention to her need of the Savior.”
She responded by saying, ““Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” Certainly, Jesus was at the very least a prophet, even as Nicodemas concluded that Jesus was also a teacher sent from God. Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “Even people who do not believe in Jesus usually are willing to grant Him the status of a good moral teacher or maybe even a prophet.”
However, Jesus is God and in this continuing dialogue with the woman He will acknowledge to her this truth. Do you acknowledge that Jesus, more than a prophet, priest, king or good moral teacher, is God Incarnate? Remember, this is the whole point of John’s Gospel (John 20:30-31). In fact, John says that those who do not acknowledge Jesus is God Incarnate belong to the spirit of the antichrist (I John 4:1-6).
The heart and soul of the matter between us and God is that we are sinners in need of salvation and Jesus Christ is the eternal God/Man who is the only one who is willing and able to save us from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin in our lives. Trust and receive His righteousness today.
Soli deo Gloria!