This part of the encounter shows that the divine nature of Jesus revealed the woman’s situation to his human nature. Just as we saw his human nature revealed in his physical tiredness, now his divine nature is revealed through his knowledge of the woman’s sin.
Witnessing Lesson Six. We don’t have the ability to know a person’s sinfulness, however, if you know that someone is deep in a sinful activity or relationship, bring it up. How you bring it up should be sensitive. Remember that questions convict and accusations condemn resulting in defensiveness. Give them the chance to own the sin.
In this instance, Jesus knew what her big problem was, promiscuity. Not in the sense we see it today but having multiple husbands and now living with a man. She was unable to commit to a relationship or she was so hard to get along with that her husbands divorced her. I would speculate on the side that she was seeking satisfaction in a perfect relationship and was always looking for greener pastures.
It is clear from Jesus’ comment that she had actually been married five time. This is not necessarily the actions of a prostitute, though it could be why she was divorced by them.
People often claim that once a couple lives together then then they are married in the eyes of the Lord. This most likely comes from 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.
These verses condemn sexual promiscuity and do not claim that people are married who live together. It is speaking of the destruction of the relationship with Christ that occurs when a person gives his or her body over to another outside the bonds of marriage.
Marriage requires a commitment. The commitment comes before sexual consummation. In fact, sex is not a requirement for making the commitment. A betrothed man and woman were just as much married in the OT as they would be after consummation. The penalties for adultery applied to them as well.
What about a person who has been married many times or has never been married and has been sexually active? How does God look upon them when they come to Christ?
We start over. We are a new creation. I’ve heard people describe this as being virtual virgins. The new life starts, and the past sins are gone. However, there is still the memories and the accusation by Satan. How do you deal with that? You can quote 2 Corinthians 5:17 or other verses that verify that our past sins are forgiven. Even a Christian who has lapsed into sexual sin can confess and be cleansed from all unrighteousness.
Note that this promise is to purify us from all unrighteousness. Of course, if a person then persists in this behavior, the confession and repentance is false and that is a big problem including the possibility the person is not really a Christian.
The woman didn’t deny what Jesus said. However, she still wasn’t ready to openly admit her sin. In fact, she tried to divert him away from the issue by bringing up a theological issue.
Witnessing Lesson Seven. Always be ready for excuses or deflection from the gospel. These are almost always a smokescreen covering up sinful behavior that they don’t want to give up. Be attentive to the excuse and see how it is phrased. The woman addressed Jesus respectfully and admitted his ability as a prophet. This was an opening that showed her distraction was something that could legitimately stand in the way of her ability to recognize Jesus as her Savior.
The issue of where to worship was a bone of contention between the Jews and Samaritans. The issue of being able to worship on any hill or mountain had been one of the things that was a snare to Israel. Even in the times of David and Solomon, people were still worshipping at the high places. God had been gracious to overlook it, but it didn’t please him. The reason was that the high places were also where the pagans had worshiped. It didn’t take much for the people who worshiped the Lord to look around and contaminate their worship with pagan practices. A good answer to this question would help the woman see clearly Jesus as Messiah.
If someone persists in bringing up smokescreens then you have to ask such as, “If I answer this question, are you willing to examine the truthfulness of the gospel or are you evading your accountability to God?” Call them out for their evasiveness without any true desire to learn.
Witnessing lesson Eight. Don’t water down the truth in trying to answer an objection or distraction. Always bring the distraction back to the gospel. Don’t shy away from the truth in any way. Jesus affirmed that the correct form of worship at that time was in Jerusalem. He clarified the Samaritan’s error and spoke the truth about where salvation comes from, and it is tied to worship. You can’t be saved when you are trusting in anything but Jesus for your salvation. You can’t mix works and Jesus or idolatry and Jesus. It must be Jesus alone.
Jesus then pushed right past the issue to the future, worshiping God in spirit and in truth. See how he directs her to the truth of God being spirit. Because He is spirit, his worship must come from our spirit (which we can’t do it until we are born again). We must know the truth of who he is because worshiping a false notion of Jesus or the Father will not do any good. Worshiping a Jesus who is the brother of Satan is not going be a worship that brings about salvation.
It is remarkable that the woman is ready to now talk about the Messiah. She may not have understood what Jesus was saying in his comment, so she defers to him when he set everything straight. She may have had a much better understanding of the Messiah than some of the Jews who were only looking for a king to save them from Rome. She was at least looking to him for spiritual leadership.
Witnessing lesson Nine. Always point them to Jesus. I can’t imagine the shock she must have had at his revelation. He hadn’t even told his disciples who he was in such clear language.