The Prophet at the Well

Andrea Poppleton

READ : John 4:1–19
Deuteronomy 18:15–18

Sir, I see that you are a prophet. (John 1:19 NRSV)

This story is about two promises. First, Jesus promised the woman of Samaria “living water.” The second promise was made hundreds of years earlier. In sacred texts that Samaritans also read, God had promised that he would send a Messiah to speak on his behalf. “I will raise up for them a prophet. . . . And I will put my words in his mouth.” Here, at a well in Samaria, those two promises became one. Jesus, who promised the Samaritan woman “living water,” was also the promised Messiah/prophet.

The woman did not see the connection at first. She saw a tired out Jew who had no bucket. His promise to quench her thirst made no sense, but something about Jesus sparked the woman’s interest. Jesus began to reveal himself as Messiah, but in a roundabout way. Instead of announcing his own identity, Jesus engaged the woman in a conversation about hers. He did not berate or condemn her. He simply held up a mirror and showed the woman how different she looked in his light: she was known, and loved anyway. Her understanding that Jesus was a prophet came only after she saw her own true identity.

In order to recognize Jesus as Lord, we must first recognize our identity in Jesus’ light: we are known, and loved anyway. With cleared vision about our true identity, we are freed to believe in his. Then we can receive the Messiah/prophet’s gift of living water.


Jesus, give me a vision of my true self through your eyes.