Christ meets the woman at the well (John 4:1-42)

Christ meets the woman at the well (John 4:1-42)

The episode of Christ meeting the Samaritan women at a well belongs in St John’s gospel (John 4:1-42). The story gives us a sense of Christ’s respect for women, his sensitivity and his determination to break down barriers.

One day, when he was on his way back to Galilee, Christ came to a town called Sychar, in Samaria. Feeling tired, he sat down near Jacob’s Well. His disciples left him alone and headed into the town to buy some bread. While he was sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water.

Pope Benedict XVI picks up the story: “It is impossible to give a brief explanation of the wealth of this Gospel passage. One must read and meditate on it personally, identifying oneself with that woman who, one day like so many other days, went to draw water from the well and found Jesus there, sitting next to it, “tired from the journey” in the midday heat. “Give me a drink”, he said, leaving her very surprised: it was in fact completely out of the ordinary that a Jew would speak to a Samaritan woman, and all the more so to a stranger. But the woman’s bewilderment was destined to increase.”

He went on: “Jesus spoke of a “living water” able to quench her thirst and become in her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life”; in addition, he demonstrated that he knew her personal life; he revealed that the hour has come to adore the one true God in spirit and truth; and lastly, he entrusted her with something extremely rare: that he is the Messiah.”

After learning this secret, the woman left her pitcher behind and went into the town. She told the people about her extraordinary meeting with a man who claimed to be the Messiah. Based on her report, the townspeople went to see Christ and asked him to remain with them. So he stayed there for two days, teaching and instructing them, and many believed in him.

This stained glass window picturing Christ talking to the Samaritan woman is found within the church of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, in Princes Risborough. It’s part of a set of windows based on the biblical themes of fire and water (the Song of Creation is another).

The windows are by the Joseph Nuttgens studio and were created in the year 2000. The bright colours are found across the set; the deep blues in this example reflect the water theme. In an interesting touch, the Samaritan woman seems rather sad as Christ speaks to her.

See the full image:

Woman-at-wellJoseph Nuttgens Studio / Christ meets a woman at the well / Stained glass / 2000

Where to find this work of art
St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Princes Risborough

Read the relevant passage
John 4:1-42

On a similar theme

  • From the Old Testament: Rachel the Shepherdess met her husband Jacob at the same well mentioned here.
  • From the New Testament: In his dealings with the woman who touched his cloak, we also see Christ’s respect for women.

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