Up to this point, John has been interested to demonstrate how Jesus fulfills and surpasses the Old Covenant ceremonies. Jesus is the source of true cleansing (2:1-11). He is the true and everlasting temple (2:12-25). He is true birth (3:1-21), true baptism, and the true Messiah (3:22-36). All of this has direct connection to the Judaism of Jesus’ day. Beginning in chapter four, however, the wider scope of Jesus’ mission begins to come into view.
Jesus and his disciples traveled beyond Jerusalem into the region of Samaria. There Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman whose life was steeped in a pattern of immorality. But whereas Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus took place at night under cover of darkness, Jesus talks with the sinful woman at the well in full light of midday. This signals a very different outcome. Instead of the sad ambiguity of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman will respond to Jesus with faith and joyful witness.
The ancient spring from which the woman had gone to draw water provided Jesus with the perfect metaphor to teach her what it was her soul truly required. “In the person of Jesus, the entire world is confronted with the inadequacy of its resources and the overabundant riches of the gift of God, which is international in scope and cross-cultural in character. It is at each person’s place of need, where they hunger and thirst, that God seeks and satisfies them with the food and drink no one could have imagined, rooted in the divine mission of the Trinitarian God” (Klink, 227).