The Urantia Book -- Part IV. The Life And
Teachings Of Jesus
PAPER 143: Section 5.
The Woman Of Sychar
When the Master and the twelve arrived at Jacob's well, Jesus, being weary from
the journey, tarried by the well while Philip took the apostles with him to
assist in bringing food and tents from Sychar, for they were disposed to stay
in this vicinity for a while. Peter and the Zebedee sons would have remained
with Jesus, but he requested that they go with their brethren, saying: "Have
no fear for me; these Samaritans will be friendly; only our brethren, the Jews,
seek to harm us." And it was almost six o'clock on this summer's evening when
Jesus sat down by the well to await the return of the apostles.
The water of Jacob's well was less mineral than that from the wells of Sychar
and was therefore much valued for drinking purposes. Jesus was thirsty, but
there was no way of getting water from the well. When, therefore, a woman of
Sychar came up with her water pitcher and prepared to draw from the well, Jesus
said to her, "Give me a drink." This woman of Samaria knew Jesus was a Jew by
his appearance and dress, and she surmised that he was a Galilean Jew from his
accent. Her name was Nalda and she was a comely creature. She was much surprised
to have a Jewish man thus speak to her at the well and ask for water, for it
was not deemed proper in those days for a
self-respecting man to speak to a
woman in public, much less for a Jew to converse with a Samaritan. Therefore
Nalda asked Jesus, "How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink of me,
a Samaritan woman?" Jesus answered: "I have indeed asked you for a drink, but
if you could only understand, you would ask me for a draught of the living water."
Then said Nalda: "But, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep;
whence, then, have you this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob
who gave us this well, and who drank thereof himself and his sons and his cattle
Jesus replied: "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whosoever
drinks of the water of the living spirit shall never thirst. And this living
water shall become in him a well of refreshment springing up even to eternal
life." Nalda then said: "Give me this water that I thirst not, neither come
all the way hither to draw. Besides, anything which a Samaritan woman could
receive from such a commendable Jew would be a pleasure."
Nalda did not know how to take Jesus' willingness to talk with her. She beheld
in the Master's face the countenance of an upright and holy man, but she mistook
friendliness for commonplace familiarity, and she misinterpreted his figure
of speech as a form of making advances to her. And being a woman of lax morals,
she was minded openly to become
flirtatious, when Jesus, looking straight into
her eyes, with a commanding voice said, "Woman, go get your husband and bring
him hither." This command brought Nalda to her senses. She saw that she had
misjudged the Master's kindness; she perceived that she had misconstrued his
manner of speech. She was frightened; she began to realize that she stood in
the presence of an unusual person, and groping about in her mind for a suitable
reply, in great confusion, she said, "But, Sir, I cannot call my husband, for
I have no husband." Then said Jesus: "You have spoken the truth, for, while
you may have once had a husband, he with whom you are now living is not your
husband. Better it would be if you would cease to trifle with my words and seek
for the living water which I have this day offered you."
By this time Nalda was sobered, and her better self was awakened. She was not
an immoral woman wholly by choice. She had been ruthlessly and unjustly cast
aside by her husband and in dire straits had consented to live with a certain
Greek as his wife, but without marriage. Nalda now felt greatly ashamed that
she had so unthinkingly spoken to Jesus, and she most
penitently addressed the
Master, saying: "My Lord, I repent of my manner of speaking to you, for I perceive
that you are a holy man or maybe a prophet." And she was just about to seek
direct and personal help from the Master when she did what so many have done
before and since --
dodged the issue of personal salvation by turning to the
discussion of theology and philosophy. She quickly turned the conversation from
her own needs to a theological controversy. Pointing over to Mount Gerizim,
she continued: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and yet you would
say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship; which, then,
is the right place to worship God?"
Jesus perceived the attempt of the woman's soul to avoid direct and searching
contact with its Maker, but he also saw that there was present in her soul a
desire to know the better way of life. After all, there was in Nalda's heart
a true thirst for the living water; therefore he dealt patiently with her, saying:
"Woman, let me say to you that the day is soon coming when neither on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. But now you worship that which
you know not, a mixture of the religion of many pagan gods and gentile philosophies.
The Jews at least know whom they worship; they have removed all confusion by
concentrating their worship upon one God, Yahweh. But you should believe me
when I say that the hour will soon come -- even now is -- when all sincere worshipers
will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for it is just such worshipers
the Father seeks. God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in
spirit and in truth. Your salvation comes not from knowing how others should
worship or where but by receiving into your own heart this living water which
I am offering you even now."
But Nalda would make one more effort to avoid the discussion of the embarrassing
question of her personal life on earth and the status of her soul before God.
Once more she resorted to questions of general religion, saying: "Yes, I know,
Sir, that John has preached about the coming of the Converter, he who will be
called the Deliverer, and that, when he shall come, he will declare to us all
things" -- and Jesus, interrupting Nalda, said with startling assurance, "I
who speak to you am he."
This was the first direct, positive, and undisguised pronouncement of his divine
nature and sonship which Jesus had made on earth; and it was made to a woman,
a Samaritan woman, and a woman of questionable character in the eyes of men
up to this moment, but a woman whom the divine eye beheld as having been sinned
against more than as sinning of her own desire and as now being a human
soul who desired salvation, desired it sincerely and wholeheartedly, and that
As Nalda was about to voice her real and personal longing for better things
and a more noble way of living, just as she was ready to speak the real desire
of her heart, the twelve apostles returned from Sychar, and coming upon this
scene of Jesus' talking so intimately with this woman -- this Samaritan woman,
and alone -- they were more than astonished. They quickly deposited their supplies
and drew aside, no man daring to reprove him, while Jesus said to Nalda: "Woman,
go your way; God has forgiven you. Henceforth you will live a new life. You
have received the living water, and a new joy will spring up within your soul,
and you shall become a daughter of the Most High." And the woman, perceiving
the disapproval of the apostles, left her waterpot and fled to the city.
As she entered the city, she proclaimed to everyone she met: "Go out to Jacob's
well and go quickly, for there you will see a man who told me all I ever did.
Can this be the Converter?" And ere the sun went down, a great crowd had assembled
at Jacob's well to hear Jesus. And the Master talked to them more about the
water of life, the gift of the indwelling spirit.
The apostles never ceased to be shocked by Jesus' willingness to talk with women,
women of questionable character, even immoral women. It was very difficult for
Jesus to teach his apostles that women, even so-called immoral women, have souls
which can choose God as their Father, thereby becoming daughters of God and
candidates for life everlasting. Even nineteen centuries later many show the
same unwillingness to grasp the Master's teachings. Even the Christian religion
has been persistently built up around the fact of the death of Christ instead
of around the truth of his life. The world should be more concerned with his
happy and God-revealing life than with his tragic and sorrowful death.
Nalda told this entire story to the Apostle John the next day, but he never
revealed it fully to the other apostles, and Jesus did not speak of it in detail
to the twelve.
Nalda told John that Jesus had told her "all I ever did." John many times wanted
to ask Jesus about this visit with Nalda, but he never did. Jesus told her only
one thing about herself, but his look into her eyes and the manner of his dealing
with her had so brought all of her checkered life in panoramic review before
her mind in a moment of time that she associated all of this self-revelation
of her past life with the look and the word of the Master. Jesus never told
her she had had five husbands. She had lived with four different men since her
husband cast her aside, and this, with all her past, came up so vividly in her
mind at the moment when she realized Jesus was a man of God that she subsequently
repeated to John that Jesus had really told her all about herself.