“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” (John 4:16–19, ESV)
The woman at the well asked Jesus for some of that special water so that she might not have to do these trips to the well again. Rather, than clarifying her misunderstanding, Jesus dug a little deeper into the hidden well that is her heart. As we have already read and restated, Jesus knew the hearts of men, and He clearly knew this woman had some deeper issues that went well beyond her physical thirst. She needed to know without a doubt that God knew all about her, loved her, and had sent His Son to care about her whole life in drawing her to salvation and worship.
His response to her request for living water was to ask her to go get her husband. At first impulse, we might think that He thought it proper not to speak with a married woman alone, but we quickly see that Jesus knew something much deeper about this woman. He not only knew that she currently had no husband as she responded to Him, but He knew that she had had five husbands and that she was living with one currently who was not her husband. We read this knowing that Jesus had just entered this region and had sat down at the well to rest when this woman approached. I’m sure she had no sign hanging around her neck declaring the hidden things of her life, but Jesus knew what no stranger could possibly know. The woman’s response was to declare that she believed Him to be a prophet—one sent of God and given special knowledge.
I can’t pretend to fully comprehend Jesus as being fully God and fully man. I don’t clearly know how His knowledge of things as God worked together as He came to be born as fully man. What I do know from Scripture is that Jesus was both—fully God and fully man. And as the God-man Jesus knew more about this woman than she knew herself. It was this discovery that I was created by a God who knew me intimately, who knew the words on my tongue before they were ever formed, and scrutinizes my path even knowing when I rise up and when I sit down that God used to draw me to Him and to accept the gift of salvation in His Son. It was hearing a message on Psalm 139 and learning about God who knew me this way that sparked my heart to respond by wanting to get to know Him better. If God cared this much about me, then I knew that I could trust Him with the deepest things of my heart. And so I asked for the salvation which He so freely gave through His Son.
For this woman, Jesus demonstrating His knowledge of these secrets convinced her that He was definitely one who spoke from God. But even in this we don’t see that she saw Him yet as the Messiah. But He at least had, in her eyes, the credibility to speak to the issues of her heart, and now she was ready to trust Him with even more of her questions.
Coming to Christ, for many people, is not a quick introduction and an immediate response. Rather it is more commonly a series of pieces coming together over time and possibly through a variety of individuals with some intervening circumstances. There is no one way that people come to have their eyes opened. Jesus didn’t get straight to the point with her likely because He knew she had to other issues to get to first. But He also did not abandon the conversation because of her lack of understanding. He found the balance with this woman, and perfectly guided her to a place of belief. As stated earlier, we don’t know that she believed on Him as the Son, but she definitely believed He was sent by God and was willing to listen to what He had to say.