She said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” So you notice that Jesus began to talk about that. He did not tell her that he wanted to go back to the previous topic of her relational life. He let her change the subject, but he talked about it in terms of the revelation of the way to come to God, on which the Jews rather than the Samaritans were correct. 

Of course, we don’t know what approach Jesus took. But even though Samaritans only accepted their version of the Pentateuch, Jesus may have referred the woman to a text like Jeremiah 2:13, where God says, “My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns.” Now you see, if he had begun to expound that text, and I suspect very much that he did, he would have said, “You see, there's two problems with the human race. One is that they don't come to God. God is the one who is able to satisfy the thirst of the soul. The second thing is that they seek idols, thinking that they're going to get their satisfaction from these false gods. That's the cistern that can't hold real water.”

What is it that happens in the story? How does this conversion of the woman take place? It happens in exactly the same way Jesus was proceeding when he was talking to Nicodemus. Now what does Jesus do with the woman? He begins to teach her. What did Jesus do with Nicodemus? He began to teach him. In last week’s study of Nicodemus I mentioned the doctrines that Jesus covered, and said that what John records is only a summary, and that this conversation probably went on at some length.

As we make our way through these studies of characters from John’s Gospel, we recognize, of course, that John is not just telling stories. What John is doing is teaching Christian theology through these very stories that we can in some way relate to. John is a great theological Gospel, and although we haven't exhausted all of the theology that we find in these stories, we have begun to see some important things as we've studied them.

The importance of teaching for regeneration no doubt explains why so much teaching is found in this chapter of John’s Gospel. In addition to the doctrine of the new birth and the Holy Spirit, Jesus also talks about the Incarnation when he refers to himself as the One who came from heaven. He mentions the crucifixion when he uses the story of Moses and the bronze serpent to show how he himself is going to be lifted up, and that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.