Opportunities to Love

4 practical realizations from John 4:1-42.

Hannah Hartmann · 6 min read

“What’s the most loving thing you’ve done recently?” Imagine I’ve posed the question as a group Bible study icebreaker. Everyone looks around, wondering who will speak first. Someone smiles, “Well, I took out the trash this morning.” Another took a grocery trip in the rain to feed a party of ten. And someone else took the blame at work for a mistake that wasn’t theirs. The chorus builds: “I served, I sacrificed, I gave.”

Suddenly, another Group Member flips the focus from an I to a He: “Jesus allowed me to tell someone about Him this week and He gave me the courage to do it.” Silence descends. Realization dawns. That’s a very different kind of answer. Hypothetical Group Guide, you caught us in a question trap! I’d say sorry, but now that you’re listening, here’s a better question: “When’s the last time you told someone about the Savior who chose to love you?”  

In John 4:1-42, a Samaritan woman transformed by Jesus's love runs to tell anyone who'll listen. It's a convicting conclusion that makes us wonder how our own Bible study might spring up into such a response. Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to follow her example—or you may have and haven't noticed. One thing's for sure; if we step back to the story's start, we see that the Samaritan woman's opportunity to love others began with Jesus, who loved her first. 

How might you embrace each new opportunity to love others by pointing to the One who loved you first?

Here are four practical realizations John 4:1-42 offers today:

1. Jesus knows the who & where.
WordGo - Journal 45 Illustrations - Detail 1

Jesus’s journey to the Samaritan woman was not one of convenience. It was customary for the Jews of that day to take a six-day trip around Samaria, avoiding the region altogether. But Jesus the sovereign Son of God had a divine appointment to meet. He set His course straight without delay to a place none would otherwise decide to visit. He arrives in a small town called Sychar and sits by a well to wait for one outcast to appear—a woman who needs His living water. Jesus showed impartial love as He came to seek and save the lost.

Sometimes the lengths Jesus goes to surprise us, and His strategies confuse us. Why would you have me go to this new place, Jesus? Why would you have me stay again and again in this same place, Jesus? But no place Jesus has us is pointless; His myriad intentions fuel even the mundane. God's appointments can happen anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. God sees that sad person on the subway, the weary wanderer in the grocery aisle, every neighbor on your street, every coworker in your floorplan, and every family member in the life He ordained for you. Are you willing to see the who and where that are already there? God perfectly appoints every person you have the opportunity to love.

2. Jesus knows the depths of your need.

The Samaritan woman came to draw water alone in the heat of an afternoon. The necessity of water led women to gather it for chores each day, but her hour was later than the norm. Was she avoiding the morning rush? Was bearing the heat better than the locals' judgmental looks? Only Jesus knows. And He deliberately begins to break down barriers to soften her heart. Jesus lovingly reveals the real water that will satisfy her soul's deepest thirst. Jesus loves to give this living water to all who realize their need and ask.

WordGo - Journal 45 Illustrations - Detail 2

When was the first time you realized Jesus knows everything about you—including the depths of your dissatisfaction? From what did you seek satisfaction before you met Christ that only left you empty? How did Jesus reach you to reveal the ruin of what you relied on? Describe what happened when you received Jesus’s gift of living water. Articulate what is so thirst-quenching about His salvation. Take a moment to write down a few thoughts and be humbled. Remembering the depth of our own need for Jesus’s love is essential to sharing His love with others.

3. Jesus knows everything about all people.
WordGo - Journal 45 Illustrations - Detail 3

Through a series of questions and answers, the Samaritan woman learns Jesus knows everything about her. She's had five husbands, and the man she lives with now is not her husband. But beyond the exposure of her sin, Jesus reveals He holds the answers to her deepest concerns: how to worship God rightly, and who the Messiah truly is. Jesus tells her I am He—the Savior she was searching for. He is the One who knows her every sin and gives eternal, satisfying life instead.

Often, it’s not for us to know the intimate details of someone else’s sin. When presented with the opportunity to love someone, we must remember that Jesus knows them perfectly. But He positions us to love in truth. We share one thing in common with everyone we encounter under the sun: We’re sinners who have broken God’s Word in every way imaginable (Romans 3). We can’t pretend sin is not a problem—it’s the very reason Jesus died! But we can address sin without fishing for details or diagnosing what's between them and the Lord. We can trust God’s Word and the Spirit to convict and bring about repentance (Hebrews 4:12; John 16:8). What attribute of Jesus speaks into the problem God has graciously permitted you to glimpse? Love points others to the One who knows their sins and has lovingly solved the problem of sin once for all.

4. You can simply share what you know.

What the Samaritan woman knew was enough worthy of sharing. She dropped everything she was doing and went to tell someone what she now knew. In town, her earnest message overflows from the heart. She doesn't yet understand all that Jesus came to do. But she faithfully and eagerly tells people what Jesus has done for her. Jesus has found her precious in His sight and graciously given her His time, His love, and His life.

WordGo - Journal 45 Illustrations - Detail 4

Do you eagerly tell others what you know about Jesus? Or do you hesitate, fearing questions you cannot answer? There is always more to learn about Jesus—He is infinite, and we are finite. But we do know what Jesus has done for us. As we walk with Him and spend time in His Word, He reveals more about His character with each changing season. But for now, what do you know about Jesus's satisfying salvation? What simple truths about your Savior might you share? You cannot predict God's plans to use the testimony you share. Your next opportunity to love might just be the very means God uses to love another sinner just like you.

John 4:1-42 demonstrates how Jesus loves sinners purposefully, personally, and in full knowledge of all we are and all we are not. Jesus’s love reaches out to seek and save the lost. And God lovingly positions His people to proclaim this salvation. Knowing Jesus’s love personally, believers embrace each new opportunity to point others to Him. So how might you begin today?


- Jesus knows the who & where.

- Jesus knows the depths of your need.

- Jesus knows everything about all people.

- You can simply share what you know.