John 4:13-19 reads - "Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.' The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.' Jesus said to her, 'Go, call your husband, and come here.' The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have said well, "I have no husband," for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.' The woman said to Him, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.'"
Jesus drew a contrast between earthly and heavenly blessings. The water of Jacob's well satisfied physical needs but only for brief periods. The Samaritan woman had to return to it again and again. However, the living water that Jesus could give was a fountain never failing and ever satisfying, springing up into eternal life.
Her response in verse 15 indicated that she did not comprehend the true nature of Christ's offer, but perhaps she was convinced of two things: (1) The wonderful water He described was to be desired and (2) Jesus was able and willing to give it. It is difficult to know for certain if she really believed this second point. Perhaps her response contained a bit of sarcasm: If You've really got this kind of water, why don't You give it to me?
When Jesus told her to go and bring her husband back with her, He changed the direction of the conversation immediately. This was essential as the first step in meeting this woman's spiritual need. It was necessary for her to first be convinced of her sinfulness before she could recognize her need to quench her spiritual thirst with living water.
She admitted to Jesus that she had no husband as a vague explanation as to why she couldn't fulfill His request. This was evidently a sensitive subject to the woman. Jesus' response was unexpected, to say the least. Jesus, though a stranger, knew specific details of her life (cf. 2:25)! Why she had been married to five different men is not revealed, and it is useless to speculate. Because of rabbinical misinterpretations (cf. Matt. 19:3ff), most Jews had a very lax attitude toward divorce, and it is unlikely that the Samaritans held any higher principles. Hence, her husbands could have, one after another, divorced her for the most trivial reasons. One or more of them could have died. Only one thing is certain: she had not gone to the trouble of marrying the man with whom she was then living (presumably in fornication).
In her response to Jesus in 4:19,20, the Samaritan woman quickly changed the subject. She likely preferred to discuss a safer subject that was less personal. However, by calling Him a "prophet," she virtually confessed the truthfulness of His words.
Jesus was making quite an impression upon this woman, and, as we continue our study of John 4 tomorrow, we will see how He continued to do so as their dialogue continued.