“I who speak to you am he.”
As the disciples were approaching the well on return from their errand into town, the Samaritan woman capped off her conversation with Jesus by saying, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am he.”
There’s no doubt about what Jesus is claiming here. He is letting her know in no uncertain terms that he is the Messiah. Contrast this with his not-so-direct response earlier, when she asked, “Are you greater than our father, Jacob?” (John 4:12) He didn’t say it then, but the answer had become obvious by now. Yes, he is greater than Jacob. He is the God of Jacob.
Realizing that Jesus would soon be traveling on with his companions, the Samaritan woman lost no time in hastening back to the town to spread the news that Messiah had come.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30)
Somehow, during her brief encounter with Christ, faith had taken hold within her heart. Let’s not make the mistake of taking her question (“Could this be the Messiah?”) as a sign that she still harbored any doubt. She did not pose that question in order for others to confirm her belief, but rather as a challenge for them to come and confirm it for themselves. And, apparantly, her argument was persuasive enough to cause a great many of the townspeople to drop whatever it was they were doing at the time and come with her.
This story of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman stands in contrast to his earlier one with Nicodemus. With Nicodemus, he was metaphorical and indirect, but with the Samaritan woman, he was more straightforward and personal. This is because Jesus approached each person who crossed his path as a unique individual; he didn’t rely on any particular method or formula for evangelism, for he could see within their hearts and already knew whether or not they believed in him. By the time he concluded his encounter with the Samaritan woman, he knew she was able to respond in faith to the truth which he spoke boldly and plainly.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NASB)