Gospel Song – Jesus Met the Woman At the Well

Gospel Song – Jesus Met the Woman At the Well

Gospel Song – Jesus Met the Woman At the Well. 

Many have claimed that this traditional gospel song was composed by the legendary blind musician Rev. Gary Davis. We do know that the earliest recording of this song is in 1947, and that the song was said to be arranged by J.W. Alexander. The song continues to be covered by a wide array of musicians, both black and white. Perhaps one of the main reasons this song has had such long-lasting popularity is the appeal of the subject being sung about. The famous extended conversation in John 4, between Jesus and the woman at the well, is one of the most discussed scenes in all of biblical history. Books have been written, and many sermons preached, about this encounter. The Scripture account is rich and meaningful in describing the scene and in detailing the content of their  conversation. Adding to its mystique, this scene is in many ways an unlikely scenario according to the Jewish tradition. This life-changing discussion at a well has captured imaginations for centuries, whether one is a believer or not.


LYRICS – Jesus Met the Woman At the Well

Jesus met the woman at the well (3x), and He told her everything she’d ever done.

He said, woman, woman, where is your husband (3x), I know everything you’ve ever done.

She said, Jesus, Jesus, I ain’t got no husband (3x), and you don’t know everything I’ve ever done.

He said, woman, woman, you’ve got five husbands (3x), and the one you’ve got now, he’s not your own.

She said, this man, this man, he must be the Prophet (3x). He done told me everything I’ve ever done.

She went running, running, Lord, to the city (3x), when he told her everything she’d ever done. 


Jesus is hot, tired and thirsty as He and His disciples walk through the “unclean” territory of Samaria. Jews and Samaritans were antagonists culturally and religiously, and the less contact between them the better. Jesus, as usual, doesn’t bother with what is clean or unclean, with who is a friend or an enemy. So, at noon He and His disciples stop at Jacob’s Well to slake their thirst and rest their weary legs. While His friends went off to scrounge for food, a Samaritan woman from a nearby town surprisingly arrives at the well. She must be the talk of the town, because it’s obvious she is avoiding the main times when other women would come to the well for water, early in the morning or later before night. She apparently doesn’t want to rub shoulders with the women in the town and encounter their scornful looks. So there they were, an orthodox Jewish rabbi and a “half-breed” woman of ill repute engaging in conversation with no one else around.

Jesus knew very well that He risked His reputation with this private encounter. Faithful Jews would not have been happy with this situation as it was developing. After all, Jesus is talking with a Samaritan, strike one. He was talking privately with a woman, strike two. And He was engaging a woman who has earned a bad reputation, strike three. Besides that, it was commonly accepted back then that when a man and a woman met privately at a well, it was for romantic or even amorous reasons. Meeting at a well was a sign of courtship. So Jesus risked a lot of misunderstanding in this encounter at the well. But it didn’t matter. Jesus respected this woman enough to engage her in a serious, lengthy conversation, come what may. Jesus believed in this woman right from the start, and felt that she was more important than His reputation.

Jesus soon started talking with her about some religious topics, about God being a Spirit, and how God is thus not bound by time or place. He talked with her about worshipping God in Spirit and truth, or as Eugene Peterson put it, worshipping God by engaging your spirit in the pursuit of truth. Since they were at a well, Jesus then brings up the topic of water, the spiritual water of the Holy Spirit. He told her He is the living fountain that will satisfy her spiritual yearning for God. Jesus claimed that He would provide a never-ending stream of living water so she will never be spiritually thirsty again.

During their conversation, Jesus lovingly confronted her with her sinful lifestyle, revealing His knowledge of her on-going search for love and intimacy. As the gospel song says, He knew everything she ever done. All this time Jesus is leading up to a dramatic revelation… that He is the “I AM,” kin to the Great I Am, equal to Yahweh, the Son of the Most High God Himself. The woman had an open and teachable heart, and the words and revelations of Jesus brings her to the conviction that Jesus is indeed the anointed Prophet foretold by Moses. So she forgets her pitcher of water and runs into her town to share her news. She tells the whole town about Jesus. The town folk then come out to the well, because they want to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. They in turn become convinced, and Jesus stays with them in town for a couple of days, preaching and teaching and being present with them.


The woman at the well is known in church history as the first evangelist. Her name is known traditionally as Photini, which was her baptismal name after being baptized soon after the Resurrection. She must have been a born evangelist, for she soon took her family of two sons and five daughters to Carthage to spread the Good News of Jesus. She was  later martyred by Nero, thrown into a well where she remained until she died. One sees a tragic but glorious irony here. For Photini, it all started at a well, and that’s where it all ended. She is officially celebrated as a saint in the Orthodox Church tradition.