In the last post we see that Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well. Although he confronted the woman’s sinful life, Jesus managed to affirm her truthfulness. He did not accuse or excuse; he simply described her life so that she could draw some clear conclusions about the mess in which she was living. She responds by saying, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
Some commentators take her response to be an evasion on her part, a change of subject in order to escape a very unpleasant probing by Jesus. I once thought that, but I have come to see her response in a deeper light. I believe now that this is an admission on her part that Jesus is dead right: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. You have seen me, and you are right on. You know all about me.” (Later, she goes into the village and says to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.“) By her response, she is admitting that he is right; this is what she has done and been. Then she links with it not an evasion, not a religious question to try to turn him off, but an honest plea for help. “Where do I go to get life?” is what she is saying. “You Jews say that the only place to offer the sacrifice that can cleanse my sin is in the temple in Jerusalem. Our people say it is here on this mountain. Where do I go? How can I find God? “Jesus’ words, then, fit very beautifully:
Jesus said to her…the hour is coming when….the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
Jesus says three remarkable things:
- He says, in effect, “Your question about where to worship is soon going to be entirely irrelevant. The hour is coming when geography will not be an issue. Temples or buildings will not be necessary to worship God. God is going to, and has already provided, that your body is the temple; that is where he wants his worship to go on.” Do you depend on a physical building or a specific setting for the proper worship environment? God is Spirit and cannot be confined to a building. The location of worship is not nearly as important as the attitude of the worshipers.
- He said to her, “Your knowledge is incomplete. You have been the victim of garbled truth. You have some truth but there is much error mingled with it; you have been misled.” This often happens. Most of the cults teach garbled Christian truth mixed with error. But Jesus says, “The Jews know more. They at least know where is the proper place to carry on worship by symbol because they are part of God’s plan. ‘Salvation is of the Jews.’ ” Jesus does not deny it. He himself speaks as a Jew. He recognizes that Israel is indeed part of God’s program to bring salvation to the world, and he does not set it aside.
- Jesus says, “Here is what true worship is: true worship is done in your human spirit.” It is what we call worshipping from the heart. And it must be in truth. It must be honest, not a put-on. It is not something you do with your body while your mind is somewhere else. Worship is what you mean with all your heart. When we sing hymns, God is not interested in our just mouthing words. He is interested in our hearts meaning what we sing. Most of our hymns are hymns of worship, prayer and praise addressed to God. They are to come from the heart, so we are to sing with meaning. God is seeking such to worship him. In every congregation God is looking for those who mean what they are singing, who, from the heart, are saying these things to him. That is what worship is. And the reason it is worship is because it is in line with God’s own nature. God himself is a Spirit, he is invisible; and we too are spirit, in the innermost part of our being.
The woman still cannot quite believe that it is that easy:
“Yes, I know you are right, but we must wait until the Messiah comes. We cannot expect these kinds of things in our time.” Her words drew from our Lord this wonderful response,
26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.“
Some critics say that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. If someone ever says that to you, turn him to this verse: “I who speak to you am he.” Now she knows. Clearly and unmistakably Jesus has identified himself, what he can be and do.
John goes on to give in three paragraphs the fruitful results of this conversation. First, the woman immediately becomes an evangelist.
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
When we return to the world of family and friends after encountering Jesus, there are two kinds of “water jars” we must leave behind:
1. We must leave behind our shame about the past. Because Jesus knows all about us, we can repent and receive his forgiveness. God may use the emptiness of our past life to help us convey to others the wonder of forgiveness. But we must not dwell on or carry guilt about the past.
2. We must leave behind former bad habits and activities. Are there possessions that threaten to own us rather than the other way around? These we must leave with Christ. We must lay down our useless former pursuits of pleasure and personal fulfillment. Even though we know that our old way of living never truly satisfies, the tempter deceives us into believing that there still may be an instant, easy source of happiness in the old empty ways. Have you turned your back on old habits, old treasures, old pleasures in order to seek what only God can give? Leave them behind and satisfy your thirst in Christ.
Watch Messages: YouTube-Upwards Church
Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – John, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 83.
Ray Stedman Ministries – “The Man Who Understood Women”