Jesus was a deft communicator. He understood how to listen to what people were really saying, and in turn, how to speak to the heart. In John 4, He engaged a Samaritan woman in conversation. She was longing for something, but was either too afraid or too unwilling to speak of what it was she was truly longing for.
Wednesday, July 3rd
Larger Portion of Scripture - John 4:1-45
Focused Passage for Reflection - John 4:16-26
Reflecting on the Text:
What do you do when the conversation starts to get a little too personal? Most of us start deflecting. We start trying to find ways to get away. In many respects, the woman at the well is just like us. The questions started getting a little too close for comfort, so she tried to change the subject. Little did she know just who it was she was talking to.
Jesus wasn’t trying to be rude. He was just cutting through the noise. So knowing the truth about her relationships, He asked her to go get her husband. He revealed her secret..the one that everybody in town already knew. So she tried to deflect. “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” Then, once again, she changed the subject. “So where do you think we should worship?”
What was she asking and why? On the surface, she was asking his opinion about the location of worship. But was that really her concern? I don’t think so. Jesus had just uncovered a tender subject, and she wanted a new topic. But Jesus could work with this as He continued to pursue her heart.
How did He answer? True worship is not a matter of location. It is a matter of the heart. He got there by telling her that true worshippers (not casual questioners) will worship in spirit and truth. But what does that mean?
Well for one thing, Jesus was clarifying that location was not the issue. But secondly, He told her “God is spirit” and then with that context, He repeated “those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Possibly, Jesus was clarifying that true, God-centered worship is made possible and enabled by the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. In other words, we must be born again to truly worship God, regardless of the place where we worship. And in that place (wherever it is) we must worship according to the leading of His Spirit.
But Jesus didn’t merely speak of spiritual worship. He clarified that true worship was in spirit and TRUTH. True worship, offered by true worshippers, is given in conformity to the truth of God’s self revelation in His Word. Unlike the Samaritans who worshipped what they don’t know (v. 22), we worship the God who is knowable, through His Word of truth, according to His Word of truth.
In response to all this, the woman deflected yet again. In v. 25, she said the Christ is coming and He will explain all things. Maybe she was uncomfortable with this latest turn in the conversation. Maybe she was really saying “I just don’t understand all this talk so I’ll wait.” In any case, she didn’t expect the person in front of her to be the long awaited Messiah.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” There was power in those words. Without her even realizing it, Jesus had just answered her deepest longing. It took time for it all to settle out. It usually does. But in the moment, something changed in the woman’s heart. She no longer hid. She ran to the people of the town…to those from whom she had so long hid. She shared with them all that He had revealed to her. She shared her testimony and people believed, all because she asked about true worship…or maybe because the ultimate object of her worship showed up.
Questions for personal reflection:
Do have someone with whom you can discuss the deepest issues of your heart? Can you, or do you, discuss those issues with Jesus in prayer?
Are you the kind of friend who is willing to listen to others? Are you the kind of friend who will search for the heart behind the deflections?
What does this conversation reveal to you about worship? What does it reveal to you about the Object of our worship?