Jesus Gives True Worship (John 4:16-26)


John 4:16-26

What had started as a playful conversation all the sudden became quite serious. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Go, call you husband and come back (John 4:16).” We can imagine her muttering and bumbling, “I have no husband (John 4:17).” While in her mind she may have reasoned her response to be true, yet in her heart she knew there was much more to her story. Her life had been a series of broken relationships. We can imagine the woman’s surprise when Jesus reveals his knowledge of her past, which sadly consists of five past husbands and a man she now lives with but is not her husband (John 4:18).

Perceiving Jesus to be more than a weary Jewish traveler, she calls him a prophet (John 4:19). So, she asks a question fit for a prophet. She asks him about the proper location to worship God (John 4:20). While such a question may seem like a quaint religious debate to us, for her people, the Samaritans, and for his, the Jews, this issue was a point of violent contention, akin to own current political debates.

While Jesus does answer her question about the proper location of worship, Jesus tells her a new era has arrived. The Temple was a temporary mediation of the presence of God, but, because Jesus had arrived, there was no need for a man-made temple. She could worship in Spirit and truth, meaning that the Holy Spirit enables genuine (true) worship of God. (John 4:21-24; cp. John 7:37-39)

The late American author David Foster Wallace, once said, “There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.” Whether this woman had been worshipping the religion of her ancestors or the men who came and went from her life, Jesus tells her that true worship only comes to those who accept the gift of the Holy Spirit that Christ offers.

There are many things we can worship in this world, but none can satisfy us like the living water Christ offers us, the Holy Spirit who purifies us and makes us whole again.

Gracious Father, help me accept this living water Christ offers. My soul is parched and thirsty without it. May your Spirit fill me anew, that I may be continually satisfied in my inmost being by your living water. This I pray in the name of Christ, who offers and makes this gift possible. Amen.

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