Summary: Part 5 in series, Love Never Dies, this message examines what it means and does not mean to worship God in spirit and in truth.
In Spirit & In Truth
Love Never Dies, prt. 5
Wildwind Community Church
April 25, 2010
Well, this past week has been like almost every other week in prepping the sermon – leaving me wishing that instead of one sermon per chapter, I could do three/four sermons per chapter and really get you into detail on the whole book of John. But I’m just not prepared right now to commit to a series of 60 weeks or more and that’s what it would take.
So John 4 contains the famous story of Jesus talking to the woman at the well. This is probably one of the most frequently referenced and frequently preached-on passages in the New Testament. This account is just incredibly rich with all kinds of important messages, and so the challenge for me this week was to choose from among the dozens of message available in the text – to narrow it down and decide which one of these dozens of messages am I going to bring to you? Seeing that we started out looking at Jesus as the eternal Word, the Logos, the Creator and sustainer of all things, I figured I’d pick a section of chapter 4 that would kind of stick with the same idea and help us expand on it and see it maybe a bit more clearly, or maybe in a little bit different light. So I hope to do that for you today.
First let’s look at this portion of text from John 4. Jesus had been in Judea, which was where he was in our passage last week when he spoke to Nicodemus. Now he decides to travel back where he was from, in Galilee, but to get there he has to go through Samaria. Many of you perhaps know that the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. They were considered half-breeds – not fully Jews. They were the ones not good enough, who God could not possibly love and accept the way he did the Jews. They were not the keepers of the law. They were not the ones to whom Moses had come down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments. They were spiritual inferiors. It is precisely the fact that they were considered spiritual inferiors, by the way, that caused Jesus to tell a certain parable about a man who stops to help a Jew who has been beaten and robbed. That’s the parable of what? The Good Samaritan. The way Samaritans are portrayed in Christ’s parables and in his personal dealings with them is critical to our being able to understand what our attitude should be toward people who we do not think are our spiritual equals – people of different denominations, of different religions, or no religion at all. Anyway, Jesus is heading back to Galilee, by way of Samaria, he gets tired, and asks a Samaritan woman at a well to get him some water. This incredible conversation ensures, which we’re going to pick up about halfway through, just as this woman is starting to piece together who Jesus is:
John 4:19-26 (MSG)
19 "Oh, so you're a prophet!
20 Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?"
21 "Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem.
22 You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God's way of salvation is made available through the Jews.
23 But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. "It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
24 God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."
25 The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story."
26 "I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further."
Do you get what I’m driving at? Let’s pray and we’ll be dismissed.
Seriously, this passage is so clear – but seemingly it’s a secret hidden in plain sight. It’s funny how we who grow up in a certain tradition just get to where we view everything through the lens of that tradition, whether or not the tradition is actually present in what we are viewing. Now let’s parse this out and get serious about it. I’m going to say some stuff I’ve been getting at for weeks now, but because Jesus here is so much clearer about this, I will be a bit clearer about it too.