Summary: Jesus is working to make a worshipper out of you.
The Woman at the Well
Today we come to the fourth of the encounters with Christ that we’re going to consider as we work through the book of John, observing Jesus as He interacts with the various people He comes across. I must say that this encounter was the beginning place for them all in my mind. As I was on vacation back in August, I spent part of the week reading this passage over and over, and became quite fascinated by this unnamed lady’s encounter with the Lord.
She came to the well ready to draw water, just as she had been doing for years, but in just a few moments, an hour or two maybe, she left that place changed for all eternity. Is that not what every encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ is supposed to bring about in our lives? Do we not believe that when Jesus interrupts the daily routine of our lives that something great occurs?
Folk, that’s the point of all these encounters. John the Baptist, Andrew, Nicodemus, this woman and the few others we’ll meet in weeks to come ought to communicate to your hearts and minds this one thought above all – that Jesus wants to break into your life and change it, transform it, radically altering you in such a way that you can’t go home and return to life as usual, so that you can’t return to your routine without knowing deep in your heart that all is not well so long as Jesus is reserved for Sundays.
I presented Nicodemus to you last week and told you that Jesus Christ wants to meet the spiritual needs that we have, and that there is one spiritual need that stands out above them all – our need for acceptance from God. Every human being longs for God’s acceptance, but what we have to learn is that acceptance doesn’t come from performance – acceptance from God comes from our recognition that we have nothing to offer – it is a gift of grace from God to you when you position yourself to receive it. That’s man’s greatest need – whether he knows it or not.
But what about God? What is God’s greatest desire? It would be wrong for us to talk about God’s greatest need, because God doesn’t have any needs – He is completely self-sufficient and independent of you and me. If God had a need that we could meet, then He would be dependent on man and would cease to be God. However, God does have a great desire that I want to share with you from our passage this morning, and it is this: God’s greatest desire is that He be worshipped. Do you remember me saying to you before that God’s chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever? Man’s chief purpose then is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever – and that purpose culminates in one act – the act of worship!
But we have a problem when we speak of worship: What is it? Let me give you the opportunity to answer that question this morning – What do you think worship is? You see, almost everyone tries to explain worship with some sort of outward act. The Hebrew word means to bow down. In the Bible, worship is bowing, lifting hands, praying, singing, reciting, preaching, cleansing, ordaining, and so on. But the startling fact is that all these things can be done in vain! They can be pointless and useless and empty. Jesus said as much to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:7-9 when He said,
“You hypocrites, Isaiah did well when he prophesied of you, saying, This people draws near unto me with their mouth, and they honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me…”
Listen, according to Jesus an act of worship is vain and futile when it doesn’t come from the heart. Look at those verses again. Do you see the parallel between the phrases “honor me” and “worship me?” Worship is essentially a way of honoring God. That doesn’t mean you make Him honorable or that you increase His honor. It means recognizing His honor and feeling the worth of it and ascribing it to Him in all the ways appropriate to His character! Listen to the words of Psalm 96:6-8.
“Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.”
So the Lord longs for you to worship Him, to give unto Him the glory He is due. We know that He’s worthy – so how do we worship Him? Jesus gives us the answer in John 4:24.