Summary: What is worship? Music? Church? How about "You"?
We don’t know the circumstances of her life, or of her social situation. We only meet her because of a chance encounter that she had with Jesus.
Jesus and his friends were on their way to Galilee from Judea and on the way they passed by a village in Samaria and while the apostles went into the village to rustle up some food Jesus sat and rested by the village well. It was while he was sitting there this woman shows up to draw water from the well. That was just a part of her daily existence, nothing special about the day or about what she was doing. Whenever I’m in Africa, regardless of the country it is always the women who are in charge of getting the water.
And so suddenly we see her life intersect with Jesus. An ordinary task on an ordinary day suddenly has eternal ramifications. And the conversation is kind of clumsy. Jesus asks her for a drink of water, and that blows her away. And we pick up the story in John 4:9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
You see there were all kinds of reasons why Jesus shouldn’t have been having a conversation with her. 1) She was a Samaritan 2) She was a woman 3) She was a Samaritan woman. None of those would factor in today but 2000 years ago in that culture each of them was a deal breaker.
And Jesus just ignores the question and jumps into a spiritual discussion with her about living water, and when she asks where she can receive the water the conversation gets a little awkward. John 4:16-18 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
It is interesting that Jesus does not equate simply living together with being married, he viewed them differently, she had been married five times but now she was simply living with a man who was not her husband.
And I love what she does, she deflects the conversation. She completely ignores what Jesus has said and jumps to a completely different topic. John 4:19-20 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
That’s kind of the default that most of us go to, if we don’t want to deal with something we just change the subject.
Now I’d probably say “Hey lady let’s stay on topic here.” But Jesus was cool, he was “Ok if you want to talk about worship, we can talk about worship.”
Which leads us to where I want to land this morning and that is John 4:23-24 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” It seems as if Jesus was trying to make a point about worship here, seeing he uses the word “worship” five times in these two verses.