Do you zone out as soon as somebody talks about worship? It is just too much. Does God really need hero worship, to hear everyday of my life how great He is? If He is God, why do I have to tell Him and please Him by saying certain words?
Let us consider this woman and her spontaneous mention of worship in the presence of Jesus. Her life is laid bare in the presence of a stranger, a Jew, somebody to be afraid of and yet she recognizes the divine presence of God and she talks about worship.
The Samaritans were so far removed from true worship. They were desperate to be part of something authentic. They knew deep down they weren’t doing well and they did not know how to feed the longing for the real.
Let us look at verses 22-42 of John chapter 4.
The Samaritans rejected the Psalms and the prophets. They accepted only the first five books, which Moses has written. They were accused of superstition, and it was probably true. Over centuries they were so influenced by pagan gods that they added Jehovah to the list of other gods for fear of leaving Him out.
Fear and ignorance is the opposite of love and knowledge.
False worship is to selectively choose what to believe and to omit the rest. A one-sided religion justifies anything from scripture.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)
True worship is hope with reason behind it.
They were so superstitious that they worshipped out of fear. Their religion was not based on the desire to serve or to love. For them it was better to play it safe. Worship was based on fear not love.
Jesus says: True worship is spiritual because God is spirit. Things are not important, the heart is.
One of the commentaries says it this way: (my emphasis)
It is the spirit of a man, which is the source of his highest dreams and thoughts and ideals and desires. The true worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. Genuine worship does not consist in coming to a certain place nor in going through a certain ritual or liturgy nor even in bringing certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, himself immortal and invisible.
The woman becomes aware of the wonder of the words spoken to her. She recognizes that it could only come from someone as special as the Messiah, a deep longing and expectation also among the Samaritans. This opens the way for Jesus to reveal Himself to her. Jesus is her dream coming true.
The disciples were probably in state of bewilderment seeing Jesus talking to a woman. The Rabbis despised women and held them incapable of real teaching, saying: Better that the words of the law should be burned than deliver to women. By Rabbinic standards Jesus could hardly have done a more shatteringly unconventional thing than to talk to this woman.
The disciples did not talk to the woman. They did not ask what she wanted or asked Jesus why He was talking to her. They were perhaps getting used to His surprising ways. This is a wonderful step towards true discipleship – not to question why and to bury old prejudices and conventions.
The woman hastened back to the village. She was changed. She left her water jar. It means she planned on coming back.
She faced her own sinful nature (Luke 5:8). In the presence of Jesus we are at once confronted and liberated. She was overawed by Jesus’ ability to see inside her life and liberated by getting rid of her secrets. Bondage is often secret.
Jesus reveals not only sin, but also potential. When bondage flees, our real life can start. He chooses a woman to reveal himself as the Messiah to Samaria.
She wanted to share her discovery. Her shame was dealt with in the presence of Jesus. She could face the world again.
With His disciples he again follows the pattern of conversation, contrasting the physical and spiritual. Jesus’ tiredness disappeared when He sensed the need in the woman.
Real food is to do the will of God. Jesus did it perfectly. He liked what God liked.
He was sent by God. He was under orders. That was His food and it fully satisfied Him. John 5:38 He talks about the works of His father; John 17:4 He says He has finished the work of His father; John 6:38 He states that He was doing the will of Him who sent me; John 10:18 He says He lives the commandment He received from His Father; John 14:23 He finds satisfaction only in doing the commandments of the One he loves.
For us doing the will of God is the only way to peace, happiness and powerful, victorious lives.
True worship is to hear the Word in the presence of our Lord and pray into His words.
Holy Spirit prayer is to listen and then pray.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Worship in Spirit and Truth comes by true revelation – up close and personal. We need to chat to Jesus by the well of living water. It is individual, unique and specific. Just like the Samaritans, we need to get personal and “see” Him in our prayer.
There was no doubt when they saw Him. All ritual and uncertainty were dealt with in His presence.
Everything is hearsay until:
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You. (Job 42:5)
Sit where you are, close your eyes and use your Spirit-controlled imagination to see Jesus sitting with you. Take His hand, rest you head on His lap. Hold on to your picture, while taking your thoughts captive and bring your life to Him. Tell Him you surrender again.
Sitting quietly in His presence, take note of the thoughts presenting themselves in your mind. Bring them all to Him. Pray about it. If it is something disturbing or sinful, pray into that and confess.
Ask Him to take the burden of sin and “see” in the Spirit how your sin and worries disappear into His body on the cross. Seal your prayer with His blood. Our trademark is the empty cross, but in this prayer you “see” Jesus on the cross bearing your fears and sin. Do not let Him die in vain. Do not take it back on you.
Write your prayer and the things you prayed about. Worship and thank Him for release and liberty. Your worship will come out of your deep sense of His presence.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:1)