The last post we began to will deal with Jesus and His encounter with the woman at the well. What we saw was that Jesus went through Samaria because He had a divine appointment with the woman at the well. Jesus was reaching out to this woman who was an outcast in a whole region of outcast. Jesus was willing to defile himself so that he could reach out to this woman. If you do not know the story click here and read it.
Let me pick up from the last post and ask: why was this woman considered an outcast among outcasts? Why would she have to come in the heat of the day to get water? It comes down to her sin which Jesus addresses – she has had five husbands and is now living with a man who is not her husband. What we understand from this is she has been engaged in a series of illicit relationships, and she was not married to her current lover. Sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden in both Testaments and by the way this has not changed and Jesus addresses this issue with this woman.
In Jesus addressing this we see that in God encounters, God tells the truth in love (17–18). What happens when Jesus tells her the truth in love? She does not react defensively and it is very significant that she does not react defensively to Jesus’ knowledge of her broken relationships. After Jesus confronts these relationships she then calls Jesus a prophet which affirms Jesus. What the woman does is focuses on who Jesus is because of what He says to her and does not get defensive. So her attention remains on Jesus’ person even though her sinful life is being confronted by Jesus. This focus on Jesus is a key characteristic of true faith. When you are confronted about your sin – how do you react? Do you immediately point out the sin of the other person or look to Jesus? She looked to Jesus and realized her sinfulness.
I believe this all happened because Jesus encountered her with the truth in a loving way and he did not judge her because of her past – he just pointed it out in a loving way that what she was engaged in was wrong. Do you treat people with love? Do you tell people the truth in love? Consider for a moment this quote by Warren Wiersbe – “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Are you brutal with people? Are practicing hypocrisy? Let us all tell the truth but do it in love as we are told in to Ephesians 4:15.
Something else that we see in this story with this woman is that God encounters bring about true worship (23). First thing we need to realize is that in verse 20 the woman is asking where should she worship, in Jerusalem which is where the Jews worship or on Mount Gerizim which is where the Samaritans made their offerings. Jesus reveals to the woman that where a person worships is unimportant. It is not limited to a place but we should worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus is letting her know that the worship of the Father is not confined to a place but is an action of heart. Jesus also is letting her know that all worship must be in keeping with the truth of God’s revealed Word. Jesus tells her and tells us that God is spirit and those who worship him must worship Him in spirit and truth. You cannot worship in any other way.
To worship in spirit means you are concerned with the spiritual realities, not outward sacrifices, cleansings and how beautiful things look or what is done around you but what is happening inside. It is not about what is on the outside but what is going on in the inside – the Pharisees looked great on the outside but were filthy on the inside according to Jesus. Are you a Pharisee when it comes to worship? To worship in truth means you worship according to the whole council of God’s word, especially in light of the New Testament revelation of Jesus. We worship in the truth of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. Let me ask you – are you worshipping in the spirit and in truth that God says to or are you worshiping what you want to think is right? We must worship the way God says not what our preferences are!
What do you believe that it means to worship in spirit and in truth? How are you at telling the truth in love?