“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. – John 4:21-30
This passage is the culmination of yesterday’s passage about drawing from a deep well of living water. In this part of the story Jesus is sharing some really important spiritual truths with the Samaritan woman then towards the end of the passage the disciples return from their voyage to the village to get victuals. Let’s start with a dive into the deep end first and see what we can find in this deep water that Jesus is sharing about.
Jesus is sharing something very profound with the Samaritan woman. He is saying that salvation will be for everyone willing to believe, even though the Messiah is sent to the Jews. Jesus shares some very important advice about what it means to faithfully follow and worship God, spoiler it has nothing to do with altars and churches. He says “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Wow this is a deep well of living water for sure. God the Father wants people who worship in the spirit and in truth. What does this mean?
I think I get the part about worshiping in spirit. Jesus in His role as a window between the worlds is providing all kinds of examples of how the disciples navigate and discern this spiritual world, while still dwelling in this land of oblivion. I think this part boils down to stripping down to our souls so that we can interact with God on a spiritual level, for after as Jesus says “God is spirit”.
The second part is more perplexing. We are to “worship in truth”. This of course implies that the opposite is possible which would be to worship in lies. What does this mean? I am not sure I have a great answer for this but it seems to me that what Jesus may be getting at is that we sometimes worship when our heart is not in the right place. Our body is present, but our spirit is somewhere else thinking about something or someone other than God. We are in worshiping in a lie, the lie that we are all in for God body, mind, and spirit when in fact we are not. Jesus concludes this dive into the deep end with a clear confession that He is the Messiah, ““I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”. This is something He has not revealed so plainly even to His own disciples.
Now to the comparatively “shallow end” of the pool when the disciples return They find Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus just finished telling the woman everything she ever did, including about her multiple marriages; and sharing deep spiritual truth about God and how we are to worship Him. Jesus knows this woman from the inside out even though He just met her. The disciples have a striking lack of curiosity about this strange woman talking with Jesus, “But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her? I am not sure why they did not question her or Jesus about this cultural confluence unless they were already becoming accustomed to Jesus interacting with wondering souls.
The woman seems flustered and leaves without the reason she was there in the first place, her water jar. Her encounter with Jesus and the spring of living water He promised was more important than the physical water she originally went to fetch. She allowed her heart to be channeled toward God.
The woman was mum about the talk of living water and Messiah’s when the disciples arrived, but she cannot contain her excitement when she returns to town. She wants everyone to “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”. I find it interesting that she did not mention the more metaphysical and mystical aspects of their meeting. She focused on His ability to know the details of her life and His possible identity as the Messiah.
This seems to have piqued the curiosity of the people in the village and they made their way to Him to learn more. It is hard to tell if they went in search of a mystic and magician or the Messiah. I suppose there was probably a spectrum of seekers that found what they were looking for at the well. The Samaritan woman went to the well for a jar of water and came back with something much bigger. The take home message for me is that as we go about our daily routine of “fetching water” we should always be ready to encounter something or Someone much bigger.
Prayer: God help us to keep our hearts and eyes open for You in our daily routines.