Do we seek the presence of God? What is the point of people worshiping God?
15 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 16 He *said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
When I first read this passage, I was confused. She talks about water, He talks about husbands, she talks about worshipping on a mountain, He says you can’t worship on a mountain…what gives? As I’ve learned thus far in my study of the bible, when this happens, it actually is one complete thought process. I think sometimes that these occurrences are an extension of the parables Jesus spoke in. If He always taught in parables, would not then His interactions with others also be like parables? Maybe this isn’t quite a parable, but this is what I get out of today’s passage.
The woman still thought Jesus was talking about actual water, a liquid you can drink. He changes His approach to show her what kind of thirst He is talking about that this Living Water will satisfy. He exposes the weakness or sin in her life. Suddenly, she gets it. We see this in verse 19, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” She still doesn’t grasp, however, “how it works,” hence the reference to worship. It doesn’t surprise me that this concept is still embraced today. You see, her point of view was that you have to worship in order to receive forgiveness. That in order for her to receive this so called Living Water, which would help her in her thirst for companionship, she would need to climb a mountain or walk to Jerusalem to worship and then receive the blessing of this Living Water.
How much do we act this way today? We think we need to be presentable to God in order to receive His grace and forgiveness. People think they have to get themselves to a place where they are like church people in order to be able to “properly” go to church. We think we have to be “good enough” in order for Him to pay attention to us. We think that our actions must reflect that which is worthy to seek His audience. Folks, NONE OF US can ever earn our way into His presence.
Jesus’ revelation to this woman exposes the fact that there is no place, mountain, city, (or building) that is restricted to the worship of God. He says that whether or not people know why they are worshipping, if they do not know what they are worshipping, it’s pointless. God wants us to worship from the heart, because we love Him, not because it’s part of tradition, what we should do, or because we think it will earn us something.
Do we ever appreciate someone who is being nice to us because they want something in return? Maybe someone loves another for their money. Maybe a kid is talking sweetly to his mom for some candy, or to stay up an extra half hour. Maybe a spouse is being nice to be granted forgiveness for something they have done (ie flowers, a box of chocolates, or a card to say “I’m sorry”). It never feels genuine. It never feels truly meaningful, because it is in order to gain something back.
Jesus’ point here is that God doesn’t want us to worship and love Him out of ritual, tradition, or because it will get us something in return, but simply because He is our God, He loves us eternally, and because of that, we love Him back. These are the people He seeks to be His worshippers.
Why do you worship?