John, The Love of God
We all still do it. It is the first thing most pastors are asked when approached by other church leaders, friends or other pastors. It is asked on paper by the organization of churches. It is most objective way mankind has decided to use to judge a ministry. Remember on the playground when the one who had the most marbles won? It’s kinda like that.
According to John’s gospel telling, John the Baptist’s disciples counted how many baptisms versus how many were done by Jesus. John’s crew were upset when team Jesus pulled ahead! That prompted John’s testimony and proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah. The competition heated up when Jesus disciples baptized more than John. The Pharisees LOVED getting in on this action, so they posted the score! How did Jesus feel about all this? He left.
On the way back to Galilee, he stopped. A Samaritan woman, who no respectable Jew would associate with, begins a conversation with the Son of God, the Messiah. She had heard of the Messiah and now she was in His Presence. He knew her. He related to her. He offered her what He offers to all of us…ALL of us…Living Water and a relationship with Him forever.
It is no wonder these two stories are together. Are we keeping count or building relationships? When emphasis is placed on the wrong goal, we fail the mission. Remember what happened when keeping score became the most talked about? Jesus left.
John 4, The Message
The Woman at the Well
1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
What do we learn?
–Jesus teaches the woman and us what is most important and what God is looking for in all of us…”It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.” This is what counts!
–The woman left to tell everyone, “Come see!” Her new honest relationship prompted her to point the Way for others. “And they went out to see for themselves.” That’s what counts!
Dear Heavenly Father,
How we miss the point sometimes in our pursuit of building Your church! Sheer numbers are not what you require. Relationship is what matters to You. You have made that clear to us. We repent of those times when we reduce Who you are to keeping score of who comes to church. May we see others, not as numbers, but as you see them. We are all your creation, longing for true, honest relationships. Help us, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen