"He told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.' 'I have no husband,' she replied. Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.' 'Sir,' the woman said, 'I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.'" John 4:16-20 (NIV).
O-oh! This conversation is getting a bit uncomfortable. How did Jesus know that?
If this woman was to admit her thirst and come clean, she had to open up the cupboard and get all the skeletons out. Jesus didn't pussyfoot around. He could read her like a book. Why did He expose her, just like that?
First of all, they were alone at the well. There was no-one around to eavesdrop on her private life. Jesus would never have exposed her in front of His disciples. It was not His intention to shame or embarrass her but to open up the lines of communication between them so that He could speak to her heart.
Secondly, as long as she kept secrets, there would be a wall between them. He knew and she knew but, until she knew that He knew, she would not hear Him or receive what He was offering her. He told her that He knew exactly what was going on, not to accuse but to show her that her lifestyle was a symptom of her real thirst. She thought she needed a man to love her but what she really need was to reconnect with the God who loved her unconditionally for who she was.
She did what every person does when faced with having to own up to what they are doing -- she became religious. 'This is scary. You must be a prophet. We Samaritans go to this church, but you Jews insist that your church is the right one. So which one is the right one?' A convenient "red herring" to take the heat off her!
But, whether she liked it or not, her interest was aroused. This was not just a casual conversation -- small talk at the well while she was getting water; this man was getting very personal and she had to change direction before He embarrassed her even more. Let's talk religion. That's safe ground, so she thought.
But her question got Jesus even more fired up. This exchange was going somewhere and He was nudging it on. "'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 of the Jews.''' John 4: 21, 22 (NIV).
'It's not about where you worship, but who you worship. It's not about this church or that denomination. It's about worshipping the Father.' That must have startled her. Her religion was a hotchpotch of religions, man-made and futile because it was not the truth. Her problem began with a false idea about God. She had no foundation upon which to build her life and so she was doing what Adam did -- making her own rules which didn't work and left her heart empty and thirsty.
Jesus gently took her back to basics. 'Who are you worshipping? There is only one God and He is your Father, the source of your life. All other gods are products of someone's imagination, and worthless substitutes for the true God.'
She had to learn that God was neither an intrusion nor an add-on to her life but the source and foundation of everything that would provide peace and wholeness. Her life was in tatters because she had no Father to give her identity and stability, no one to worship and honour, to follow and obey and to be the authority in her life. Like a captain-less ship she was trying to navigate life without knowing who she was, where she was going and who was in charge. And it wasn't working for her.
Only the Creator knows how His creation should function. Without Him, nothing works. You have to get reconnected. Have you?
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