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The Centre of True Worship

John 4:20-26

The Samaritan woman was highly articulate and spiritually aware. Despite her personal circumstances, she wanted to understand how to worship the Lord. She was confused by the different religious interpretations of the Samaritans and the Jews. However, she identified that Jesus was somebody who could help her. She started by asking where God wanted people to worship Him. Jesus responded that the location was neither Mount Gerizim nor Mount Zion. God was planning that true worship would come directly from the hearts of those who love Him.

Questions with Difficult Answers

John 4:27-30

Sometimes we do not ask a question because we fear getting an answer we cannot handle. The disciples were confused enough that their Master had demanded that they walk through Samaria (John 4:4), and then that they had no option other than to buy food at the local 'unclean' market (John 4:8). So when they returned and found Jesus alone with a Samaritan woman they could not think of any good reason why He was talking with her. They were out of their depth and kept their questions to themselves.

A Spiritual Appetite

John 4:31-34

The disciples returned from their shopping trip in Sychar, with food for all of them. But the response of Jesus took them by surprise. Had Jesus really got His own food? And if so, how? But Jesus was talking about a different sort of food to satisfy a different hunger.

Harvest Time

John 4:35-38

It is very important to do the right thing, but it is vital to do it at the right time. The time to harvest crops is perhaps the biggest decision a farmer will make. Too early, and the produce may not be mature and the yield will be reduced. Too late, and it may rot or be taken by animals and birds. Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that His arrival on earth marked the beginning of God's spiritual harvest. It appears that they had no sense of urgency, assuming it was good enough to teach and do miracles.

From Hearing to Faith

John 4:39-42

The woman at the well was convinced about Jesus, because He revealed all her past secrets. The possibility that He could be God's Messiah became a rumour which spread quickly through the town. She had believed in Jesus, and now others wanted to find out if it was all true. They invited Him to stay with them, and He accepted their invitation (although religious Jews would not normally want to eat in the homes of Samaritans).

From Disgrace to Dishonour

John 4:43-45

Religiously, for a rabbi to choose to spend two days in Samaria was a disgrace. Allowing Samaritans to entertain a Jew was like eating pork: making Jesus and His disciples ceremonially unclean. Such a person should be ashamed of himself. But Jesus was not seeking praise from people; He was not on an ego-led publicity tour. He simply wanted the disciples to see that as people believed in Him, as the Saviour of the world, they were changed ... no matter their gender, race or religious background (John 4:42).

Moving in Faith

John 4:46-50

This royal official came to Jesus because nobody else could solve his problem. Despite his money and influence, his sick son was close to death. In desperation, the man travelled over twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana hoping that Jesus could save his boy. It was not a private consultation. The arrival of this dignitary caused quite a stir in the little village, and they all turned out to see and hear what would happen.

Faith Confirmed

John 4:51-54

The interval between praying and receiving God's answer provides an important test of our relationship with Him. The royal official whose son was dying travelled a long way to ask Jesus for help. Although his son was still over twenty miles away, the man believed the words of Jesus, "You may go. Your son will live." His obedience in leaving Cana and returning to Capernaum before he saw the miracle was the sign of his faith.

The Desire To Be Made Whole

John 5:1-6

This episode in Jesus' ministry took place in Jerusalem. The pool of Bethesda was originally a watering place for sheep, but had been built up to become a sanatorium or hospice where many chronically ill people were brought. The man who features in this narrative was paralysed and had been lying there for thirty-eight years. He had no proper medical care, no-one sat with him to help him, and he saw himself as having no hope for the future. It was enough for him to exist and, provided food was brought from time to time, he could do that.

No-one to Help

John 5:7-9a

He had been unwell for thirty-eight years unable to walk and with no-one to help. Like many of the disabled people lying around the pool of Bethesda, he thought that if he was the first to get into the water when the underground spring bubbled up, he might be healed. But someone always got into the water before him. He had faith in the so-called "curative power" of the water, but could never see himself being healed.