Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lenten Devotional: Day Seven, Wednesday Feb 13th "Spirit and in Truth"

Gospel Reading: John 3-4
Devotional Emphasis: John 4:23“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father is spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

Today’s reading begins with perhaps one of the most famous stories in the entire bible, namely the story of Nicodemus asking Jesus how he could be “born again a second time.” Jesus’ answer is that one must be born of “water and spirit.” In other words, one must be born physically and spiritually. The section we read today spends a great deal of time talking about “eternal life.” God so loved the word that he gave his only son and those who believe in him will have eternal life.” John the Baptist echoes this testimony and the woman at the well is told that if she drinks the water Jesus offers she will have eternal life. Jesus heals the Official’s son, marking his second miracle in John’s gospel so that people will believe, thus giving them eternal life. The word eternal does not have to mean “everlasting”; it can also mean “having an eternal quality of life.” Both definitions are important.

In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman as he is passing by. She is hanging out at the well at noon, which means she is going during the heat of the day, maybe in order to be there while there is no crowd. Jesus asks her for a drink and she is taken back b this because she is both a Samaritan and a woman. This story may remind us of famous “well story meetings in the Old Testament such as Isaac’s servant and Rebecca and Moses and his wife and sisters. In return Jesus offers her water that will completely quench her thirst. They also have a conversation about worship. Samaritans worshipped at a temple on Mount Gerizim and the Jews believed the temple in Jerusalem was the true temple. Jesus being the good Jew he was agreed with the Jewish view, but added that a time was coming when they would not worship on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but would worship in Spirit and in Truth.

What does it mean to worship in Spirit and in truth? Jesus gives us the answer in part by saying that God is spirit. God is not bound to one certain place, but is active everywhere. Obviously the woman at the well was confused because she could not figure out what Jesus was saying because she wanted the Messiah to come and explain it all to her. Jesus then says he is the Messiah. I think from this context worshiping in spirit and truth means to worship God as revealed by Jesus, the Christ. Jesus takes the place of either temple and reveals the heart and character of God. So often we make worship about the sermon or the music, but worship in spirit and truth is making worship about Jesus! The heart of true worship is all about Jesus and we need to learn, like the Samaritan woman to make worship about Jesus and worship in spirit and in truth.

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