Day 5: John 4
Have you ever been frustrated that the people you are trying to talk to about God dismiss what you say as ‘religion’? Well Jesus was experiencing the very same frustration in this chapter of John and uses some very helpful comparisons to teach with.
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is a familiar one but this encounter only happened because Jesus was forced to make a journey. The journey was to escape the attention of religious fanatics who had decided that Jesus was exceeding his quota of baptisms! Empty religion is easily recognised by this – it ignores the needs of people and gives priority to rules, regulations and ‘the way things have always been done’.
After a long, hard journey, Jesus is hungry, tired and thirsty. We’ve all experienced being ‘hangry’- (when your blood sugar levels have dropped, you become impatient and irritable and focused on your need for food!) Yet Jesus recognises in this woman something deeper than just physical need. Spiritually she is in a desperate state. Without God and the knowledge of his love for her, she is looking in all the wrong places for satisfaction. Have you noticed that often when people are put on the spot they will resort to quoting rules? – even the Devil quoted scripture at Jesus when he was trying to use hunger to tempt him (Luke 4). The woman tries to deflect attention by pointing out that some rules are being broken here (Jews shouldn’t associate with Samaritans and a man shouldn’t be talking alone with a woman) and by throwing in a bit of religious knowledge for good measure!
Jesus puts people before rules and love of others before his own comfort – “I who speak to you am he”. Just believing that God exists isn’t enough. He is the Saviour she’s looking for. The hunger and thirst in every human being is only answered by Jesus. We need the knowledge of his love for us, the refreshment of forgiveness, relationship with God and full access to the inexhaustible resources of heaven.
Jesus uses a similar analogy with his disciples. They return with food and Jesus says “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”. The disciples came from a culture of religion. They followed Jesus because they saw something different and real but they still had a lot to learn – that there are more important things in life than just satisfying our physical desires.
I am loving the extra time right now for studying and praying. I’m loving that we’re studying John’s Gospel as Academy students and seeing how John the Baptist pointed everyone to Jesus. I’m loving that in our Book Club ‘Dangerous Prayers’ we are being challenged to give up our own desires to follow Jesus because nothing else will ultimately satisfy us.
I see the message of John 4 being summed up in v42 “We no longer believe just because of what you said, now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.” People will not believe just because of our testimony – they will believe if our testimony leads them to Him.
Prayer: Jesus today, by your Holy Spirit, give me the same love for people that you have. Love that puts the desperate need of people to know you above my own comfort. Today I want to point people to you.