God came to earth and went for a long walk to the forsaken land of Samaria. The people were sexually confused, started their own cult, and even sacrificed their own children to demons who masqueraded as gods.
Hot from the long walk in the desert, Jesus sat down at a well to have a conversation with a Samaritan woman, as John 4 reports. She was an outcast who had been married five times and was living with some guy who had taken advantage of this abused and confused woman.
Jesus was Jewish. The woman was Samaritan. Between these two groups was a big war over worship and the Temple. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jewish exiles who had returned to Jerusalem began repairing and rebuilding of the Temple so that God could be worshiped there. The Samaritans offered to help the Jews rebuild the Temple, but were clearly told that they were godless idolaters who did not possess salvation, so their assistance was unwelcome (Ezra 4:1–5). In response, the renegade Jew Manasseh married a Samaritan woman and constructed another temple on Mount Gerizim, which was in the heart of Samaria and was to serve as their competing site of worship and priesthood (Nehemiah 13:23–31). Today, we would simply call this a cult. The competing Samaritan Temple remained in use for roughly 300 years, until the Jews burned it to the ground.
Sitting with Jesus, the Samaritan woman asked Jesus about THE theological issue dividing their religions, races, and worship: Where should she go to confess worship God? Should she go to her Samaritan Temple on nearby Mount Gerizim, or should she travel to the Temple in Jerusalem?
Jesus’ answer was powerful.
In one moment, He declared an end to both Samaritan and Jewish worship in favor of worship that require both spirit and truth to please God the Father. Jesus declared that God the Father was actively seeking worshipers and that He would give them both truth so they would not worship in ignorance and the Holy Spirit who would teach them to worship. Now, because of the Spirit, people would no longer need to go to any place or Temple, but instead they could worship God anywhere and everywhere because God had found them and caused them to be worshipers who were now in the truth and in the spirit since their bodies had become a Temple in which they could worship all the time and everywhere (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; Ephesians 2:19–22). Tenderly, the word Jesus used for worship literally means to kiss toward. Jesus had just proposed a loving salvation covenant relationship with this woman that would finally meet the relational longings she had sadly pursued with sinful men.
The woman was stunned. She told Jesus that she longed for the day when God would come as the Messiah/Christ and explain all of these things to her. Jesus simply declared, “I who you speak of am he.” In John’s Gospel, this is Jesus’ only declaration of His identity as Messiah prior to His trial. He speaks it to a sole, sinful Samaritan woman. He knows her, and now she knows Him, so their eternal relationship begins.
What relational needs that only God can meet have you wrongly sought to have met in relationships with other people?