Category Archives: Devotional

John 4:43-45

Ever felt like you couldn’t go “home” again? Home could be an actual home. It could also be a job, a group, a location, or even a particular church. For Jesus, it was his hometown of Nazareth. 

After the two days he departed for Galilee. For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.  – John 4:43-45, ESV

After two days with the Samaritans, it was time to move on. He went back to the region of Galilee but not back to Nazareth. We are told why: He wasn’t respected there. He couldn’t go home again. 

Jesus wasn’t the cause of the alienation. That didn’t matter because the separation was real. There have been times in my life where I felt I couldn’t go back to something or somewhere. Likely you have, too. It’s hard, especially if the reason for the separation isn’t our fault. The good news for us is that Jesus understands that feeling. He can empathize with it because He dealt with it. 

We are reminded over and over again that Jesus faced every temptation that we face, that He was fully human as well as fully divine. He can empathize with us because He has shared the lows: poverty, betrayal, hatred, racism, injustice, and much more. Therefore, when we turn to Him in prayer over any of these things for which we hurt, we don’t have to explain. He understands. 

Stop and meditate on that for a moment. Even when it seems like no one else gets it, Jesus always does. Therefore, we can pour out our hearts to Him. We can express the rawness of our pain. And we can receive the kind of comfort that only comes from sharing with someone who has been through the same sort of thing. We get all of that with Jesus. How often we forget this. 

So if you’re hurting, especially if you’re facing a situation where you feel like you can’t go “home,” seek Jesus in prayer. Let go of the pain and give it to Him. Allow Him to be your comfort. Allow Him to be the one who helps you in your time of trouble. The Bible reminds us that God wants to be there for us in times like these. It’s not Him that keeps us apart. It is us. But we can also choose to seek after Him, to go to Him with broken hearts for Him to mend. After all, this is the sort of thing He did with the Samaritan woman. He mended her broken spirit, the one that kept trying to find love by pursuing different men. Whatever our hurts are, Jesus can help us mend them. 

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John 4:39-42

Her life was a broken record of failed relationships. She was shunned within her own village. This was saying something considering her people were considered half-breeds who worshipped God incorrectly. Her classification within society was one of the shunned even within the ranks of the shunned. Yet God chose her as His messenger. 

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” – John 4:39-42, ESV

The woman Jesus met at the well went back to her village and told them what she had heard and seen. She wasn’t a trained evangelist. She wasn’t an educated minister. No one would have picked her to teach Sunday school or to lead any sort of ministry. She was a sinner, one who was in the midst of her sin until she met Jesus. Yet she was the messenger and her impact was enormous. Through her words, many Samaritans heard enough to believe. They asked Jesus to stay longer. This permitted Him to share more, bringing even more people to faith. 

We are to grow in faith. We are to grow in knowledge of Scripture and of God. We aren’t supposed to continue drinking milk but move on to more solid spiritual food. However, wherever we are on that growth scale, we can be used by God. The Samaritan was a new convert. She wasn’t trained. She hadn’t attended an evangelism course. Yet she was effective. She was effective because God worked through her. Therefore, we can be just as useful. 

Don’t doubt God. If God calls you to reach out to someone, trust that He will do what needs to be done. Don’t let your inexperience be a stumbling block to responding to God’s call. God can use us where we are if we are willing. We just have to be willing. He will do the rest. 

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John 4:35-38

Not everyone is called to be an evangelist within the Church. However, all of us are called to share the Gospel, to be able to gently defend our faith, and to be able to testify to God’s work in our lives. Just because I am not individually called to be an evangelist does not excuse me from the responsibility of sharing the Gospel. 

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” – John 4:35-38, ESV

My primary calling is to work with children and youth. At the youngest levels, we don’t see children who understand the Gospel message and desire to respond to Jesus’ call. So often times I am one of the ones who labor but don’t participate in the harvest, the metaphor Jesus uses. However, if I am part of the Kingdom of God, I should be ready and willing if that’s my particular role for a certain individual. That’s God’s expectation of me and for all of those who love Him. 

While God will not let anyone He intends to save get away, we don’t know who they will be. Therefore, our responsibility is to sacrificially love everyone who we come across in whatever way is appropriate and sharing the Gospel with those whom we can. Regardless of our spiritual gifts, our primary roles within the Church, and anything else we’d like to cite, we must recognize that there are people around us who are ready to respond to God’s call on their lives. And we may be the folks God wants to use to reach those people. 

Piggy-backing on what we looked at yesterday, our individual needs are often secondary to reaching out with the Gospel and meeting others’ spiritual needs. Definitely our individual desires are secondary. Therefore, we must be willing to open our eyes and see the fields ripe for harvest and take up the task of completing it. 

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John 4:30-34

In the Church, we talk about the body and blood of Jesus whenever we take Communion/Eucharist/Lord’s Supper. It’s supposed to be a time when we examine ourselves and confess and repent of the sin we find in ourselves and then partake of a ceremony where we identify with Jesus and His sacrifice. We often equate food and drink to spiritual things. Jesus often did so as well to draw a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. 

They went out of the town and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. – John 4:30-34, ESV

The disciples were urging Jesus to eat. This only makes sense, since it was lunch time, they had journeyed all morning, and the reason the disciples weren’t with Jesus was because they went into town to get food. However, just as He did with the Samaritan woman, Jesus used the opportunity as a teaching moment. He was working to get His disciples to understand that spiritual matters were more important than physical ones. This is why He referenced food and said He had food to eat that they didn’t know about. He had an appetite to do the will of the Father. 

Jesus knew the Samaritans witnessed to by the woman were on their way. Their spiritual nourishment was more important than His physical one. He would continue along this vein, something we will look at tomorrow, but let’s just focus on this initial response to His disciples for today. It speaks to our own priorities. 

It’s easy to focus on our own physical priorities. It’s easy to look at our own needs. However, Jesus’ example was to put aside His physical ones for the spiritual needs of others. This makes sense at a logical level, because He was demonstrating a self-sacrificing love towards the Samaritans. It needs to hit us at a heart-level, however, because we are to repeat His example whenever and wherever we can. 

This is something I struggle with, as do many whom I know. We allow ourselves to be ruled by the tyranny of the immediate, by the squeakiest wheel, or whatever metaphor you want to use. Because of this, we close our ears and eyes off from noticing the spiritual needs of others and therefore we fail to engage our hands and feet for Christ. The good news is that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, to see for us, to spur us on, but that means our ears can’t be closed to Him, either. It also means we have to have the courage to respond. 

As the Church, we must put the spiritual needs of others over our own physical needs. We need help in this. God provides that help, if we will but take it. This allows us to participate in the sacrificing love which God asks of us. And this allows us to be more like our Savior. Let us embrace this example and be the people God calls us to be!

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John 4:27-29

The disciples were surprised at what they saw. Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman, breaking several social taboos. Yet, they remained silent. I’m sure God had something to do with that that. Meanwhile, leaving Jesus temporarily, the woman was anything but silent. 

Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” – John 4:27-29, ESV

Likely she was at the well at noon instead of the early morning because she wanted to avoid social contact. After all, she wasn’t thought well of considering she had married multiple men and the man she was currently with wasn’t married to her. Yet, despite the probable scorn and derision, she went to tell the village about Jesus. She invited them to see Jesus. 

We often find reasons not to share our faith. We point to our past and say we aren’t acceptable messengers. However, God’s forgiveness of our past is a powerful message to testify to. Maybe, we are introverts who say it’s too painful to share. While the pain is real, it isn’t too painful. Certainly it’s no painful than what this woman potentially faced. 

We must share. Jesus was tired. He was weary. He was thirsty. He could have cited all these reasons to just rest and not reach out to the woman. He didn’t use those reasons. He reached out. He committed Himself. And as a result, there was a breakthrough. 

Given both the woman’s and Jesus’ actions despite their conditions, we have a responsibility to do the same. Any reasons we present aren’t reasons; they are excuses. We cannot hold back on sharing. We must tell the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Note also how both shared. Jesus approached her kindly. She went back to the village excitedly. This wasn’t a time to beat people up for doing things wrongly. It wasn’t a moment to establish moral superiority. Rather, each took the opportunity to present their news in a gentle way. We are reminded in Scripture that this the appropriate means. So let us share, but let us share gently, of the good news of Jesus Christ. 

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John 4:25-26

Jesus left no doubt as to who He was. Despite being clear multiple times throughout the Gospel accounts, Jesus words about Himself went misunderstood. Those who followed Him had an advantage we don’t. They walked with Him and saw Him and His miracles. Therefore it’s not surprising when someone hears about Jesus today and doesn’t believe. 

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming he who is called Christ. When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” – John 4:25-26, ESV

Here is one example of Jesus making a claim to who He was. Now, He did this to the Samaritan woman and not in the presence of His disciples. However, He did so in their presence multiple times as well. He did not hide who He was. Jesus made a hard claim to being the Messiah, the one who would save His people. 

This is why some Christian apologists will say that the Biblical accounts don’t support the idea that Jesus was merely a great man or even “just” a prophet. And this is why they will also say that if you don’t accept His claim about Himself, you must either classify Him a madman or a liar. They are correct on both points. 

Jesus, based on the rest of the testimony of Scripture, was who He said He was. He was Messiah, the Christ, God’s Anointed. He came to save us from our sins. He came to teach us and help us better understand how to love, worship, and serve God. Jesus was and is God. 

Jesus’ ministry to the woman and to the Samaritans was just getting started. He did have more to tell them. We don’t have what all He said or did. We are blessed to have the important points recorded for us in God’s Holy Word, and not just the interaction with the Samaritans, but many more situations. In addition, we have the revealed Word which God has shared to us through His prophets. It is a waiting resource for us to tap. Let us endeavor to do so!

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John 4:20-24

A church building is just a building. In the United States, churches are located in every type of building. For instance, some churches find themselves in storefronts located in strip malls. It is more and more apparent in today’s world that the building isn’t the church. 

Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:20-24, ESV

Jesus had engaged the Samaritan woman on spiritual matters. She realized He was more than a normal man. He knew one of the sticking points between Jews and Samaritans is where they worshipped God. However, it is the woman who brought up where. 

When she did, look at Jesus’ response. There would come a time (and it wasn’t too much longer historically speaking) when God was not worshipped in either place. Her focus was on a place. She wasn’t the only one guilty of this mistaken notion. This was a prevailing attitude of both Jews and Samaritans at the time. However, the Scriptures (“what we know”), which is what Jesus was referring to when He spoke about salvation coming from the Jews, doesn’t present that the only place to worship God is in a specially designated spot. God’s people worshipped Him in many different places. There was no room for added on rules and regulations (“what you do not know”), something both Samaritans and Jews were guilty of. 

Truth be told, it’s an implicit attitude among many folks in congregations today. We place too much emphasis on our church buildings. But God can and should be worshipped anywhere. God should be exalted wherever we are. We don’t need a special building. 

Are you focused on spiritual things? Are you devoted to the truth of the Bible? Are your thoughts and actions guided by both? When both of these are true in a believer’s thoughts and deeds, that is an act of worship. This is what God is seeking from us. This is what God is expecting. 

This isn’t to say that church buildings aren’t important. They provide a place for believers to worship together. We are commanded to meet with fellow believers, to edify and equip each other, and to worship God corporately. So don’t read Jesus’ words to mean you can skip coming together with other Christians. That’s not His point. Scripture doesn’t support that argument. We are to gather together. 

Will you worship in spirit and in truth? Will you seek to let your actions represent such worship? Are you willing to be the type of worshipper God is looking for? We can be. We should be. Let us be. 

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