Created to Do Good

Bible:

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. Luke 4:38-39 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

Reflection:

Mr. Richards was a handyman, and he really enjoyed his work.  He could fix plumbing or electrical wires or just about anything that wasn’t working right. He could also make and build new things, and he could make them both beautiful and strong, so that they would last. He liked going to people’s homes and fixing things that were broken and building new things like shelves or counters or cabinets. Mr. Richards loved his job, and when he got hurt and couldn’t work for awhile, he was very unhappy. He hated sitting around the house waiting to get better and not being able to do his job. When the sink broke in his kitchen and he couldn’t fix that, he was even more unhappy. God had given Mr. Richards the ability to make and fix things, and it made him happy to use that gift. When he was able to go back to work, he felt much better, not only because he was well, but because he could go back to doing what he loved to do.

When Simon (Jesus called him Peter) brought Jesus to his home in Capernaum after they left the synagogue, he found that his mother-in-law was really sick. She had a high fever, and she felt so ill that she was lying down. We don’t know what her name was, but it seems like she really enjoyed having people visit her home and giving them good food to eat and making them comfortable. It made her feel bad to know that Jesus had come to her home and she couldn’t even get up to give him anything. But Peter and his wife and the other people in the house believed that Jesus could help, and so they told him their trouble. Jesus went to the mother-in-law and scolded the fever, and it left her right away. People usually feel weak and tired after they’ve been sick for awhile, but Peter’s mother-in-law jumped right up and started getting some food on the table for her visitors. It made her happy to be able to go right back to doing what she loved–feeding people and helping them have a good time in her home. She had the privilege of treating Jesus as her guest, and it was a joy for her.

God has made all of us to do good work in the world, and when we do the things that God has created us to do, it often makes us very happy. Because of sin, we sometimes get frustrated and angry and have troubles in doing the work the Lord gives us to do, and sometimes we get sick or hurt and can’t work. Jesus came to put right the things that had gone wrong in his creation. He made sick people well, and even more importantly, he died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. He helps us find joy in whatever work he gives us to do, and he is with us when our job isn’t fun, or when we are sick or hurt. He forgives us for being lazy and not wanting to do our jobs. We can’t work directly for Jesus the way Peter’s mother-in-law did, but whatever we do for others is just like doing it for Jesus, and that makes doing the things we need to do even more of a privilege.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for our work, and thank you for our ability to do it. Please give us joy in serving you by helping others. Amen.

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Words of Authority

Bible:

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:16-21 ESV

Reflection:

There are studies that show that there are certain ways of speaking that make others believe that you speak with authority. Some people even give others lessons on how to use your voice so that other people will listen to you and respect what you say. Speaking with authority means sometimes speaking loudly and sometimes more softly–not yelling all the time. It also means speaking at a higher pitch, but not changing the pitch too much. A former prime minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, took lessons so that she could speak with authority. When she was first the prime minister, her speaking voice made her sound to some people as if she were shrieking, but as time went on her speaking improved because of these lessons.

Jesus spoke with authority, but he didn’t have to take any speaking lessons to do that. His authority came from what his words accomplished. People listened to him because he was different from other teachers that they were used to hearing. Other religious teachers would only quote other teachers from the past, and they would never say anything new or different, but Jesus spoke for himself. He was the Son of God, and he had the authority to speak the word of God to the people. Not only did he teach with authority, but he also proved that he could command evil spirits to come out of people and stop bothering them, and the demons would obey him. When a man with an evil spirit came into the synagogue where Jesus was teaching, he tried to argue with Jesus, but Jesus told the demon to be quiet and come out of the man. The demon cried out and threw the man to the ground, but then he left the man. He had to obey Jesus’ authority.

God’s word still speaks to us with authority. It tells us the way the Lord wants us to live, and it shows us how we fall short of obeying God’s law. When we hear the authority of God’s word, we know that we are sinners and we hear words of the Lord’s judgment on us. But there is another word of authority, and that is the word of forgiveness. Jesus won that forgiveness by dying on the cross for us. When we hear God’s word of love, we know that we are his forgiven people, and that no evil powers can ever hurt us. We belong to Jesus, who has complete authority over death and the devil, and Jesus will protect us and keep us his always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us yours and having authority over all the evil that wants to hurt us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/a-voice-of-authority-people-can-recognize-high-power-voices-study-finds-1.2118494

A Powerful Word

Bible:

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. John 4:46-53 ESV

He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. Psalm 147:15-18 ESV

Reflection:

There are many computer programs today that can recognize and respond to human speech. As I write, there are programs that are able to recognize 230 billion words and respond to them in some way! In the future, people might be able to use their voices to give commands to coffee makers, printers, and the lights in their houses. But in the beginning of speech recognition technology, in 1952, there was a system named “Audrey” that could recognize a few numbers spoken by a single voice. A machine named “Shoebox” at the 1962 World’s Fair could recognize 16 English words. Over time, computer scientists developed systems that could recognize more and more words and give people power to give commands with their voices that would be obeyed.

Long before there were computers that could understand and obey voice commands, the Lord Jesus gave an amazing command with his voice. A man whose son was very sick came to Jesus and asked him for help. Jesus didn’t go with the man to his house, but instead he just said the word that the son was healed. The man believed Jesus’ word, and he turned around and went back to his house. When he came home he found that his son was getting better. He asked his servants when his son had started to get better, and they told him the time. The father realized that it was the very same time that Jesus had given his word that his son would live! Jesus’ word had the power to heal a sick boy who was close to death.

Jesus was God in the beginning, the Word that brought all of creation into existence. God’s powerful word is still at work. The Holy Spirit speaks through God’s word, the Bible, and bring faith and new life to people. The father believed Jesus’ word and found his son healed. We believe God’s word and know that Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again to give us a new life. The Lord’s word gives us healing and life through the work Jesus did for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us healing and life through your Word. Amen.

Source:

https://www.pcworld.com/article/243060/speech_recognition_through_the_decades_how_we_ended_up_with_siri.html

An Angry Mob

Bible:

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:28-30 ESV

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5-6 ESV

Reflection:

In the 1870s and 1880s many Chinese people came to the United States to help build the railroad tracks that were connecting the eastern and western parts of the country. After the railroads were completed, Chinese people continued to live on the west coast to try to find work and make lives for themselves. In the city of Tacoma, in Washington State, many people hated the Chinese and wanted to get rid of them. They felt that the Chinese people were bad and dirty and were taking their jobs away. On November 3, 1885, a terrible thing happened. An angry mob of people from Tacoma drove all the Chinese people out of town. They marched to the Chinese part of town, broke open doors, smashed windows, stole property, and forced the Chinese people onto wagons, or else made them walk, and they took all of them and made them get onto a freight train that took them out of town.

The people of Nazareth became so angry with Jesus that they forced him out of town, too. In fact, they tried to kill him! They rushed together in a mob and pushed him to the edge of a cliff and tried to throw him off. They did this because Jesus had talked to them about how God’s love and care extends to all people, even those who weren’t part of the chosen nation of Israel. The people were very angry when they heard this. They thought that they were special, and they didn’t want to share God’s blessings with people who were different from them. The thought made them so angry that they pushed Jesus out of their town and out of their lives. Although they tried to kill him, it wasn’t the right time for Jesus to die, so he did a quiet miracle. He calmly walked right through middle of the angry crowd, and no one could stop him.

Sometimes we don’t want to share God’s love with people who are different from us, or with people that we don’t like. We want to keep God’s love for ourselves, but when we do that, we push the Lord out of our lives. Jesus died on the cross for all people, and his death paid for the forgiveness of everyone’s sins. He wants his people to show love and to share this good news with everyone, not just with people who are like us. The Lord is always ready to forgive us for our hatefulness, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to love and accept all people.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your great love for all people. Forgive us for not being willing to share that love, and help us to share your love with others. Amen.

Source:

http://www.historylink.org/File/5063

Hometown Privilege

Bible:

And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:22-27 ESV

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13 ESV

Reflection:

Abraham Lincoln lived in Springfield, Illinois for many years, and pretty much considered it his hometown. When he left Springfield to become the President of the United States, he gave a speech to the people of Springfield where he said, “No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried.” But after he became the president, some of the people of Springfield became unhappy with Mr. Lincoln. These people had hoped that he would give them special privileges and jobs in the nation’s capital because they had been friends in Springfield, and Lincoln didn’t always do this. He gave jobs to other people instead of favoring his old friends in his hometown.

The people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth were also unhappy with Jesus. They had heard that he had done some miracles in other places, and they thought that they should have some special privileges from Jesus and see some especially exciting miracles. But Jesus told them that he wasn’t going to do miracles just to satisfy their curiosity or to give them a show. He reminded them of stories from the past, when Elijah and Elisha helped people who weren’t even part of Israel while the people of Israel didn’t receive any special miracles from God. He was reminding them that God’s love is for all people, and not just a few special people who came from the right town or the right group.

Sometimes we might hear about how God gives special help or a blessing to someone else, and doesn’t seem to hear or answer our prayers in the same way. We sometimes might feel as if it isn’t fair. We might even start to compare ourselves to the other person and feel as if we deserve more from God than that person does. But the Lord doesn’t want us to treat prayer as if it is an order at a fast food restaurant, which should be filled quickly and exactly the way we want it. Instead, God wants us to come to him in prayer because he is our loving Heavenly Father, and to trust that he will help us in the best way and in the best time. He helps us to remember the most wonderful way he answered our needs, when he came to us in Jesus and died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Because of Jesus, we have God’s love and help every day, and we can trust him to take care of us now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving and forgiving us in Jesus. Help us to trust you to take care of us in the best way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org/abraham-lincoln-state-by-state/abraham-lincoln-and-springfield/

Today This Scripture has been Fulfilled

Bible:

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21 ESV

My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies! Psalm 119:123-125 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about a man who had a dream one night, that if he went to visit a bridge in a faraway city he would find great riches. So the next morning the man got up and traveled to the faraway city and the bridge that he had dreamed about. He waited all day on the bridge, but nothing happened. Finally in the evening another man came up to him and said, “I’ve seen you standing here all day. What are you waiting for?” The first man told him about his dream, and the second man laughed at him. “You are very foolish to trust in dreams like that!” he said. He added that he had had a strange dream the last night also, that if he went to a certain village and dug a hole behind a certain house, he would find a great treasure, but he knew it was just a silly dream and he hadn’t wasted his time doing anything about it. The first man realized that the village and the house were his own, and he went back home and dug up the treasure. It had been behind his own house all along!

The people of Nazareth had been waiting many years for the promised Savior that God had promised to send, and they didn’t realize that the boy and the young man, Jesus, who had grown up and lived and worked in their town, was the very one they had been waiting for. Jesus began his ministry away from his hometown, but when he returned and went into the synagog to worship, he read a prophecy about the promised Savior and told them that that very day it had come true. He was telling them that he was the promised Savior. The one they had been waiting for had been in their own town all along!

We don’t always see God at work in our own lives. We want to see something different and out of the ordinary, and we don’t understand that the Lord is with us every day in ways we don’t even see him. He was in Jesus, the teacher who grew up in a small town as a humble carpenter. Jesus taught and helped ordinary people, and then he died on the cross to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. We don’t need to see anything spectacular to know the love of God in our lives. He comes to us every day in quiet ways, though his Word and the forgiveness he won for us on the cross. We can come to him at any time, knowing that he is with us and always hears our prayers.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us every day, helping us and forgiving us. Amen.

A Visit from Jesus

Bible:

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

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. I John 1:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

Anne Hamilton and her family had moved from a town in the eastern part of the state of Pennsylvania to the unsettled, western part of the state. They were starting a new life in the Pennsylvania wilderness, and the life they had once known seemed very far away. But one day an incredible thing happened to Anne and her family. General George Washington, someone they had all heard so much about, passed through their area. He was buying himself some land, and he visited the Hamilton family and ate supper with them. It was a thrill for everyone to meet and talk to the great General Washington, and an honor to have him in their home.

The people who lived in the Samaritan woman’s village had an even greater thrill and honor. Jesus himself, the Messiah they had been waiting for, had come to their town, and when they invited him, he stayed with them for two days. Many of them believed in him, especially when they had had a chance to hear him talk. They knew he was the Savior of the world, and they never forgot the day when Jesus came to stay in their town.

Jesus truly is the Savior of the world, and he went on to die for us and for all people so that our sins could be forgiven and we could return to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we might wish we could have met Jesus when he lived among us on earth. But Jesus promises that he is with us always, and we have his Word, the Bible, to bring him close to us. It was his words that brought the Samaritan people to believe in him, and the Holy Spirit works through his Word to bring us to faith also. We know that someday we will see Jesus face to face, and live with him forever in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior and being with us always. Amen.

Source:

Fritz, Jean The Cabin Faced West New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958.

Fields White for Harvest

Bible:

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. 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 4:31-38 ESV

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. II Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV

Reflection:

When farmers want to grow crops, they need to know when to plant them, and how long of a time there is between planting the seeds and harvesting their crops. A lot depends on which crop the farmer plants and what climate he or she is in. A farmer in the state of Iowa will usually plant corn in May and harvest it in October, five months later. A farmer who lives in Kansas will usually plant oats in March and harvest them in July, four months later. Whatever crop is planted, there is a period of time where the crops have to grow before they can be harvested.

Farmers know that it takes time to wait for the harvest, but Jesus told his disciples that something different was going on in his kingdom. Jesus used the picture of fields being white for the harvest. The grain he saw was people ready to hear the good news about him and to believe in him and become his people. The disciples didn’t have to wait, because Jesus was preparing people to receive him, and all the disciples would have to do was invite the people to believe in what Jesus would accomplish for them. The Holy Spirit would do the rest, and everyone would rejoice together.

Jesus would go on to die on the cross so that the sins of all people could be forgiven. He often used the picture of harvest to talk about people coming in to be a part of his kingdom. People who believe in Jesus are part of his harvest, but we are also harvesters who invite others to believe. There’s no time to wait. Now is the time to tell and to share about what Jesus has done for us. We let the Holy Spirit do the work in their hearts, just as Jesus did the work on the cross, and in the end, we all rejoice together.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us part of your harvest. Please help us to share the good news so that others can come into your kingdom. Amen.

Source:

https://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/planting/uph97.pdf

Women in God’s Plan

Bible:

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?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. John 4:27-30 ESV

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 ESV

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28 ESV

Reflection:

When a bookseller came to Yentl’s community, he called to the people, “Sacred books for men! Storybooks for women!” He didn’t want to sell Yentl a sacred book, but she was a young woman who wanted to study and learn everything about the Jewish religion and their holy books. Her community thought that this wasn’t appropriate for women. Her father allowed her to read and study from the sacred books, and he helped her, but he always made sure they closed the shutters before they studied together. Her father didn’t want the neighbors to know what they were doing, because he knew  they would think it was strange and wrong for a woman to study like that.

People had these same attitudes in Jesus’ time. A religious teacher wouldn’t teach or talk to a woman, but Jesus was different. He sat down and taught and listened to the questions of the Samaritan woman. He showed how much God values women when he did this. When his disciples came back, they didn’t understand why he was talking to the Samaritan woman. They thought it was very strange, but they didn’t ask Jesus any questions. Meanwhile, the woman ran back to her community with the exciting news that a man she thought might be the Messiah had come to their town.

Women were made in the image of God in the beginning, just as men were. All of humanity fell into sin together, and Jesus died for all people so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be brought back to God. Everyone who is baptized into Jesus has become a part of his family, and it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, rich or poor, Jewish or Gentile, young or old. Men and women sometimes have different roles in the family and in the church, and that means we need each other’s help. But we are all one in Jesus, and he welcomes and values us all.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for welcoming all of us into your family. Help us to value each other and to serve each other. Amen.

Source:

Streisand, Barbra, dir. Yentl MGM Entertainment Company. 1983. Film.

In Spirit and Truth

Bible:

 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 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.” 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 4:19-26 ESV

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, 
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. 
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:1-5 ESV

Reflection:

My family and I lived in China for awhile, and we found the Chinese language very difficult to learn. We learned how to say important things, like “please” and “thank you,” and how to tell a taxi driver where we lived, and how to say, “How much does this cost?” at the market. Sometimes Chinese people heard us say things in Chinese, and they thought we could speak and understand the language much better than we really did. They tried to have conversations with us, and we couldn’t understand what they were saying. We didn’t really know Chinese at all. We just knew how to say a few things the right way.

The Samaritan woman had the same kind of problem. She had a question for Jesus. Her people worshiped God on Mt. Gerazim in Samaria, and she knew that the Jewish people worshiped God at the temple in Jerusalem. Which place was the right place? She thought that if she could be sure of the right place, then she would really know God. But Jesus told her that worshiping God isn’t a matter of saying the right words or going to the right place. Worshiping means knowing God, and who he is, and hearing and understanding him. Jesus knew that the sad day was coming when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed again, and that the important thing is knowing God. People from all over the world would come to know and worship God without ever even seeing Jerusalem.

Jesus said something that seemed a little hard. He said that Jewish people worshiped the true God and knew him, but that the Samaritan people didn’t really know God. He said, “Salvation is from the Jews.” This was hard for the woman to hear, but she and her people had heard about the coming Messiah, and she said that when he came, he would explain everything. Jesus then told her the wonderful news: “I who speak to you am he.” The Samaritan woman found out that it was the Messiah himself she was talking to!

Jesus was Jewish, and it was from God’s chosen people that he came to bring salvation to all people. Jesus came for Jewish people, and Samaritan people, and people all over the world. He died on the cross so that all people’s sins could be forgiven. It is through Jesus that we know God and hear and understand him. We can worship God anywhere, no matter what people we are from. What matters is Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming and for bringing us salvation. Help us to always know and worship our Heavenly Father. Amen.