What an Outcast Woman and a Stranger at a Well Teaches Us About Worship

When it comes to worship, God is looking at the state of our hearts

I recently read about Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6. This beautiful temple was a monument to God’s greatness and home to the Ark of the Covenant. It was where the Jews worshipped the Lord.

It reminded me of the impassioned dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in “The Chosen”–a mini-series about the life of Christ–during which Jesus breaks all kinds of barriers. After an exhausting day of travel, Jesus came to a town in Sychar and sat down by a well. Scripture goes on to say in John 4:7-9 (GNT):

“A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” His disciples had gone into town to buy food. The woman answered, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan–so how can you ask me for a drink?”

She’s talking about the deep-seated differences between Jews and Samaritans, one of which is that the Jews worshipped in Jerusalem while the Samaritans worshipped on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. If Jews insisted that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, then why would Jesus want a drink of water from a woman who worshipped somewhere else? Wouldn’t this defile him?

Jesus, the Great Equalizer

This conversation is tricky for many reasons. This Samaritan was a woman, a social outcast, and of a race despised by Jews. By society’s standards, Jesus should not be speaking to her. But Jesus came to break religious, racial, and gender barriers. He came to show the world that he loves everyone.

Jesus doesn’t condemn her, nor does he ignore her; instead, he offers her acceptance, unconditional love, and salvation. To quote from The Chosen, Jesus says to her, “The time is coming and is now here, that it won’t matter where you worship, only that you do it, in spirit and truth. Heart and mind. That is the kind of worshipper he is looking for. No matter where you’re from or what you’ve done” referring to John 4:23.

And she says, “It won’t be about mountains and temples?”

Jesus responds, “Soon just the heart.”

Jesus looks at the heart. He doesn’t look at where you come from, nor hold against you what you’ve done. It does not matter if you worship in a beautiful building or in a makeshift tent. He is looking for true worshippers—those who worship him from the heart and mind.

Today, let us worship Jesusthe one who wholeheartedly embraces us, loves us, and offers us the living water of salvation. Let us live out what Scripture says in Psalm 95:6 (GNT), “Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the LORD, our maker!”

Let’s Pray Together

Jesus, we worship you. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for your death and resurrection which purchased our salvation. We worship you because you do not cast us aside, reject, or condemn us, but instead you offer us a heavenly inheritance through your abundant grace and unfailing love. Thank you for adopting us into your family. Today, and every day, we will worship you. We will tell everyone of your kindness and goodness.

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Nena Podbury
Nena Podbury

Nena Podbury is a Prayer Mobilization Associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

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