I wonder what God points out to you as you read John 4:20-26? What stands out to you?
It is said that faith can move mountains.
In today’s section of the account of Jesus and the woman at the well, she raises the controversial question which for ages had been the cause of much hostility between Samaritans and Jews: Where is the right place to worship? Is it in Jerusalem or on Gerizim, the mountain above the well where they were standing?
Having realised that the person in front of her was a prophet, perhaps he could sort this hornet’s nest out with his bare hands? Perhaps, being a Jew, he could perpetuate her expectation so that she could dismiss him? Perhaps, with just a little bit of luck, she could lure him into a discussion about something else than her own vulnerability?
Jesus doesn’t seem overly fazed by the question about mountains, nor does He seem overly interested in that particular debate. The time for mountains has passed.
“A time is coming and has now come when true worshippers will worship in the Spirit and in truth”.
The time for mountains has passed.
There’s a lot of mountains around, traditions and preferences and so on, but it seems in this passage, faith is moving mountains. True worshippers, Jesus says, will worship in the Spirit – dependent on Him and in tune with Him – and in truth, based on what God has revealed in Scripture – the promises we have been given and the accounts we can read.
Slowly, faith is moving mountains for our Samaritan woman as well. Perhaps the biggest mountain was the mountain of denial and self-deception? There is one thing that seems to slowly dawn, not only on this woman, but on most of us along the way: It is mighty hard to hide anything from God.
Since Genesis 3, we have been ‘hiding among the trees’ (mostly from ourselves, because God knows where we are but we have not dared trust Him anymore) and we have been quite good at deflecting questions (The woman made me do it! The snake made me do it!) and avoiding taking responsibility. It is much easier if the problem is out there than if it is in here, in my own heart. And it is far easier to move a mountain than to fix a human heart once it’s gone bad. And it is far easier when faced with a problem we don’t know what to do about, to pretend there is no problem, or that the problem is something else altogether.
But there is another option, of course. Repentance.
That option involves a change of mind that leads to a change in behaviour. It requires us to come to a point where we think about things differently, where out values and priorities shift. Like the prodigal son who came to his senses and began valuing other things than he had so far done. Like the Samaritan woman who gives up her focus on being right and starts seeking understanding (“…when the Messiah comes, he will explain everything to us”).
And, as the prodigal son, this ‘paradigm shift’, this leap of faith, this change in values, must lead to some form of action that fits those new values. There must be fruit in keeping with repentance as John the Baptist reminds the Pharisees in Matt 3:8.
Repentance isn’t a feeling. (That would be called remorse, probably). Repentance is a change of mind and heart that lead to a change of direction.
I wonder if Jesus has led the Samaritan woman to repentance, complete with a change of direction, and whether faith can indeed move mountains? We may find out tomorrow.
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- Holy Spirit