"The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." – John 4:24
Fiorello LaGuardia is widely regarded as one of the best mayors in American
history. He effectively led
Well, one night in January 1935, Mayor LaGuardia showed up at the night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. An old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter was sick and that her son-in-law had deserted her and their two kids. The old woman said she stole the bread because her grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper from whom the bread was stolen refused to drop the charges, insisting that the woman had to be punished to teach a lesson to others in that bad neighborhood.
LaGuardia sighed, turned to the woman and said, "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions: ten dollars or ten days in jail." But as he spoke, he reached into his own pocket and pulled out a $10 bill. Mayor LaGuardia said, "Here is the $10 fine, which I now remit; and furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”
I’ll bet you agree that a grace like that DESERVES a standing ovation. And so does the amazing grace that Jesus showed to the Samaritan woman at the well.
As I discussed in last week’s column, the Samaritan woman had little or no social standing. She was a five-time divorcee who was sexually promiscuous. It’s pretty clear that she was a social outcast. Yet, in John 4:16-24, Jesus urged the woman to receive the spiritual truth He was offering her and to step into the grace of God. Jesus explained that true worship isn’t confined to a certain building in a certain place: “A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem….The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (vs. 21-24).
In this passage, Jesus highlights two differences between false worship and true worship:
Difference #1: False
worship is a selective worship, but true worship transcends time, space and
ritual (v21). Jews and Samaritans held different views regarding where God
should be worshiped. The Jews claimed that God HAD to be worshiped in
Difference #2: False worship is an ignorant worship, but true worship involves a personal knowledge of God and His Word (v. 22). The Samaritans had tossed out most of the Old Testament, leaving only the first five books. So they were largely ignorant of who God was. But God has given us several wonderful gifts to help us NOT be spiritually ignorant. First, He gave us His Word—but we have to read and listen to His Word and hide it in our hearts. The second gift God gave us is our brains. It’s wonderful when our emotions are engaged when we worship God, but true worship requires our minds to be engaged. The third gift God gave us is His Holy Spirit—our most faithful Teacher and personal Tutor, Who opens our minds and hearts to the truth of God’s Word.
When I think of the grace that Mayor LaGuardia showed the granny who stole the loaf of bread, I can’t help but wonder how that grace changed her life and the lives of her hungry grandkids. And when I think of the grace that Jesus showed the woman at the well, I can’t help but wonder how His grace changed HER life and the lives of those she shared that grace with.
At the end of the account of the woman at the well, she runs into town saying, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did” (v. 29). In a matter of minutes, she goes from simply having a little bit of intellectual knowledge about God to knowing God personally—because God in human flesh came to the well to have a one-on-one conversation with her. I believe that God has called you and me to do the same thing. Sometimes it's simply about telling someone, “Jesus Christ changed my life. Can I tell you what he did for me? Come with me to church on Sunday. Perhaps He can transform your life, too. Come and see a man who changed my life. Come and see!”
Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for worship on Sunday
at 8:30am or 10am at