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The Scriptorium

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She tries to change the subject. Nope.

The Gospel of John: John 4.16-26

Read and meditate on John 4.19, 20.
The woman does exactly what you or I might do, given the rising level of discomfort she was experiencing: She tried to get the light off herself.

                  19She said, “I perceive that You,
Sir, are a prophet. 20All our fathers at
this mountain worshiped, but You argue that
Jerusalem is where one ought to go
to worship God.”

- John 4.19, 20

1.  The woman tries to flatter Jesus. How can you see that? Why did she do this? Complete this prayer: When someone I’m talking to about You tries to change the subject, help me, Lord, to…

2.  Next, the woman plays the “religion card.” She explains, indirectly, that she worships God, only in a way different than how Jesus did. Why did she do this? Do people still do this today? Explain. Many people will say they “believe” in You, Lord. Help me to know…

3.  The woman is trying to say, in effect, that, even though she may not be perfect, her way of life is just as good as Jesus’ way of life. She’s trying to end this conversation by making an argument for pluralism. But she’s not talking to Someone Who is merely one way of life (Jn. 14.6). How should we respond to such arguments? Lord, everyone thinks their way of life is as good and valid as anyone else’s. But… 

4.  Can you feel this woman squirming? How do you feel about that? Do you think your witness for Christ should make others squirm? Why or why not? I might make others squirm when I talk about You, Lord, but…

5. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a conversation, as was Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus is not running through some rote presentation of the Gospel. He’s talking with a real person and listening as she responds. What are you learning from this incident about sharing the Gospel? Bring together into one prayer the prayers you wrote for questions 1-4.

“On the statement ‘our fathers’ and what follows one must understand the disagreement between the Samaritans and the Jews over the place they considered holy. For the Samaritans worship God on the mountain called Gerizim, because they consider it to be holy. Moses refers to this mountain in Deuteronomy when he says, ‘And Moses commanded the people in that day saying, “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed the Jordan.”’ … The Jews, on the other hand, because they think Zion is divine and God’s dwelling place, think it has been chosen by the Father of all. For this reason they say Solomon built the temple on Zion, and all the levitical and priestly service is performed there” Origen of Alexandria (fl. 200-254 AD)

We should not get upset or irritated when people throw up diversions or objections to the Gospel. We must continue to be gracious, but we must continue with the Good News for as long as the conversation can be effectively and graciously pursued. When was the last time you had a conversation like this?

Closing Prayer
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.

Psalm 71.15-17

Psalm 71.12-16, 3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O God, be not too far from me; my ever-present Helper be!
Consume and shame my enemies; let them reproached and humbled be.
    A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
    My Rock and Fortress ever be!

But as for me, my voice I raise to sing in hope and constant praise!
With saving grace my voice will swell Your never-ending grace to tell.
    A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
    My Rock and Fortress ever be!

T. M. Moore

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We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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