Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” John 4:21, 23a
Almost 20 centuries ago, Jesus had that conversation with a Samaritan woman near Mount Gerizim, the holy place for those disenfranchised Jews. As the Savior called the woman from darkness to the light of faith, He spoke of how it is not necessary to worship God on a mountain or in a temple. Jesus was reiterating what King David had said in Psalm 51: “(Lord) you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
It may surprise you to know there are still a few hundred Samaritans left in the world. Many continue to live near their old and traditional mountain of sacrifice. They still sacrifice sheep to atone for their sins. Surprised? If you are, you should know the Samaritans are not alone.
Last week, Reuters news service told how the officials at Nepal’s nationally run airline sacrificed two goats to the Hindu god of the sky, Akash Bhairab. It seems one of their Boeing 757s was having some problems with the electronics, and in Nepal it is customary to sacrifice goats and buffaloes to appease the Hindu deity who might be responsible for the difficulty.
The story shared that the plane is now fixed and has resumed its international flights to cities in Asia.
It is not my duty in these devotions to put down the customs of other faiths. They are sincere in their beliefs, and although they are misguided, the Holy Spirit can set them right when they see the Savior. That’s why I’m glad of the opportunity to share the truths of Scripture. Jesus knew, David knew, all believers know that God cannot be made of wood, metal, or stone. The one true God does not delight in the shed blood of countless animals or the self-imposed physical suffering of a poor soul who wishes to do penance and pay for His sins.
The Triune Lord who lives within the hearts of those who are saved cannot be confined to any temple made with hands, no matter how magnificent that structure might be. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, the substituting Savior of the world has shed His blood as the ultimate sacrifice, so we might be forgiven of our transgressions. Jesus gave His life so the world might be redeemed, and all who acknowledge Him as their Lord may live with Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. Now, rather than making sacrifices to an angry God, we can thank and praise, serve and obey Him. (This is most certainly true.)
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I, a poor, miserable and forgiven sinner, thank You for Your blood-bought sacrifice. Because I want to give thanks, not because I have to earn Your peace may this day be lived in You. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries