The Power of Words

Lou Lotz

READ : John 4:4-19

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (v. 7)

On an autumn afternoon, listening to a tape of myself preaching a sermon, I did something I almost never do in the middle of the day—I fell sound asleep. This discouraging incident gets one thinking about the efficacy of preaching. There are not all that many good preachers in the world. (And one less than I think.) But even if there were great preachers everywhere, do we really believe that words can change the world? If preaching was going to change the world, wouldn’t it have done so by now?

Liza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady, could have been addressing preachers when she said to her suitors: “Words, words, words. Is that all you ever do is talk?” Is that how we’re going to win the world—by talking?

And yet, words can change people’s lives. What does Jesus actually do for the Samaritan woman at the well? He doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t heal her of sickness. He doesn’t rid her of demons. He doesn’t mend her broken body. He doesn’t heal her sick child or multiply her loaves and fishes. He doesn’t do anything. All he does is talk. Words, words, words. But somehow his words are different, and in hearing them the woman is changed, restored, renewed.


Lord, speak to me.