Scripture: John 4:19-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:19-24 ESV).
Our God is a seeking God. He is on a search. He is looking for something. In the beginning, God came down to the Garden of Eden every day. One day He came but couldn’t find what he was looking for. For the first time, God asked a question: “Where are you?”
God is looking for something. Sometimes He finds it. Sometimes He doesn’t.
- He found Abram in Ur and promised that one of his descendants would be the Savior. He found Jacob at Peniel and wrestled with him there.
- He found Joseph in prison in Egypt and made him to be Prime Minister.
- He found Moses in the desert and had him lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
- God found Joshua as he was spying out the Promised Land and had him lead the Israelites in conquest.
- He found Gideon beating out the wheat and used him and 300 men to defeat the Midianites.
- God found David caring for the sheep and made him a giant killer and the shepherd of Israel.
- He found Isaiah, gave him a vision of God’s glory, purified his lips, and sent to …
- He found Jeremiah and consecrated him and appointed him “a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5 ESV).
- He found Rahab and Ruth. He found Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. He even found Jonah in the belly of a great fish. Or maybe that’s where Jonah found God.
But God is always looking.
2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
God is always looking, but He does not always find what He is looking for:
Ezekiel 22:30 ESV And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.
May it never be said of your church or your family that God came looking for someone to do do a certain job, but couldn’t find anyone. May it never be said of the men of this church that God came looking to find someone who was willing to prepare himself to go and answer as Isaiah did, “Here am I, Lord! Send me!” – but that He found none.
God is looking. He is searching. He is seeking.
So we come to John 4.
John 4:3-4 ESV he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.And he had to pass through Samaria.
“He had to pass through Samaria.” Why did Jesus have to pass through Samaria? Many Jews would not go through Samaria. They would take the longer route around Samaria, but the text says that Jesus had to pass through Samaria, and in the original language the word speaks of divine necessity. It means that something must be done.
John 3:7 ESV You must be born again.
John 3:14 ESV so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
John 9:4 ESV We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day
John 10:16 ESV And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also.
Why did Jesus have to pass through Samaria? It was a divine “must” that Jesus pass through Samaria because God was looking for something. Notice verse 27:
John 4:27 ESV Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”
The disciples knew that Jesus was seeking something. He wanted something. He was looking for something.
Back up to verse 23:
John 4:23 ESV But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
What is God looking for? He is looking for true worshipers.
So what is true worship? What must we do to be true worshipers of God? What does true worship depend on?
1. True worship does not depend on worshiping in the right place (4:19-21).
John 4:19-21 ESV The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
There had been centuries of conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews over worship. This Samaritan woman brings this out in this passage: “Our (Samaritan) fathers… but you (Jews) say…”
The conflict ran deep. It goes back to the division of the kingdom between the north and the south, 931 years before Christ. The kingdom was split between King Rehoboam in the south, and King Jeroboam in the north. The temple was in Jerusalem in the south; there was no temple in the north. Jeroboam was afraid of losing his control of the people, so he set up two golden calves for the people to worship.
The northern kingdom fell deeper and deeper into sin, so after 200 years, God sent the Assyrians who took many of the people of the northern kingdom into exile, and replaced them with people from other nations. These foreigners intermarried with the Israelites that were left. The mixed race became the Samaritans: half Jew, half foreigner. They had no temple, so they built one on Mount Gerizim.
There was only one true God, so for the Jews of the southern kingdom, there could only be one temple—one place to worship Him, so they desecrated the Samaritan temple with human bones. The Samaritans did the same thing to the temple in Jerusalem.
This conflict is very clear in John 4. Jesus asks the woman for a drink. She responds,
John 4:9 ESV “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
John explains: (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answers her, “If you knew what I have to offer, and who I am, you would have asked me for something to drink and I would have given you living water” (from v. 10).
The woman responds (v. 11-12):
- You have nothing to draw water with.
- The well is very deep (31 meters today).
- Where do you get that living water?
- Are you greater than Jacob who gave us this well? (Who do you think you are?)
- Jacob drank from it. His sons drank from it. All his livestock drank from it. This is the best well in Samaria. What could you possibly offer me that I don’t already have?
Jesus says to her (v. 13-14),
- The water in this well is not really all that great: Everyone who drinks from it will be thirsty again. Isn’t that why you are here?
- Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
- The water that I will give him will become inside him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
- So, yes, I really am greater than Jacob!
She responds (v.15),
- Yeah, right! So give me this water so I won’t be thirsty or have to come here to draw water anymore!
While there may have been sarcasm in her voice, this woman was thirsty for something that ordinary water could not quench.
SONG: Rebecca St. James – River of Life
Jesus (v. 16):
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her (John 4:16 NLT).
Woman (v. 17):
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied… (John 4:17a NLT).
Jesus (v. 17-18):
“You’re right! You don’t have a husband– 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” (John 4:17b-18 NLT).
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet (John 4:19 NLT).
But the woman does not want to talk about her personal life, so she brings up the centuries-long conflict over the place of worship:
So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” (John 4:20 NLT).
Where are we supposed to worship? Where can we find the presence of God?
- Samaritans: Mount Gerizim
- Jews: Jerusalem
- Muslims: Mecca
- Buddhists: Nepal
- Catholics: Lourdes
- Under a certain tree?
- On a certain Pacific island?
- On top of a volcano?
- In the belly of a great fish?
JESUS TELLS THE WOMAN THAT TRUE WORSHIP DOES NOT DEPEND ON A CERTAIN PLACE.
John 4:21 ESV Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
You don’t have to go to a certain place or mountain or temple or cave or sacred stone. Why? Because God is everywhere.
Psalm 24:1-6 ESV The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
When King Solomon dedicated the temple at Jerusalem, he prayed,
2 Chronicles 6:18 ESV “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!
King David prayed,
Psalm 139:7-10 ESV Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Matthew 18:20 ESV For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 28:20 ESV teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
You don’t have to go to Israel to find God. God is looking for you.
So the place is not important because God is everywhere. What about the time? What about timing?
2. True worship does not depend on worshiping at a certain time.
- Do you have to wait for a full moon?
- Do you have to wait until the planets Jupiter and Saturn or Venus are lined up?
- Should you consult the horrorscope or the Chinese calendar to find out when to worship God?
- What day of the week should we worship God on?
- Muslims: Friday
- Jews: Saturday
- SDAs: Saturday
- Christians: Sunday
What is the right time to worship God?
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem (John 4:21 NLT).
But the time is coming– indeed it’s here now– when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way (John 4:23 NLT).
The time is now, says Jesus. True worship does not depend on the clock. True worship does not depend on the calendar. True worship is not a matter of the day of the week.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,”(Heb 3:13 ESV)
So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today (Heb 4:7 NLT)
“The hour is coming and is now here…”
Colossians 2:8 NLT Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17 NLT So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
Colossians 2:20-23 NLT You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
True worship does not depend on the place or the time.
Then what does true worship depend on?
3. True worship depends on the nature of God (v. 23-24).
John 4:23-24 ESV But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
SPIRIT AND TRUTH WORSHIP
3.1.God is spirit, so our worship must be spiritual.
John 4:24 ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Worship is a response of the spiritual life in us to the God who has given us living water:
John 4:10 ESV Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Worship is the spring of water in us giving praise to its source:
John 4:14 ESV but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
True worship flows from the heart back to God, the source of spiritual life.
Matthew 15:8-9 ESV “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;in vain do they worship me…”
Mark 12:30 ESV And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Worship is not about us. And we must be terribly careful that it not be about us. It is not about how well we preach or how well we sing. The church is not made up of performers and their audience. There is an audience of One, and that One is God. We are not here to draw attention to ourselves or to be recognized. We are here to point men to God.
2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Colossians 1:28 ESV Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
So worship must be spiritual, flowing from our spirit, from our heart, expressing our love and adoration and thanksgiving to our immeasurably great God.
But worship must also be truthful.
3.2.Worship has to do with the truth about God (v. 22).
John 4:22 ESV You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
3.2.1. Worship is based on our knowledge of God.
Some evenings as the sun is setting, we begin to notice a certain color. Outside our house it begins to look red or orange or pink. We run outside and look at the brilliant sky painted in pink and orange and blue: “Wow! Look at that sky!”
Coming to church on Sunday morning, we drive along the lagoon and the water is a turquoise blue: “Wow! Look at that water! Isn’t that beautiful!”
But what if we were blind? We could never experience the overwhelming beauty of the sunset. We could never be amazed by the wonderful colors of the ocean waters. If we were deaf, we could never appreciate the beautiful music of an orchestra or a beautiful voice.
You cannot worship what you do not know. You cannot be amazed by the glories of god’s perfections, his holiness, his grace, his wisdom, his mercy, his power, his intelligence and everything else that is revealed in his word if you don’t know him, if we are not interested in learning what he has revealed about himself in his word.
Christianity is not about believing in a God somewhere in heaven. The devils believe in God (James 2:19), but Christ came to make the Father known (John 1:18).
2 Tim. 1:12 ESV I know whom I have believed.
John 17:3 ESV And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
You love your wife because you know her. I don’t know how you could come to love your wife if you had never met her, never known her, never heard her voice, never seen her face, and knew nothing about her.
True worship comes from knowing God.
3.2.2. Jesus says, “We worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews.”
The Samaritans did not know what they worshiped because salvation is from the Jews.
- He is not the god of the Americans or the god of the Australians.
- He is not the god of the French or the god of the Fijians.
- He is not the god of the ni-Vanuatu or the god of the Vietnamese.
He is the God who in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. He is the God who walked in the garden with Adam. He is the God who spared Noah and his family. He is the God who called Abraham and promised that through his distant offspring, all the families of the earth would be blessed. He is the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Samaritans had only the first five books of the Bible. They knew something of the beginnings of God’s plan for salvation, but they did not know how God had watched over His people. They did not know the miracles of the conquest of the Promised Land. They did not know how God had blessed and how God had judged. They did not know the men and woman that God had raised up to do His will.
They did not have the Psalms, that marvelous collection of praise and worship to God. Psalm 23 alone is a great treasure. The Psalms help us to understand the heart and spirit of the true worshiper.
The Samaritans did not have the book of Proverbs, that treasure chest of wisdom.
They did not have the books of the prophets, those writings which deal with the heart, showing us the ways of God and what He requires of us.
The Samaritans knew a little bit about God, but they did not know God. They had rejected too much of His revelation.
What about us? Do we know our God? Do who know the one we worship? Do we take the time to read the revelation of Himself that He has given us? When we come to worship God, it is not good enough to have confused ideas about who He is. Worship is too important.
It is easy to go through the motions: to sing our songs, to raise our hands, to pay our tithes, to listen to the sermon, without thinking about what we are doing or without thinking about the God that we are supposed to be worshiping. We must know the God that we are worshiping and our worship must flow from our relationship with Him.
What He has revealed about Himself in the Word: His grace, compassion, love, light, but also that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 11:29).
Psalm 22:23 ESV You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
Worshiping God in truth means that we glory in the truth that God has revealed about Himself.
3.3.Worship also has to do with facing the truth about ourselves (v. 22).
This Samaritan woman did not want to face the truth about herself.
Jesus told her to get her husband. “I don’t have a husband.”
“Right. You’ve had five husbands and the man you are living with now is not your husband. So it is true what you say. You don’t have a husband.”
Woman: “I see you are a prophet. But I’m not really interested in talking about my personal life. Let’s change the subject. Let’s talk about worship.”
Jesus: “If you want to talk about worship, you’re not really changing the subject because worship must be according to the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. Until you take care of the sin in your own life, you cannot worship God. It’s not a question of place or of time because God is spirit. He is looking for true worshipers. People who are true.”
Pro 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
Isa 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Pro 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
Ps. 66:18 NIV If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
1 Timothy 2:8 ESV I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
This woman was thirsty. Her life was a wreck. She had gone through five husbands. Still thirsty, she tries again. But after meeting the One who gives living water, she leaves her bucket behind and tells the men of Samaria, “Come and see this man who told me everything I’ve done. Is he not the Messiah?”
She was the reason that Jesus had to pass through Samaria. God was looking for her. And God is looking for you. He is looking for true worshipers, those who will face the truth about themselves, and recognize like the Samaritans that Christ Jesus is truly the Savior of the world.
- This woman did not at first know who Jesus was: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for something to drink?”
- Then we hear her saying, “I perceive that you are a prophet.”
- Next she tells the men of her town, “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Is not this the Christ?”
- Finally they declare that Jesus is the Savior of the world. He came to save not only Jews, but Samaritans, and Americans, and ni-Vans. He came to save you.
Are you not thirsty? Looking in all the wrong places? Never satisfied with what you’ve found? Got your life all messed up? Jesus is the Savior of the world. He has come looking for you, to save you, and to satisfy your thirsty soul. He is looking for true worshipers who will worship God in spirit and truth.
Come To The River 4:07 Ronnie Freeman
See also “Gospel of John”:
- The only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent
- John 12:01-19, “The Triumphal Entry in the Shadow of the Cross”
- John 11:01-45, “When God Is Late”
- John 10:30-42, “Jesus, the Most Controversial Person in History”
- John 10:22-30, “Missing the Obvious: Jesus is the Christ”
- John 10:07-21, “The Good Shepherd, Part 2”
- John 10:01-06, “The Good Shepherd, Part 1”
- John 09:01-41, “Blind Man Seeing, Seeing Men Blind”
- John 08:48-59, “Who Does Jesus Make Himself Out To Be?”
- John 08:31-47, “Children of God, or Sons of Satan?”