Sermon: The Worshippers God Seeks (Part 1) John 4:1-9

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The Worshippers God Seeks (Part 1)

John 4:1-9

Primary Truth Taught- God is seeking true worshippers from among all people groups.

 

Introduction

It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast than that of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman portrayed for us in John 3 and 4.
God does nothing accidently so this comparison must be made.

 

It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between two persons than the contrast between the important and sophisticated Nicodemus, this ruler of the Jews, and the simple Samaritan woman. He was a Jew; she a Samaritan. He was a Pharisee; she belonged to no religious party. He was a politician; she had not status whatsoever. He was a scholar; she was uneducated. He was highly moral; she was immoral. He had a name; she was nameless. He was a man; she was a woman. He came at night, to protect his reputation; she, who had not reputation, came at noon. Nicodemus came seeking; the woman was sought by Jesus.[1]

 

We are shown by this contrast the great need that all people have today for the Savior. Whether someone is a Nicodemus or a Samaritan woman all need Jesus.

One other contrast is that the well educated religious highly moral Nicodemus rejected Jesus’ message, at least at this point, while the uneducated immoral woman accepts Jesus’ message.

I’d like to make a point early on today, so there is no confusion, the Living Water that Jesus offers the woman in our story today is the Holy Spirit. All who are spiritually thirsty can come to Jesus and receive eternal life and the Holy Spirit that is a fountain of spiritual water for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Human Need Met

So, the reality is that whether someone is a Nicodemus, at the top of their profession or someone is more closely related to the immoral woman, they still need to be saved, they still need Jesus. Our Lord took time with each to show them their need to be saved. We must make sure we too take time with folks and teach them that they, like everyone else, are sinners in need of a Savior.

John 4:1–42 (ESV)

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 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.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 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.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 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?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

  1. Jesus Crosses Into Samaria Seeking Worshippers

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

If you remember from last time, John’s followers were leaving him to go to Jesus. This was a great victory for John. His ministry was very graciously being fulfilled. He was decreasing and Jesus was increasing. This was all going just the way God had ordained it.

The issue now at hand is that Jesus’ fame was growing and He was becoming the focus of the Pharisees who would seek to kill Him. He doesn’t leave because He was afraid for His life because we also saw last time that all things had been given over to His hands. Some speculate that He leaves Judea and heads north because His time had not yet come. I’m sure that is part of it. John tells us exactly why He left the Judean countryside to head north. You see He was going to enter what was the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was going to enter Samaria…

And he had to pass through Samaria.

The most efficient way to get from Judea to Galilee was to pass through Samaria that is unless you were Jewish. So strong was the hatred between Jew and Samaritan that Jews would go around the region of Samaria even if it took longer.

So why did Jesus travel that route? Why did He have to go to Samaria?

This verse is all about how God captures the heart of those who would then become the worshippers He desires. This does not mean Jesus had to go that way because there was no other route. The clues add up to divine sovereignty.

The key verses in this large passage are…

John 4:23–24 (ESV)

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.”

For now let’s see that God the Father is seeking true or genuine worshippers and we are told that a true worshipper must worship a certain way, namely in Spirit and in truth. Worship inspired by the Holy Spirit and with His help is always worship based on divine truth.

This is why Jesus had to pass through Samaria. He knew that there was this one woman who would become the exact type of genuine worshipper God desires.

Another clue is found in the Greek word for had to… the Greek word translated had to in our Bibles is the little three letter word dei. I want to show you the way the word is used in this story. Every time it’s used it means had to or must and every time it is concerning the worship of God.

John 4:20 (ESV)

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

John 4:24 (ESV)

24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The conclusion is that Jesus had to go through Samaria because there He would find true worshippers. Again true worshippers are those who must worship in Sprit and in truth.

So, it was Jesus mission that took His to Samaria. It was His desire to assemble true worshippers that took Him to Samaria. It was God’s sovereignty that took Him there. He had to go because He would have her as a worshipper.

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

John tells us that the time was the sixth hour or in our day, 12 noon. This was the hottest time of the day. This was the time of the day when no one came to draw water. The time to walk to the well and back was early morning when it was cooler, not at 12 noon.

Here is God’s omniscience in action. Jesus had to go through Samaria. He had to be there at that well at the exact time when no one ever came to draw water…no one ever came except this one woman who we’ll learn was immoral. She came when no one else did. She would rather suffer from the heat than to suffer scorn from the other women. She was a sinner and everyone knew it. Guess who came to seek out sinners? Jesus did. He was just the right place at the right time and He knew she would be there. He knew God had placed His love and grace upon her. He knew she would be the one to tell the entire town that the Messiah had arrived.

  1. Jesus Crosses Barriers Seeking Worshippers

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus was breaking all the accepted social rules of His day. She was a Samaritan. Jews didn’t ask them for anything. They were unclean. To drink from her water jar would be to become unclean. It just wasn’t done.

The heart of the story is found in John 4.23-24…
John 4:23–24 (ESV)

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.”

God is not interested in seeking certain types of people. He doesn’t seek out, for example, only the rich or only a certain race or only the famous. In fact, God does not care where you are, who you are or what you’ve done. He is seeking out worshippers. God is willing to cross cultural barriers to find true worshippers.
Jesus crossed boundaries that separated this woman from God. This Samaritan woman would never have come to Jerusalem where Jesus did much of his ministry. She may eventually have heard of him, but would never have ventured into the city to witness his teaching and miracles. As a Samaritan and a serial adulterer, she was hated and reviled. She was not welcome in Jerusalem. So Jesus crossed the boundaries and went to where she was.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus crossed three boundaries in just this brief exchange. First, he crossed a social boundary that existed between Jews and Samaritans. Because they mixed their pagan religion with Judaism, Samaritans were despised by Jews, most of whom would not even deign to venture through the nation but would instead take a circuitous route around it. There was a barrier of ethnic and cultural hatred that Jesus chose to cross. Second, he crossed the gender barrier. Where most rabbis would not even speak to their wives or daughters in public, lest this tarnish their reputation, Jesus sat down at a well to speak to this woman and did so without shame or excuse. Third, he crossed a social and religious barrier or taboo by asking the woman for a drink. According to temple rules a man who drank from a vessel polluted by a Samaritan risked being separated from the fellowship and worship of God’s people. But Jesus deliberately passed over this barrier as well.[2]

 

This woman was a Samaritan. She was from a race of people that in Jesus’ day were viewed as lesser humans. These Samaritans, to put it mildly, were considered by the Jews as half-breeds.

 

In 722 B.C. Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity. The invaders then brought in Gentile colonists “from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim” (2 Kin. 17:24) to resettle the land. The foreigners brought with them their pagan idols, which the remaining Jews began to worship alongside the God of Israel (2 Kin. 17:29-41). Intermarriages also took place (Ezra 9:1-10:44;Neh. 13:23-28 ).

Meanwhile, the southern kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon in 600 B.C. Its people, too, were carried off into captivity. But 70 years later, a remnant of 43,000 was permitted to return and rebuild Jerusalem. The people who now inhabited the former northern kingdom—the Samaritans—vigorously opposed the repatriation and tried to undermine the attempt to reestablish the nation. For their part, the full-blooded, monotheistic Jews detested the mixed marriages and worship of their northern cousins. So walls of bitterness were erected on both sides and did nothing but harden for the next 550 years. [3]

In His search for true worshippers Jesus seeks out this woman who came from the land of mixed people. Her ethnicity was a real barrier, which Jesus crossed to gather worshippers.

Why is it that You being God would seek us out? The reality is that we are the sinful woman. We are the immoral that God seeks to make into worshippers. Do you think we are the only sinful, immoral people out there that God is seeking?

The challenge from this passage is to remember who we were before we met Jesus. Before Jesus came and sat down and sought us out we too were just as sinful as this woman.

Are there barriers you must cross to pursue someone with the love of God? Remember, the perspective Jesus had was that God deserves to be worshipped not that the sinner deserves to be saved. Like our Lord, we too must go out and step over cultural barriers to share the Gospel with others. Remember from John that sometimes the religious elite are not the worshippers God seeks but it’s the ones who are sinners and know it that God saves and transforms into those who are true worshippers.

 

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

 

[1] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John Vol. 1 272

[2] http://www.challies.com/christian-living/at-jacobs-well

[3] https://bible.org/illustration/hatred-between-jews-and-samaritans

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