TRUE WORSHIP AS DETAILED IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 4:1-26
SURVEY OF THE PASSAGE
In these verses the Lord Jesus unfolds to the woman of Samaria important truths about worship. He does so because He has been given the task of administering all things for His Father, as Firstborn Son of God. As the Only begotten Son of God, Christ is unique in His person and in His relationship with the Father. He is alone in the consciousness of His Father’s affections. As Firstborn, however, He has an unrivalled position as the one charged with the task of administering for God. In John chapter 4, we find Him administering for God in four ways: Giving the Spirit; Granting forgiveness; Guiding the worshippers; Governing the harvest field.
The one who typifies Christ as only-begotten, is Isaac. The one who typifies Him as Firstborn, is Joseph. So it is that having told us that all things are committed into the hands of His Son, (it is an interesting study to note what Joseph did with his hands), then John shows us His “Joseph” character, as follows:
Sychar is near to Shechem, Joseph’s portion as firstborn, Genesis 48:21,22.
Joseph was envied by his brothers, just as the hostility of the Pharisees was implied in John 4:1.
It is said of Joseph that “God sent a man…made him lord”, Psalm 105:17,21. So in this chapter there is a Man who is weary, yet John gives Him the Divine title of Lord.
Jacob said that Joseph was a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches ran over the wall, Genesis 49:22, and in John 4 the Saviour is sitting by a well, and His fruitfulness extends even to those the other side of the wall, like the Samaritans.
The name that Pharoah gave to Joseph meant “Revealer of secrets”, Genesis 41:45, and in John 4 the Son not only reveals the secrets of the Samaritans woman’s heart, “Come, see a man, that told me all things that ever I did”, verse 29, but also the secrets of His Father’s heart, “The Father seeketh such to worship Him”, verse 23.
Joseph’s new name also means “Saviour of the world”, so we find that the men of Samaria hailed the Lord Jesus with this title, verse 42.
Joseph’s birth name also has two meanings. His mother exclaimed “God hath taken away my reproach”, and so Joseph’s name means “Taker away”, Genesis 30:23. The Samaritan woman found the reproach of her situation was taken away, too.
Joseph also means “He will add”, so in John 4 we find that the Lord Jesus adds truth about Himself; adds the gift of the Spirit; and adds truth about worship.
The Samaritan nation originated from those people that the King of Assyria had transported into the Land of Israel after he had taken the ten tribes of Israel into captivity, 2 Kings 17:21-34. When Ezra refused their offer of help in building the temple at Jerusalem, Ezra 4:1-5, they built a rival temple on the top of Mt. Gerizim where they carried on a form of worship. The Lord Jesus deliberately positions Himself within sight of this mountain in order to highlight important truths about Samaritan worship, Jewish worship, and the Christian worship which would replace them both.
He also positions Himself at a well, for He uses the water of the well as a figure for the Holy Spirit, and it is by His power alone that true worship can be sustained.
One other thing should be noted. Before true worship can be offered, the offerers must have come to an end of themselves. So it is that the secrets of this woman’s life must be exposed, so that, having repented of her sin, she may receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul summarises these things for us in Philippians 3:3, where he speaks of the worship of God in the Spirit, boasting in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh. The woman of Samaria was enabled to do these things as the Lord deals with her in grace.
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1-26
4:1 When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but His disciples,)
4:3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4:4 And He must needs go through Samaria.
4:5 Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
4:6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.
4:8 (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.
4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?
4:12 Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
4:17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
4:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.
4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.
4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.
STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE
Verses 1-15 WATER OFFERED
4:1 When therefore- this follows on from 3:26, where the Jews tell John the Baptist that Jesus baptised also, and “all men come to Him”. The Jews are clearly concerned about the popularity of the Lord Jesus. John adds to their concern by pointing out that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, and in that case He must increase until He occupies the throne of Israel, and John must decrease, since he is merely the herald of the King. The Lord knew- the apostle John has only used the word “Lord” once before, and this in a quotation from the Old Testament in 1:23. Clearly the Lord in that verse means Jehovah, the God of Israel, but now John is using this word of the Lord Jesus without qualification, or apology. Everything he has written so far is calculated to teach us that Jesus of Nazareth is equal with God. See, for example, John 1:1-4; 14-18. This is very significant in this context, for only the persons of the Godhead can give the Holy Spirit, who is Himself a Person of the Godhead. Only God can give God! And this is what the Lord Jesus claims to be able to do, for the living water He gives is nothing less than the Spirit of God. See John 7:38,39; 1:32-34. How the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptised more disciples than John- the Jews had clearly reported back to the Pharisees after speaking with John, 3:26. Note that the report used the word Jesus in a purely natural sense, for it was the name He was commonly known by. John the apostle uses this name in an historical sense, for he is writing of real events which took place when the Lord Jesus was on earth. The New Testament epistles, however, use the single name Jesus in a very specialised way, (see, for instance, the 7-fold mention of Jesus in the Epistle to the Hebrews), and not as the normal mode of address. Even when He was here on earth, we never read of the disciples addressing Him as Jesus. How much more should believers now address Him with His full titles, for “God hath made that same Jesus…both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.
4:2 (Though Jesus Himself baptised not, but His disciples)- this is one of those expressions referred to as “John’s asides”, being words of explanation which the apostle is guided to include in the narrative. It would not have been appropriate for the Lord Jesus to personally baptise those who repented in preparation for His coming, since this would have detracted from the unique ministry of John the Baptist. It was important that there be no confusion introduced at this critical time. Note the way John the Baptist deals with the question of an apparent rivalry between him and Christ, in John 3:25-36.
4:3 He left Judea- the word for leave indicates a leaving with no intention of returning in the near future. The centre of Judaism is rejecting Him, for they feared that His popularity would mean their downfall. They need not have worried, for He “made Himself of no reputation”, and deliberately withdrew. How solemn to be left by the Lord; just as solemn as when the glory departed in Ezekiel’s day. And departed again into Galilee- note the “again”, for John has already recorded His first journey into Galilee, 1:43. It is important to remember that the events of John 1:19-4:54, (a period of 10 months), took place between verses 13 and 14 of Luke 4.
4:4 And He must needs go through Samaria- It is true that the road from Judea to Galilee does indeed go through Samaria, but there are other reasons that make this route a necessity:-
He must show Himself to be different to the Pharisees, who made a lengthy detour, crossing the Jordan and travelling up the further side in order to avoid “contamination” from the Samaritans. The Lord is teaching us that sanctification and isolation are not the same.
He is preparing the way for the spread of the gospel into Samaria after His ascension, Acts 8:4-25. The hostility of the Jews to the Samaritans must not be shared by believers.
He must address the matter of the Samaritan worship- where better to do it than within sight of Mt. Gerizim, at the top of which they worshipped.
4:5 Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph- Here is another reason for the “must needs” of verse 4. This spot is important because of its symbolic meaning. It is near Mt. Gerizim indeed, but it also near the parcel of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph to signify that he was his firstborn, and therefore had the right to a double portion. His words were, “Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren”, Genesis 48:22. Now the word “portion” is the word Shechem. It was here that Joseph was eventually buried, after Israel had conquered the land under Joshua, Joshua 24:32. But significantly it is not as Joseph’s burying place that John notices this parcel of ground, but as the sign that Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob, with the right to administer everything for the father. This is exactly how the Lord Jesus is described in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”. As God’s Firstborn Son, (as well as his Only-begotten), the Lord Jesus administers everything for His Father. And this is what He is doing in the passage before us, for He is ensuring that the Father’s desire for worshippers is satisfied.
4:6 Now Jacob’s well was there- John uses the word fountain for this well, and the Lord Jesus uses the same word for the fountain of spiritual water which He gives. The woman, however, uses a word that simply means a pit, or cistern. Clearly, Jacob had discovered that there was an underground spring in this place, and had dug a shaft down to it. The woman, however, only looked upon it as a pit of water- she was not interested in the source of the water, nor the energy which caused it to spring forth from the rock. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey- He was Lord, and as such was the creator of the ends of the earth, who fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28. But He had come into real manhood, and as such had accepted the limitations that being having a body involves. He now has two natures, but is still one Person. This is a great mystery, but the believing heart accepts what Scripture says even though it cannot explain it. How relevant are these things to the subject of this chapter, for it is precisely because God has been manifest in the person of His Son, that we are able to intelligently worship Him. Christ has given to us the fullest expression of who and what God is, that we might have the material to be able to worship Him acceptably. Sat thus on the well- He sat on the well just as He was, wearied, yet Lord of all. He neither desired, nor needed, to pretend to be anything other than what He was. It was in this state of readiness to work for his Father, even though He was weary in body, that the woman discovered Him. Notice His word in :28, “Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours”. And it was about the sixth hour- whether this was according to Roman or Jewish reckoning, the fact remains it was daylight, and a public place. The Lord Jesus was prepared to meet with a man like Nicodemus at night, but, being supremely circumspect, would not do the same with a woman. He abstained from all appearance of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water- Whereas Nicodemus, a religious Jew, had come to Him, He had come to this Gentile woman. The fact that she came to the well was secondary to His coming to meet her. He “must needs” come to this place to do so. The purpose for which the woman came provides the Lord with the opportunity to speak of the water He alone is able to give. Jesus saith unto her “Give me to drink”- This initial request introduces the three themes that immediately follow. “Give” reminds us that He also is willing to give. “Me” reminds us as to who He is. “To drink” reminds us that what He gives is indeed living water.
4:8 (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat)- another of John’s “asides”, words of explanation. He is excusing the disciples for not being at hand to minister to their Master’s needs. No doubt the woman would have been disconcerted to find twelve or more men at the well-side. She would have felt intimidated, especially as she would discern they were Jews.
4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him- we learn from this expression that this woman was not only a woman “out of” Samaria, :7, who might merely be a Jewess visiting the place, but that she belonged to Samaria, and therefore is a Samaritan, as she herself implies at the end of the verse. As such she was a Gentile. How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?- Because of their origins, and the fact that they had built a rival temple on Mt. Gerizim, the Jews detested the Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual. To her credit, the woman does not seem to harbour this prejudice. The Lord Jesus had come into the world to save sinners, of whatever race, creed, or persuasion. How did she know He was a Jew? Either by His dress, with its border of blue, in accordance with Numbers 15:37-41; or by His features; or by His speech. “Give Me to drink” in Aramaic is “Teni lischechoth”. A Jew would pronounce the “s” as “sch”, whereas the Samaritan would simply pronounce it as an “s”. Compare Judges 12:6; Mark 14:70. For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans- Whilst it is true that the Lord was not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, nevertheless as the True Joseph, His branches ran over the wall to bless the Gentiles, Genesis 49:22. This is seen in its fulness after Pentecost, Acts 1:8.
4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink- Notice two things she did not know. First, what the gift of God was, and secondly, who was offering her that gift. It is true that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and in that sense He is the gift of God, yet the Lord distinguishes between this gift and Himself. The nearer context suggests that the gift is the giving of all things into the hands of the Lord Jesus. And one of the things He gives is the Holy Spirit. Second, she did not know who He was, God’s Son, the Lord of all, the One given the task of administering everything for His Father. Thou wouldest have asked of Him- if she had known He alone was able to give the most desirable things, she would have made her request before He made His. And He would have given thee living water- thus the water of the well becomes a parable, leading this woman on to higher things.
4:11 The woman saith to Him, Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence hast Thou that living water?- The woman for the moment is only thinking on a natural level. She has noticed He has no leather bucket like the travelling caravans carried with them to draw water with. The well was deep, so the water was out of reach without a bucket. And, she assumes that He, a Jew, will not be prepared to use the same bucket as her, a Samaritan. She perhaps thinks He knows where the spring is that feeds the well, and this would be all that “living water” meant to her as yet.
4:12 Art Thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?- Have you greater knowledge about wells than even Jacob had, who secured for himself a water supply independent of the wells of the strangers around him at that time? A supply, moreover, which was abundant, for it satisfied him and his family, and was enough for all his herds as well.
4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:- since she insists on limiting her thoughts to the well they were both beside, the Lord compares its water to the water He is able to give. All natural things fail to satisfy permanently. No matter how abundant the supply, the waters (joys) of earth can never give enduring pleasure.
4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;- the expression “never thirst” is very strong, and may be translated “in no wise thirst for ever”. For no reason will one who drinks of this water ever at any time need to drink again. The “whosoever” of verse 13 means “everyone that”, meaning the whole multitude of those who, like Jacob, his sons and his cattle, all drink from this well, they shall thirst again, and need to come again to fetch water. However, the whosoever of verse 14 is individual, and emphasises that the drinking of the water Christ speaks of is an act of personal faith. But the water that I shall give him- in contrast to the natural water, hence the “but”. Shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.- Instead of coming to an external source of natural water, the believer in Christ has the source within himself. Note the energy and force of this water as it gushes forth in the believer’s heart; and this from a physically weary Saviour! The water is the Holy Spirit, and with Divine energy He introduces the believer to the whole range of things that having everlasting life, (the life of God), involves. The foremost of these is the knowledge of God. The Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father in John 17 said this-“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”, John 17:3. The following things should be noted about that verse. First, life eternal is put in contrast to the natural life which unsaved persons have, those who are only “flesh”, verse 2, and who are therefore weak and mortal. Eternal life, on the other hand, is the Life of the Eternal God, and as such is strong and everlasting. When a person is born again, John 3:3, he is born of God, John 1:13, and now has the life of his Father in his soul, being one of His children. Second, the life a natural man in the flesh possesses enables him to appreciate the natural world around. Eternal life, however, enables a person to know the things of God. Third, the word “that” used by the Lord Jesus in John 17:3 means “in order that”. Once a person has eternal life they know God in principle. But God gives eternal life so that the recipient may get to know Him increasingly well, a process that stretches into eternity. We see now the significance of the words “springing up into everlasting life”, in John 4:14. The Spirit of God enables us to appreciate God in increasing measure, and thus we are equipped to worship God intelligently.
4:15 The woman saith unto Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw”- If the Samaritan woman had simply said, “Sir, give me this water”, we would have thought she had grasped the meaning of the Saviour’s words, and was asking for spiritual water. As it is, the Lord Jesus has to uncover the secrets of her heart, so that the repentance which always accompanies true faith in Him may be produced.
4:16-19 WAYWARDNESS CONFESSED
4:16 Jesus saith unto her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither”- It is said of the Lord Jesus in John 2:24 that “He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man”, and the woman now discovers this to be true, for He knew her circumstances, but acts to get her to confess them. One of the basic things that God requires from those who worship Him, is that they have come to end of themselves, or as Philippians 3:3 puts it, “have no confidence in the flesh”. This only happens when a person repents of their sin, confessing it to God. This the Samaritan woman is about to do.
4:17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband”- A statement which may, if spoken to anyone else, have led them to believe she was single. On the other hand, Christ’s response would suggest otherwise. Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband. The tense of the verb “Said” implies that there had been a pause in the conversation after the woman had stated that she had no husband. The fact that the Lord Jesus commends her for saying that, (even though her status, as He now reveals, is not that of a single person), would indicate that the pause was on account of her obvious signs of repentance. He would not have commended her for trying to deceive Him.
4:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly”- Romans 7:2 states “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of the husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man”. We are not told whether each of the husbands mentioned here had died, thus enabling her to marry another man legitimately. But we know certainly that her current state was unlawful, since the emphasis is on the word “thy”, implying that he was someone else’s husband. She, then, has honestly stated the situation when she said she had no husband. Hence the Lord is able to say to her that when she said she had no husband she was speaking truly, and not trying to deceive Him.
4:19 The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet”- She has claimed a connection with Jacob in verse 12, and he, of all the patriarchs, did the most prophesying. See Genesis 49, for instance, where he foretells what will happen to the tribes of Israel in the last days. She realises that He has the ability to speak for God. He has already done it in regard to her own sin, and now, there is growing in her heart a desire to know the God He represents. As yet, she does not know the relationship between this stranger and God, but she acts on the light she has.
4:20-26 WORSHIP SOUGHT
4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain- Note she is appealing to the force of tradition. She feels that what has been going on for a long time is correct. Yet she realises there are differences of opinion on the subject, as she goes on to imply. And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship- She believes that He is a Jew, and therefore puts the emphasis on the word “ye”, meaning, “ye Jews”. She is about to discover that whilst He will defend the Old Testament worship of Israel, for it was ordained of God, He will introduce her to something far better.
4:21 Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, believe Me”- with these words the Lord Jesus emphasises two things. First, that worship will be open to women on the same basis as it will be to men. Both the Samaritan and Jewish system allowed only the men a prominent part. (Of course, in the assembly gatherings it is required by God that the sisters remain silent, but that by no menas implies that they cannot worship. One of the most beautiful examples of worship is found in John 12, when Mary anointed the Lord Jesus prior to the cross. Yet she never spoke a word!) Second, those who worship God in the future will not rely on natural, seen, things to help them. Those who subsequently believed in Israel were greatly tried by the fact that they had no visible temple and altar. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews encourages them by the fact that entrance into the presence of God is in the full assurance of faith, they need have no misgivings about leaving the visible, earthly temple behind, see Hebrews 10:22. The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father- First of all, there is information for her as a Samaritan worshipper. He announces with authority that there is a time coming when she will not worship on the top of Mt. Gerizim.. But that does not mean she will transfer to Jerusalem. Something far more radical than that awaits. The hour referred to is this present age, whose beginning was marked by two things. First, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, by which He set aside the things of the First Covenant, Hebrews 10:1-14. Second, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, that He might indwell God’s people and empower them to worship. Note the way in which God is described here. When Abraham was at Shechem, he built an altar to the Lord, or Jehovah, who had appeared to him, Genesis 12:6,7. When Jacob was there, he built an altar to El-Elohe-Israel, or God, the God of Israel, Genesis 33:18-20. Now the Lord Jesus is near Shechem, and speaks of the worship of the Father. It is the same God who is spoken of in each instance, but revealed in a different way. The highest revelation of God that there ever could be is through His own Son, John 1:18. Hence He is to be worshipped in His character as Father. How profound are the truths being revealed to this Gentile Samaritan woman!
IMPORTANT NOTE ON WORSHIP:
Definition of worship
The New Testament word for worship means “To kiss towards, implying acknowledgement and affection. The Old Testament word for worship means “To bow down”, implying reverence. Worship is closely connected with sacrifice, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The first use of the word worship, (although not the first instance of worship), is when Abraham went to one of the mountains of Moriah to worship, Genesis 22: 2,5. But he went there to offer sacrifice. In Hebrews 10:1,2, those who came to Israel’s altar with their offerings are called worshippers.
Range of worship
The range of forms of worship open to the believer is great. There is the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15; the sacrifice of sharing, Hebrews 13:16; the sacrifice of service, Philippians 2:17, and the sacrifice of self, Romans 12:1.
Preparation for worship
There must be the Spirit indwelling the heart if true worship is to be offered, and this the Samaritan woman discovers, as the gift of the Spirit is offered to her.
There must be inward cleansing, so her sins must be exposed. Believers are to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and examine themselves before coming before the Lord, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 11:28. The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”, Psalm 66:18. And the Lord Jesus commanded that those who come to the altar with a gift, and then remember that a fellow-believer has something against them, they are to put it right first, and then offer the gift, Matthew 5:23,24.
There must also be intelligence as to Christ, for He is the substance of the believer’s worship of the Father. The priests of old were skilled at putting the parts in order upon the altar, and so should we be skilful is presenting the varied features of Christ to our Father, for His pleasure.
4:22 Ye worship ye know not what- what was lacking in the Samaritan worship was a personal knowledge of God. And this stemmed from its beginnings. When the Assyrian king transported people from Assyria to the land of Israel, they brought their gods with them. In superstitious fear of the God of Israel, however, they worshipped Him too! See 2 Kings 17:24-34. So it was that they were confused and in ignorance as to the nature of the True God; for He cannot be worshipped as if He is one of many gods. We know what we worship- The Lord Jesus defends the Old Testament system of worship as being one where God revealed Himself to His worshippers, and clearly set out His requirements if they were going to know Him and worship Him. This the Samaritans had rejected by building a rival temple, even though they accepted the books of Moses as Scripture. For salvation is of the Jews- The Jews had been protected from idolatry by God, and as such, ideally, were an example of that salvation from false worship which the other nations of the earth should have learnt from.
4:23 But the hour cometh- the “but” prepares for the change that is to be brought in at a season soon to start. And now is- Now we know what the Lord Jesus was doing as he “sat thus on the well”. Without adopting any special posture; or putting on special clothes; with no temple or altar, He, wearied by His journey, worshipped God in the energy of the Spirit of God. As such, He becomes the example of a present-day true worshipper of God, who needs no earthly means to enable worship to be given to God. When the true worshippers- so this new mode of worship will render all others outmoded. Only Christian worship is “true”, that is, corresponds to reality. Hebrews 8:2 says that the Lord Jesus is now the minister in the true tabernacle, and in spirit those who worship God are able to come into that sanctuary. Shall worship the Father in spirit – They will be enabled to enter into the very presence of God in heaven, by the power of the Spirit of God. They will not need the things of time and sense to help them, (the things which the natural man appreciates), but their faith will lay hold on spiritual realities. And in truth- the idea of the word is that of full development. Now that the Lord Jesus has made God manifest, the ideal situation has arrived. The Lord Jesus accused those of His day of drawing near to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him, Matthew 15:8, but the true worshippers will come to God in sincerity and reality. They will also come near to God in submission to the truth which He has revealed about Himself, and not be influenced by error. For the Father seeketh such to worship Him- How affecting to the hearts of God’s people that they are in a position to satisfy this strong desire on the part of their Father. He had made man so he might glorify Him, but Adam and his race seek their own glory. There has been a blessed Man down here, however, who could honestly say that He sought the glory of Him who had sent Him, John 7:18; 8:49,50.
4:24 God is a Spirit- Although the Scriptures speak of God as if He has arms, eyes, and so on, this is simply to enable us to appreciate His spiritual features using earthly language. Since God is the Supreme Spirit Being, those who worship Him must be enabled by the Spirit so to do- they cannot worship God by natural means. And they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth- Not only does the Father seek this sort of worshipper, as verse 23 indicates, but now we learn that these are the only ones that can worship Him aright, they must worship like this if they are to worship at all.
4:25 The woman saith to Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things”-This statement shows that she was intelligent as to the hopes of Israel, even though the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Bible, and the first mention of Messiah is in 1 Samuel 1. She is clearly interested in spiritual things, despite the fact that her life-style might suggest otherwise.
4:26 Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am He”- At last the one has arrived who, being God’s Only Begotten, is able to fully tell out God so that we may intelligently worship Him. One, moreover, who is God’s Firstborn Son also, given the task of bringing God’s family into the privilege of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.
WORSHIP IN SPIRIT:
Because God is Spirit, meaningful worship must engage with Him on that level, by the power of the indwelling Spirit.
The Holy Spirit works in the believers spirit to encourage and empower true worship.
Worship is not the product of natural gift, like musical ability, or oratory.
Worship is not sensual, with sights and sounds and smells to excite the senses.
Worship is not engaged in on earth, but the believer’s spirit draws near to the very presence of God.
Worship is not ritualistic, with certain set words, liturgy, posture, and positions to adopt.
Worship is not natural, for unbelievers cannot worship God.
WORSHIP IN TRUTH:
Truth is that which corresponds to reality, things as they really are as disclosed by God in His Word.
Worship is not now after the style of the Old Testament, with holy buildings, a priestly class, outward ornamentation, distinctive dress. All such things were rendered obsolete by the sacrifice of Christ. Those who cling to such things display ignorance of the true nature of Christianity.
Worship is not to be in hypocrisy, with men drawing near to God with their lips, but with their hearts far from Him, Matthew 15:7-9.
Worship is not to be in wilful rebellion, such as when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to God, “which He commanded them not”, Leviticus 10:1.
May the Lord help His people to so occupy themselves with the things of Christ, that they are able to offer intelligent, meaningful, heartfelt worship to their Father, so that His great desire for worshippers is realised.