THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE #14

With Dale Ratzlaff

 

John 4:16-31

He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat” (Jn. 4:16-31).

We ended the discussion the last lesson by saying that this woman was ready to receive the living water—almost. Jesus now brings one more important truth to light that has two purposes.

He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”

Earlier we noted that the term “repentance” is not found in the Gospel of John. However, it can often be assumed. By asking this woman to call her husband, Jesus brings her sin into sharp focus. Jesus had an even larger purpose. He wanted her to know that He was not just an ordinary Jew just passing by. By revealing her past in detail, she suddenly realized that she was speaking with someone who had supernatural knowledge.

When she answered, “I have no husband”, notice the gentleness and love in Jesus response. He could have said, “Woman you are living in sin.” But His soft, but true answer, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’” kept the lines of communication open. Jesus continued, “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”

We are not told how soon the woman responded to this revelation of her sin and Jesus’ omniscience. As she pondered Jesus’ statement, several things must have been going on in her mind.

Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

She recognized that Jesus had supernatural knowledge. As noted in the previous study, the Samaritans were looking for “The Prophet” predicted in Deuteronomy 18. Could it be that Jesus was “this” Prophet?

Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

There are two possible reasons why this Samaritan woman quickly changed the subject from her jaded past to where one should worship. First, it was doubtless embarrassing for her to discuss her past with this person whom she presumed to be a prophet. Second, now under the conviction of sin, she might have felt the need to go to the temple and offer sacrifice or make confession. As the Samaritans and Jews were in disagreement regarding the prescribed place of worship, she may have felt this was an appropriate time to ask “The Prophet”.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

Here we see Jesus moving the standard for old covenant worship to the new reality for new covenant worship. Much of Old Testament worship was centered on place.

You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the LORD your God is giving you; but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt (Deut. 16:5-6).

For the three major Jewish feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, all Jewish men were supposed to go to the temple to sacrifice and worship. Jesus changes this.

By saying, “you worship what you do not know” Jesus was pointing out the fact that no revelation from God happened on Mt. Gerazim. The Jews, however, not only had the Torah, which the Samaritans also claimed, but they had the prophets with their many predictions and shadows of the coming Messiah. That Jesus, the Messiah, was a Jew was the culminating argument. Truly, salvation is from the Jews.

It is noteworthy that Jesus did not send this woman to Jerusalem to worship. Rather He moves her thinking into new covenant territory.

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

“An hour is coming” points decisively in John to the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the world. Over and over again as we follow Jesus’ ministry as recorded in John he will say, “My hour has not yet come”.

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4; see also 7:30; 8:20).

However, as we get to the final week as Jesus prepares his disciples for His coming death, He says on several occasions, “My hour has come” (see Jn. 12:23; 13:1; 17:1).

Jesus can tell the Samaritan woman both that the “hour is coming”—referring to His coming death, burial, and resurrection—and “now is” in that Jesus is the Messiah, and true worship must be centered “in Him”. John has already recorded what Jesus said earlier, and that declaration harmonize with his words here:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, “and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body (Jn. 2:19-21).

Jesus speaks of “true worshipers”. He does not at this point clarify who are the “false worshipers”; nevertheless, He points to the truth that now all worship is to be “true worship”. True worship is defined here in three ways. (1) It is done through the True Temple, the person of Jesus Christ, (2) to the Father (3) by the Spirit.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn. 7:38-39).

In saying that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth, Jesus is showing that the dividing point between the old and new covenants has, in principle, already come. Under new covenant worship, which the woman could enter into now, there is no “place requirement”; there are no linage or ethnic exclusions.

By worshiping “in truth” Jesus wipes out all the dozens of rituals associated with old covenant worship. Reality trumps ritual.

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Here, to this sinning, hated, Samaritan woman, Jesus makes one of His most direct statements about His person. In essence Jesus says, “I am the Messiah”. Here we see the truth of the gospel, the simple gospel that can be proclaimed to sinners. Here we see how wide God’s mercy is.

At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”

While it only takes a minute or two to read John’s account of what transpired there by Jacob’s well, doubtless much more was said. For the disciples to walk a mile and a half into town, buy food, and walk the mile and a half back, we are looking at least at several hours. Nevertheless, under the Spirit’s guidance, we have record of the important points of the conversation. Apparently, the disciples were so taken aback by this meeting that they were speechless.

So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat” (Jn. 4:16-31).

We need not wonder why this woman who had come to get water left her waterpot there by the well. She had drunk of the “living water”. Now, we see the truth of Jesus’ earlier statement to her.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:13-14).

The transformation that happened that day by the edge of the well is remarkable. In the morning she had walked out to the well by herself, socially rejected, under the guilt of sin. Now, but a short time later, she was refreshed by the “living water”. Now she is boldly going back to her community inviting her people to consider that Jesus is “The Prophet” Moses wrote about, yes, the very Messiah.” Her message was a simple one,

Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?

Her witness immediately bears fruit,

They went out of the city and were coming to Him.

There will be more on this in the next lesson. But notice that at the beginning of this encounter between Jesus and this woman, John describes Jesus as being “wearied from His journey”; yes, and thirsty. Now it is several hours later, and Jesus is still thirsty and hungry, but more important things occupied His mind and spirit. The disciples, as was often the case, did not understand this reality and said, “Rabbi, eat”.

 

Application

In our witnessing to others we often feel the need to stress repentance and confession of sin. While this is important we should remember how gentle and kind Jesus was when dealing with sin. Once a person has a personal conviction of sin we need not pile on the guilt.

Let us ever understand “true worship”. It must be through Christ to the Father by the Holy Spirit. It can be in many forms and places. Let us not argue over rituals; rather, we ought to focus on the Spirit and truth. By worshiping in the Spirit, I understand this to mean we pattern our lives seeking the Spirit’s power to fully understand what Christ’s life, death, and resurrection means to us here and now—and in the future. True worship is more than correct doctrine; as important as doctrine is, worship is a personal relationship with the Living Lord guided through the application of the Word of God.

New believers may be excellent evangelists. If they understand the person and work of Christ and the fundamentals of the simple gospel, we should not hold them back, but encourage them to reach out to their circle of influence.

Never underestimate the power of personal testimony.

 

Prayer

Father, may I have the kindness, gentleness, and mercy Jesus expressed to the Samaritan woman in my communication with sinners. Help me to see “divine appointments” in everyday encounters. Give we wisdom as I seek to communicate the life-changing gospel to others.

DaleRatzlaff
DaleRatzlaff

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