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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 9, 2000
Responding to Grace & Truth
One of the great joys of being a pastor is the privilege of presenting the truths of God’s Word and seeing people respond to it. Often, it seems like those that respond are people you would think the least likely to do so. At the same time, one of the great frustrations of being a preacher is that what seems very obvious to you is not so obvious to those you are speaking too. Jesus encountered the same problem as we shall see today in John 4:27-43.
Jesus had come up from Judea where He and the disciples had been involved in same ministry as John the Baptist of preparing people for the coming of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ ministry had been expanding and His disciples had been baptizing more than John. When Jesus knew the Pharisees had learned this and John had been arrested, Jesus and His disciples left Judea to return to Galilee. It would have been easier for Jesus to return by just traveling north along the Jordan river, but the Father had a divine appointment for Jesus with a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well near Sychar.
Last week we looked at the conversation between Jesus and this woman. To set the context of this morning’s sermon, let’s quickly look at this conversation again.
As Jesus is sitting by Jacob’s well, a Samaritan woman comes to the well and draws water. Jesus says to her, "Give me a drink." The woman is surprised at this because there is animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. They would deal with each other, as is shown by the fact that the disciples had gone into the village to buy food, but they would not share in things together. John’s comment at the end of verse 9 is better translated as "For the Jews do not use together with the Samaritans." This woman could not believe that a Jewish man would ask to share her cup.
Jesus used His request to open up the conversation with her. In verse 10 Jesus seeks to arouse her interest further by saying,
John 4:10 (NASB) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She does not understand the spiritual nature of what Jesus is talking about so Jesus further explains in verse 13 & 14, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
The woman still did not understand the spiritual nature of what Jesus was talking about even though He talked about eternal life and qualities for a water that could not be physical. Jesus next seeks to bring her to an understanding of her spiritual need by bringing up her sin. Yet, Jesus does this in a gentle manner by letting her come to her own conclusion rather than bluntly pointing it out.
Jesus asks her to call her husband, but she replies that she does not have a husband. Jesus commends her for telling the truth, for He was already aware that she had five husbands and the man she was currently living with was not her husband (Jn. 4:16-18)
Now the woman understands that Jesus is a prophet and is talking about spiritual matters and not some sort of miraculous physical water. She asks Jesus a question that much have been on her mind, how does a person really worship God. Her people said it had to be done on Mt. Gerizim, but the Jews said it had to be in Jerusalem. Since this was a prophet, perhaps He could tell her the truth. Jesus answer was more than she could have ever expected.
John 4:21-24 – Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. 22 "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
In the near future the nature of true worship of God would no longer have anything to do with the location, in fact the two locations even cited by the woman would be made obsolete by Jesus death, burial and resurrection. There would no longer be a need for animal sacrifices because Jesus would soon be the final sacrifice for sin.
True worship of God is not a matter of location or religious rituals. It is a matter of spirit and truth. It is not what you do outwardly, but what is going on inwardly to produce the outward actions. If you are to truly worship God, then that must arise from within you, within your heart, from out of your spirit. This is in reflection of God’s very nature for He Himself is spirit. He is not a physical God made of wood or stone. He is not a God limited to some physical geographical area. He is the God who transcends all physical things because He created all things. He is immaterial spirit and He who created you must be worshiped by that immaterial part of you which reflect Him – your spirit.
Proper worship of God must also be according to truth. Even if it is within your spirit to want to worship God, if you do so in ignorance or defiance of what God has commanded concerning worship of Him, then it is false worship. Right actions of worship are not enough, for the Spirit must also be correct. You must worship from the heart with the right motives. At the same time right motives are not enough either, you must also worship God according to His commands. Worship of God must be in spirit and in truth.
The woman then presented to Jesus her great hope – the coming of Messiah who would teach her all things. Jesus then reveals to this somewhat ignorant Samaritan woman the wonderful truth that was not understood by the Jewish leaders who should have known better. Jesus is the promised Messiah – "I who speak to you am (He)."
It is at this point that we pick up our text for this morning. Look at verse 27. And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"
In God’s providence of His perfect timing the disciples return just as Jesus finishes His discussion with the woman by declaring that He is the Messiah. They do not come earlier, which would have interrupted the conversation. They do not come later and miss the lesson that Jesus is about to teach them. They arrive just in time to marvel at what they were seeing.
The reason for their amazement is that common convention among the Jews, and especially among the Rabbis, was that a man was not to talk to a woman in public. There was a separation of the sexes and such public discourse between two strangers would have been considered uncultured. Some of the Rabbis went so far as to say, "Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no not with his own wife." Yet, out of respect for Jesus, none of His disciples intervened with the woman (What do you seek?), or to question Jesus (Why do you speak with her?).
The woman now leaves to tell the people in the city what she had found. John 4:28-29 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I [have] done; this is not the Christ, is it?" 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.
Some have said that the woman was so excited that she forgot her waterpot and left it there, but our text does not say she "forgot" it, but that she "left" it. This is in response to Jesus’ first request for a drink. She accepts what He has said and leaves it so that Jesus can get a drink. She would pick it up later when she came back with the people from the city.
Her report to the men of the city is an exaggeration in quantity, but not in quality. Jesus had not told her all the things she had done, but He had demonstrated His omniscience so that she knew that nothing was hidden from Him. Her question to them is not a wonder on her part of Jesus being the Messiah, but was the proper manner for a woman to defer in humble submission to the men and present to them what was already in her mind. "This is not the Christ, is it?
This was a small town. She would have been well known. Her verbal report and the change that must have already occurred in her after meeting Jesus compelled the people to come to Jesus themselves. Our text says that "They went out of the city, and were coming to Him." The grammar here indicates a precise point in time. They had already responded to the woman’s report and had left the city and were now in the process of coming. They were on their way.
While this was happening, the disciples learn a lesson. After the woman leaves they now express their concern for Jesus and getting back to the matters at hand. Verse 31 – In the meanwhile the disciples were requesting Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." They had purchased and brought the food, and now it was time to eat. They show both respect and concern for Jesus. They had left Jesus by the well for He had been wearied from the journey (John 4:6). They went and got the food so that He could rest, and now they want Him to eat to regain His strength. But Jesus has another lesson He wants to teach them, so He answers in verse 32. "I have food to eat that you do not know about." Jesus makes a statement that causes them to wonder.
The disciples respond in the same way the Samaritan woman had responded earlier. They could only see what was in front of their eyes, so they respond in verse 33, The disciples therefore were saying to one another, "No one brought Him [anything] to eat, did he?" They could not imagine a Samaritan giving Jesus food, so where did He get the food He was talking about. Notice that they do not address Jesus directly, but are discussing this among themselves. Jesus answers their question in verses 34-38.
First, Jesus deals with the general lesson and then He directs their attention to what was even then happening. John 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. This is quite a profound statement. Jesus had been physically weary and in need of food and water, but what had refreshed Him was not anything physical, but the doing of His Father’s will. Jesus points out to His disciples that there is a realm that is much more important than the physical. There are things which are much more important than bodily sustenance.
This is not just the thought of Jesus, but the desire of all who want to be godly. Job said it this way, "I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12). David said God’s word was more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb (Psalm 19:7-10).
It really comes down to what is important to you. Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that the primary purpose of life is fulfilling God’s will. Everything else is secondary. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut 8:3, Mt. 4:4). God wants your mind fixed on Him and not the mundane things of life including food. That is why Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33 that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness then He would give us what we need for daily life – food, drink & clothing.
Is the will of God your food? Let me make some statements and ask some questions that might help you to see your own heart and where you might still grow. If there are areas that convict you, then repent – ask God to forgive you and move onto greater Christlikeness – that your food will also be to do the will of God.
First, it is God’s will that you know His will. He wants us to stand fully assured in all of His will (Col. 4:12). Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they would "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9). The purpose of this was that they "may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respect, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
What is your desire to know the will of God? It starts with a knowledge of God and what He has revealed in the Scriptures. Is your food to be entertained or to know the Word of God? How many hours per week do you spend in front of the TV or playing games as opposed to reading and studying the Bible? How much time do you spend pursing hobbies in comparison to learning the word of God? If you can learn all the details about your hobby – the stats of the players on a sports team, the keystrokes for a computer game, the techniques to build or make whatever, know the names of the actors and actresses on TV programs, then you can also learn the Bible. Those activities may not evil in themselves and may be fine things to do, but what is your food, your great desire? The blessed man will meditate day and night on the Scriptures (Psalm 1). It is his food.
What is your desire to do the will of God? It starts with simple obedience to God’s Word. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to resist the pressure of the world to conform us into its image and be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Do you value what the world values or what God values? Is it your food to do God’s will or be seen as successful by the world?
How are you doing at obeying God’s moral commands? God’s will is that we are sanctified and not sexual immoral (1 Thess. 4:3). Do the things you see, read and hear promote holiness in life or put your mind into the gutter? God’s will is that we are good citizens including paying our taxes (Rom. 13:1-7). Does your tax return reflect that godliness? God’s will is that you are holy even as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:16) and be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Is it your food to be holy like Jesus or do think that is too fanatic and you are more comfortable being like everyone else in society?
God’s will is that you use your gifts in the Body of Christ (Eph. 4; 1 Cor. 12). Are you using them? And if so, is it for your own glory or His? How much time and money do you spend in making sure your life is comfortable? Compare that to what you are doing in making sure that others hear the gospel so that they will not be left ignorantly on their way to hell. Is your life self-centered or God centered? If you are a Christian, it should be becoming progressively more God centered.
Jesus food was to do the will of God for that was the purpose of His life. What is your food? What is the purpose of your life? If it is something other than the will of God, then you will miss both God’s blessing in fulfilling the reason He created you and suffer the consequences of your failure.
Even for those that want to do God’s will, I fear that many of us often miss it simply because our eyes are focused on the daily stuff of life and can not perceive what the Lord is doing right in front of us. That was true for the Samaritan woman and for Jesus disciples. Jesus had to point it out to them. We need to look at the world from God’s eyes and see what He sees. Jesus describes this to them in the verses 35-38. "Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and [then] comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 "Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 "For in this [case] the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
Understand what Jesus is pointing out to them. They are by Jacob’s well which is in a valley between the ridge of the Mountains of Ephraim to the south and east, Mt. Gerizim to the West and Mt. Ebal to the North. The village of Sychar is over a little ways to the northeast and the city of Shechem is directly north. The valley was planted in small grain, wheat or barley, in November. It is now December or early January and the fields are green. The harvest would not be until April or May. Jesus first points out to them what was obvious. It would be four months before harvest. Next He points out to them what was not so obvious.
Remember back in verse 30 it states that the people from the city were on their way to meet Jesus. As they are coming, they make a sharp contrast in their white clothing to the green barley and wheat they were walking through. Jesus tells His disciples to look up and see what He saw. There was a harvest of people coming to them.
Jesus had sown the seed in the Samaritan woman who took it back to the men of the city. Now they were coming to Jesus and the fruit of eternal life would be gathered. Jesus was already receiving the wages of His work. The disciples had not done this work, but they would now be involved in reaping the harvest and they would rejoice together. Jesus was not only pointing out to them what they did not see themselves, but was inviting them to now join in the labor of reaping the harvest.
Verses 39-42 tells us about this harvest. And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all the things that I [have] done." 40 So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world."
These Samaritans demonstrated a faith that was lacking in the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Many of them were actively looking for the Messiah and based just on the testimony of what the woman said about Jesus, they believed in Him. They persuaded Jesus to stay with them for two days, and what a glorious two days it must have been. Our text says nothing about what work Jesus did during that time. There is no record of a miracle. There is no recording of what He must have taught them. We know is that Jesus had invited His disciples to join Him in gathering the harvest of souls for eternal life and we know that result of His labors. Jesus must have been teaching them about the Messiah and the kingdom to come.
Many believed initially because of the testimony of the woman, and were confirmed in their belief after hearing Him themselves (verse 42). Verse 41 tells us that even more came to believe after when they heard Jesus with their own ears. Notice at the end of verse 42 what they believed – that this One, Jesus, is indeed the Savior of the world.
That precious truth had escaped the understanding of the religious leaders in Judea. They should have been looking for the Messiah, but they did not recognize Him when they met Him. They certainly should have had a better understanding of the Old Testament prophecies, but the Samaritans demonstrated a stronger belief in them. They should have understood that Messiah would come to save sinners, but they restricted salvation to those that met the standards of conduct they themselves had set up. They should have know that Messiah would come to bring God’s grace to all people for the Jews were already supposed to be doing that, but they wanted a political Messiah that would restore Jewish power, prestige and dominance among the nations. The Samaritans were overjoyed at finding that Jesus was the Messiah and understood that He is "the savior of the world." They were included.
Tragically, there are many professing to be Christians today that are very similar to the Pharisees of old. They restrict it to those that fit their own criteria of conduct. They seem to have forgotten that Jesus came to save sinners from every nation.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (138:6; James 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5, etc.). Jesus’ dealings with the Samaritans is a demonstration of that truth. The Jewish leaders were proud and even though Jesus did signs among them, they did not receive the blessing of knowing Jesus as the Messiah. The Samaritans were humble and received the report of the woman and then came to Jesus themselves and received blessing of knowing the Savior of the World.
The same principle is still at work today. If you want to know Jesus Christ, then you need to be humble and come to Him and learn from Him. If you want to be used of God, then you need to be humble and obey what He says. If you are proud and resist, then you can be sure that God will also resist you. You may get what you are after, but it will not be Jesus Christ or the blessings of God.
Verse 43 tells us And after the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. The Samaritans were asking Jesus to stay with them (vs. 40). The sense here is that kept asking Jesus, not that they just asked him once. Their persistence paid off and Jesus stayed with them for two days, but wonderful days they must have been as they learned for themselves from Jesus’ own lips that He is indeed the savior of the world.
Jesus did not stay longer because he had to return to His primary ministry which was presenting the kingdom to Israel first. Yet, Jesus had compassion to minister to these people, just as He would with a syrophonecian in a time to come (Mk. 7:26f). Jesus still extends the same compassion. No one is outside the realm of His grace and mercy regardless of background, heritage, or personal sin. This immoral Samaritan woman was an outcast, yet God’s grace was given to her and through her to a whole city of people who had a false understanding of the God who created them and how to worship Him.
Perhaps you are here today like that woman at the well without a desire to worship God, but no understanding of how to properly do so. Or perhaps you are like one of the people from the city, you have heard about Jesus, but you have not yet met Him personally. The invitation is open to you – come meet the savior of the world and gain everlasting life through belief in Him. Talk with myself or one of our leaders and we would be happy to show you from the Scriptures how you can have your sins forgiven and have everlasting life.
Or perhaps you are here today like one of the disciples. You want to serve the Lord, but you do not yet see what is around you like God sees it. You see the obvious, the wheat and the barley, but you do not yet see the fields that are white unto a harvest for eternal life. Learn as the disciples did from Jesus. Ask Him to teach you that you may also see how God can and will use you as a laborer in His fields. It starts with a searching heart that will ask, seek and knock. It will continue in your own study of the Scriptures that you may know God’s will in your life. It will culminate in a heart that has faith because its desire is like that of Jesus. Your food will be to do the will of the Father. The mundane things of this life will diminish in importance as you find greater and greater joy and satisfaction in serving God.
John 1:14 states, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Verse 17 adds, For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Grace and truth came to a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well. She responded and reaped its benefits. She told others, and they responded and reaped its benefits. Today, you have heard a message of grace and truth. What will your response be?
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Tell in your own words what Jesus meant "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me." 2) Discuss with your parents what is important in your life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the setting for John 4:27-43? What "grace" did Jesus give to the woman at the well? What is the proper nature of the worship of God? Why? Why did the disciples marvel that Jesus spoke to the woman? What was the woman’s response when she found out Jesus was the Messiah? Why did she leave her waterpot? How did the people of the city respond to what the woman told them? Why do you think they responded in this manner? Why were the disciples requesting Jesus to eat (vs. 31)? Why wasn’t Jesus interested in eating (vs. 32f)? Why do you think the disciples did not ask Jesus directly their questions (vs. 27 & 33)? What did Jesus mean by His statement in verse 34? What is your "food?" How serious are you about doing God’s will? What in your life demonstrates that? What needs to improve? Do you know God’s will? How can you know? What was the harvest Jesus was talking about (vs. 35-38)? What "harvest" might there be around you that God would want you to reap? What was the Samaritans response to Jesus? What is yours response to Jesus?
Sermon Notes – 1/9/2000 a.m.
Responding to Grace and Truth – John 4:27-43
Context (John 4:1-26)
Jesus’ Dialogue with the Woman
The Disciples Response (vs. 27)
The Woman’s Response (vs. 28-30)
The Disciples’ Concern (vs. 31)
Jesus’ Concern (vs. 32-34)
Doing God’s will
Knowing His Will – Col. 1:9; 4:12
Seeking His Will – Psalm 1
Seeing the Harvest (vs. 35-38)
The Samaritan’s Response (vs. 39-42)
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