The Father Is Seeking True Worshipers--He Is Seeking You!
O Lord God, our dear heavenly Father, You have a passionate love for every soul. You have sent Your Son to reconcile this world of lost souls to Yourself. Through His life, death, and resurrection Jesus has accomplished this great deliverance, the blessings of which we are privileged to receive by faith in His saving name. Watch over and bless our worship this day. Open our ears so that we might hear Your truths and our hearts so that having received those truths we might apply them faithfully in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
God was frustrated with His Old Testament people! It wasn’t that His people were not going to church. They were going, but their hearts were not in it. They complied with the outward requirements for sacrifices, but their compliance was not the result of love. God desires, above all, the fruits of the heart—proper humility together with just and merciful actions!
The apostle Paul reminds us that the Christian gospel message does not depend upon our power, but rather upon the power of God. Neither can it be understood with our wisdom. Rather, the Christian gospel message reveals God’s wise plan for man’s salvation—a plan that the Spirit of God alone can bring us to understand.
Text: John 4:4-24
But He (Jesus) needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of 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. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 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.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus 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 well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, of salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
In Christ Jesus, whose love for us is deep, abiding, and active, dear fellow redeemed:
The principle teaching of the Bible is the gospel. The gospel reveals God’s undeserved love for human beings. It is beautifully expressed in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Notice that God’s love for us is an active love. He saw our need and met that need by sending the One who was most precious to Him—“His only begotten Son!” God’s love for us is often expressed in such terms. Think of Jesus’ parables—a woman sweeping for her lost coin, a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, a king sending out his messengers to bring people into his banquet hall. Even in the parable of the Lost Sons, God is not depicted as a father snoozing in his recliner until his son knocks on the door, but rather He is depicted as waiting and watching, and finally, upon seeing his son in the distance, running out with joy to greet him.
In our text for today, we find a remarkable conversation between Jesus and an unnamed Samaritan woman—a conversation that illustrates God’s remarkable love for each of us. Note in particular Jesus’ words regarding the Father’s deep desire for you. After informing the woman that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,” He tells her, “the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” Think about those words. God is not passive. He is not sitting up in heaven thinking “if they come fine, if they don’t—fine.” Our God actively seeks us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants you to experience the blessings of having a personal relationship with Him. Let us, therefore, consider, this thought—THE FATHER IS SEEKING TRUE WORSHIPERS—HE IS SEEKING YOU! On the basis of our text, I can say four things with absolute confidence concerning God’s search for you! He will find you wherever you are! He will reveal to you your innermost need! He will convict you of your particular sins! He will instruct you in His truth!
He will find you wherever you are! Friday I traveled up to the Twin Cities and St. Cloud to make six visits to members and contacts living in those areas. One of those visits was to a member living on a temporary basis at a nursing home in north Minneapolis. In order to locate the nursing home I went on-line to Mapquest, typed in the address, and obtained a map together with a detailed listing of the roads I should take to get there. One of the neat aspects of Mapquest is the ability to zoom in on the maps they provide to order to get an increasingly more detailed street map. As you push each successive button, you just get closer and closer.
God has “zoom-in” capabilities. Listen to John describe Jesus’ journey in our text. First of all, he says, “But He (Jesus) needed to go through Samaria.” Jesus had been down in Judea and was heading back up to Galilee. Samaria lay in between Judea and Galilee, but that was not why Jesus “needed to go” through it. In fact, the Jews of Jesus’ day routinely avoided going through Samaria, by going around it. They would cross the Jordan River, travel either north or south on its eastern bank. and then cross over again into Jewish territory. Jesus “needed to go” through Samaria, because in God’s providential plan, He needed to meet the Samaritan woman referred to in our text. Let us go on and notice, if you will, the increasingly more specific geographical references: “So He (Jesus) came to a city of Samaria…which is called Sychar,…near the plot of ground that Jacob gave his son Joseph…Now Jacob’s well was there.” Think of a satellite photo first showing all of Samaria, then zooming in on one large section, then zooming in on a specific plot of land, and finally zooming in on one specific spot on that plot. John then adds one final detail: “It was about the sixth hour.” The stage of God’s providence was set. Jesus was there after traveling many miles, just at the time that John reports: “A woman of Samaria came to draw water.”
My dear friends, the events leading up to your present day relationship with Jesus Christ were not the result of chance circumstance. For many of you, God placed you in a Christian home, where your parents lovingly brought you to baptism at which time the Spirit of God created faith in your hearts. For others among you, you may be able to point to a situation or to a person who brought you the word of God, which the Spirit then used to impact your heart. My favorite illustration of such divine providence involved a Christian young woman meeting a Jewish young man seemingly by chance on a beach in California—a meeting which led to the gift of a Bible, the conversion of the young man, their ultimate marriage, and now their joint service to the Lord. Our God today knows where we are. He will effect His good and gracious plan for us. Remember the words of the Psalmist for they are so very true: “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted will all my ways” (139:1-2). That being the case, know that even when you become lost spiritual, God is still seeking you. He wants you to worship Him in spirit and in truth. He will find you wherever you are!
He will reveal to you your innermost need! Jesus revealed to the Samaritan women her innermost need—a need concerning which she was seemingly unaware—during their initial conversation. We read: “Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 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.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’”
Jesus began his conversation with the Samaritan woman in a straight-forward and outward manner, simply asking her for a drink of water. The request surprised the Samaritan woman on two accounts. First, she was a Samaritan, whose race the Jews of Jesus’ day despised. Secondly, she was a woman and in the society of that day men, especially those in a position of authority, would seldom address women in public. His request, however, certainly caught her attention and drew her interest, which allowed Jesus to proceed from that outward request for something physical to extending to the woman an invitation regarding her inward and spiritual needs. Instead of asking for water, Jesus offered to give her water…living water. The woman was somewhat confused, but her interest was certainly perked. How could he draw water without a bucket? He was not greater than the patriarch Jacob and his sons, was he? Jesus did not answer her question, but pressed his invitation further by comparing the water she had in her possession and which had come from the well to the living water He was offering her, which would become within her “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life!” The woman did not fully understand as her concluding comments reveals—she was still thinking in terms of physical water—but she certainly knew one thing. She needed and wanted the living water Jesus was offering!
My dear friends, the living water Jesus offered the woman at Jacob’s well is the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness, and the strength provided all who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is a fact that the soul of every human being has a desperate and innermost need—the need for close contact with and communion with God! Sin, however, which destroyed our first parent’s close communion with God, creates an insurmountable barrier between us and God. By nature we still know there is a God, but by nature we fear God’s wrath and anger. Oh, we can try to forget about it. We can deny it. We can drown our sorrows in alcohol or drugs, which many people do. We can indulge ourselves in the physical pleasures that our material world can offer. Yet, our souls still have a need that can only be satisfied by close communion with God.
During the last week I have had conversations with three different men in which each of them has commented to me that it has only been after they have come to know and understand the grace of God in Christ—His full and free forgiveness—that they have felt at peace and at rest! Their nagging need for God’s acceptance, for His forgiveness, and for His presence—a need they could not always articulate—was finally met when they came to know the love of their God in connection with Jesus Christ! THE FATHER IS SEEKING TRUE WORSHIPERS! He will reveal to you too your innermost need!
He will convict you of your particular sin! Jesus’ conversation with the woman took a definite turn when He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” Was Jesus’ unaware of this woman’s situation? Certainly not, for He revealed her situation most clearly a few moments later. Was Jesus simply trying to embarrass the woman? Of course not, Jesus would never do that. What Jesus was doing through His question was addressing this woman’s particular sin, so that she might be led to repent of that sin and receive the blessings offered by Jesus’ living water. When she confessed to Jesus that she did not have a husband, Jesus revealed the extent of her sin by revealing His knowledge of her situation: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” Contrary to the will of God, this woman had been involved in five divorces and was living with a sixth man. At this point, many in our world today might quip, “Oh Jesus, remember your own words—judge not, lest you be judged!” But Jesus prohibition to that effect in His Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 7:1) was never intended to prevent the recognition and admonishing of sin. It was directed rather to the false pride of some over against those who have sinned. By pointing out her sin, Jesus was reaching out to this woman and offering her exactly what she needed to enter into a close relationship with her God—repentance and an understanding of God’s gracious forgiveness.
My dear friends, sin is a devilish thing, which can destroy a soul if it is not identified, confessed, and removed. We may think that our sins are hidden from everyone’s eyes, and we may well be able to fool would fellow human beings. But God, who knows all things, is aware of our every thought, word, and deed. He knows all of your sins and mine, and He will convict you and me of our particular sins. Oh, it is true, that we will not meet Jesus in person at a well, as did the Samaritan woman, but Jesus still comes to us. In a recent issue of World magazine, which focused on the issue of abortion, several articles addressed the sad situation faced by millions of women in our country who are tormented in their consciences because they elected at some point in the past to kill their own child through abortion. Jesus uses our consciences to convict us of our sins. The only solution for such sorrowing consciences is to repent of sin, confess it, and then receive the blessed assurance that God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus. Jesus may well come to us in the person of a family member and friend, who has the courage to speak to us. If He does, do not become upset and indignant, but rather listen carefully to God’s messenger, whoever he or she might be, for they have your good—both your temporal and eternal good—in mind. Listen to Jesus in whatever form He comes, for THE FATHER SEEKS TRUE WORSHIPERS! Be glad that He is seeking you! He will convict you of your particular sin!
He will, finally, instruct you in His truth! The woman at Jacob’s well, perceiving Jesus to be a genuine prophet, asked Him a question vital to her spiritual growth and destiny. Given the animosity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, there had never been joint worship among them. The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem’s temple, while the Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim, just as the children of Israel had once worshiped under Joshua. Jesus’ response was both surprising to her and instructive: “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, of salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jesus stressed to this woman that it did not matter where she worshiped as long as she knew who to worship, why to worship, and how to worship! There is only one God who is to be worshiped—the Triune God of the Bible. He alone exists as God—all other gods are merely the inventions of men’s minds! She was to worship the Triune God, for in Him and through Him alone she could find salvation! She could not save herself, even as we cannot save ourselves. Rather, both she and we must turn to our Savior God and trust in His atoning work! Finally, Jesus told the woman that true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth. To worship “in spirit” means to worship in faith, with genuine humility of heart and love for ones Savior. To worship “in truth” means to worship in accordance with the truths revealed by God in His Word—to respect that word by listening humbly to it and by applying it carefully in our lives!
My dear friends, THE FATHER IS SEEKING TRUE WORSHIPERS! In our day, it would appear that He is finding fewer and fewer! Many in our world ridicule those who have faith in and a love for Jesus Christ. They mock believers as “Jesus freaks,” and suggest that only those who are uneducated and foolish could ever place their trust in Him. Many in our world reject the Bible, or large parts of the Bible, suggesting that it is old-fashioned, out-of-date, and beyond that simply dangerous! They suggest that to accept the Bible’s teachings on the social issues of the day makes one a bigot and intolerant. But do not allow such opposition to distract you from the truths God would impress upon your heart and mind. THE FATHER IS SEEKING TRUE WORSHIPERS! HE IS SEEKING YOU! Believe in Him, rejoice in Him, find comfort in Him, build the foundation of your life upon Him! He will always prove Himself faithful to you, and one day you will find yourselves in His presence with a heart filled with joy! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting