Digging Deeper posts are intended to help us go farther into God’s word than a simple surface reading
and are designed to help us discover new tools in the process.
Curious as to why we Dig Deeper? Here’s Why!
John 4:20-24 English Standard Version, ESV
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
1) Why was this woman arguing with Jesus over where to worship?
2) In v.21, Jesus says “an hour is coming”, what is referring to?
3) How is Jesus defining “true worshipers”?
A trip to www.studylight.org is in order here.
We will get super cozy with this site as we study Scripture together!
Just type in the verse you’re looking at and Boom!
It’s right in front of you in English and Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament), which are the original languages the Bible was written in.
Want to know more about a specific word in a verse?
Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Find super awesome stuff like “origin”, “definition”, and even all the different ways that single word has been translated into English! If you want to be geeky, you can even click the word and hear its original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!
Want to get more background on a word or phrasing or passage?
Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))
The Findings for Original Intent
1) John 4 shares an encounter that Jesus has with a Samaritan woman. In order to understand why she is arguing about worship location, we look to the history of the Samaritans. In the history of the Israelite nation, there was a kingdom divide, the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) and Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom while Jerusalem was the capital of the Southern Kingdom. When the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom (Israel) they carried off a lot of the Jewish families. However, there was a group of Israelites that remained and the Assyrians repopulated the Northern Kingdom with five eastern tribes to squash the Israelite identity and customs. As a result, these eastern tribes and the Israelites intermarried and assimilated into one culture. They became known as the Samaritans and were considered “half-breeds” because they were only part Jewish. Eventually, the Babylonians conquered both Northern and Southern Kingdoms and the entire region became known as Samaria. This led to the Exile which was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12). The exiles were taken in waves to Babylon but there were some that were never taken. The sick, the weak, the poor, and the unskilled were left behind. Those that were left behind in Samaria began to establish their own practices of worship, their own place of worship (Mount Gerizim), and their own adapted Pentateuch in Aramaic. When the Jews returned, this caused tremendous strife and tension between the orthodox Jews and the Samaritan Jews, which still exist today. When the Samaritan woman argues with Jesus, her argument is based on hundreds of years of bad history between the “real” Jews and the Samaritan Jews.
2) Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus refers to “an hour is coming”. We see this phrase used when Jesus is foretelling his crucifixion and resurrection. In John 12:27, “But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Digging into the word “hour” here helps us to understand it does not mean a fixed time on the clock, rather a definite point of time. It refers a time where something will happen to change how she will worship.
3) A true worshipper worships in spirit and truth. Again, word study helps to gain a clearer representation of the phrase “true worshipper”. The word “true” is that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine. There is understanding in Jesus’ words that a true worshiper will know God and the place they worship will not matter but more their heart and desire for the one true God in that worship.
The word “spirit” here is the same word for the third person of Trinity. Apart from the Holy Spirit in our life, we cannot worship God. The role of the Holy Spirit is to “teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26) In this passage, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will come when He leaves to remind us, help us, and guide us into God’s truth (John 16:13). He, the Holy Spirit, enlightens our eyes to the truth of God’s word so that we may worship Him.
Some Applications for Our Everyday Lives
1) The Samaritan woman’s argument with Jesus gives Him opportunity to explain the New Covenant. In her mind, she has been made to feel like she is less than a “true” worshipper of Christ because of who she is and what she has done when in fact Jesus takes this opportunity to set her right. Consider ways you feel “less than worthy” of an intimate relationship with the Almighty, and let your heart listen to the words of Jesus. It isn’t the place of worship, our past, or the rules we try to keep, that dictate intimacy with Christ, but rather the authenticity of our faith in the One True God.
2) Jesus’ “hour” finally came, in part, with his death, burial and resurrection. Romans 8:18-19 says, “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” We wait for the “hour” to come just as the Jewish people awaited a Messiah that would set them free. We eagerly wait for the “hour” that Christ will return and restore all things. In what ways can you live focused on that approaching hour?
3) Just as Jesus wanted the Samaritan woman to realize that God desired an intimate relationship with her, He’s extending the same offer to us! It was the woman’s choice to worship the Lord, not a country or people or even her past that defined her. Just a woman standing in front of a great big God, submitting out of reverence, awe, and a desire for authentic worship. Because we have Christ’s resurrection power, we too can “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom 8:13) and truly be free to worship!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!
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