Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 4:20-26
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 4:20
v20: Having recognized that Jesus was a prophet, the woman suddenly asked Him where she should worship God. She said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain and you (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship” (literal). In other words she asked, were the Samaritans correct in the way they worshipped God or the Jews? Did God want to be worshipped on Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Zion? This subject was a matter of great debate between the two groups and the Samaritans felt they had a scriptural basis for their claim that Mt. Gerizim was the proper place. To begin with, when Abraham (Abram) first entered the land, that was the first place that the Lord appeared to him and promised to give him the land of Israel. And Abraham had built an altar there and worshiped (Ge 12:6-7).

Monday: John 4:20
v20 (continued): In the years following the exodus from Egypt the nation of Israel had worshipped at several different sites, but the first altar Joshua built was located in the valley between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. Though Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land, he had given Joshua specific instructions on how to conduct a covenant-renewal ceremony at that place (Dt 11:29; 27:4, 12). As soon as the nation had entered the land, Joshua led them directly to this valley and did as Moses had commanded. Half the tribes stood on the slope of one mountain, and the other half stood on the other. An altar of uncut stones was erected on Mt. Ebal, and sacrifices were offered on it which called on God for forgiveness of sins and expressed fellowship with Him (Jos 8:30-31). Then Joshua read the Law of Moses in the hearing of all the people including its blessings and the curses, and the people reaffirmed their oath to obey God.

Tuesday: John 4:20
v20 (continued): Many centuries later a temple was built on Mt. Gerizim. The historian Josephus wrote that it was Sanballat, the man who had opposed Nehemiah so tenaciously (Ne 2:10; 4:1, 7-8; 6:1-14; 13:28), who was responsible for constructing that temple (Josephus, Antiquities, 11.8.2). That building was destroyed in 129 BC during the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom, but the Samaritans still clung to the memory of that temple and of Moses’ command. The Samaritan religion accepted only the five books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) as their scriptures and believed that this place was the holiest place in the land. As a result they considered the temple in Jerusalem to be a false site.

Wednesday: John 4:20-22
vs20-22: We have no way of knowing whether or not this woman’s question about where to worship was sincere or merely a way to change the subject after having her troubled past exposed (vs17-18), but judging from the serious answer Jesus gave her, He seems to indicate that her question was genuinely important to her. She wanted to know how God wanted to be worshipped. So He said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you (believing Samaritans) worship the Father (see vs39-42; Ac 8:4-17). You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know, we (Jews) worship what we know because salvation is from (out of) the Jews” (literal). Basically He told her the way she was thinking about God was entirely wrong. The era of physical temples was nearly over, and the things her Samaritan faith had taught her were filled with ignorance and confusion. He said it is the revelations in the Jewish scriptures that are the truth, and that it is from out of Israel that a Savior will come.

Thursday: John 4:23-24
vs23-24: Then Jesus gave this woman an explanation about the nature of worship which is one of the most important statements in the entire Bible. He said, “But an hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for indeed the Father searches for those who worship Him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary for the ones who worship Him to worship in spirit and truth” (literal). What Jesus taught this woman about the nature of God has always been true. God has always been spirit, and to genuinely worship Him a person had to do so in spirit and truth. But Jesus is also saying that He would dramatically improve the way people worshipped in the future. By receiving the “living water” which He had just promised her (v10), a person’s capacity for true worship would expand exponentially. The level of communication with God that had been achieved by a few for brief seasons in the past, would become universally available to all of God’s people, all the time.

Friday: John 4:23-24
vs23-24 (continued): Many times God had promised through His prophets that when the Messiah arrived, people would experience a new depth of relationship with God, and Jesus is telling this woman that because He is the Messiah, that promise was now available. He said the “hour” (Messianic age) that was coming “now is” (v23). Those who believed in Him would know that they can worship God anywhere, anytime (v21). Their spiritual life would not be focused on a place, a building, a ritual, a priesthood, an object or certain days (Col 2:16-17; 1Pe 2:5). They would worship in spirit. They would understand that God is a person, not a concept or impersonal force, so they would regularly seek to awaken their spirit to His presence throughout the day (Jn 3:8). And these “true worshippers” would also worship in truth. Religious confusion and deception would cease because the Holy Spirit would give believers revelation and discernment (1Jn 2:27). Above all else, that means they would rightly understand the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit dwelling within them would reach each one (Jer 31:34), and He would constantly remind them that they could boldly come to the Father through Jesus Christ (Jn 14:20). Jesus said God searches for people who worship Him this way. Because He is a Person, with intellect, will and emotions, all other kinds of worship must be, for Him, lonely, one-sided experiences in which He can only observe outward religious behavior and listen to words that aren’t really directed to Him.

Saturday: John 4:25-26
v25: The woman said to Him, “I know (“see” the promise in Scripture) that Messiah is coming, the One who is called ‘Christ’ (John translates the Hebrew word, Messiah, for his Greek-speaking readers). When that One comes He will announce to us all things (the truth about God and how to worship Him)” (paraphrase). Since the Samaritans accepted as Scripture only the five books of Moses, it is likely that her understanding of the Messiah was based on Moses’ promise that a “prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen…” would someday be sent by God, and when He arrived people must “listen to Him” because God would put His words into His (Messiah’s) mouth; and Moses warned anyone who did not listen to those words that God would hold that person accountable (Dt 18:5-19). v26: Jesus did not challenge her understanding of the Messiah at all. Instead He simply said, “I, the One speaking to you, am [He]” (literal). 

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