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John Piper 's a sermon on John 4:16-30 (1)

(2009-08-08 11:23:34)
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We will focus today on John 4:20-26. And O how full of God’s greatness this text is. We have seen in verses 1-15 that Jesus is the living water which he offers to the Samaritan woman at the well, and which she totally misunderstands. We saw last time (verses 16-19) that Jesus is a surgically penetrating prophet who lays bare our souls and knows us to the bottom of our being and pursues us anyway. “You have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband.”

Now we will see Jesus as the Savior who unlocks the mysteries of true worship, and who is otherwise known as the Jewish Messiah (v. 26). And so much more.Worship Not Limited to Location.

First focus with me on verses 20-22. To get away from his prophetic probing of her heart, the Samaritan woman leads Jesus into a discussion about worship. But even here she wants to keep things on the external surface of worship not the heart of worship. She wants to talk about “where.” Verse 20: “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

Jesus is willing to go with her into this topic, but is not willing to let her limit the issue to location. He will press into the heart of the matter. Verse 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.’”

Mountains Irrelevant for Worship

Jesus starts with a denial. A negation. You wonder about where? You are concerned about location? Ma’am there’s a day coming—sooner than you think—when both these mountains will be irrelevant for true worship. That’s amazing for a Jew to say. The day is coming, he says, when Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of David, the place with the temple of God, will not be the focus of true worship.

This is not the answer she expected. She expected a good argument that Jews defend Jerusalem as the focal point of worship, and Samaritans defend Mount Gerazim. But Jesus rejects the whole argument. Instead he says we are on the brink of something new: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”

Why Mention Worshiping “the Father”?

Instead of where we worship Jesus focuses on whom we worship and how we worship. Notice the reference to “the Father” at the end of verse 21: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” She had not said that. He said that. Why? Why not say, “God” or “the Lord” or some other designation? Why “the Father”?—You are not going to worship “the Father” in either of these mountains.

1) God is “the Father” of Samaritans

Three reasons. First he uses it to link with her reference to the Samaritan fathers and draw her attention to the one all-important Father. She said in verse 20, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain.” And she had already asked in verse 12, “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:12). So she is very focused on the externals of place and tradition. The fathers seem very prominent in her mind.

Jesus shifts the focus. He doesn’t say: Well, the real Jewishfathers worshiped in Jerusalem. He says, there is a Father you should care about, namely, “the Father”—the Father who aims to be worshipped, but not in any particular place.

2) God is “the Father” of Children Who Receive Him

Second, in saying that the one to be worshipped is “the Father” he points her to the fact that God has children. There is no such thing as father who doesn’t have children. Giving conception to children is what makes you a father. So when Jesus says that the one to be worshipped is “the Father,” he raises the question of who his children are.

The answer was already given in John 1:12, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Those who receive Jesus are the children of God. God is a Father to those who are born again and believe in Jesus. So Jesus is wakening her to the truth that when it comes to worship, place is not the issue, but whether you have God as your Father, that is, whether you are born again and believe on his Son.

3) God is “the Father” of the Son, Jesus Christ

And that leads to the third answer to why he referred to God as “the Father” at the end of verse 21. It calls to mind—for us at least—that “the Father” has one unique Son who is “the Son.” The two terms are used together so often, it’s hard not to hear that here.

·                         The Father loves the Son” (John 3:35).

·                         “Whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

·                         The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to theSon” (John 5:22).

·                         “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23).

·                         “As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (John 5:26).

·                         The Father [is] glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

The one to be worshipped is “the Father.” This woman is dealing here with “the Son.” And we are going to see: his presence is far more important in worship than what mountain you are on, or what city you are in.

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