We read in John 4:4 of a journey it was necessary for the Lord to make: “And He must needs go through Samaria.” We would understand that this was not just a mere geographical necessity, in order to make this journey northward from Judæa to Galilee. He is motivated to move location because He “knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John” (v 1). He was ever conscious of the hostile attitudes of men toward Him, but there was never a thought of Him running away from men, or fleeing in an uncontrolled way. His pathway on earth was never dictated by men’s actions or desires, nor was His earthly sojourn ever a haphazard one. Rather, His pathway was always with purpose, in accord with the will of the Father and divine sovereign purpose.
Thus, He moves with purpose “through Samaria,” and every believer in the Lord Jesus will surely appreciate the sovereign dealings of deity that bring Him in contact with that Samaritan woman at Sychar’s well. He is the seeking Savior, and He knows He will meet with this woman and declare Himself as the Christ. The woman is, as a result of meeting with the Savior, convicted of her sinful life before a holy God and gloriously enlightened as to Whom she was speaking. “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”(v 29).
Securing Worshipers of His Father
We need to consider also the larger purpose of the Savior, remembering that the priority of the Son is always the things of His Father. His greater purpose, beyond saving this woman from her sins, is that He might make known to her the great desire of His Father for worshipers. He will speak with this woman motivated by His necessity to secure true worshipers of His Father. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (v 23).
It is still the great desire of the Savior, in saving precious souls from eternal destruction, to secure such true worshipers of His Father. Every child of God has surely been caused to ask at some time “Why did God save me?” Not only has He saved me, but He has left me here on earth, and has not yet taken me home to heaven to be with Himself. Why? That we might serve Him in some great miraculous way? Surely God does have some specific service for each one of us, but we would recognize that God is not relying solely on any of our service to effect all His purpose and plan. We would, however, appreciate that God desires the worship of redeemed hearts: “The Father seeketh such to worship Him.”
We ought never to lose sight of the sovereign dealings of divine Persons in our lives. Hebrews 10 tells us of the will of God the Father (vv 5-9), the work of the Son at Calvary (vv 10-14), and the witness of the Spirit of God (v 15). All is in view of making us purged worshipers, having “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (v 19), and to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (v 22).
Worshiping in Spirit and Truth
In John 4, the Lord will speak to the woman about receiving the gift of living water: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (v 10). In verse 14, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The gift of God in view is specifically the Holy Spirit of God (see John 7:38-39).
It is the Spirit of God within every true believer that enables us to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (v 23). The indwelling Spirit of God gives us the conscious appreciation of being in the presence of God, as we would engage in worshiping the Father, whether as an individual alone with God, or as a family together in the home, or when enjoying the highest form of worship, when gathered collectively with the people of God. We have received “the gift of God,” and we must all value that wonderful gift. We are divinely fitted to be worshipers of the Father; we “worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3).
The Priority of Worship
The first thing Noah did, having been preserved by God through the flood, was to erect on that purged earth an altar, from which ascended burnt offerings as a sweet savor to the nostrils of God. Having been so wonderfully preserved through the judgment of God, Noah’s priority was to worship God. The appropriate order for our lives as believers must be worship before service; “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8).
In John 4, the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman about worship (vv 21-24) before He speaks to His disciples about service (vv 35-38). This priority for our worship has never been revoked, so it would be very dangerous to go against it.
We are to give to God in worship before we do service for Him. God desires greatly that we might be a worshiping people. That priority is before the Savior in His pathway in John 4; His necessity is to secure worshipers of His Father.