Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.…
This is the first mission to the heathen.
I. Our Lord's MISSIONARY METHOD. He tries to excite in the woman a longing for something higher than the life she was living. In order to do this He touches her conscience and lays His finger on her sin. She, seeing that she is in the presence of a prophet, embraces the opportunity of getting settled a long-standing controversy. In His reply, our Lord does not pretend that there is no difference when there is, but teaches that the difference is to pass away in the light of a higher truth which embraces both sides. The Jews knew what they worshipped, as the Samaritan and the heathen do not. Salvation was of the Jews, and not of the Samaritan or heathen.
II. Our Lord's MISSIONARY DOCTRINE. The offering of a man's whole self to God, and not the substitution of anything in its place. But man can only offer himself, i.e., worship in spirit, by being re-born of the Holy Spirit; can only worship in truth by being united to Him who is the Truth. Man can therefore worship the Father in spirit and in truth by the offering of his whole self in union with the Eternal Son and by being filled with the Eternal Spirit.
III. Our Lord's AUDIENCE REPRESENTS THE HEATHEN WORLD.
1. In her separation. She is outside She kingdom of God and the chosen race.
2. In her unconscious thirst for God — the living water.
3. In her sin.
4. In her blind worship of the unknown God.
IV. THE REVELATION OF WEAK POINTS IN MODERN MISSIONS.
1. There is too much vagueness in modern Christianity as to whom and what we worship — no clear grasp of the incarnation and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Our Lord's "We know what we worship" much wanted.
2. There is too much feeling that Christianity is a thing of European civilization, and not universal.
3. It was the despised Samaritans, and not the favoured Jews, nor even the apostles, who were the first to find out that Christ was tim Saviour of the world.
V. Our Lord's VINDICATION OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS in the declaration that the Father seeketh worship. He knew that man cannot find satisfaction save in Him.
(Canon Vernon Hutton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.