As we have studied Christ’s teaching concerning the Church, we have seen at least two things that seem strange to the human mind in the context in which they were given, but when seen in the total context of Scripture and God’s eternal plan, they bring great insights concerning the church. Some of the greatest teachings of Christ were not given by words only, but by what Christ did and His comments concerning or during those actions. We saw just such a teaching in His act of cleansing of the Temple, and the comments He made while doing so.

Mark 11:15-17 So they came to Jerusalem. And Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "

Mark, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives a phrase that the other writers left out. Jesus said, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'?

Three things to note in this account that will be important to our understanding of the Church:

That statement of Jesus, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'?, was at that time a future event. It was a prophetic statement quoted the Old Testament, but not yet fulfilled. Some of that prophecy is being fulfilled through the New Covenant in this age by the Church, the Body of Christ. Another teaching of Christ concerning the temple that finds its partial fulfillment in the church was given to the woman at the well in Samaria.

John 4:15-21 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father."
John 4:22-24 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

This great teaching of Christ came about, not because a crowd thronged Him seeking some inspirational word for the day. Instead, these eternal truths came about because an immoral woman came to the well to get water, and Christ asked her for a drink. This was a one-on-one teaching session with a person who did not come to Him in interest or adoration. Some of Christ’s greatest teachings were given to small groups. I mean, smaller than the band of twelve. One of Christ’s most comprehensive teaching sessions was given to two men who didn’t even know Who He was at the time, and its contents were never recorded for us to read.

Luke 24:13-27 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day (Easter morning) to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. ...25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Here at the well, Christ gives some of the greatest spiritual truths of the ages, and of all people, He gives these truths to a woman of low moral standards. Often when Christ taught spiritual truth to the up-’n-outers, the religious leaders of the day, He clothed those truths in parables as a deliberate move to bring confusion to the religious leaders, but through that same parable, clarity was brought to the common down-’n-outers, like you and me.

Luke 8:9-10 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?" 10 And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' "
Matthew 13:10-11 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

We must be very careful! It is so easy to get caught in the trap of that ‘ol sinner can’t understand the truth of God, but this nice respectable moral person can. So let’s give our attention to the nice moral person, and ignore the ‘ol sinner. Christ’s methods are quite often just the opposite of our methods. It’s amazing how often, even while doing the work of Christ, we go contrary to His teaching and pattern concerning His work. Oh yes, the great spiritual giants separate themselves from those who have spiritual needs. They even separate themselves from other Christians, who haven’t reached an equally high level of spirituality as they. Maybe its just that they think they are better than others, and they will show them how to become like themselves by not having anything to do with such low-life. As a matter of fact, these giants of pseudo spirituality often become so separate that they can’t even find people to be friendly to, or who will be friendly to them. They, like the Jews of Christ’s day, will cross over the Jordan just so they don’t have to come close to the low-life in Samaria or the world, or the Church. As a result, many wander through life in loneliness, because they are looking for those who are non spotted with sin, so they, the holy ones, will only have to lower themselves a little to associate with the less spiritual.

This was not Christ’s method. He reached out to the low-life so much so that He became known as a "winebibber, a friend to tax collectors and sinners."

Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children.

You know, if we are as spiritual as we sometimes think we are, then we would have something that the low-life sinners need, and we should share it with them. A person is very seldom won to Christ or to Christian living by isolating them until they reach out for something they don’t know they need, or by shaming them enough so they will want to be like us, the spiritual giants.

Far too often, Christians are so heavenly minded
they are of no earthly good

Here in John 4, Christ once again reaches out to one who the spiritual giants would avoid. However, this one, who the spiritual giants looked down upon, reached more people for Christ in a few days than probably all of us have or will in a lifetime. Let’s see, if we were to evaluate on the basis of accomplishment for, and dedication to Christ, who would be of greater value? This low-life woman, or these would-be religious giants. The purpose of Christianity is to be like Christ, not to be safe in our own isolation. If we are to be like Christ, well, He reached out to those who were much lower than He, like you and me. Just as a side thought, we will all have our motives judged by Christ someday, soon.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Christ never suggested that we become like others, or accept their lifestyle. If you can’t be around those of lesser spiritual maturity than yourself, and not be drawn down to their level, well, then your spiritual maturity is not as mature as you seem to think it is. If your righteousness can’t stand the pressure of the world, it would probably have to be classed as self-righteousness. The main way others are going to see what we have, and develop a desire to have what we have, is for them to see us as we are, and see that what we have is not only different, but is also satisfying and fulfilling. If what you have spiritually is not satisfying and fulfilling, maybe you should stay far away the unsaved and nominal Christians, or at least don’t flaunt what you have as the thing everyone should have. If what you have is not satisfying and fulfilling, there is a good possibility it is not the real thing.

John 4:19-24 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Christ asked the woman at the well if she would give Him a drink the well. At the same time, He shared with her the fact that He could give living water. The woman responded with a series of sarcastic questions and statements. She ridiculed the fact that He could give water, because He didn’t have a way of getting water out of the well. She continued with the question, “Where are You going to get this running or spring water? Even if You were as great as Jacob, who dug this well, and You dug one like it, You still would not have running spring water.”

Christ pointed out that there was a difference in the water of this well, and the water He was offering. Plus, drinking of the water of this well would quench the thirst for a time, but it would not be long until she would have to be back for more of the same. This process of thirst and getting more water would have to continue just to sustain a temporary life. However, the water He was offering would become an internal spring which would continually sustain a different quality of life, everlasting life. The woman was definitely getting the point that this water was not like that of the well, for she said in v.15... “give me this water”, in contrast to the water of the well.

John 4:13-15 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

Even though the woman was beginning to see that the water offered by Christ was unique, Her desire for that water was still simply to satisfy the physical. She wanted this water so she would not have to come to the well to draw water and carry it back home. A journey of possibly a mile or more round-trip. Don’t be too hard on her! Many of us still think of our spiritual life in terms of its physical benefits. After all, we seem to think that if our spiritual living water is springing up in us just right, then we will never have any problems, won’t ever be sick, our kids will behave and turn out perfect, we’ll have plenty of money, be good looking and never have zits. Too often, we, like the woman at the well, can only see our physical needs, or maybe better stated, our physical wants. We may have never come face to face with our spiritual needs. This was the condition of the woman at the well, and Christ had to reveal to her, her real need. This woman was open to the revelation of God far more than many of us. Christ revealed the truth concerning her life, and the truth concerning His life. This woman accepted both revelations, and there was a life changing transformation. This woman saw Christ for Who He was, not just for what He could do for her.

Notice the change in her concept, perception and attitude. Her progressive responses throughout the dialogue will demonstrate this change and transformation.

Let’s look at this progression towards transformation, and we will see many lessons, some of which we might not want to see, but which we need to see.

v.9 -- “Why are you talking to me?

This question seems to be asked in the sense of: “Yea! Right now, you’re in need, so you’ll talk to me. I’m not good enough any other time, so why are you talking to me now?” There is an air of gloating. I’ve got you where I want you, and I’m going to rub it in, and she did.

v.11 -- “You are ill prepared! You have nothing with which to draw water the well. Where do you expect to get the water?

She continues to turn up the heat of sarcasm, as she needles Him because He was on a trip without a leather fold-up bucket with which to draw water. In spite of that, He had the audacity to offer her running spring water. If we had been there, we would have probably had a problem with this conversation, also.

v.12 -- “Who do you think you are, anyway? Do you think you are greater than Jacob?”

His offering of living or running water was just about more than she could stand. So she chides Him by saying, “You aren’t as great as You think You are. You want to talk about water that lasts? Let me tell You about a great man, Jacob. He dug this well. His children drank this well, and this well has been supplying water ever since. Do you think you’re that good? The water of this well is really lasting.”

v.15 -- “Sir, give me this water.”

We don’t know if this passage is the total conversation between these two, or just a summary. Either way, we see that Christ did not defend Himself or His offer. This would have been a good time for Christ to launch into some form of apologetics, and show this woman that she didn’t know nearly as much as she thought she did. So therefore, she should accept Christ’s message simply because she couldn’t prove Him wrong. Christ never attacked her arguments, nor did He defend His statements. He simply gave the offer again, along with more information and truth. She accepted that truth, and was set free. Her attitude changed from being a critic, to “I want what You have to give!”

v.17 -- “I have no husband.”

Once she expressed her desire to have the living water, Christ began the process of bringing her to the place where she would accept the person of Messiah, not just the concept of Messiah. Before she could accept the person of Christ, she would have to have more than just a desire to find physical relief or benefits. She would truly have to want a change within her soul. We know this act by many terms: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, accept Christ as personal Savior, receive Christ, etc. Whatever term we might apply to this transaction, it is receiving a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, into your life on a permanent basis. This doesn’t happen because you want some physical relief your burdens, not even your burden of sin. You have to want the person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Physical burdens may be the factor that turns your soul towards Christ, but salvation is not relief. Salvation is receiving the Person of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. When you receive Christ, there will be some relief and benefits. However, Paul found that suffering and death came along with his salvation package.

It scares me when I hear some one say, “Are you here today with a burden too heavy to carry? Turn to Jesus as your Savior and He will take your burden away.” but Pastor that’s what the Bible says. No, it isn’t! There is a measure of truth in that statement, but it’s a small measure.

1 Peter 5:5-8 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

This casting of your care on Him, is an invitation to those who are already Believers. They have already accepted Christ as Savior.

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

This is an invitation to those who want to work for, and with Christ. Salvation is not obtained by working. Even so, this passage does not say, He will take the burden or the labor away from you. To the contrary, it says you “take My yoke”, and you will “bear my burden”. The rest comes when you are yoked with Christ, primarily because, then, you and Christ share each other’s load. That’s what a yoke is for. It makes burden bearing more efficient, and the burden of both is shared. However, that’s a study for another time.

v.19 -- “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.”

She has changed from, “You’re not so great. Let me tell you about Jacob.” to, “You are really someone great! I have been struggling with this problem of where to worship. Would you please tell me where I should worship?”

v.20 -- She ask where she should worship. It is asked in statement form.

She states that her people had always worshipped in this mountain, but the Jews say that Jerusalem is the place to worship. Even though these are statements, the manner in which they were stated and the answer of Christ indicates that she was wanting to know where. Because He was a prophet, she was trusting Him for the right spiritual answer. She was turning tradition as her supply of spiritual life, to this prophet for real spiritual direction. It is in Christ’s answer to this honest question by this immoral person that we have some of the greatest spiritual insights of all times.

The Samaritans had been involved in a little historical remodeling in which they said:

They had tampered with the text of Scripture and history to bring undue glory to Mount Gerizim. So to the Samaritans, this was the mount of worship, not Jerusalem. Yet, standing before this woman was a Jew, Who she was now sure was a prophet. The Jews said Jerusalem not this mount was the place of worship. This woman had just seen herself as she was, and she recognized her sin. The only cure for sin was a proper sacrifice. This woman was ready to worship God in true fashion, but where was the proper place. Christ tells her the place of worship is not the important factor. The important thing in worship was the attitude of heart, that of “spirit and truth”. This was not a new or different concept. This type of worship was always the plan and directive of God.

The Tabernacle or Temple was a part of the Mosaic Covenant or the Law. You remember our study of the covenants that the Mosaic Covenant was a temporary covenant with a definite terminal point. It was added because of transgressions until the Seed, Christ should come.

Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?

God’s Person and presence are far greater than can be confined to small room known as the Holy of Holies. Remember, God made many sacrifices so we might have redemption, and so the redemption plan would take place in the “fullness of time”. There are many temporary and transitional things that God was willing to do so we might be redeemed to fellowship with Him. Just to name a few of the many:

2 Chronicles 6:18 "But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this temple which I have built!

Solomon had a good concept of the temporary and inadequate nature of the temple, even as he built that Great Temple. God is too great to be contained within walls made by man. Confining God’s presence to one location was far too limiting for God’s plan of worship for all of mankind. We get a glimpse of this fact as we look at prophecies concerning worship during the Kingdom Age.

Zephaniah 2:11 The Lord will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations.
Malachi 1:11 For the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations," says the Lord of hosts.

In the Kingdom there will be worship of God all peoples, all nations and shore to shore. The whole earth will be the House of Worship to God for all nations. The House of Worship will be all the earth during the Kingdom, and Christ will personally cleanse His house of worship, as we see in Zephaniah 2:11 and many other places. He will “reduce to nothing” the gods of the earth.

Acts 17:24-27 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far each one of us;

Under the Mosaic Covenant, God willingly dwelt in the Temple as the place of worship. During the Kingdom, God will be worshiped every place on the earth, and by all people. Both of these places of worship, the Temple under the Law and the earth during the Kingdom, are to be clean and holy. In both cases, God did and will take care of the cleansing process, personally. In between those two different times and manners of worship (the Mosaic Covenant and the Kingdom), we have the Church Age. During the Church Age, God dwells in a different type of temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

During this Church Age, the body of each Believer is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. God is equally as concerned with the purity of this present place of worship as He was with the past place of worship under the Law, and the future place of worship in the Kingdom. We have the opportunity to personally keep our temple clean through holy living and confession.

1 John 1:7-10, 2:1 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

The temple or place of worship under the Mosaic Covenant was cleansed personally by Christ by means of force. The place of worship during the Kingdom will be personally cleansed by God by means of force. If the temple of God, our body, is not kept pure by holy living and confession, it will also be cleansed personally by God by means of force.

Hebrews 12:5-8 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
This might be a good time to do some spiritual spring house cleaning!
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998