The greater access Jesus gives. Studying John 4:20-21

In John 4, so far, we’ve seen how Jesus brings the greater water, he brings the greater revelation from God. He points forward to a New Covenant which he makes available.

In the next part of the passage, we see that Jesus also brings greater access to God. 

Verse 20. The Samaritan woman is speaking to Jesus:

Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 

Jerusalem vs Mt Gerizim

This woman was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were an ethnic group who were half-Jewish. What’s more, they believed only in the first five books of our Old Testament. 

When she says “our fathers worshiped on this mountain,” she’s referring to Mount Gerizim. To the Samaritan Jews, Mount Gerizim was a sacred place. 

And there was a lot of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans did not believe that Jerusalem was the epicenter of religious life or the rightful site of the temple. 

Instead they believed then and now that Mount Gerizim was the central locale of meeting with God. Of the roughly 800 Samaritans who are still living today, about half of them live in the area of Mount Gerizim. 

Mount Gerizim overlooked the city where Abraham first built an altar to God in Genesis 12. There were also Old Testament commands for various celebrations on this mountain once the Israelites began to possess the land. 

So for the Samaritans, that was the place where you worshiped. 

It was – and is – the place where Samaritan Jews celebrate the annual festivals such as Passover, the day of atonement, the feast of tabernacles, etc. 

So I return to the woman and Jesus. 

She points to the difference between the Jews and the Samaritans as to the proper place of worship. 

Jerusalem vs Gerizim. 

Verse 21: 

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.

Jesus says “Believe me.”

The Samaritan woman has the Lord of creation telling her to believe him. 

It’s not simply me telling a friend to believe me when I share an opinion on football. It’s not you telling your spouse to believe you when you’re suggesting a home improvement. It’s not telling your grandkid to believe you. 

It’s God telling her to believe him. 

“The hour is coming.” We’ve noted this before, but when Jesus talks about the hour, he’s referring to the time of his death.

And what Jesus is saying is that after his death and resurrection, neither of those sites will be the epicenter of approaching God. 

Jesus provides the greater access. 

It’s not ultimately going to be about either of those places where we go to meet God, because it is through Jesus that we go to God. He is the true temple. Approaching God is not about a mountain, or a city, or a building, but through a person. 

We approach a personal God through a personal savior. The irony of the story is that she’s talking about Mount Gerizim vs Jerusalem and which is the greater place to be with God. 

But she’s never been closer to God than at the moment when she is talking to the Lord Jesus himself. And that is true for all of humanity. Jesus is the meeting place with God. 

Not only is he the meeting place for how we approach God, he is the greater meeting place. He is the greater temple, because he is not confined to a location. 

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