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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

Practical Observations.

1. Christ's followers should, like their Master, seize every opportunity to preach the gospel.

2. Natural objects and passing events should always impart religious lessons.

3. Earthly food cannot permanently satisfy any want. The soul's wants can never be satisfied on husks. Only the |living Bread| and the |living Water| will sate its hunger and thirst.

4. One cannot partake of the |water of life| until he is athirst. He must be conscious of his sinfulness before he can be delivered from sin in Christ.

5. The customs of |our fathers| should not make us content to follow in their footsteps without comparing their course with the New Testament.

6. God is Spirit; everywhere we may meet him, and pray and worship; everywhere he sees us and takes note of our conduct.

7. Outward, formal worship, counting beads, genuflections, waving incense, pilgrimages, etc., are not worship, but an insult to God. He is not matter. He demands that those who worship him shall lift up their spirits.

8. Besides her individual character, there was also the circumstance that she was a Samaritan. It is the first time that Jesus comes into close, private, personal contact with one who is not of the seed of Israel; for though she claimed Jacob as her father, neither this woman, nor any of the tribe she belonged to, were of Jewish descent. |I am not come,| said Jesus, afterwards defining the general boundaries of his personal ministry, |but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.| When he sent out the Seventy, his instructions to them were: |Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not.| And yet there were a few occasions, and this is the first of them, in which Christ broke through the restraints under which it pleased him ordinarily to act. I believe that there are just four instances of this kind recorded in the Savior's life: that of the woman of Samaria, of the Roman Centurion, of the Canaanitish woman, and of the Greeks who came up to Jerusalem. All these were instances of our Lord's dealings with those who stood without the pale of Judaism, and as we come upon them in the narrative, we shall be struck with the singular interest which Jesus took in each; the singular tact that he bestowed in testing and bringing out to view the simplicity and strength of the desire towards him, and faith in him, that were displayed; the fulness of the revelations of himself that he made, and of that satisfaction and delight with which he contemplated the issue. It was the great and good shepherd, stretching out his hand across the fence, and gathering in a lamb or two from the outfields, in token of the truth that there were other sheep which were out of the Jewish fold whom, also, he was in due time to bring in, so that there should be one fold and one shepherd. -- Hanna.

The interview with the Samaritan woman marks a great epoch in the development of religion. While the Jews had been forbidden to make any graven image to represent the Deity, and had been taught his omnipresence and spiritual being, like other races, it had been hard for them to rise to any just conception of the Almighty. Hence Jerusalem was the Holy City of their race where they expected the peculiar presence of Jehovah, and forgetting the spiritual meaning of the ordinances given to their nation, their worship had degenerated into outward and, often, frivolous forms. The Samaritans had still lower spiritual conceptions than the Jews, and clung to the idea that on Mt. Gerizim alone could true and acceptable sacrifice be offered to the Almighty, while the heathen faith was either godless or given to the most materialistic, sensual and debasing forms of idolatry. It also had its sacred shrines where the gods must be met, its Delphos, Dodona, and seat of Jupiter Ammon, and seemed to have even in its most cultured philosophers, only the most vague conception of an omnipresent deity. Hence, it was new and revolutionary when Christ proclaimed the dawn of a spiritual religion, the worship of the only true God, an omnipresent Spirit, not content with outward sacrifices, gorgeous forms, counting beads, making signs, or going on long pilgrimages to supposed holy places, but demanding the heart, the worship of an uplifted spirit, and present everywhere to hear the prayers and bless the worship of those who gathered in his name. Only such a religion could be adapted to the whole race, as well fitted to Europe, America, and the isles of the sea, as to western Asia. Hence, in the words to the woman of Samaria there lies imbedded the Gospel for all nations.

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