A few years ago, a community family visited Faith Church, and after that visit they told me they would not be returning because in their words, “You’re not ready.” They weren’t saying I personally wasn’t ready. They were saying that Faith Church wasn’t ready.
Not ready? What were they saying?
By declaring that Faith Church was not ready, they were saying that they believed a worship service should have a certain set of components, perhaps a style of worship, to show that the church was ready to worship. Apparently, we didn’t have the components and style they believed we should have and thus, they declared that we weren’t ready. They couldn’t worship here.
True to their words, they never came back.
But I don’t think that Faith Church wasn’t ready. I’m not saying that our worship services are somehow perfect. We can always learn, experiment, and grow.
What I am saying is that the people who visited our worship service and said, “Faith Church is not ready,” were actually revealing something about their hearts. They were revealing that they were not ready to worship. How do I know that? Because of what we’re about to learn this week, the correct posture and attitude of worship.
So what is the correct posture and attitude about worship? We’ll find out this week as we study John 4, verses 1 through 26. So please open a Bible to that passage. As you turn there, remember what we learned last week. Last week in John 3:22-26 we read that both Jesus and John the Baptist had baptism ministries at the same time. What happens next? Let’s find out by reading John 4:1-3.
In John 4:1-3, we read that the Pharisees get wind of Jesus’ ministry as on the rise, even surpassing John’s ministry. That news of Jesus’ success would be a warning sign for the Pharisees. The Pharisees saw themselves as the gatekeepers of true religion in the land. There were an estimated 6000 Pharisees stationed throughout the nation of Israel, and from north to south they taught their strict beliefs as the truth in local synagogues. The problem is that their teaching created loads of laws on top of God’s law, and worse still, they sought to enforce their laws on the people. They were almost like a religious secret police force, seeking to make sure the entire nation was held accountable to their views.
So far in our study of the Gospel of John, though, Jesus has had no trouble with the Pharisees. In fact, the only time that John has described Jesus as interacting with a Pharisee has been in chapter 3. Remember that? When Jesus conversed with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, it seems Nicodemus was very sympathetic to Jesus. Now the Pharisees are starting to hear about Jesus’ ministry picking up steam. In fact, they hear that his ministry is gaining more disciples than John the Baptist’s ministry. That would cause them concern.
As we read in verse 3, not only did word of Jesus’ success get to the Pharisees, but also word got back to Jesus about the fact that the Pharisees had taken notice of him, so he decides to move on. He had been in Judea, which is the southern region of Israel, the same region where Jerusalem was located, and where the Pharisees’ HQ was. Jesus decides now is a good time to head back home, north to Galilee, away from the Pharisees’ center of power in Jerusalem and away from their watchful eye.
Did the hundreds or thousands of people who had come out to be baptized now follow Jesus all the way from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north? We don’t know. I highly doubt it. That would have meant leaving their jobs, families, and homes. The only people we know for sure that followed him were his twelve disciples, and maybe some others, as eventually he would send 70 or so on a mission trip. But at this infancy stage of his ministry, I suspect Jesus’ baptism ministry in Judea lasted only a short while, and now it was over.
Jesus packed up and headed north, towards home.
But that trip presented a geographical dilemma. We’ll learn about that in the next post!