THE SEVENTH MAN
By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
Jesus ended His first visit to the temple knowing the rulers did not want the new life He offered Nicodemus (in John 3); they even saw it as blasphemy. The Lord headed north with His disciples, telling them He had to “go through Samaria” (John 4:4).
Israel’s Messiah was certain He could not depend on the temple system of worship to develop His international ministry. Instead, Jesus was fully aware He had to bypass the temple and make a new beginning. But what a scary thought! May we never see the day when Jesus will need to bypass us to achieve His vision.
In Samaria, Jesus met a woman at Jacob’s Well who had five husbands in her past and the man she was living with was not her husband. Jesus, her Messiah, was the seventh man in her life. He made her the same offer Nicodemus rejected, “living water.”
In their conversation Jesus led her to the new form of worship the Heavenly Father seeks, and she embraced it. Her heartfelt statement said it all, “Sir, give me this water” (John 4:15). An outcast Samaritan was the first recorded person in John’s gospel to experience the new birth and drink the living water that saves the soul.
This unnamed woman did not need to offer a lamb as a sacrifice to cover her sins. She was talking to the Lamb of God; in her case, the seventh man. No blood was shed. None was needed.
Jesus explained it in two simple sentences:
“Believe me woman…. A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the worshippers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
That statement forecast the new paradigm of worship and it would replace the Jewish temple.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a new beginning in worship began to sprout. No more sheep or goats, nor doves or pigeons, nor lambs or rams. No more spilling the blood of animals would be needed to perpetuate this new order of worship. Jesus’ one sacrifice of His own holy blood became the atonement for the sins of all people who repent and accept Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus’ offer of “living water” to this day includes Jews and Gentiles; “whosoever will, let Him drink the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
“God is Spirit,” and He wants sincere worship that is heartfelt, springing from a person’s inner soul. This adoration must also be wrapped in truth, genuine honesty, and pure integrity. This kind of heartfelt worship grounded in repentance before God and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit is what the Heavenly Father seeks.
An unnamed woman who had five husbands and was living with a man not her husband, was hungry for a new beginning. She found it in the seventh Man. He was the most important person to ever come into her life.
She had no doubt seen her mother abused by her father, and she married abusive men like her dad. How many times men had manipulated and used her, even battered her. She didn’t know what it felt like to be cherished by a God-fearing husband. But the seventh Man was so very different. He identified Himself as her Messiah who loved her for all the right reasons, and she believed Him. She felt forgiven, clean, pure and valued. A new life had dawned inside her.
The seventh man launched this new form of worship three years later after Jesus’ encounter with this woman. It happened when the Holy Spirit filled the 120 on the Day of Pentecost (John 1:29-34).
A new era of divine purposes had dawned in Israel forming a fresh paradigm of worship. John the Baptist’s prophecy of the gift of the Holy Spirit was also being fulfilled. The seventh Man made the difference.
About 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jerusalem fell to Rome’s legions, but the Lord’s Church continued to blossom across the Empire.
When Herod’s temple was destroyed, the Holy Spirit had already constructed a new temple in the place of the one Herod built. The temple of the heart became the new dwelling place of the Spirit, and this nameless woman with the checkered past drank deeply its living water. It meant the rich grace of God could make people like her morally clean again, and they would stay clean.
This good news, empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, to this day encircles the globe, and her testimony continues to live as part of the gospel message in every generation. It captivates people of all languages and ethnic groups. The new paradigm of worshipping the Heavenly Father in Spirit and in truth keeps on thriving – worldwide.
It’s all because of the sacrifice the seventh Man made at Calvary when He took my sins, and yours, to His cross with Him.
My thanks to Rev. Wyatt Cook, pastor of Restore Church in West Columbia, SC, for giving me the phrase, “the seventh man.”