WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
John 4:20-26 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.
Because Jesus was able to look into the life of the Samaritan woman, tell her of her marital background, and admonish her for living with a man that was not her husband, caused her to realize that He was a man of God, and confessed Him to be a prophet (Vs. 19). Her next statement, found in the first verse of the lesson text, led Jesus to teach her that He was the promised Messiah - the Christ and Savior of the world (See Vs. 29). She may have said this in order to change the subject from her multiple marriages and the sinful life she was leading. Some bible scholars contend that, from her statement, she was seeking Jesus' teaching concerning an area of great controversy among the Jews and the Samaritans. Although it is in the form of a factual statement, the Samaritan woman seemed to be asking Jesus where the proper, scriptural place men and women should worship God. She states that our fathers (Samaritans) worshipped in this mountain; and ye (Jews) say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
The city, here known as Sychar, near Jacob's well, is situated at the foot of Mount Garizim. History tells us that Alexander the Great built a temple on this mountain in which the Samaritans worshipped. Although it may have been partially destroyed prior to this point in time, it is evident from the lesson text that the people of Samaria still worshipped there. As the Samaritan woman was telling Jesus about this place of worship, it is possible that she pointed to this mountain. The woman seemed to be seeking an answer from Jesus as to where the true place to worship God should be. Jesus' answer revealed one of the most profound truths found in New Testament Christianity. He said to her, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Jesus, as the Son of God and Savior of mankind, had many titles that were applied to Him that characterized His various spiritual abilities. He was known as a Bridegroom, a Counselor, a King, a Lamb of God, the true Light, a Mediator, a Physician, a Prince, the Word of God, etc. Here we see Jesus as a Prophet. Looking into the future, Jesus told the woman that the time was near when the place to worship God would have no significance. Soon worship would not be required to take place on Mount Garizim or within the temple in Jerusalem. Ridiculing the current worship of the Samaritans, Jesus told her, Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. Although the Samaritans accepted most of the Mosaic Law, yet they rejected the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Also, because of the influence of the Assyrian and other heathen nations, their "religion" had been corrupted to include the worship of idols. Indeed, the worship of the Samaritans had no biblical authority. Even though the religious services of the Jews had been corrupted and compromised, they did have a God-appointed place of worship and the complete Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament by which they were to conduct both their spiritual and physical lives. Because the Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah and seed of David, then it was a true scriptural statement to say that salvation is of the Jews.
Jesus continues His deep, thought provoking prophecy of spiritual worship by telling the Samaritan woman that the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. Not only will the need to worship in a certain place or physical structure soon end but the requirement of pomp and pageantry associated with outward, physical worship of God, as was necessary under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, would also come to an end. It will be replaced with worship of our Heavenly Father in spirit and in truth. External ceremonial rites of worship were to be replaced with internal, heart-felt, worship that must originate in the mind of God's children. A truthful religious devotion will take place when we do not rely on others to ritually conduct our personal worship to God. Our worship is to be sincere and from our heart; therefore it is to be truthful. This new worship of God is not a matter of personal preference - it is required of God because God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Although this woman was a Samaritan with limited knowledge of God, and His commandments, she was aware of the marital sins of her life. She also rightly knew of God's promised Messiah that would come and bring eternal salvation. The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. This is exactly what Moses, by inspiration, recorded in one of the Old Testament books that the Samaritans kept and observed. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me (Moses); unto Him ye shall hearken (Deut. 18:15). She had already recognized Jesus as a Prophet, and now she is about to recognize Him as her Savior, when Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He. And it is through Him that she, and all of those that choose to accept Him as their Savior, will soon worship God in spirit and in truth.