Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:21-24
The conversation between Jesus and the Woman of Samaria turned to worship. The Jews and the Samaritans were divided in many ways, including by where and how true worship takes place. When the woman recognized that Jesus had spiritual insight, she wanted to know who was correct. Jesus’ response reframed the woman’s question and focused on the greater issue, the spiritual aspect of worship. “The hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,” Jesus told her.
Just as in the previous chapter Jesus informed Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, that a true life of faith – eternal and abundant – is possible only through spiritual re-birth, so too he tells this outcast woman of Samaria that the only way to worship God authentically is in spirit and in truth. The teaching is clear, that worship is not about the place, not about the type of music, not about the preacher, not about the ritual – true worship is a matter of the heart and soul.
Jesus does not reject temple worship in this teaching. Instead, he simply redefines the temple. The temple was considered sacred space because God’s presence dwelt there. In like manner, as believers come to faith and receive the Holy Spirit in their lives, their bodies become a dwelling place of God, a temple of the Lord. Whereas in the Jerusalem Temple animals were sacrificed, so too there is sacrifice in spiritual worship – the old nature, the sin nature, the human nature is sacrificed, and lives are transformed by the work of God into the likeness of Christ.
New life is at the heart of true worship, Jesus teaches, and that worship is in spirit and in truth.
Good Father, lift my spirit above the things that distract me from true worship that I may open my life to worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston