19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:19-26
A Serious Question
Jesus affirms the seriousness of the Samaritan woman’s question even though she is deflecting attention from her soul condition. She brings up the worship wars regarding the geography of worship: Jerusalem or the high places of Samaria. But Jesus highlights a new reality emerging from the Jews: the Messiah has ushered in the age of true worship in which worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth.
First there is the truth about God. Jesus is The Truth and brings people into the Kingdom of God through His messianic work on the cross. He gives His people the Spirit of God and brings them into genuine communion with God. Later Jesus would say, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John clarifies for the reader: “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” See John 7:37-39
Second there is the truth about us. The Gospel almost simultaneously brings us into the reality of our sin and the reality of God’s grace. It may seem outrageous that we can regularly confess our neediness for God’s grace for the forgiveness of sin! But when we do confess we also then set our faith on him again for the grace to obey. That’s what happens in authentic worship. The Spirit of God gives us a new spirit and a new heart with a new “want to” for God. In the disciplines of worship, privately and corporately, the Holy Spirit renews our “want to” by showing us the glory of who Jesus is and the reality of His love for us. I’m not sure the Samaritan woman was yet sure of the incredible worth and place of utmost supremacy she would grant to Jesus, but I believe she was on the way.
As some of you know, the worship wars continue and likely will as we have have generational preferences and styles. However, authentic worship is not about how lively or calm the music; nor how dramatic the lights or the preaching. Authentic worship has to do with how engaged we are with truth and the Spirit in response to Jesus and the news of His Gospel. Even in our broken world, authentic worship is possible as we are lead by the Spirit to meet Jesus and delight in the Father’s great love for us.
“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”