“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 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.'” (John 4:21–24 ESV).
Observations in Exposition of Scripture
1. Jesus revealed that believers among the Samaritans and the Jews will worship God in another place — in spirit and truth.
2. The coming time for true worship started then and was coming.
3. True worship is NOT the worship that the Jews had that David brought to Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chr 16).
4. God seeks true worshipers.
5. True worshipers are disciples of Christ who must worship in spirit and truth — by spirit and truth.
Tired from a long journey, Jesus rested beside Jacob’s well and requested from a woman, “Give me a drink.” The woman was surprised that a Jew would be talking to her, a Samaritan woman, because Jews had no dealing with Samaritans (John 4:9). Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'” (John 4:10).
Jesus wanted the woman to know two things:
- The gift of God
- Who Jesus was
Jesus further revealed that He is the source of living water unto eternal life.
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'” (John 4:13–14; cf. John 7:37–39; Rom 8:11).
Jesus began teaching the woman that a new age has come and will come (John 4:14, 4:23–24). Christian worship of God is fundamentally different than worship of the unknown and worship under the Old Testament.
Can anyone worship God without knowing what is spirit and truth by which God wants true worshipers to worship?
Worship in spirit and truth is sincerity of heart, obeying God’s commands, and more. Did David worship with a sincere heart and by obedience to God’s commands? Jesus contrasted true worship from worship in Jerusalem. David did worshiped sincerely from the heart and according to God’s instruction, but Christ told of a new age of worship.
Christ foretold worship for a new age (cf. John 4:14, Gr. eis ton aiona). The new era of true worship was based upon the Messiah in His time. True worship is by spirit and truth that is by Christ. The Samaritan woman reflected, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us” (John 4:25). Jesus revealed to her, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). The result was the woman left her jar and went to town telling of the Christ who told her all that she did (John 4:27–30). Many in the town came to believe that Jesus was the Christ (John 4:39–42).
The Messianic age is the time of worship by honoring the Son. Further in John’s Gospel, Jesus taught,
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:21–23; cf. 5:25–29).
Furthermore, Jesus emphasized that worship in spirit and truth is essential because God is spirit (John 4:23–24). Jesus’s promise of living water for eternal life will come by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39). The Holy Spirit will resurrect the faithful to eternal life as the Spirit resurrected Jesus (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14).
The apostle John followed a common thread of giving honor to Jesus Christ. When some sought to be fed again as Jesus fed the 5,000, Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35; cf. 6:51). Upon this message, Jesus alluded to worship and God-given tradition for worship in the new period of worship. Jesus proclaimed,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:53–56).
Jesus foretold of true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:21–24). He foretold of eating Jesus’s body and drinking His blood that is the likeness of the Lord’s Supper (John 6:51–58).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus alluded to baptism by instruction to be born again of the water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom (John 3:5). While Jesus’s disciples baptized during His life, Jesus would command baptism in His name when He resurrected (Matt 28:19–20; cf. Mark 16:16).
When Jesus taught that He is the bread of life and that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood for eternal life, many found Jesus’s words hard to listen so that many turned back and no longer walked with Him (John 6:60–66). Jesus response to them was, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:61).
By Jesus’s standard, the disciples of Christ must be true worshipers. The church of Jesus Christ consists of true worship, and this sets the church apart from all others.