“God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” — John 4:24
When someone talks about something we are not comfortable with, we often change the subject and turn the attention towards the person we are talking to. This was exactly what the Samaritan woman did: she draws the focus away from her husbands and the man she is living with, towards Jesus. She says, “Sir, I can see that You are a prophet.” To further digress from herself, she adds, “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” (John 4:19-20).
What the Samaritan woman is asking is not a deep theological question—she is trying to outwit Jesus, and her manner has a hint of cynicism in it: “I see, you are a bit of a prophet, eh? Well, our fathers worshipped on this mount and you folks worship in Jerusalem. Who is right?” Jesus tells her, “Woman, believe Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know…” (John 4:21-22).
The Samaritan woman does not know what she worships. Could we imagine anything more tedious than that? Week after week, she climbs Mount Gerizim every Saturday morning thinking she is doing the right thing. Contrast this with Paul, who declared in 2 Timothy 1:12, “…I know whom I have believed....” Notice Paul did not write, “I know what,” but “whom.” True worship is a response to our knowledge of God, which is why Jesus said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth...” (John 4:23).
For some people, worship is a physical thing: being in the right building, having the right postures and dressing up a certain way. For others, worship is an emotional thing: being in the right mood, playing the right kind of music and setting a certain atmosphere. Even in the Samaritan woman’s deflection, Jesus leads her to the truth that the most important thing is not where or how she worships but whom she worships. Worship is not about rituals, programs or activities but a relationship with God.
Trying to outwit Jesus, again, the Samaritan woman says, “I know that Messiah…is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” Looking her in the eye Jesus tells her, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He” (John 4:25-26). Suddenly the conversation between them all makes sense. Christianity will never make sense until we understand Christ because we cannot worship whom we do not know. Do we know Jesus?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Messiah, the one true God that I long to worship. Deepen my relationship with You that I may worship You in spirit and truth. Thank You, Lord.