In John 4, Jesus is speaking with a woman at a well. Already in this passage, Jesus has pointed to the new life he gives and to the greater access to God that he provides. At the end of the passage. Jesus points to the greater worship of God that he points to.
In John 4:22-23, Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well:
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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.
He says that she worships what she does not know. And he’s referring not just to her but to the Samaritan people.
When Jesus says “we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” he’s saying that the promise of God, the covenants God had made, the promised land, the scriptures of the Old Testament, the royal line which brought forth Jesus was also from the Jewish people.
The Samaritans had an incorrect understanding. But what Jesus is also saying as we move into verse 23 is that a paradigm shift is coming.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth
Jesus again refers to the hour. Not only is that hour coming, Jesus says that this hour is now here. The hour is coming and will be actualized at his death and resurrection. And that hour is already present in the world at that time as Jesus ministers to the world.
The time has come when true worshippers, when people who really are worshipping the Father will worship him in spirit and truth.
Spirit and truth
What that means is that it’s worship from people who have the Spirit, in other words, people who have been born again, been regenerated, have the living water that Jesus provides.
And the truth is referring to THE truth. Jesus. Jesus came into the world and he did not merely believe true things, or make true statements but Jesus himself is THE truth.
Grace and truth come through him (John 1:17).
He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
And worship of the Father is meant to be in Spirit and truth. Not Spirit or truth, but Spirit and truth.
Jesus brings the greater worship. Jesus brings a Spiritual revolution. And it is through Jesus and Jesus alone that God is truly worshiped.
In verse 24, Jesus says:
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God is Spirit. Not God is a spirit, but God is spirit. God and existence is not merely about the material world, because God is spirit.
But God cannot merely be known intellectually or cognitively. He is Spirit.
When Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born again, the reason why we must be born again is because we’re dead in our sin. That we need new Spiritual life. The wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23).
A dead person can’t worship the living God. We cannot worship God in Spirit and truth if we have not been born again. Because if we have not been born again, we do not have the Spirit.
It must be worship based around the gospel from people who believe in the gospel. God must be worshiped this way. It’s the only worship that God will accept. Spirit and truth.
Jesus came to bring the greater revelation, the greater access to God, and the greater worship.
Meditation – Worship without Jesus is not worship
You cannot truly worship God without Christ. That’s what this verse is saying.
A person who is not a Christian is incapable of true worship of God. Because if you don’t have the gospel, then you cannot worship in Spirit and truth. There are no participation trophies.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Just being here is not what causes you to be born again and enabled to worship in Spirit and truth. It’s faith. Faith in the gospel. Faith in Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith.
Participation alone is not good enough for the Lord. Singing songs by itself does not constitute worship in Spirit and truth. I could sing “O Canada,” and that doesn’t suddenly make me a citizen of Canada. Just as much as singing Amazing Grace does not inherently make you a citizen of heaven.
It doesn’t if you don’t have faith.
Someone who is unregenerate is incapable of worshiping the Lord as the Lord has ordained to be worshiped.
The exclusivity of the gospel
This flies in the face of any argument that many roads lead to God. One road leads to God. One road leads to salvation. One road leads to true worship.
We don’t decide the worship which is acceptable to the Lord.
He does. Jesus is the one who gives us grace and forgiveness. Not the Old Covenant, not another religion, and not our own goodness.
Jesus is the place where we go to meet with God. And he is the way we worship God.
For the Samaritan woman, she has been told the most amazing news that has ever existed in the world. It’s overwhelming. It’s difficult to understand and comprehend.
She still does not fully understand.
25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
She points forward to a coming Messiah who will explain all of the things about which Jesus is speaking.
Once again, we see the irony. Because she is talking to the Messiah, to the Christ.
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Fun fact. This is the only place in the gospels where Jesus acknowledges his messiahship before the time of his trial. Jesus is the Lord’s Messiah, he is the savior of the world. And it’s because of who he is that he can speak with authority.
Time and again, this gospel makes absolute claims about Jesus and Jesus makes absolute claims about Jesus. There’s no gray area. It forces you to pick a side.
Jesus is the Christ or he is not. He is the one who leads us in true worship or he is not. He is the one who brings us into the presence of God, or he’s not. What do you believe about Jesus?
Don’t believe that? Then we have work to do.
If you do believe it?
Then the response is to come and worship the savior of the world who has brought us into the presence of the Lord, forgiven us of our sins, and allows us to worship today and forevermore in Spirit and in truth.
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