In John chapter 4, Jesus is on a journey: “He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:3-4).
Normally, a Jew on this journey would not go through Samaria. Jews hated the Samaritans—and the Samaritans returned the favor.
In 721 B.C. the rebellious people of Israel were carried into captivity. The weak, the poor, and the illiterate were left behind. They began to intermarry with Babylonian stragglers, who brought paganism with them. The result was a mongrel breed of people called the Samaritans.
Later, the Jews would have nothing to do with these people. The Samaritans were not allowed to go to Jerusalem to worship. So, they built their own house of worship on Mount Gerizim, in Samaria.
But now, in John 4, Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.”
A Conversation about True Worship
“So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar…Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink’” (John 4:5-7).
The woman said, “Why are you talking to me? You’re a Jew, I’m a Samaritan; besides that, I’m a woman.”
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….whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:10,14).
Jesus’ meeting with this woman at this well was a divine appointment. He was here to tell her about drinking from the well of salvation: Himself. This woman was bound by sin, and she needed an encounter with the living God. That encounter is called true worship.
What Is True Worship?
This Samaritan woman only knew of two alternatives for worship: Mount Gerizim, or Jerusalem. (See John 4:19-20.)
The Samaritans only kept five books of the Old Testament, called the Pentateuch. They worshiped with fervor on Mount Gerizim, but not according to knowledge.
The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. They believed the entire Bible of that day, from Genesis to Malachi. But their religion was dead. (See Matthew 15:8.)
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father….But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Emphasis added)
How to Worship in Spirit and Truth
You don’t just worship God with your hands, knees, eyes, and mouth. Worship has to come from within. If coming to church is tedious and tasteless to you, there is nothing wrong with you that a good dose of salvation won’t cure. The problem is in your heart.
To worship God in spirit, you need the Holy Spirit of God.
Some say, “I just want to sing and pray and praise and fellowship!”
But worship has a theological base. Your worship rises no higher than your concept of God. That is why we should have expositional preaching of the Word of God, to learn the truth of God.
“There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6b; emphasis added). God does not dwell in temples made with hands. You and I have a privilege that the Jews and Samaritans never had: a way into the Holy of Holies, through Jesus Christ.