Where to Worship?

Sunday, July 11, 2021

19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

21-23 “Believe me. Woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your Spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

25 The Woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

27 Just then, his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

28-30 The Woman took the hint and left. In her confusion, she left her water pot. Back in the village, she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

It’s Harvest Time

31 In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?”

32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”

33 The disciples were puzzled. “Who could have brought him food?”

-John 4:20-33 The Message

It is difficult to talk about things that are not comfortable. The lady at the well was not comfortable talking about her private life. Jesus knew everything about her, and that made her think in the following verses. Jesus continued to steer the conversation about her personal life, no matter how much she tried to change the subject.

When the lady learned Jesus is a prophet, she brought up a theological issue about the correct place to worship. Jesus responded in verse 21, saying, “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; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit in the truth. 

The one thing that happens is that she is just talking to keep the conversation off her and her most profound need. The point of Jesus saying this recognizing that the location of worship is not as important as the attitude of the worshipers. But in verse 22, the Woman had an idea that the Messiah was coming but didn’t realize she was talking to him. Also, Jesus said that salvation is from the Jews. In other terms, only through the Jewish Messiah would the whole world find salvation. Remember that God promised that through the Jewish race, the world as a whole would be blessed. (Genesis 12:3) The Old Testament prophets had called the Jews to be the light to the world’s other nations. This included having knowledge of God, so they were able to predict the Messiah’s coming.

In verse 24, the meaning of “God is spirit” means he is not limited to one place as a spirit and not a physical human being. God is with us all the time in Spirit and is worshipped anywhere, anytime. You may hear this all the time; you will read and listen to it all the time. It doesn’t matter where you worship him, but how you worship him. So the question to ask yourself is this.

  1. Is your worship genuine and authentic?
  2. Do you have the Holy Spirit’s help?
  3. How does the Holy Spirit help us worship?

The Holy Spirit does pray for us (Romans 8:26); the Spirit helps us with words when we struggle (John 14:26) and reminds us of how loved we are. (Romans 5:5)

Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit’s attendance every day. Thank you for having the Spirit with us at all times, with words, through prayer, and his love for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen!