In the previous post, we learned that Jesus taught the Samaritan woman at the well that God is not interested in his people worshiping in a geographical location or building. God is looking for people who worship him in spirit and in truth. So that previous post talked about what it means to worship in spirit. Now we take a look at at what it means to worship in truth.
Jesus will say in John 14:6, that he is the way, the truth and the life. In John 1:14, we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Truth is not just some proposition or idea on paper. Truth, whether in the Bible or any human truth, is grounded in Jesus himself, who is the embodiment of truth. Jesus is the truth in and of himself. When we want to know what is true in this world, we must look to Jesus. How did he behave? What was his heart like in various situations? There we will find truth. That is one of the main reasons we are studying the Gospel of John. To know the one who is truth. When we get to know him better, we are getting to know truth better.
When we worship in truth, Jesus is the focus of our worship. That means we need to remove anything we might have added to our worship of Jesus. Our worship should never be a combo of Jesus and something else. That’s called syncretism, which is a fancy word for mixing other ideas or objects into our worship, polluting our worship.
This is similar to when we American Christians also worship America, believing God has a special mission for American or that America is better than all other nations, and we can do this to the detriment of focusing on the Kingdom of God. Or when we American Christians also practice consumerism or materialism, which is an obsession with luxury or comfort. Or when we American Christians focus on individualism, which is when we think our relationship with God is just “personal, and I can worship God in my own way, and don’t really need to be committed to a group of Christians”
When we worship in spirit and truth, we are focused solely, completely and fully on Jesus. He is the truth. I suspect that is what Jesus was getting at when he said to the Samaritan women as they talked by Jacob’s well, that God the father is looking for worshipers in spirit and truth. How will the woman respond to this? Let’s read verse 25.
I don’t know what the woman thought of Jesus’ teaching about worship. Maybe she got it. Maybe not. Remember her theological challenge to Jesus in verse 20? I’m thinking Jesus answered her quite masterfully, and well, full of grace and truth. But it seems the woman doesn’t quite want to say, “Ok, thank you, you have now cleared up all my questions.” Instead she says, “Well, the Messiah is coming, and he’ll sort it out.”
I think she got the message from Jesus that he was disagreeing with her, and pointing her toward something greater. We know he disagreed with her comment about worshiping on Mt. Gerazim, because he said that salvation is from the Jews. Not from the Samaritans. That probably stung her a bit. But he was right, and what’s more, he said, “Actually, your focus on geographical place is misguided. God is looking for worshipers in spirit in truth.” So Jesus has disagreed with her and taught her something important. But she just doesn’t seem ready to concede. Can you blame here? She is in quite a fascinating and perhaps confusing conversation! This stranger has told her about her life story, something he almost certainly could not have known. Then he gives her a unique vision of worship that would have been different from what she was taught. Who is this man? And is telling the truth?
She seems to me that she is a bit flustered. So she deflects by talking about the Messiah, “Well, when the Messiah comes, he’ll sort it out for us.” I think her response is one that you and I default to when we don’t really know what to say, so we say, “Whatever. It’ll get figured out eventually.” But interestingly, this woman mentions the Messiah. The promised deliverer. Even though the Samaritans had their own version of the Bible, a version which differed from the Hebrew Bible, they still believed in the ancient prophecies of the Messiah, a savior who would come.
Jesus looks at her and says, “The Messiah, huh? Ma’am, that’s me.” What must have been going through her mind when he said that! But there’s no time for them to talk about it, because just at that moment they get interrupted. And that is where we stop. To find out what happens, you’ll just have to come back next week. Or just read it for yourselves. For now we conclude the theme of verses 1-26: Jesus is the truth, and we worship him in spirit and truth.
Be intentional in your heart and in your spirit, contemplating Jesus and that he is the truth. Reflect on the words he spoke and the way he lived. He shows us truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Choose to worship in spirit and truth in community. Encouraging one another to worship in spirit and truth.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash