True Worship

Jesus revealed the proper form and location for worshipping the Father to the woman at the well in Samaria. With the advent of the Messiah, concepts and traditions about holy space and time are now irrelevant. The presence of the Messiah rendered the historical debate over the location of the Temple moot, for the worship of God must be performed in truth and spirit.

From the start of his ministry, Jesus experienced opposition from the Temple authorities. That could be why he left Judea for Galilee. The most direct route was through Samaria, a region religiously scrupulous Jews avoided by taking a more circuitous route - (John 4:1-3).

River Iceland - Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash
[Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash]

  • (John 4:20-22) – “Our fathers in this mountain worshiped, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where we must worship. Jesus says to her: Believe me, woman! There is coming an hour when neither in this mountain nor yet in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you know not. We worship that which we know because salvation is of the Jews.

He encountered the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and asked for water. This surprised her since devout Jews avoided contact with Samaritans, and it was socially awkward for a Jewish male to communicate with an unrelated and unaccompanied female. But he answered - “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is speaking to you, you would ask, and he would give you living water.”

The woman assumed he meant physical water and asked how he could draw from the well without a vessel. “Are you greater than Jacob who gave us the well?” Jesus responded, “Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again. Whosoever drinks of the water I will give will never thirst; in him, it will become a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.”

She instinctively asked for this “living water,” but Jesus told her to “summon your husband.” She claimed to have no husband, but he retorted - “You have had five husbands and he whom you now have is not your husband. You have spoken truly.”

The woman perceived that he was a prophet and asked about the dispute between the Jews and Samaritans - “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place necessary to worship!”

The Samaritans worshipped the God of Israel. However, unlike the Jews, they recognized only the five books of Moses as inspired Scripture, and they disagreed with them on the proper location for the Temple of Yahweh.

THE PLACE OF WORSHIP


Moses directed Israel to worship at the place Yahweh would designate, but he did not specify where that was. Because the Jews accepted the rest of the Old Testament, they assumed the correct site was Jerusalem based on numerous passages from the later books of the Hebrew Bible.

In contrast, the Samaritans argued in favor of Mount Gerizim in Samaria, and they pointed for scriptural authorization to the Book of Genesis where God promised to give Shechem, the city of Samaria, to Abraham and his “seed” – (Genesis 12:6-7, 1 Kings 12:25). Jesus responded with a most unexpected declaration:

  • There is coming an hour when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for even such as these is the Father seeking as his worshipers. God is spirit; they that worship him must WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH” - (John 4:23-24).

He did not attempt to resolve the old festering dispute. Instead, he described the new order of worship in which questions about holy sites and times were pointless. His words indicated the obsolescence of the old Temple and religious concerns concerning holy space.

Rather than the dried-up worship rituals in man-made structures and regulations, Jesus offered an endless supply of “living waters.” What mattered was not where God’s people worshipped Him, but how they did so - (“An hour is coming and now is”).

The people of God must worship him as Father through Spirit and Truth. Likewise, the division between the Jews and Samaritans had reached its termination point.

The declaration that the time “now is” meant the old order was passing away in the life and ministry of Jesus. As elsewhere in the Gospel of John, the term “hour” refers to his death, the “hour” of his “glorification.” In the new Messianic era, external rituals are replaced by spiritual worship - (John 7:37-39).

With his Death and Resurrection, traditional regulations based on space and time became irrelevant. The presence of Yahweh could not be limited to buildings, geographic locations, or specific “seasons” of the year. Jesus was the true Temple where God was worshipped, and His presence was found.

The “Son of Man,” the “Word made flesh,” is the True and Greater Tabernacle in which the glory of God manifests. He alone is the means of access between Heaven and Earth, and the true Temple God raised up “after three days” - (John 1:14, 1:47-51, 2:17-22).



RELATED POSTS:
  • Word Made Flesh - (Jesus is the Logos made flesh, the true Tabernacle where the Glory of God is revealed and the One who reveals Grace and Truth – John 1:14)
  • Sanctuary of God - (The New Testament applies Temple language from the Hebrew Bible to the Church, the Body of Christ, the greater and true Sanctuary of God)
  • House of God - (Jesus is the true and only way of access to the Father, the Greater Bethel, and the House of God – John 1:47-50)

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