Spirit and Truth
John 4:23 (ESV) — 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.
Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well is a beautiful picture of grace, mercy, truth, and evangelism. He meets her and goes into hard conversations with her about her past and present situations. She had been divorced five times—something almost unthinkable in the first century—and the man she currently lived with was not her husband. This lady very clearly lived in sin. When Jesus confronts her on this, she immediately turns the discussion to a debate over disputed theological issues among Jews and Samaritans. People still use this tactic today to get out of recognizing their sins.
Jesus’ response to her is our passage today. After she makes a comment about which mountain worship of God is allowed to happen from, Jesus tells her, “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.”
Notice Jesus uses the phrase “true worshipers.” This implies that not everyone who claims to worship the Living God is a true worshiper. Some worship for selfish gain, for show to others, or to satisfy some internal guilt they feel about their lives. But there is such a group called “true worshipers” who actually love the Lord. He says these true worshipers “will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
What does this mean? It means they not only worship Him properly, according to what is true, but they also worship Him in spirit. Their spirit is alive and zealous for God. They have God-honoring affections of joy and love for Him, not just proper form. But both matter. We should worship by walking in the truth, proclaiming the truth, and interacting with God on the basis of what is true, according to what He says is true. And we should love those things with a vitality and zeal that is honoring to Him.
Jesus continues, “the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” This is what God is looking for. Do you worship the Lord in spirit and truth? This is what pleases God. He is looking for such people. Will He find that in you?
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do you think the woman sought to change the subject to doctrine over her sins?
- What do you think it means today to worship God in spirit and truth?
- How can we know that we are being faithful in this? What are some ways to discern this?
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