Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth

Summary: Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and reveals Himself in new ways. To worship Jesus in spirit and truth gives us the clearest picture of Him, and an opportunity to worship Jesus in a fresh way.


In my last post, I described ways we can worship God with our minds. In this post on worship for the disciple of Jesus, I want to teach on Jesus’ saying that we worship in spirit and truth.

We have talked about worship, and what I consider the high points every disciple of Jesus should aspire to implement in their walk with Jesus. Jesus made an iconic statement about worshiping God “in spirit and truth.” But what does it mean?

I hear people use this phrase often, so it’s good to expand upon its meaning and how we can do it in worship. When Jesus makes this statement, He indicates this worship will happen in the future. That time is now. So let’s look at Jesus’ statement and what it means for us.

A Samaritan Woman Meets Jesus

This Samaritan woman got a surprise one day when she went out to get water from a well. Women often collected water for the household. But she got more than she bargained for when she arrived at the well and met a Jewish Man alone.

Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee with His disciples. It was uncommon for Jews to travel through Samaria to get to Galilee. They usually went around it because Jews considered Samaritans to be “half breeds.” It’s interesting, then, that John says Jesus, “had to go through Samaria.”

Jesus had divine purpose in going through Samaria to meet this woman and have this incredible discussion. For Him, it was not about the theological discussion of worship. He came there to minister to a woman with a checkered past.

Jesus sets Himself in an iconic place, one of Jacob’s wells. Although weary from His journey, Jesus does not serve Himself water from the well. Instead, He waits for the woman to arrive. He somehow knows she will be there. This is no casual, unplanned visit.

When this Samaritan woman arrives at the well, Jesus commands her to give Him a drink. This is not a rude, chauvinist move on His part. Everything Jesus does, He does with intention. The drink is a setup for the beginning of their discussion.

Jesus Breaks Cultural Barriers

In waiting for this woman to arrive at the well and asking her for a drink, Jesus breaks several cultural barriers. First, men did not talk to women alone. Next, Jews did not talk to Samaritans. Samaritans were “half breeds,” half Jew and half Gentile.

This cultural standard was not only about ethnicity. The rift between Jews and Samaritans broadened to a religious difference. Jews worship at the Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. But because Samaritans weren’t welcome in Israel, they worshiped on Mount Gerizim.

So, there were gender, ethnic, and religious differences between Jews and Samaritans. Jesus breaks all three cultural barriers with His actions. Men did not talk to women alone. Jews did not talk to Samaritans. But He does this with purpose.

Jesus tells her she doesn’t realize who she’s talking with. If she did, she would ask Him for a drink of “living water.” Jesus is God’s Son, the Messiah. Living water is a reference to eternal life. She observes Jesus has nothing to draw water from the well with. But He’s not talking about well water.

Where Can We Worship?

The Samaritan woman takes this opportunity to argue about tradition, history, and religious values. She first brings up the origin of the water, referring to the history of this well dug by Jacob. She doesn’t get the reference to eternal living water.

Samaritans would argue Jacob’s history of this well and the mountain they worship on is an older tradition and history than David’s history with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These arguments for religion, tradition, and history build the foundation for worship.

Jesus points out the water from Jacob’s well only quench his thirst for a while. But His water quenches thirst for eternity. Like anyone else in a desert climate, the woman desires this eternal water. She wants eternal water so she doesn’t have to keep coming back and drawing water from the well.

Jesus uses this opportunity to heal some wounds from men who found her unacceptable for marriage. She is looking for acceptance wherever she can get it. She tells the truth, that she has no husband.

This woman needed Jesus’ ministry. He knowingly reveals she has had five husbands and is with a man now that is not her husband. She was looking for love. But either five men died while married to her or she had been divorced by them. She gave up on marriage and was living with a man who was not her husband.

She perceives He is a prophet because he knows things about her life without her volunteering them. Only people with prophetic gifts had words of knowledge like that. She takes advantage of having a holy man in her midst and wants to argue about places to worship.

Jesus tells her Jews worship rightly in Jerusalem. But even bigger than settling territorial disputes of mountains to worship on, Jesus introduces the woman to profound truths about worshiping God that transcend their conversation and the issue of where to worship.

Worshiping God in Spirit

Jesus says that the time is coming, and now is, where the true worshipers will worship God spirit and truth (John 4:13). What does it mean to worship God in spirit? Jesus introduces a couple of levels of worship when he states we must worship Him in spirit.

On one level, worshiping God in spirit means that we worship Him out of our innermost being. This is worship that goes deeper than where to worship. It touches on how to worship. We bring ourselves to the Lord with no pretense, no excuses. We bring ourselves to Him and lay ourselves on His altar, bare before Him.

But on another level, to worship God in spirit is to worship Him as He is, for God is spirit (John 4:24). We worship God with our whole being, involving our mind, emotions, and heart. It goes beyond worshiping God with words, reading words off a screen in our time, or repeating words someone else wrote.

To worship God in spirit is to worship Him in the new spiritual realities Jesus presents. We worship as a precursor and foretaste of heaven. We worship Jesus as God, filled with the Holy Spirit, connecting with God on a deep spiritual level.

The best way to describe worshiping God in spirit is the fullness of our worship. There is no separation, no division in our worship. We have full revelation. And we offer God our everything, receiving from Him the depth of His being.

No one in Jesus’ time would have been able to worship in this way. But we have the benefit of a fuller understanding of Jesus. This woman didn’t realize the Messiah stood before her and was explaining this to her. But she would only go so far.

Worshiping God in Truth

What does it mean to worship God in truth? Like worshiping Him in spirit, worshiping God in truth focuses on a couple of levels. On the first level, when we worship God in truth, we worship Him as we truly are, without pretense, hypocrisy, or falseness.

Worshiping God in truth connects us to Jesus our Messiah, who explains everything to us. We worship God as He is, and as He is known. We worship with open eyes toward the full implications of what Jesus has done and who He is.

We know Jesus in His fullness. Jesus is our King, the Founder of our faith, and our ultimate Sacrifice. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). We see connections in the Godhead and understand much more about Jesus.

There is no separation, no veil between God’s presence and us. Do we realize how precious this relationship is? I dare say we don’t take advantage of this relationship and worship God as we should. Let us be thankful for Jesus, all He is, and He has done for us.

Growth Challenge

In your personal and corporate worship, take full advantage of worshiping Jesus in spirit and truth. Study the names of God, who He is, and what He has done for you. The more you know about God and the spiritual connection you have with him, the more you can worship Him in spirit and truth.

Up Next

We have discussed worshiping God in spirit and truth. Now, I will teach on the Pentecostal worship service and how the Spirit is involved in our worship.

Image by Lucie from Pixabay

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