Worship Redeemed: Part 1
When Jesus came he showed us and taught us what true worship really looked like. He showed us by living his whole life as an act of worship to God. And he taught us most notably in John 4 when he met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
In this statement Jesus makes a few things clear about what redemptive worship looks like. First, that worship is no longer tied to a specific location. A popular religious argument of the daw was whether the proper place of worship was in Samaria at the base of Mt. Gerizim or if it was to be in Jerusalem. Jesus settles the debate by saying it is soon to be irrelevant, that is upon his death, resurrection and ascension.
Next he describes the types of worshippers God is looking for: those who worship in spirit and in truth. This most likely means to worship him properly humans must worship him in the spiritual realm as well. This aspect of humanity must be “born again” as Jesus references in his conversation with Nicodemus (3:5-8). This rebirth is only done by the work of God’s Spirit. The meaning may very well be, “genuine worshipers worship God with their spirit, which has been made alive and constantly maintained by the work of God’s Spirit.
When Jesus says they should worship him in truth he means that we must worship him as he truly is, with accurate concepts of who he is—that is with good theology. This is what leads us to a dependence on the Scriptures as God’s self-revelation to humanity. Ultimately this leads us to Jesus as “the Word” of God, his fullest disclosure of himself to humanity. It is within the truth of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus that we know God. We must worship in the truth of what we know, not a mystical, mysterious, unknowable force. God has told us who he is so we must worship him as he taught us and in light of who he is.
False concepts of God do not bring him glory. Worshiping him with untrue perceptions of his identity are not how he wants to be worshiped. So we should strive to know him as he is, as he has revealed himself to us in Scripture and through Jesus.
Jesus here is calling us to the source of our knowledge of God. He is challenging this woman to find the truth of God in the Jewish Scriptures and in the Messiah. So we are not free to formulate our own picture of God, our own theology of what we think God is like. God is not to be made in our image, but we in his. It is our responsibility to seek the truth of him from the proper source, not simply our own imagination or thoughts about what we think God should be like.
So we worship God in our spirit which has been awakened, made alive to God by the Holy Spirit. And we worship God with truth, good theology that is centered on the self-revelation of God in Jesus.
ff to 4:38 for additional content
Join us tonight online to watch a session from the Common Good Conference.
Reflect on your worship. Does this describe your worship? Do you have a sense of worshipping God with your spirit that has come alive to God upon your conversation? Is Scripture and Jesus, as revealed in Scripture, your authoritative source for knowing who God is? Are you growing in your knowledge of God through Scripture?