Devotional | Jay Rouse | Oct 1, 2023
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24
John 4 and the story of the Woman at the Well is not always the first place you go in the Bible if you’re looking to study worship and what it means to be a true worshiper. However, hidden in this beautiful narrative is a powerful picture of what it means to worship with our whole being.
Jesus strikes up a conversation with a woman who has come to the well to draw water. She comes in the middle of the day, so this immediately tells you something about her. At the very least, she doesn’t want to be in the company of the other women who come each morning to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink. Because she’s a Samaritan and he’s a Jew (they don’t exactly hang out together), she’s surprised that he would even speak to her and responds, “How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus replies, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” This is the beginning of Jesus revealing to the woman the truth of who he is, and as the conversation goes on, she begins to discover this is no ordinary man. Her first thought is a prophet, but eventually it becomes clear, this could be the promised Messiah.
As the conversation continues, she chooses a question regarding worship. She asks him, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus answers with the words from John 4 quoted at the beginning of this devotion. Let me focus on one specific sentence, “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.” Spirit and truth. What does that really mean?
I think it means true worship must come from within, from your heart and from an honest place of surrender. It can’t be based on formula or ritual, though liturgy can be very helpful in positioning our minds and humbling our hearts as we come into God’s presence. It must be a genuine response to God's sovereignty and goodness as a result of commitment and faith.
I think potentially the word “Spirit” here can also refer to the Holy Spirit as a guide leading us into an understanding of God’s power. This helps position us in a posture of thankfulness, opening our eyes to all God provides for us through his Son, Jesus.
Worship must also be “in truth.” The truth of who God is as revealed in Scripture. As a musician and worship leader, I take very seriously the call to be sure I’m sharing worship songs that are biblically sound and carry the true message of God's character and his love for us.
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of these verses in John 4 have always spoken to me on a deep level. He writes: “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
Genesis reminds us that the deepest part of us is made like Christ. Psalm 42 (KJV) says, “... deep calls to deep.” So, the only thing that can truly fill whatever longing or void we find in our heart of hearts is a true relationship with God. That relationship starts with worship. We humble ourselves as Romans 12 says, “... presenting our bodies as living sacrifices.”
“Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.”
I am grateful to be on this journey with all of you as we individually and collectively seek to know God better. Blessings and prayers for your journey.
Heavenly Father, thank you for desiring a relationship with me. Guide me as I continue to seek after the truth of who you are so that I can know you better and fully worship you in spirit and in truth.
Jay RouseArtist in Residence
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