Summary: Third in a series on worship - this message focuses on what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth
That’s Why We Worship - John 4:4-24
"Worshiping God In Spirit And Truth"
Intro: A few years ago the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus.
So the woman went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified that the tortilla had changed her life, and her husband agreed that she had been a more peaceful, happy, submissive wife since the tortilla had arrived. The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, was somewhat reluctant but agreed to do it.
The woman took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than eight thousand people came to the shrine of the Jesus of The Tortilla, and all of them agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus (except for one reporter who said he thought it looked like former heavy-weight boxing champion Leon Spinks!
Psalm 29:1,2 says, "Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness."
Did the experience and actions of the woman in New Mexico and her tortilla qualify as worship? What makes for real worship? How do you know when it’s happened? How do you know when it hasn’t? How do you know when God is pleased with our worship? When can we say that God is not pleased with the way someone is worshiping? These are good questions. Some would suggest that we have no right to make these kinds of judgement calls. Different strokes for different folks - who are we to question what another thinks constitutes worship?
It’s an old dilemma or question. In fact, Jesus encountered a woman one time who had the same questions. It is found in John 4. The encounter began when Jesus was traveling through Samaria. The people of Samaria were enemies of the people of Israel. Both sides thought they were the true heirs of the covenant with Abraham and each thought only they truly worshiped God the right way. Jesus stops to get a drink from a well (not just any well, but one that Jacob had dug about two thousand years earlier.) He meets a woman there and begins a conversation with her. That alone was incredible. She had two strikes against her - being a Samaritan and a woman. But Jesus was that way . . . accepting and different than others of His day. In the midst of their conversation, it becomes apparent to the woman that Jesus is a great prophet. She seizes the moment to answer a question that has bugged her for a long time. In verse 19 she says, "‘Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Her question was "Who’s got it right?" Jesus answers her saying, ‘Believe Me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the One you worship, while we Jews know all about Him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in sprit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah will come - the One who is called Christ. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus told her, ‘I am the Messiah.’"
What was Jesus saying here? What does that mean - to worship in spirit and truth? Contained in Jesus’ words are the answer to those age old questions. Let’s look a little deeper.
I. Worship in spirit.
A. What is it?
- The word "spirit" here does not have the definite article in the original language, so it does not refer to the Holy Spirit. Rather it is referring to our own inner life, emotions, will, our heart.
- To worship God in spirit is to connect with God - person to person. It is offering up ourselves to Him in praise.
- Worship in spirit is not restricted to one form or method, and yet expression is an important part of it. What we feel about God must be expressed.