John 4:20-26 : “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah comes,” (he who is called Christ). “When he has come, he will declare to us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who speaks to you.”
Jews and the Samaritans had been arguing over the appropriate place to worship God. The Jews said at the temple and the Samaritans were saying at the mountain. Jesus brought a new perspective.
He said that now neither place is appropriate. He first explained that the real difference is knowledge. The Jews know God’s words so they knew what they worshiped and the Samarians didn’t. Jesus stated that the Jews are right and that salvation would come from them. Then He explained that, as to where and how to worship, things are to be different.
Jesus said that in order to worship God we must do it in “spirit and truth.” This spiritual change keeps coming up in John. Things were of the earth, now they are of spirit. Now we learn a new thing: that God is spirit. In order to worship him the worship must be in spirit and truth.
Back in chapter three, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again of the Spirit in order to enter God’s kingdom (John 3:3-8). Jesus may be saying here again that in order to truly worship God from now on, you must be born again of the Spirit.
Also, as we read earlier, we now get to believe in Jesus, not just do what He says. In order to believe, you need to hear the truth. You can’t just go through the motions of worship by going to a place of worship. Even saying “Lord, Lord” will not work:
Matthew 7:21-23 : Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’
So, the worship that God now looks for is not an act but real worship from your heart.
Finally, Jesus tells her that He is the messiah that they have been waiting for. Jesus was an effective evangelist as we see in the next section.