walk in the word
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 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.” —John 4:19-22
Here’s an interesting transition into talking openly about spiritual matters: “You worship what you do not know.” This is how Jesus extended His conversation with the woman at the well, and it’s an important statement for us to consider.
The woman had just made what she probably thought was a very tolerant comment about the equal validity of Jewish and Samaritan religious practices. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Fast forward twenty centuries and think about the responses people give today when Christ comes into a conversation. People may say spirituality is very important, but asking what they mean by that usually provokes a focus on tolerance: “Well, I think you should have spiritual feelings and spirituality should be part of life in whatever way is meaningful to you.”
But “whatever way is meaningful” is not biblical worship or even serious thinking about God. Jesus would rightly say to many today what He said to the woman, “You worship what you do not know.”
No one just enters into a random worship relationship with God—Christ’s gentle rebuke is universal. You can’t pick and choose the parts of the Bible you want. You can’t craft God in your own image and say, “Well, this is the God that I want: all love, no justice; all convenience, no conviction.” If you try, you’ll end up with something else. True worship requires understanding.
There is a real God. He wrote a book and He has a Son. And you can worship Him, if you do the second thing Jesus told this woman. “We worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Think about that. Understanding leads to relationship. Personal knowledge is where worship has to begin—it flows out of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
In saying “Salvation is from the Jews,” Jesus was referring to the Old Testament record of God’s plan. All the promises given to Abraham, the first five books of the Bible given to Moses, and Christ Himself, the long-promised Messiah are all Jewish in heritage. So He could rightly make this salvation claim.
And true salvation leads to true worship—it is the forgiveness of sins, rescue from the road to hell, and the gift of eternal life. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Have you received the gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ? Have you turned away from your sin and asked for His forgiveness? Don’t roll the dice on this one. Salvation is a really big deal. If you think you might have, you haven’t. But you could move from haven‘t, to knowing with certainty—today. This could be your day to turn from your sin and embrace Christ by faith (learn more).
Trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation is the most important decision you will ever make. And there is no authentic worship apart from that decision—it has to start with a relationship with God. That’s the beginning of worshiping Someone you know.
Why is being “spiritual” not the same as having a relationship with God?
When you hear about on Jesus’ death on the cross, what comes to your mind? How does remembering His sacrifice affect your desire to worship?
Lord, thank You for the priceless gift of knowing Your Son, whom to know is eternal life. Thank You for revealing Yourself as the God who wants to be known, enjoyed, trusted, and worshiped with all I have. Thank You for showing me that knowing You is open-ended and ongoing—I will spend all of life and every moment of eternity and never get to the end of knowing You. The more i know You, the more i will want to worship and love You with my our heart, soul, mind, and strength. For You alone are worthy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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