A Sermon by Dr. James McCullen
Jesus Teaches Concerning Worship
Text: John 4:19-29
John 4:19-29
19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.    20 "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you {people} say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."    21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father.    22 "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we  know, for salvation is from the Jews.   23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
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 that One comes, He will declare all things to us."    26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am {He."}    27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"    28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men,    29 "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I {have} done; this is not the Christ, is it?" (NAS)

I began seminary in September of 1969. I was 32 years of age and had pastored for nearly ten years. I customarily led the worship service in those days. Then, I participated as a part of the congregation. On many occasions I walked away asking, What did I get out of that worship experience?"

I discovered my worship experience depended too much on others. If the congregational singing, choir or soloist sang well, I may have enjoyed a good worship experience. If the preacher really preached a good message from God's Work I could have a good worship experience. But, the Lord told me my worship should not rise or fall on how well someone else led worship.

I began to seek ways I could worship regardless of what others did. The congregational singing became more important to me. I listened more intently to the words we were singing. In preparation for the worship experience, I began to pray more earnestly for all of those who led the worship experience.. My worship began to improve.

In the text, Jesus teaches concerning worship. These scriptures teach us many important truths. Notice in your Bible what our Lord taught.




(VS. 19-23)   
He teaches that worship is not a matter of geographical location. The woman at the well presented the prejudice between the Jews and Samaritans concerning two locations for worship. The Old Testament did indicate the Temple in Jerusalem was the place of worship. However, Jesus told her the hour was coming when the emphasis on place would be secondary.

The Lord taught worship was a matter of the heart. Verse 23 calls attention to true worshipers". No doubt these are people who, regardless of place, have their attitude and heart centered on God. True worshipers believe He is worthy of worship. They are going to have times of private worship that flow over into their public worship experience. It will not be a matter of place but a matter of heart.

Martin Luther was a devout person. He believed his religious experience could be heightened by a trip to Rome. While crawling and climbing stairs in an attempt to gain favor with God, the scripture "..the righteous man shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17) echoed in his mind. The message came that place or personal sacrifice would not gain the worship experience he desired. It took faith because it is a matter of the heart.


Worship is not a matter of place or special days or ritual. It is a private matter that expresses itself publically. It is possible to worship God on a river bank or in a campground, but if you worship there, you'll also worship in a congregational atmosphere, because your emphasis will be on the heart and not the place of worship.

Let me point out a second teaching of our Lord in this matter of worship.

(v. 22-24)  
the Lord talks about knowledge. I don't think this is first in priority, but just first in this sequence. Notice in verse 22 the contrast of knowledge. Jesus, referring to the Samaritans, said they didn't know what they worshiped. Speaking for Himself and other devout Jews he said, "we know what we worship."

There must be a scriptural knowledge for worship. The Samaritans paid attention to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. They did not regard the rest of the Old Testament. Therefore, they didn't have the knowledge the people of Israel had. Primarily this knowledge is about Jesus, the coming Messiah.

Is it proper to say one person's worship is better than another's if both are sincere? Jesus did! He told this Samaritan woman. "you worship that which you do not know;...". He also says in the next phrase, "... we worship that which we know;...". Worship with knowledge of the scripture is better. It is useful! But, worship without the word of God and the direction from it is not valuable.

verse 23 records Jesus teaching about spirit in worship. Notice the translators do not capitalize this word spirit. It is almost unanimous that this does not refer to the Holy Spirit but the spirit of man. In the great commandment Jesus said, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30). This command speaks to worship with the Spirit. It is expressing ourself in worship in the most magnificent manner a person can express himself. It refers to your attitude and your humble submission to the Lordship of Christ.

A further explanation of spirit can be gained from Romans *:16. It says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Note the contrast between Spirit and our spirit. We are to worship with our spirit as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

we are to worship in truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth so we will be led by Him. This refers to the truth of scripture and the truth of our mind. We will desire to hear the Bible taught, sung and preached. If we want to worship as the Lord would have us to, we will seed Bible truth to be very plain and pointed so we can know its truth speaks to us.

This truth also refers to personal honesty. In the best way we know, we must be objective about the truth as it relates to us. We cannot worship in the lifestyle of lies. A person should not be a liar. Lies should not come from the mouth of a Christian every time they get backed into a corner. God seeks people to worship him in truth.

A prominent Baptist minister (Bailey Smith) made a theological statement that was widely criticized. I had an occasion to ask him if another very well known pastor had offered to give him any support. He related, "I asked him to help me but he said, "If I do, the financial gifts I have been receiving from certain people will stop.: He said, "I guess I have been bought."


What a sad story. A prominent preacher, a very gifted man who couldn't stand for the truth because he had been bought off by money. Jesus said the Father seeks persons to worship in spirit and truth. Notice the third point.

(vs. 22-26)  
worship should have a salvation emphasis. Jesus said, "...we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.: The reason Jesus gave for Jews knowing what they worshiped was salvation. Can we not conclude if salvation is not emphasized worship is not a profitable experience. We ought to worship so that we are reminded of our salvation and we learn how to win others. Our worship should share the gospel message to the lost in every worship experience. If tithing is preached, it should be emphasized that you must give yourself before you give your money.

In verse 25, the woman relates her knowledge that a Messiah is to come. Isn't it interesting that Jesus told her He was the Messiah. Notice verse 26. Jesus shared with this woman what He didn't tell the scribes and Pharisees. The Lord shares the truth of Salvation where people will receive it with their spirit and believe its truth. The Scribes and Pharisees rejected Him over and over again. But, if a person is willing to worship, Jesus wants a salvation emphasis.

The Father seeks persons to worship. Him. He seeks through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He seeks through sending His Son. Today, if you and I have a desire to worship, it is because the Father first sought us. Excuses for not being regular in worship don't hold up when a person realizes the Father is seeking worshipers.

Jesus worshiped. In verse 22, He said, "We know what we worship." He included Himself in the group of knowledgeable worshipers. If you desire to be Christlike, you will desire to be a worshiper. You cannot be Christlike if you do not worship privately and publicly. It is a very good reason to worship. Jesus did, so I will.

At the 1969 World's Fair, a model of the City of the Future was on display. Some observers looked for the churches. The designers said, "In the future there won;'t be any churches." Today when cities plan for urban renewal, they set land aside by churches because they have learned people need to worship. My friend, you and I need to worship.


The reasons for us to worship could be summed up in the fact Jesus worshiped. But, because we worship our lives, our families, our cities should be better.


Verse 28 gives a conclusion to the lesson about worship. The woman left her water pot and went into town. Her reason for being at the well was to get water.

But she met the Messiah and forgot all bout water. Her agenda was changed. Evidence that a person has worshiped is that they're willing to forget self and focus on Jesus. The time schedule, the use of talent and the focus of financial means all change when a person worships.

Have you ever worshiped the Lord? Do your worship daily and weekly? What is the evidence that you have worshiped? Perhaps you need to leave whatever your water pot is and get on the Messiah's agenda. If you';re not a Christian we suggest you sincerely pray this prayer.


Dear Heavenly Father, I know I am a sinner who cannot cleanse my own sin by works I do. I believe Jesus' death on the cross is the only way my sin debt can be paid. I confess Jesus as Lord of my life and commit myself to Him. I repent of my sin and desire to live a Christian life through the power You give. Right now I invite Jesus into my life; I yield completely to Him believing He will do what His word says He will do and that is to give me salvation. Thank you for your free gift. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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