Jesus challenges us to worship God in a way we have never known before. Do we think worship is sitting in church singing the hymn and raising our hands? It is not.
Worship is at the core of who we are in pursuit of who God is.
- Are we pursuing God in our worship?
- Are we heads over heals going after Him?
- Are we engaged with Him like never?
Jesus wants us to know that God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits united with His Spirit, their true selves, in adoration.
God’s goal for us is to engage our spirit with the Spirit in worship of the living God.
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.
English Standard Version. (2016). (John 4:23–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
What now does it mean to worship God the Father “in Spirit and truth”? Physically, to worship means to kneel and bend one’s head to the ground, as Muslims do today for example. So, you might think that Jesus redefines worship as not prostrating your body but as prostrating your spirit.
- When “spirit” refers to a human spirit, though, it’s normally made clear, as when the Apostle Paul says that God’s Spirit bears witness “with our spirit” that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).
- Jesus could have said, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in their spirits.” But he did not.
- Furthermore, we’ve already been told about the divine necessity of being born of water, even the Spirit—that is, the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit.
- So “Spirit” should be capitalized here as a reference to the Spirit of God. John has told us that Jesus the Word was full of grace and truth, and that grace and truth came on the scene through Jesus the Messiah.
John will yet quote Jesus as saying, “I am … the truth” (14:6). So “Spirit and truth” refers here, not to true worshipers’ qualities of inwardness and sincerity, but to God’s Spirit and to Jesus the truth.
We have then the Trinity—God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus—wrapped together in Christian worship.
- There remains the preposition “in.” What does it mean to worship God the Father in his Spirit and in his Son the truth.
- Well, just as we’re to abide in the Messiah (that is, persevere in our belief and conduct), so also we’re to abide in the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent as his replacement on earth.
- “Abide in” connotes permanence and closeness.
- It is only those who persevere in a close relation to Jesus and the Holy Spirit that the Father will accept as his true worshipers.
Jesus is seeking such worshipers. Like the “Hound of Heaven” in Francis Thompson’s famous poem, God is hunting us down—for our own sake as well as his—because he loved the world.
- “God is Spirit” confirms that the earlier reference to spirit is to the divine Spirit, not the human spirit:
- “Spirit” not just in a philosophical, metaphysical sense (spirit as opposed to dense matter), but also in a personal sense.
- And the prediction that true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth—this prediction turns into the divine necessity that those who worship him do so in Spirit and truth.
Now, anything less than trinitarian worship on our part is unacceptable.