I was teaching my class at Amberton last night. We were in John 4 -- the great story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. We came to verse 24, and I just confessed to the class that I have never felt settled with the meaning of this verse. It is where Jesus says, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
We have tended to attach meaning to it that I don't think fits the context. In my tradition, we have tended to stress the "truth" part and have said that when we gather in corporate worship we better get it right. Obviously, when we approach God -- it must be on His terms. But is that what Jesus intended as He spoke to this woman sitting by a well?
Others have suggested that Jesus is spirit and truth, and so He is referring to Himself. I don't know. Maybe.
Could it be this simple? The woman had tried to sidetrack Jesus by bringing up the subject of the proper place to worship. And Jesus simply told her that since God is spirit, worship is not about a place. It's about an attitude.
I tend to think that is the meaning, but I still feel like I am missing something. Like why didn't Jesus just say, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit." In the contest of John 4, what is the "truth" part alluding to? Because the Samaritans didn't believe in the law and the prophets? (Historically, they accepted only in the Pentateauch.) Any ideas?