But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…
1. The difference between interest in theology and interest in religion. Here was a woman living in sin, and yet deeply interested in theological controversy. Controversy sharpens our disputative faculties and wakes our speculative ones. Religion is love to God and man. The woman's con- duct is typical. The moment Christ appears, she examines His views, not on righteousness, but was He sound on the Temple.
2. All that was worth noticing in the question had disappeared. Wrong as the Samaritan was, he was not so wrong as the Jew for excommunicating him, or half so wrong as he himself was for hating the Jew. Just as worship disappeared in this miserable controversy, so is Christianity going down in ours. Which was worse — to worship on a wrong hill, or to mistake the very essence of worship? Consider —
I. THE FOUNDATION ON WHICH THE NEW RELIGION RESTS is the revelation made by Christ concerning —
1. The Fatherhood of God. This is the emphatic word. Men had worshipped the Father before. The Greeks and Romans spoke of a "Father of gods and men"; the Jewish prophet said, "Have we not all one Father?" But universality was want- ing. Therefore the old question was all in all — Where is He to be worshipped? The real question hidden under that was, Who are His children? The appearance of God was the answer: God is the Father of the family of man.
2. The spirituality of God. The definition is not theological, but practical. It is chiefly negative. It says what God is not — not Matter. He is Mind, which has no place. Of love, generosity, thought, can you say, Where?
3. The personality of God — "seeketh."(1) Two erroneous notions are compatible with the idea of Spirit — God as an idea elaborated out of our own minds, and that God is the soul of nature: but both are impersonal.
(2) This is redemption. "God is a Spirit; He seeketh." Here is the value of belief in a Person. Not that we seek God; but that He seeks us.
II. THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL WORSHIP.
(1) It is not what a man professes that constitutes worship. A Trinitarian may call Christ "God," and worship mammon.
(2) A man cannot decide whether he will or will not worship — he must. The only question is, What? That before which he bows as greater than himself. An infidel may worship Reason. The new worship of God is to be —
1. Universal as against Samaritan or Jewish exclusiveness. The "where" is unimportant.
2. "In spirit." This the better Jews had gradually seen. "What doth the Lord require of thee," etc. All true life is worship.
3. "In truth." The correspondence between acts and laws. God dwells in the humble heart. To be humble, to love God, is His spiritual worship.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.