Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.…
I. IS NOT RESTRICTED TO LOCALITIES.
1. Before the Advent it was The Pentateuch, to which Jews and Samaritans appealed, decided this without naming the locality (Exodus 30:24; Deuteronomy 12:5, 11; Deuteronomy 16:6; Deuteronomy 26:2; Deuteronomy 31:11). In selecting Jerusalem the Jews believed themselves to be under Divine guidance (Psalm 132:13; 2 Chronicles 7:17; Isaiah 56:7; Zechariah 14:17). The Samaritans finding no mention of Jerusalem, but observing the prominence given to Gerizim (Deuteronomy 11:29; Deuteronomy 27:12; Joshua 8:33), built a Temple there. Christ, however, waived the controversy, and announced a new era emancipating the spirit of worship from place and form.
2. Since Pentecost it cannot be so restricted.
(1) Men, like the Jews, still cling to localities, notwithstanding the clear lesson of destruction of the Temple.
(2) Isaiah had a glimpse of this truth (Isaiah 56:1).
(3) Christ formally established it (Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20). It became possible (Acts 2:17).
II. LIES IN THE LINE OF GOD'S GRACIOUS REVELATIONS (ver 22).
1. It had been so with the Jews. Accepting the prophets, they had a more accurate idea of God. God's gracious purposes had developed along the line of Jewish history.
2. It must continue to be so with the Christian. Having manifested himself in Christ, any worship that ignores this must be unacceptable (Colossians 2:23). It must also accept the subsequent revelations of the Spirit.
III. ACCORDS WITH THE BEING AND ESSENCE OF GOD HIMSELF (vers. 23, 24).
1. Spiritual, since God is Spirit. Not a Spirit, one among many, nor impersonal because the article is wanting, but absolute Being; hence worship must ascend from the innermost personality.
2. True, since God is this Truth.
3. Filial, since God is the Father (Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:9; Romans 7:15; Galatians 4:6).Lessons:
1. Controversies mostly settle themselves when left to time.
2. Questions about the externals of worship do not belong to its essence.
3. Christian freedom is not the same thing as will worship.
4. The characteristics of Christian worship fit it to be universal.
5. In these lie the prophecy of its triumph.
6. The Founder of such worship requires no surer witness to His supreme Divinity.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.