Before we look at those verses we need to see what led up to them. Jesus was on His way to Galilee (verse 3) and in verse 4 we read, “But He needed to go through Samaria” (NKJV). Why was it necessary for Jesus to pass through Samaria? Ah, because He was going to offer a poor, sinful Samaritan woman the free gift of eternal life! He met her outside the city of Sychar at Jacob’s well and began His conversation with her by saying, “Give Me a drink” (verses 5-7). She was surprised that a Jewish man would even talk to her (verse 9) but Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you LIVING WATER.” The Lord Jesus was trying to create in her a desire for “living water.” She did NOT understand what He was referring to and asked Him how he could draw from the well without a bucket (verses 11-12). At this point Jesus makes a definite distinction between “literal water” and “living water”: “Whoever drinks of this water will THIRST AGAIN, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will NEVER THIRST. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (verses 13-14). The water in Jacob’s well would satisfy her “physical thirst” for a little while, but He was offering her the “water of life” that would satisfy her “spiritual thirst” forever. Again, the woman couldn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying so she says, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (verse 15).

Jesus knew that before she could receive the truth He was trying to convey, she needed to see her need of Him as a Savior. In other words, she needed to see that she was a SINNER. So He says to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here” (verse 16). How would this question reveal to her that she was a sinner? Verses 17-18 supply the answer: “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, I have no husband, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly’.” The Lord exposed her sinful lifestyle to her! She had been married and divorced FIVE TIMES and she was currently committing fornication with a man outside of marriage.

His knowledge of her sinful life led her to say, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (verse 19). She realized this was no ordinary man, but one who spoke for God! She then brings up the subject of WORSHIP in verse 20, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Why did she do this? Was she trying to change the subject in order to avoid the subject of her being a sinner? Or was she truly interested in learning from this prophet about worship? Commentators are divided on this, but whatever the case was the Lord used this occasion to give her more spiritual truth. He starts out by condemning the worship in Samaria and commending the worship of the Jews. “You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know; we (Jews) know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (verse 22).

Jesus then goes on to introduce an altogether “new form of worship” in verses 23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” With the coming of Christ “true worshipers” (those who believe on Him and receive the gift of eternal life) would no longer worship God in a confined place (the temple in Jerusalem). They would be able to worship God the Father “in spirit and in truth,” suggesting that it would not be a physical form of worship in a certain building with things that catered to their 5 physical senses, but they would now enter into the very presence of God by faith (see Hebrews 10:18-22). It would not a ritualistic worship where they presented animal sacrifices to God; it would be a spiritual worship where they would “offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ…the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (1st Peter 2:5 and Hebrews 13:15).

If you read on in John 4:25-29 you will see that the woman did believe on Christ and became a witness of Christ to the people of her city. Thus she did indeed receive the “water of life” and became a “true worshiper.” She no doubt forsook the worship in Samaria, and the Lord’s instruction led her to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” along with others who would become the “true worshipers” that comprise the church of God. Philippians 3:3 states, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit.” Our worship is “spiritual in nature” and by the “power of the Holy Spirit.” (275.3) (DO)