“‘God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’” (John 4:24–26).
The phrase “God is spirit” is the classic biblical definition of the nature of God. Despite the heretical teaching of false cults, God is not an exalted man (Num. 23:19), “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). He is “the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), who “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Had He not revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, God would be utterly incomprehensible.
Because God is spirit, those who would truly worship Him “must worship in spirit and truth.” True worship does not consist of mere outward conformity to religious standards and duties; it springs from the inner spirit. It must also be consistent with the truth God has revealed about Himself in His Word. The extremes of dead orthodoxy (truth and no spirit) and zealous heterodoxy (spirit and no truth) must be avoided.
In spite of her confusion, the Samaritan woman expressed her hope that one day the Messiah would clarify all of these vexing religious questions. Imagine her surprise when the man who just a few minutes earlier had made a simple request for a drink of water claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah, and what He knew about her left her with no doubt about who He really was.
Why would Jesus spend so much time with this woman, letting her ask her guarded questions, waiting for her situation to be exposed, waiting to see the light come on? He didn’t always appear so patient and courteous, not with everyone. What can we learn from His treatment of her?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610