John 4:19-26 - Worship Wars
The way you worship matters, says Jesus.
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Read John 4:19-26
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 80
Q. How does the Lord’s Supper
differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?
A. The Lord’s Supper declares to us
that our sins have been completely forgiven
through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ
which he himself finished on the cross once for all.
It also declares to us
that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,
who with his very body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father
where he wants us to worship him.
But the Mass teaches
that the living and the dead
do not have their sins forgiven
through the suffering of Christ
unless Christ is still offered
for them daily by the priests.
It also teaches
that Christ is bodily present
in the form of bread and wine
where Christ is therefore to be worshiped.
Thus the Mass is basically
nothing but a denial
of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ
and a condemnable idolatry.
One of the most painful consequences of sin is that the one thing that ought to unite all people - worshipping the God who made us - is arguably the thing that creates the most division and angst. Not only do massive divisions exist between the three great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam & Christianity), but the Christian Church itself is rent asunder with all sorts of different ideas and practices on how God ought to be worshipped.
Division occurs when different expressions in how people worship begin to affect what they worship. The resulting battles shatter communities and even families, causing pain and bitterness that last generations.
Our society's current live and let live attitude wants Jesus to come down and declare that all forms of worship, as long as its sincere and heartfelt, are acceptable to God and therefore all criticisms of divergent worship practices ought to cease. That's exactly what the woman at the well was hoping to hear Jesus say.
But Jesus doesn't take her bait.
One of the Bible's primary themes is that there are right ways and wrong ways to worship. Jesus doesn't pull His punches, telling the Samaritan woman that her countrymen have been worshipping incorrectly and even ignorantly. Certainly Jesus has lots of criticism for Jewish worship practices elsewhere in the gospels, but at least on the question of where true worship must take place, the Jews were getting it right.
What a picture of God's grace, that out of all the people Jesus could have discussed true and proper worship with, it wasn't a learned scholar or a popular prophet, but rather it was this sinful, broken woman, and so she becomes one of the first people to truly worship God as He has ordained: in Spirit and truth.
The question of where to worship would soon become moot when Jesus would send His Church out to the nations before triumphantly ascending back to the right hand of the Father. But notice that the primary requirement for acceptable worship remains constant throughout the entire Bible: to properly know God (v22).
The Lord's Supper is one of the primary ways you gain this knowledge that's so critical to fulfilling the purpose you were created for: to worship God. The Lord's Supper declares to you that you've been completely forgiven through Christ's one sacrifice on the cross and that you've been grafted into Him so that you can worship Him in Spirit and truth even while He is in heaven and you are on earth.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God our Father is spirit;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will continue to know God more and more, and thank Him for what He teaches you as you come to His table;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 19