As we have seen numerous times, even with all the intricate and deep forms of worship that the Lord had instituted for Israel, it was not the forms alone that the Lord cared about. The forms and traditions and liturgy were all means to an end, and that end was a person surrendered in body and mind to his or her Creator and Redeemer. It is much easier, however, to make one’s religion a series of formulas, traditions, and outward acts than it is to daily die to self and surrender in humility and faith to the Lord. This fact surely goes a long way in explaining why the Bible spends a lot of time dealing with those whose hearts aren’t right with God, regardless of how “correct” their forms of worship are.
This, too, was a problem that Jesus dealt with when here in the flesh.
In pointing out some of her deepest secrets, Jesus got the woman’s attention. He then used that moment to point her to something better than what she had. Jesus uses the powerful phrase “Woman, believe me” in order to show her that true worship went far beyond the outward forms and places of worship. “This mountain” was Mt. Gerizim, where the Samaritans had built a temple. Of course, that would be what one would expect a Jew to say to a Samaritan.
But Jesus did not stop there. He included even Jerusalem, the site of the sacred temple that He, Himself, had picked. Thus, early on in His earthly ministry, Jesus was in a very broad way pointing to what He later came right out and said in reference to the temple, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:2). In all this, Jesus was working to give the woman the “living water” (John 4:10), which is Himself. He wanted her to see that a personal relationship with her Creator and Redeemer was the foundation of worship, and certainly not the forms and traditions of her faith, which had deviated from the true religion of the Jews. His reference to Jerusalem (John 4:21), however, proved that He was pointing to something even beyond the system of sacrifice and worship that He Himself had created.
In what ways can all the aspects of your worship experience help you deepen your relationship with God?