Here is another excerpt from my book The True Worshippers, which is available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). This excerpt is from Chapter Two entitled The Realm Of The True.
Neither in this mountain…
…Jesus, in saying to the woman at the well that the hour was at hand when people would no longer worship in “this mountain,” that is, Samaria—what he had in mind was the way the Samaritans attempted to worship God. The Samaritan religion was a mongrel mix of the idolatrous rites of foreign gods along with certain traditions rooted in the Law of Moses.
“Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what,” Jesus told her. “We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Now, any Jew listening in on this conversation would have given his resounding Amen to this Man (also a Jew) for that statement. Yes, salvation is of the Jews—more specifically of the house of David of the tribe of Judah. It’s what the Man had said just prior to this that caused all the trouble.
Nor yet at Jerusalem…
Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Blasphemy! Nor yet at Jerusalem? God Himself established the religion of the Jews, and Jerusalem was the exclusive city that He Himself ordained His temple to be built in! This was His habitation, and He Himself had called and inspired Moses the man of God to set forth in the Law all the ritual and sacrifice that was to be centred in this great city and temple! Blasphemy! Who is this heretic to say, “nor yet at Jerusalem”?
But this Heretic was speaking of the great transformation that this same God had sent Him to inaugurate, by which all the types and shadows of the Law would be fulfilled in Himself and His new covenant community the Church in the Kingdom of God. It was a transformation from type and shadow to the true.
For, in Scripture, the word true is contrasted not only with false, but also with type and shadow. Many of our fathers in church history saw this and embraced it, but in our day (to our great humiliation), Christian teachers in great numbers have carelessly relinquished this understanding. “Woman, believe Me,” Jesus had said: what He was about to reveal to her was going to take some faith.
Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Do we ourselves hear the same promise? The same call to faith? Do we believe Him?
It seems we do not. These days many Christian teachers and their followers are glorying in rituals and types and shadows that were once observed in old Jerusalem, but which Scripture clearly teaches are done away in Christ and His new covenant. They insist that God will one day soon suddenly rapture the Church out of the picture and return to His original plans with natural Israel. Apparently, we are told, He will have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt so Messiah can come to His temple and be worshipped with all the types and shadows of the Law again, in the process necessitating that Isaiah Chapter 66, verses one and two, be struck from the scriptural record, and repudiating Jesus’ own words here in John 4:21. Earlier generations of the church had greater light than that. Even in my old King James Bible there’s a superscription above Psalm 72 that reads, “David, praying for Solomon, sheweth the goodness and glory of his kingdom in type, and of Christ’s in truth.”
That sets forth very well the nature of truth. Jesus, in talking of the true worshippers, is not saying that those who worshipped under the Mosaic system were false worshippers. They certainly were not; the Samaritans were the ones involved in the false worship. The Jews’ religion was the divinely-ordained one. But—oh for eyes to see—it was just in type and shadow. Jesus, in using the word true here, is contrasting the true with type and shadow.
Neither in this mountain…
The true worshippers, He was telling the woman, shall not worship in Samaria. That is false religion; that is comparing true and false. But the Jews were not false worshippers; they worshipped the one true God—even though they themselves were not true worshippers. Not yet, that is. The worship their God had ordained in Jerusalem was only the type and shadow of the true. And this is why Jesus adds these words, which were difficult back then and are still difficult to this day:
Nor yet at Jerusalem…
That is comparing true and type. And the time had come when the true worshippers need not go to the earthly Jerusalem centre anymore; to worship the Father they need not get involved in what were but representations of reality. How would they worship Him, then?
In spirit and in truth…
Truth? Perhaps reality is a better word, and for a start we want to look at a few of the many facets of this that are revealed to us in our New Testament.