"The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say,
that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh,
when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
The same word translated Lord (Kurios) is often translated Sir throughout the New Testament. In this, the woman is using a term of respect. "...I perceive that Thou art a prophet." What an understatement! He is The Prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-19, "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him." God had said many centuries earlier that all who would not hearken to the words of The Prophet would be judged, and so it is. The Pharisees rejected His words and faced the wrath of God. This woman, ignorant of many things, was more spiritually perceptive than many of the religious leaders of her day. A soft heart is a precious thing in God's eyes.
"Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." It doesn't matter what you are just so long as the place of worship is correct. No, this is the mindset of men but not of God. The Samaritans, rejected by the Jews and having their own pride, had a place for worship separate from the temple in Jerusalem. The Lord then redirects her thinking to the heart of worship rather than the form. If the heart is right, the correct place and form will follow as long as Bible principle is obeyed. Christ says, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." True worship begins in the heart when the heart responds to "Seek ye My face" with "my heart said unto Thee, Thy face LORD will I seek." At the same time, the Lord does not put down the Law of God when it commanded that Israel all worship in the place that the LORD their God would choose, and He also upholds God's plan by saying, "We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews." The Samaritans worshipped aimlessly with no clear understanding but Christ and His disciples knew Whom they worshipped, for salvation springs from Jewish roots (Christ coming from the tribe of Judah). Salvation comes through the Jewish nation, and they were to be seeking the lost but had failed miserably. It is interesting to note that Christ was not at all ashamed of God's plan coming through the Jewish nation even though He spoke with a woman who came from a people who were basically enemies to the Jews. Truth is truth and cannot be covered over.
The Lord then makes it very plain concerning what God desires of the true worshipper. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." The form of worship existed there in Samaria and Jerusalem but the heart was absent, and so it is today. Church buildings are on every corner. Some are extremely conservative in their approach and others are as vile as the world in their music and dress and talk, but a common denominator exists in most of them, they are without a changed heart. This woman's heart needed changed by the redemptive work of the Messiah and Christ makes that very plain by these statements. Notice that Jesus said, "...they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." He gives guidance as to how God is to be worshipped. The spiritual aspect is important but it is wedded to truth. Many "worship" in the spirit and their "worship" is characterized by fleshliness and lust and self-focus. The problem is, they are not worshipping according to Bible truth. The Bible is man's authority and gives man's fault-ridden spirit the proper guidelines for correct, reverent worship.
So, herein lies the key to true worship of God, giving Him your heart in faith. Abraham believed God and God accounted it to him for righteousness long before the Law was given on Mount Sinai. The woman was focused on the place of worship but Jesus redirected her to her heart. If the heart is made right, the rest will follow.