“Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)

So what, when and where is Jesus referring to when he says to the Samaritan woman that "a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem"?

The reason Jesus talks about the mountain is because the Samaritan woman said:
"Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (John 4:20)
Jesus is clarifying to the woman that the ultimate worship of God and the exchange of our original relationship with God does not require us to be in Jerusalem or on the mountain. It does not require us to be in a church or a synagogue or a mosque or a temple. It does not require us to be in the "holy land," or even require anyone in particular to occupy any location on earth, even it is called the "holy land."

The exchange of our original loving relationship with God takes place in the spiritual dimension. It is a spiritual exchange that does not require us to be in any physical geographic location.

This very point that Jesus is making, in fact, is the answer to the sectarian violence and struggle for land among Jews, Muslims, Hindus and various other races and countries around the world.

God owns everything. He owns all the land. He owns all the Holy places. Whether a person claims to be a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu, there is no ownership to any particular tract of land or temple by any human or group of humans. God owns every temple, and all lands.

So why are so many in the Middle East and around Asia fighting with each other to claim ownership of certain lands and holy sites? Why is it so important to them that they would kill others or force hardship and wars simply to gain control of those lands?

It is because they do not accept that God is the only Owner and He is in full control. And any portion that we might be given to caretake does not give us the right to claim ownership rights to the detriment of others.

The ironic thing about all of these wars and struggles over pieces of land and holy sites is that if everyone were to simply accept that God owns all the land and all the holy sites, then there would not only be peace, but everyone would share the land and the land would be more productive for everyone. And the holy sites would be open to all to worship, regardless of sect or religious institution.

Today these lands sites - instead of being cultivated for food and worship - are covered with tanks, fences, bombed-out buildings and barracks. There might be a few farms here and there, but mostly everyone is focused upon guns, tanks, missiles and bombs because the focus is not upon accepting each other as God's children. The focus is upon claiming God's property as ours. This is why there is bloodshed and not enough food to eat among these regions.

Is this how God would have us treat His children? Is this pleasing to a God that simply asked, through Moses and Jesus, to love Him and care for His children?

Certainly not. They are simply fanatics who do not trust that God is the Ultimate Owner, so they feel they must try to gain control using force.

And as a consequence there is suffering. Is this suffering caused by God? No. It is caused by those people who hurt and abuse others - who will, by the laws of physical nature, also come to suffer from the same pain they cause upon others - if not in this life then the next.

Ironically, Jesus is supplying the answer to these various sectarian and nationalistic strifes with this statement. He tells the woman:
"...the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."
What does Jesus mean by "spirit"? He is discerning between the physical world and the spiritual world. Each of us is spirit in essence, and so is God. The spiritual dimension is not a void or vague place. It is a real place. It is a place of activity, relationships, and individuals. Yes, people live in the spiritual world. So does God. Here God enjoys His relationships with those spiritual individuals who decide they want to exchange a loving relationship with Him. This is the place Jesus is discussing.

We can enter this place at any time, simply by singing God's Names or otherwise praying, thinking of God or doing His will. We don't need to be in a mosque, temple, church, mountain or holy land.

In fact, the real "promised land" that was referred to many times by the prophets and by God is the spiritual world. It was not some piece of desert with a couple of mountains on it. God was trying to bring those who were worshiping Him back to the spiritual world: This is the real holy land.

And as for Jesus saying that "salvation is from the Jews," we must realize the context of his statement. We know that Jesus is not talking about the pharisees or sadducees of the Jewish organized temples of those times, because he constantly railed against these ecclesiastical teachers and their quest for power and authority.

Furthermore, the word "Jews" is being translated from the Greek word ἰουδαΐζω, which means to follow the teachings given by the prophets.

Jesus is coming from a long line of spiritual teachers that included Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Job, John the Baptist and others in between. This succession of teachers (often referred to as prophets) brought to the region the messages and instructions of God.

Jesus is also within that lineage of teachers, and thus Jesus speaks from that position, and his instructions were consistent with the teachings of the prophets, yet tuned to the time and circumstances of that society. Thus Jesus is saying that salvation is accomplished by following the teachings of the prophets.

Note the use of the word "salvation" here. Let's consider this in light of modern-day ecclesiastical sectarians who say that the only path to salvation is from Jesus dying on the cross. If this were so, why didn't Jesus say "salvation is from me dying on the cross"?

We can know from Jesus' statement that salvation did exist before Jesus' physical body died on the cross.

So what is salvation anyway?

Most people think of salvation as being saved from the consequences of their sins. The consequences of their self-centered activities, in other words (as "sins" are, in fact, self-centered activities). Those whose goal is to be relieved of the responsibility of their previous self-centered activities are missing the purpose of Jesus' teachings.

What Jesus meant by salvation is the return to our original loving relationship with God. This is the "salvation" from our self-centered and lonely existence. Should we give our lives to God in love and trust, and live our lives trying to please God, we are saved from the struggles related to seeking happiness where there is only misery and loneliness.. This is what Jesus means by "worship."

Returning to our lost loving relationship with the Supreme Being doesn't require we join any sect or be of a particular race or nationality. It doesn't require us to be in a certain place. It simply requires a humble and sincere approach to the Supreme Being: One that accepts our individual failings and simply reaches out to the Supreme Being with humility, love and devotion.

Jesus conveyed this attitude to his students:
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do." (Luke 10:21)

 

(The New International Version was used in the above Biblical quotes. Also consider the Gospels of Jesus - from the original Greek texts without ecclesiastical sectarian influence.)