Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. The Samaritans built a temple on Mt. Gerizim. It was the mountain from which the blessings of the law were proclaimed. (Deut 11:29) The temple was later destroyed, but the people apparently still esteemed that location. God had commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings and sacrifices to a place prescribed by Him. (Deut 12:5, 11) Jerusalem became that place, but the Samaritans chose Mt. Gerizim instead.
With that thought in mind recall the event when Jesus went through Samaria on His way to Galilee. (John 4) He met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. She had come to draw water. He confronts her with her most pressing need, the need for spiritual water. After revealing information about her past, she acknowledged that He was a prophet. And then she commented, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”(4:20) Was she being convicted? Did she want to do the right thing? Where should she worship God?
Jesus responded, “Women, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. …But the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”(4:22, 24)
The true worship of God had nothing to do with a place, a mountain, a building. Indeed, their outward expression of worship required the Jewish people to obey certain requirements at the temple. However, true worship was and is always an expression of the heart. Jesus said of His generation, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Matt 15:8) Outwardly they were doing all the ‘right’ things, but on the inside they were not right with God.
Is your ‘mountain’ showing up on Sunday morning at a church building and then living the rest of the week by the dictates of your own heart? Even the Pharisees and Scribes looked great on the outside – Jesus said of them, “…you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matt 23:28 Or is your mountain in the heart, seeking day by day to walk with Him, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth?