In John 4, Yeshua says to the Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Worship in truth means that the content of our worship must be based on the truth and that it must be sincere. God is extolled as Creator, the Infinite One, who is merciful, loving and just. He must be extolled as the one who intervenes in human history to bring about His good purposes. The Exodus and other historical acts of God permeate the Psalms.
Yeshua in John 4 is drawing out a difference here between the Mosaic order and the New Covenant order. Yeshua said that the least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Immerser. In this better new covenant, our worship centers on Him and all He has done for us: His crucifixion, His mercy, His ministry, His resurrection, His ascension, His rule from heaven, and His return and future reign.
In a familiar double entendre, Yeshua says, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). This refers to His crucifixion through which He draws all people to Himself. Such power and love is released in His crucifixion that it had to lead to His resurrection. This is where justice and mercy kiss. Here is the fullest expression of the love of God, His suffering with all the pain of humanity. However, the verse also refers to our lifting Him up in our worship.
Worship in spirit connotes fervor of spirit kindled by the Holy Spirit. As Jonathan Edwards so well argued in his magnum opus, The Religious Affections, our relationship to the Father, Son and Spirit is an affection that must include emotion.