EXODUS 25 AND JOHN 4 are canonically tied together.
The former begins the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and its accoutrements (Ex. 25 — 30). The tabernacle is the forerunner of the temple, built in Solomon’ s day. Repeatedly in these chapters God says, “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain,” (25:40) or “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain” (26:30) or the like. The epistle to the Hebrews picks up on this point. The tabernacle and temple were not arbitrary designs; they reflected a heavenly reality. “This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’”(Heb. 8:5).
John 4 finds Jesus in discussion with a Samaritan woman. Samaritans believed that the proper place to worship God was not Jerusalem, home of the temple, but on Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, since these were the last places stipulated for such worship when the people entered the land (Deut. 11:29; Josh. 8:33). They did not accept as Scripture the texts concerning the monarchy. The woman wants to know what Jesus thinks: Is the appropriate place for worship these mountains, near where they are standing, or Jerusalem (John 4:20)?
Jesus insists that the time is dawning when neither place will suffice (4:21). This does not mean that Jesus views the Samaritan alternative as enjoying credentials equal to those of Jerusalem. Far from it: he sides with the Jews in this debate, since they are the ones that follow the full sweep of Old Testament Scripture, including the move from the tabernacle to the temple in Jerusalem (4:22). “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (4:23).
This means: (1) With the coming of Christ Jesus and the dawning of the new covenant, appropriate worship will no longer be tied to a specific geographic location. Implicitly, this announces the obsolescence of the temple. Worship will be as geographically extensive as the Spirit, as God himself who is spirit (4:24). (2) Worship will not only be “in spirit” but “in truth.” In the context of this gospel, this does not mean that worship must be sincere (“true” in that sense); rather, it must be in line with what is ultimately true, the very manifestation of truth, Jesus Christ himself. He is the “true light” (1:9), the true temple (2:19 — 22), the true bread from heaven (6:25ff.), and more. True worshipers worship in spirit and in truth.