Countless sermons have been preached from this passage. The account is a familiar one, that of the woman who came to a well seeking to fill her water pot only to leave without it.
The scene opens with the encounter of Jesus and this woman of Samaria at a well. She had come for water as was necessary for daily needs. Jesus, sitting by the well, took the opportunity to speak to her of her real need.
The conversation began with a request for water, but she quickly pointed out that there were Social Differences that separated them, that such a request was unusual and perhaps even out of place as she was a Samaritan and He, a Jew (vs 9). Jesus responded by broaching the subject of Spiritual Discernment (vs 10). When she did not quite "get it", He explained further (vs 11-14), which created a Sincere Desire on her part, prompting further conversation, resulting in her request for "this water" (vs 15).
Notice Jesus' response in verse 16, and the ensuing conversation in verses 17-18. Before she could receive this living water, the Sin Question had to be answered. Upon being confronted with her Sinful Condition, she (as do many) sought to guide the conversation away from her sin to another subject by pointing out that she, a Samaritan, was as religious as He, a Jew. She quickly made it known that her family had for generations 'worshipped in this mountain', referring to Mt. Gerazim. "That's your point of view," she might have said,"we have our own religion" (vs. 19-20). Jesus pointed out that the Place of worship was not of importance, but rather, the Person who is worshipped (21-26).
When the realization broke upon her heart, that is, that Jesus was the Messiah, she left her water pot and went into the city with the invitation "Come see a man..." (28-30).
This woman was religious by her own admition (vs 20), but her religion had no effect on her lifestyle (vs 18). Jesus said that she worshipped, but ignorantly, that is, without knowledge of the Truth. Sadly, this is the spiritual condition of many who have a religion, but not relationship with Christ.
Worship in religion often focuses on ritual, while true worshippers worship 'in spirit and in truth'. This does not mean that there is no order to worship, but that this type of worship is based on understanding of who God is and how He is to be worshipped.
It is not the place, but the Person - and before this worship is acceptable, the Sin Question must be dealt with. One must deal with sin or order to be saved, then worship is according to Truth.
By the way, she left her water pot because she now had a 'well...springing up into everlasting life' within her (vs 14).
Songwriter,John W. Peterson, born in Lindsborg,Kansas, grew up to serve as an Air Force pilot during WWII. He wrote "Springs of Living Water", which was published in over a dozen hymnals, it's certainly worth singing today!