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Jesus meeting the woman at the well of Samaria is one of the most beloved of the Gospel accounts. And with good reason. Jesus deals gently and yet forthrightly with this woman. He confronts her sin, but not so as to condemn her, but to deliver her. In His weariness we see His humanity, and know He knows our weariness too. In His thirst He shows His humility, asking for a drink of water. And in His conversation, He makes one of the most profound Spiritual revelations we need to grasp.
We’ll talk about that a bit today on Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
While it is usually thought that Samaritans had that name because they lived in Samaria, in fact the name most likely derives from a Hebrew word meaning something like “law-keepers.” Religiously, they only held to the Torah – the 1st 5 books of the Old Testament. And considered themselves more Biblically accurate than the Jews. After the Babylonian exile, they opposed the rebuilding of the Temple. They worshiped on Mt. Gerizim where Moses pronounced blessings on Israel. Hostilities between the Jews and the Samarians ran high.
So when the woman asks Jesus about who is more accurate in worship, it is not surprising. This was part of their identity. But Jesus turns the conversation. She believed she lived among the more Biblically accurate. But at the same time, she was living a lifestyle condemned by the very Torah she was so proud to own.
But then He shifts even more. He says the Jews actually are more Biblically accurate – but in both cases, the question isn’t mere theology – it is “Spirit AND truth.”
Similar to Paul’s assertion on Mars Hill, that they worshipped an “unknown god.” They had a form of worship, but they did not truly know this God nor His purposes or plans. The Samaritans had a truncated Judaism all their own. The Jews had a more accurate religion. But any religion apart from that moving from the types and shadows – no matter how accurate – to the substance, is still without merit.
We need accuracy, truth, yes, but apart from the Spirit of God Himself, we are just accurate dead men. So even if she became more Biblically accurate in rites, rituals, etc. and accepted the whole Old Testament and Temple worship, she would still be lost. Because all of these point to Christ. And apart from Him, accuracy means nothing.
The contrast here in “Spirit and Truth” is between mere accuracy (doctrinal) and life in God – obtaining the substance.
The substance is not the Law of Moses. It is Christ Himself. It is salvation though faith in His atoning sacrifice.
And that will produce a new well of living water within, which will lead to a life not rooted in “getting it right”, dotting every theological “I” and crossing every doctrinal “T” – but beholding, trusting and serving Christ.
I pray you know the truth today – that no religion can reconcile you to God – no matter how accurate. Only Christ can do that. And that He is the One who gives you of His own Spirit, that you might walk in truth, and in concert with that truth.
All of the Bible is written so as to reveal and lead you to Him. For in Him alone is eternal life.
God willing, we’ll be back Monday.