Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
One two occasions, Jesus was asked very similar questions. In reality, these two questions form the basis upon which all men must make their decision about Jesus Christ. We will set the context for the two questions, quote the questions, and then make some relevant comments.
The first question was asked by a Samaritan woman. Just for context, it should be understood that the Samaritans and the Jews claimed almost no common ground. In fact, there was enough animosity between them that you could “cut it with a knife” as we sometimes say. They had two competing and conflicting religious systems that both claimed to be from God. Now the discourse: “'Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?' Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.' The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.'” (John 4.12-15).
The second occasion we cite occurred in or around Jerusalem during one of Jesus' visits there. As was so frequently the case, there was a clash between the religious leaders and Jesus. Note this discussion: “'Most assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.' Then the Jews said to Him,'Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, “If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.” Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?' Jesus answered, 'If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, “:I do not know Him,” I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.'” (John 8.51-55).
The Samaritans claimed Jacob as their champion of truth and the Jews claimed Abraham as their champion of truth. When Jesus confronted these two groups, they both asked the same question, “Are you greater than our champion of truth?” There is something strange about this situation and here it is: There was no theological difference between Abraham and Jacob. They both served the same God and honored him with their lives; both of them were also guilty of personal sins and possessed pronounced character weaknesses. How is it that two opposing groups could chose two non-opposing champions of truth? Something tells me had Abraham and Jacob been able to speak to the Jews and the Samaritans, they would have told them to drop their foolish divisions and to embrace truth rather than two champions of truth!
Herein is the problem, not only for the Jews and Samaritans, but also for us today. Champions of truth are all men with feet of clay. They are subject to error like all other human beings. All too often we align ourselves with a person and not the principles for which the person stands. Truth should be the champion (and not a man) because it is the only thing that can set us free (see John 8.32). While it may be impossible to always separate the charisma of the man from the principles that he espouses, that is our challenge. Our standard of perfection and performance should always be the only infallible standard that exists, the word of the Living God! The next time you find yourself aligned with a man rather than the truth, ask yourself, “Is he greater than God?” If the answer is yes, follow him blindly. If the answer is no, follow him only to the extent that he follows God (see 1Corinthian 11.1).
1. Who was the Samaritans' champion of truth?
2. Who was the Jews' champion of truth?
3. What religious differences existed between Abraham and Jacob? If there were no substantial differences between the two, how can one explain the differences between the Jews and the Samaritans?
4. Why is it dangerous to choose a champion of truth? What is a better way to insure that we are acceptable to God?
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