The Path of Moses Keeps People Thirsty
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
The woman understood what Jesus meant when He spoke about the water. She understood that He was a spiritual leader talking about spiritual things. So, her reply reflected her understanding.
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 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?”
She was basically saying to Jesus: who are you to claim that your spiritual path is greater than that of Moses? Metaphorically speaking, she was comparing between the well of Jacob and the law of Moses. In the same way, her people drank from that well since the days of Jacob, they also adhered to the law from the time of Moses. Both the well and the law were sacred to them. And the woman was trying to find out if the man was a pretentious spiritual charlatan (as there were many in those days) or the real deal.
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 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.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
So, the woman has asked to hear what Jesus had to say. She wanted to see evidence about the claims He made.
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that, you spoke truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
So, when the woman asked Jesus to see this ‘water’ He was talking about, or in other terms hear what He had to say about His spiritual path, Jesus went straight to the gift of prophecy He had. He asked her about her social life and relationships to show her that He knows more than anyone else about her own life. The woman then perceives that He was a prophet, but she was still not convinced about his spiritual path. So, she asked him about the place of worship; the mountain or Jerusalem expecting Him to approve of one of the two.
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
So, Jesus answered the woman that the Jewish path is the original path and it is greater than the path her people followed because the Samaritans took the religion from the Jews. However, He told her, neither her people nor his own are true worshippers. For the true worshippers, He said, do not restrict God to a place; be it a temple or a mountain but worship Him in the spirit; that is everywhere.
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.”
The woman was so satisfied with Jesus’ answer about the place of worship that the coming of the Messiah came to her mind. She internally sensed that He, who was speaking to her right there, is not a random, pretentious Charlton. She felt that He was the real deal, and this made her think of the Messiah. So, she indirectly asked Him if He was so. She basically said that I will only believe the truth if you were the Messiah we are expecting; because He is the one to come to tell us all truth. And Jesus answered her subtle question with a direct one. I am He.
The Samaritan woman of the well was not a random woman and Jesus encounter with her was not by chance. The woman’s controversial life might have set her in a spiritual path of seeking. Her knowledge of the subtle language and even of main controversial topics such as the place of worship were not to be expected from a simple woman. Jesus went to that woman because she was already looking for answers and He provided her with plenty. He turned her from a shy seeker to a confident missionary in a few hours.
But the most important thing we can conclude from this brief lesson Jesus provided the woman is the fact that Jesus’ path was greater than that of Moses. Jesus compared himself with Jonah and Solomon plainly. But He is here comparing himself with Moses subtly. And subtlety was required not for fear or lack of confidence but as to not turn off the hearers from the start.
Those days were not really the days where anyone can say anything and would be given a platform and would be listened to. It took Abraham to move with his immediate family to an entirely new place and live away from everybody else to be able to build a new religion. It took Moses to take the whole nation of Israel from Egypt and keep it in the desert for 40 years after which only the new generation was able to enter the land with their established faith.
People didn’t change their principles and traditions at the drop of the hat in those days. So Jesus had to be subtle when it came to the law of Moses because that was the core of Judaism. All the spiritual paths that diverted from the Mosaic law were secretive paths. But Jesus wanted to do his teaching in the open. He wanted to start from the mainstream temple. He wanted his path to bless as many people as possible and to take over the Mosaic law and religion. So, He had to tread carefully as not to turn people off from the start or get thrown out of the synagogues as soon as He set foot there. He had to build trust and persuade people to listen to Him first, get them to see his miracles and build trust from there. And even when all this was done, He still had to be subtle. Most of the teaching He left with his disciples stayed with them and was not passed on to be written in the gospels because no one can imagine that three whole years of teaching would produce only a few sermons.
God Commanded that People Should Listen to Jesus, not to Moses
17 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
This event happened six days after Jesus, in Matthew 16, spoke to his disciples about the importance of the cross and the reward each one of them will receive when they obey God.
Peter, James and John were Jesus’ closest disciples and the ones who advanced further in the spiritual insight; hence the invite. These three men were the disciples who could never have enough of Jesus’ teaching and always saught more of his wisdom. They were the ones who trusted him and loved him more than anyone else. They wanted to know the Spirit behind the image-the body. They craved to see His glory and Jesus was happy to oblige.
Moreover, there was another reason for the invitation. The three closest disciples were brought to the mountain as witnesses for Christ because of the things that were to take place after the transfiguration.
The transfiguration itself was not something that happened to Jesus but to the disciples.
Jesus gave the men the power to see a small portion of his reality. He gave their eyes the ability to see through his physical body, but only to an extent where they can actually see and keep their sight intact.
Furthermore, Jesus empowered the men not just to have a glimpse of the Spirit beneath the surface, but also to be able to see the spiritual realm in general. And when they saw Moses and Elijah and knew who they were from themselves, we discover that the disciples had entered in a spiritual experience in which all their senses where heightened and where knowledge poured into their minds freely.
Jesus meeting with Elijah and Moses was very significant. Elijah and Moses were the top religious leaders Israel has ever known. Yet, they were brought there to speak to Jesus! They were, in a way witnessing that Jesus was great by coming to speak to him.
However, when God spoke in the presence of Moses and Elijah, we discover the whole purpose of the meeting. He wanted people to listen to Jesus, not to anyone else. It was Jesus the One to be adhered to, and it was his path the one to be followed from then on, not the law of Moses or the way of Elijah.
Therefore, when it comes to studying the Old Testament, every single word of that book has to submit to the authority of the Gospel. Every single verse has to be scrutinised and weighed against the truth Jesus revealed in the New Testament.
Although it is true that the whole Bible is Spirit-inspired, there is no greater inspiration than the One whom the Spirit lived within. And although it is also true that all scripture is good for edification, it is wrong to look at the Old Testament as an equal to the New Testament or, worst still, as something that completes it. Jesus gave us everything we need in the New Testament, and everything we learn from the Old Testament we have to be extremely careful how to approach and digest.