Comment (23/3/2014)
So often we say, ‘Seeing is believing,’ and wish that we or unbelievers around us could see a real miracle. But the Israelites who were quarrelling with Moses had seen God’s miracles in Egypt and in the crossing of the Red Sea, they’d been miraculously fed with manna, they’d seen the pillar of cloud leading them from place to place – and yet they did not trust God to provide when the water ran out. Many times in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land they complained about God’s treatment of them, or the favouritism shown to Moses and Aaron: they did not believe that God could be trusted to look after them properly, or that the way he was treating them was good. We might argue that they were right: God led them to the promised land, but did not feed them on the way with first class meals, or protect them completely from danger.
Why did he wait until the Israelites complained loud enough before he stepped in and met their desires?
Our situation is similar. We are following Jesus on the way to God’s Promised Land – the new creation. But we too experience hardships, and God does not provide us with luxurious living every day. Things can go badly wrong – and though we may see little instances of God’s goodness in the middle of the difficulties or suffering, those instances don’t stop the pain. Is God truly good? Can he really be trusted? Even if we’ve seen miracles, do they prove that God is worth believing in?
The people of Jesus’ day saw lots of miracles, but that did not stop them dismissing him as a charlatan. Seeing a miracle is more likely to expose a person’s heart than to change it. The Pharisees saw Jesus’ signs, but assumed that Jesus was working in league with the devil. Even those who believed God was at work in Jesus were willing later on to forsake him, perhaps even to shout for his crucifixion.
The Samaritan woman (John 4) saw no miracle, but she heard some amazing teaching. It is an amazing thing that Jesus chose to reveal himself so fully to a person who was not only a woman (and men did not speak to women they did not know) but also a Samaritan (and Jews never spoke to Samariatans if they could help it) and a sinful person at that. (Presumably she came to draw water at a time no other women would be there – she did not want to be the butt of their comments and disdain.) Yet she alone in all the gospels is told plainly by Jesus that he was indeed the expected Messiah.
Jesus’ words in John 4 are for us too. We too may receive living water. We too must worship in spirit and in truth. He is our Messiah as well as the Messiah of the Jews and the Samaritans. We may not have seen any miracles. We may not have heard his voice in conversation with us as he was with the woman and her townsfolk. But we may still believe.Questions

1) What made the difference between the Israelites in the first story and the Samaritans in the second?
2) Why do you believe in Jesus?