We can learn a lot that other people have forgotten just by looking closely at the story of Yeshua’s meeting with a Samaritan woman. We need to take this look because many people who think they’ve found the Savior of their souls have really settled for a bogus Jesus. Here is the passage, from John/Yochanan, Chapter Four:
5 He came to a town in Shomron called Sh’khem, near the field Ya‘akov had given to his son Yosef. 6 Ya‘akov’s Well was there; so Yeshua, exhausted from his travel, sat down by the well; it was about noon. 7 A woman from Shomron came to draw some water; and Yeshua said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” 8 (His talmidim had gone into town to buy food.) 9 The woman from Shomron said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for water from me, a woman of Shomron?” (For Jews don’t associate with people from Shomron.)10 Yeshua answered her, “If you knew God’s gift, that is, who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ then you would have asked him; and he would have given you living water.”
11 She said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep; so where do you get this ‘living water’? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Ya‘akov, are you? He gave us this well and drank from it, and so did his sons and his cattle.” 13 Yeshua answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again! On the contrary, the water I give him will become a spring of water inside him, welling up into eternal life!”
15 “Sir, give me this water,” the woman said to him, “so that I won’t have to be thirsty and keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 She answered, “I don’t have a husband.” Yeshua said to her, “You’re right, you don’t have a husband! 18 You’ve had five husbands in the past, and you’re not married to the man you’re living with now! You’ve spoken the truth!”
19 “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet,” the woman replied. 20 “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that the place where one has to worship is in Yerushalayim.” 21 Yeshua said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming — indeed, it’s here now — when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him. 24 God is spirit; and worshippers must worship him spiritually and truly.”
25 The woman replied, “I know that Mashiach is coming” (that is, “the one who has been anointed”). “When he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Yeshua said to her, “I, the person speaking to you, am he.”
27 Just then, his talmidim arrived. They were amazed that he was talking with a woman; but none of them said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water-jar, went back to the town and said to the people there, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could it be that this is the Messiah?”30 They left the town and began coming toward him.
31 Meanwhile, the talmidim were urging Yeshua, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 At this, the talmidim asked one another, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 Yeshua said to them, “My food is to do what the one who sent me wants and to bring his work to completion. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest’? Well, what I say to you is: open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest! 36 The one who reaps receives his wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the reaper and the sower may be glad together — 37 for in this matter, the proverb, ‘One sows and another reaps,’ holds true. 38 I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard labor, and you have benefited from their work.”
39 Many people from that town in Shomron put their trust in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all the things I did.” 40 So when these people from Shomron came to him, they asked him to stay with them. He stayed two days, 41 and many more came to trust because of what he said. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer trust because of what you said, because we have heard for ourselves. We know indeed that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
If you want to avoid embracing a bogus Jesus, then the Yeshua/Jesus of your thought and experience ought to manifest the following characterisitics found in this chapter.
- He is a Jewish man, not simply generic man. All the Creeds of Christendom talk about God becoming a man in Jesus of Nazareth, but not one of them says he became a Jew. However, there is no such thing as a generic man. The Bible distinguishes two kinds of people in the world: Jews, and everyone else. You’re either a Jew or a Gentile. And what many people don’t realize is that the bonafide Savior of the World, the Messiah of Israel, the Son of David is a Jew. In fact, the one resurrected to the Father’s right hand is a circumcised Jew, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And He always will be. Anything else is bogus.
- He is a prophet, in fact The Prophet – The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. As a prophet he does not simply validate everything we want him to validate. He calls all of us into account for our compliance or noncompliance with the demands of God. He is not our buddy, but the ultimate Prophet. While Muslims say that there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet, we say there is no God but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Yeshua/Jesus is his ultimate Prophet. Anything else is bogus.
- He is the Mashiach/Messiah – He is not simply the Lord of the Church or the Savior of the world. He is first the Son of David, the Mashiach, the Executor of all of the promises God has made to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, and Rebecca, Rachael and Leah. If your Jesus is not Israel’s eternal Champion, then you have a bogus Jesus.
- He is Divine – Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” In the Good News According to John/Yochanan, Yeshua’s I Am statements have a divine ring to them. They involve claims to participation in the deity of Israel’s God. Later in this very Book of John, Yeshua will say, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” The crowds picked up stones to stone him because they knew that he was claiming Divine identity. And if your Yeshua is anything less, then, by the measure of the Bible, he is bogus. Sorry.
- He is the Savior of the World – He is not just Israel’s Champion: he is the Savior of the world, indeed he is the one in whom an entire wayward cosmos is finally set right. He is not just the Savior of Gentiles, or of Republicans, or of Jews. He is the Savior of the world. That’s what the people in the Samaritan village recognized, and when we don’t, then we have a bogus Jesus.
- He is a the teacher (rabbi) of those who claim him as their own – Unless we are prepared to be taught by him, to become his apprentices, his talmidim, we should not go around claiming Jesus as our own. He said elsewhere that in the final day there will be many, not a few, who will come and claim that they did many mighty works in his name, casting out demons in his name, etc,. but he will say to them, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you who work lawlessness.” If you have a Jesus who settles for a nod instead of a bow, then what you have is a bogus Jesus. And a bogus Jesus is worth about as much as a bogus hundred dollar bill.
So come to the Bible, and come often. Refresh your mind and your spirit on what God has to say about life, about himself, and about Yeshua. And remember what Yeshua said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Anything else is . . . bogus.