By Kelly Carr
A few weeks ago I was in conversation with faithful reader Jerry Taylor from Mountain Christian Church (Maryland). Mr. Taylor’s words got me thinking about John 4. As I studied the text more, I used tools that are being discussed this week in The Lookout. We asked a few people to share what resources, study methods, and learning experiences have assisted their spiritual development and might be helpful to others. Here’s how some of those tools helped me:
I’ve used a variety of commentaries in the past. This year Standard Publishing created the Standard Lesson Study Bible in NIV, and I wanted to try it out. Read more about the Bible in our article by Standard Lesson editor Jim Eichenberger.
The commentary states that Jesus met the woman at the well in the first year of his ministry. Then these words caught my attention, describing how special this encounter was: “During the next two years, Jesus would warn people not to call him the Messiah, but he gave no such warning here.”
Amazingly Jesus revealed himself—“I am he”—to one who was ostracized as a Samaritan, as a woman, and as a sinner. He opened the door for God’s message of grace to go beyond Israel.
Seeing something with our own eyes changes our perspective. Terry Magee shared with The Lookout what he learned as a student on an archaeological dig in the Holy Land.
I had the privilege of going on a learning trip to the Holy Land a decade ago. That trip has changed the way I understand the Bible, and it helped me visualize John 4. Although I didn’t go to the exact spot where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, I did see an ancient well, so that helped me picture this setting. I saw Jerusalem, which the woman referenced in her question to Jesus.
Although it’s not feasible for everyone to head off to Israel, it is valuable to learn by experiencing. Deborah McLoed has found ways to do that without leaving her home in Indiana. Read about the activities in which she has participated to keep growing in her spiritual life.
Sometimes we need to take a fresh look at a familiar passage. I’ve read John 4 many times. I am tempted to think I know it all. Yet when I looked at these verses again, I saw new things.
In the past I mistook Jesus’ words describing worship, thinking “in spirit and in truth,” was speaking of our personal spirits (souls). But he actually said “in the Spirit and in truth.” That capital letter S makes all the difference. True worship is through God’s Spirit, and it goes beyond location and heritage.
Tyler McKenzie wants us to study another familiar Scripture passage anew. He offers a different perspective on the Beatitudes.
We hope these tools and others that God brings your way will spur you on in your spiritual development. Let’s never stop growing.