Those who would rather be “Red than dead” remind me of the complaint of the Israelites: “… it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilder-ness” (Exodus 14:12). There are always some weak-hearted Christians who would rather capitulate than conquer.
“BY HEART” OR “BY HEARSAY”?
Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
The Samaritans “believed” (v. 39), and now they knew the Saviour “by heart,” for themselves. There is a second-hand, by-proxy knowledge of the Lord as a report but not as a reality. Andrew and Philip were not content for Peter and Nathanael to know Jesu by hearsay, they brought Peter and Nathanael to the Lord Himself. We have heard and believed the report of Him, and we must, for “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” But how many in our churches have had a personal encounter with the Saviour?
The Samaritan woman, like Philip, said, “Come and see.” Much of our personal work, our Sunday-school teaching, our preaching, falls short of that. We disseminate information about Jesus, but we often fail to clinch the matter by bringing men and women into His presence. True, they cannot see Him as the Samaritans saw Him. But they can believe on Him and know Him “by heart,” as they did.
And how often is the “deeper Christian life,” or whatever you may call it, hearsay? We have heard it in a sermon, read it in a book; but that is all. Job knew it “by heart,” not hearsay, when he cried: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear but now mine eye seeth thee.”