No Ordinary Guy
As our journey continues during the Lenten season toward the Cross, we see Jesus traveling through Samaritan country. The text this week is John 4: 5-42. This passage tells of the encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well. It is an extraordinary encounter on several levels.
First, Jesus is clearly claiming Messiahship for Himself. Verse 26 is crystal clear when Jesus says, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you”. Jesus demonstrates His authority by what He knows about the woman. She is convinced of this authority and believes Jesus. This is stunning enough but frankly pales in comparison to the other extraordinary facets of this passage.
This passage sees Jesus destroy all sorts of important barriers that people think are important, then and now. First, Jesus is breaking down the barrier between genders. That He is talking to a woman at all is extraordinary, and taboo crushing. This just is not supposed to happen in this culture. More than that, by the end of the conversation this woman is now an apostle of Jesus and is going back to her community to proclaim the word, and because of her many Samaritans came to follow Jesus. Simply amazing!
This passage also sees Jesus breaking down barriers between tribes. Almost as taboo as talking to a woman, is talking to a Samaritan. There is deep enmity between Judeans and Samaritans that goes back centuries. Yet Jesus does not care at all about these tribal distinctions. Jesus simply sees a child of God and accords her simple human respect and dignity and care and concern. We are still in deep need of learning this lesson 2000+ years later.
The third barrier Jesus explodes is a geographical one. The Samaritan woman assumes, like most would, that the Jewish tradition demands worship in Jerusalem. Jesus immediately disabuses her of this notion. Verse 21 is stunning when Jesus says “‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”. That is, it does not matter where you are or what your tradition has been, you can and will worship God wherever you are. Jesus is pointing to something so much larger than a worship based on the Temple or the specific location of Jerusalem. God is universal and worship of God is open to all wherever they may be.
An All-Encompassing Savior
All of this indicates that Jesus is an all-encompassing Savior. As was first revealed at the Epiphany, Jesus is here for everyone. This was reinforced in the text from last week (John 3:16), that God so loved the world. God is a God of love for all humanity, irrespective of gender, tribe, or location. This was stunningly new then and sadly remains so today. What it was then and now is amazingly Good News. So, let us, like the Samaritan woman, hear God’s good and gracious word, then go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God in word and deed. That is believe and obey.
Praise Be to God