Sunday, August 10, 2014
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
The episode of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in chapter 4 of John’s Gospel is illuminating in more ways than one.
The episode is found in John chapter 4: While Jesus of course was against fornication, note his interaction with the Samaritan woman, who in her time has had five husbands one after the other, and currently, as Jesus knows and tells her, she’s shacking up with some guy (4:18). Jesus doesn’t yell at her, doesn’t curse her, doesn’t call for her punishment, doesn't (as Muhammad would have done) marshal his brotherhood gang of fanatics to have her executed. He simply tells her what she has done and what she is doing, and tells her what she really needs to fill the hole inside her for which she is seeking other means to fill:
If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (4:10)
Secondly, being Samaritan, the woman is not a Jew, yet Jesus proffers the Gospel to her:
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. (4:9)
A little later, she is still thinking in limited terms, and Jesus has to correct her. She says:
Our [Samaritan] fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (4:20-23)
And not only did he reveal himself to her for her salvation, the writer of John explains this had wider implications:
The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ…
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, 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. (4:28-29; 39-42).
Jesus preaching the Gospel to the Samaritan woman (= revealing himself to her as her salvation) is thus clearly contextualized by the writer of John as the incipient universalization of the Gospel to the world.