These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42 (NASB)
As Americans, living in the United States of America, we are fiercely independent. We fought for our freedom at the start of our country and we continue the fight for our freedoms still today. We do not take kindly to someone telling us to do things and when to do them, especially if we have no say in the matter. Just ask the British how that worked out for them! We are control freaks whether we admit it or not. We do not like to ask for help, we do not want to be someone’s charity case and we certainly do not want a handout that leaves us indebted to another! No sir, there is no mistake about it…we will make our own way thank you!
This independent attitude saturates everything we do in this country. We live with an attitude that says, “If you want something, you work hard and earn it. Nothing is ever free.” This is what has led many in our country to become control freaks, thinking they can control the circumstances that surround them and get ahead in life. But rarely does it happen this way. We hang on tight to our control and the feeling that if we just work hard enough…everything will turn out just fine. Sadly, this attitude has carried over into the church. Many feel they just need to work hard at this Christianity thing. Sooner or later they will get it right.
The issue in the church is far too many still believe there is something more THEY need to do. However, Christianity is not a do religion but a done religion. There is nothing more we can do because Jesus has already done all that needed doing! Thus, the Samaritans have it right…Jesus is the Savior of the world. And here is the biggest stumbling block of all…what do I need saving from? In a word…sin. This in and of itself is yet another issue. We do not like to call our sins, sin. We would rather they be called disease, addiction, character flaws or mental illness…anything but SIN!
In our passage today, Jesus and the disciples are traveling through Samaria and Jesus stops at Jacobs Well. A Samaritan woman has come to draw water and Jesus asks for a drink, which leads a much deeper spiritual conversation than this woman expected when she came to the well. The woman is so moved by Jesus and how He knows everything she has ever done; she leaves her water pot and runs back to the city to tell everyone she has found the Messiah! The people are curious and head to the well to investigate this terrific story. As a result, the people of Samaria ask Jesus to stay longer, confessing that He is the Savior of the world.
In looking at the definition for savior, we find agreement among most sources. Merriam-Webster defines savior as one that saves from danger or destruction and Dictionary.com says a person who saves, rescues or delivers. Both of these definitions “take the edge off” the significance of the title Savior by failing to include any mention of evil or sin. The Greek word John uses in this passage is soter meaning One who saves from any form or degree of evil. In its highest form it depicts the relationship between Jesus and His redeemed ones. When Christ, meaning Messiah, became a proper name for Greek-speaking Christianity, a new word was needed – soter, meaning savior, expressed the exact meaning and set apart language as a religious term and became the most popular divine title for Jesus.
Throughout his gospel account, John points out that to believe in Jesus is he proper and required response when a person has come face-to-face with Jesus. Following her face-to-face encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman has a bold and powerful testimony to share with her friends, family and townspeople. They are, at first, drawn by her boldness to the One she claims knows all she has done. When telling others about Jesus they will move from your testimony – what you have said – to their own personal experiences – what they have heard and what they now know.
The same title, savior, was common in the first century pagan world, it was given to various Greek gods and the emperor in Rome was likewise considered a savior. So, for the Samaritans to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the world was a great and soul stirring title. The Samaritans, hated by the Jews, have been shut out from God’s mercy, they were considered second class citizens by the Jewish leadership, and they clung to their own traditions and religious rituals, making matters worse. But now, the long-awaited Messiah, the Promised One, has come through the line and House of David, a Jew by race, and He has come for them!
At some point, even though they have been hurt in the past, a person’s mind must stop asking how; their will must stop questioning why; their emotions must set aside fear and their experiences must not be allowed to say that Jesus is not trustworthy. While we, His followers, fail Him daily, Jesus is the Faithful and True witness to His person and His works. His office speaks of His authority and power over all people and things. He alone is the One who created the world, has come to those He created, has suffered all things as we have, and He alone can stand before God and the world as Savior.
The Samaritan people asked Jesus to stay; after two days even more believed in Him and had come to know Jesus as the Savior of the world – absolutely and positively!! Those who had been excluded for centuries are now included; the Promise of God has widened its circle to include them. Now they can experience the inclusive love of Jesus despite their standing in the eyes of the Jewish leadership. And so it is with people today; they too can experience the inclusive love and the promise of God. The circle has widened to include all of humanity that will come to Jesus as Savior and confess Him before the Father.
Where do you see yourself in our passage? Are you, like the Samaritan woman, still searching and seeking the long-awaited Messiah? Or have you had your face-to-face encounter with Jesus? Are you ready to tell those closest to you about the One who knows all you have ever done? Do others see the difference Jesus has made in your life? Are they drawn to Him because of what they have heard from you? I pray that as we grow closer to His return, you will find the Savior of the world; and if you have found Him I pray those around you will be drawn to Him because of what they see in you.
Amen and Amen.