The Grand Finale!

John 4:16-20

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.” NRSV

The movement in this story is a masterful bit of storytelling. First, Jesus establishes his authority by his ability to recount the woman’s marriage history. “Sir, I see that you are a prophet.”

Then, because he has publicly engaged a Samaritan, and a woman, both forbidden by Jewish law, she seeks a better understanding for Jesus’ willingness to break the law to converse with her. She probes this “prophet” for clarity.

“Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus acknowledges the Jews’ exclusionary claim to worship God. This reminds the readers of the nearly impenetrable religious wall erected over the centuries between Samaritans and Jews.

Then, in stark contrast to the religious exclusion he just affirmed, Jesus sets the stage for the seismic shift God is about to make happen through Jesus. “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

What? Jews have always worshiped God in Jerusalem. The Samaritans never could. But Jesus’ words about who will worship now include the woman, a Samaritan! Jesus is teeing up the grand finale.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus is making clear that one’s religious heritage is no longer the access code to God. One’s Jewishness or Samaritan-ness, no longer matters. Now, one’s access to God, one’s relationship with God is based on spirit and truth. That is the Good News in a nutshell!

For the Jews, such a claim was blasphemous, a capital offense, deserving death. We know Jesus was eventually executed for his blasphemy. We also know how the story ends!

Be a blessing to someone today!

 

Leave a Reply Cancel reply