22. New Worship (2)

Short Meditations in John 4:  22. New Worship (2)

Jn 4:22   You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

If you argue and try and make excuses with Jesus, you need to watch out for he well get you to face the truth about what you say. This whole matter about Jew and Samaritan worship may be a ploy to duck the issues of her life that Jesus has brought before this Samaritan woman, but Jesus will not let half truths or even untruths pass by.

Indeed Jesus will use it to press home the greater need of this Samaritan woman, and now it is because she is a Samaritan rather than because of her personal needs. She belongs to a people who have fallen out of relationship with the Living God. They have echoes of it from their past and it is those echoes that she has referred to twice now – first when she referred to Jacob and then when she referred to their worship on Mount Gerizim. It is like she still takes pride in being a Samaritan. Yes, life may have gone drastically wrong for her at a personal and relational level, but she is still part of this people who have their own cultural characteristics built on historical instances.

So many people have a similar measure of false security in being part of a particular cultural group and we all have to realise that such things are baseless. ‘Americans’ take great pride in their origins and their size and their accomplishments and their outlook on life. National pride is sometimes almost impossible to distinguish from religious culture. Many European countries take pride in their long histories and their cultural achievements. In Britain some of us still remember that we had an Empire and now a Commonwealth. What all of these instances of national pride do is forget the downsides of all of those things.  When we look at our national histories we all have much shame there as well. Yet we forget these things and hold pride and security in being part of ‘our country’. These things, as we’ve just noted, provide false security; they cannot affect our eternal destiny, only a relationship with God through Christ can achieve that.

So at first sight Jesus’ words here to this woman may seem almost picky but there is a reality behind them that says, ‘Don’t rely on your national heritage for it is flawed anyway. But it won’t be the thing that puts you right with God.’ The Lord had revealed Himself through Israel and it was through Israel that salvation was coming to the world, in the form of the one standing before her. That is yet to come in the conversation but it will come. Jesus is the answer and he has chosen to come through Israel. So, to conclude, our security is not in our family or our culture or our nation; it is in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Accept no substitutes!

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