2.7 John -- The Samaritan Woman, cont.

        c. The woman understood very little of what Jesus said, particularly about worship. So she "punted":

        "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us" (Jn 4:25).

         In other words, "manana." "This is over my head, it has been very interesting, thank you very much, I have laundry to do now, so goodbye."

 

        Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he" (Jn 4:26).

        In the vernacular of the professional gambler, Jesus went "all in." When a gambler has a winning hand (or a bluff), he puts all his chips at one time into the pot, and then calls it. That's what Jesus did here: no more back and forth bantering with words. That was all preparatory for the moment of Self-revelation. Note how his conversation led her to this point: "I will give you living water. True worship isn't on a mountain, but is in spirit and truth, just as God Himself is Spirit." She brought up the Messiah as the one who would settle all these matters.

        This was not like the Transfiguration before three disciples. There were no figures of Moses or Elijah. Jesus appeared as himself, a thirsty man tired from a day of walking. But this naming of himself to her put her in a very select company, stretching back to the patriarchs of the Old Testament:

 

        "I AM Who I AM" (Ex 3:14).

        "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as 'El Shaddai' but by my name 'Yahweh' I did not make myself known to them" (Ex 6:3).

         This was God speaking to Moses. But even Moses had an incomplete revelation: he never knew the Messiah. God does not tell His Name just to anyone, it is a giving of Himself. Only a handful of people in the entire Bible experienced a personal epiphany of God -- including this woman, a nobody from a no-account village, a Samaritan Rahab.

At this moment, at the worst of all possible times, before she could respond, the disciples showed up, and "were surprised." Of course, this was their normal reaction to what Jesus did and said. But they spooked the Samaritan woman, who left her water jar and ran off to tell the village about "a man who told me everything I ever did." John reports that Jesus stayed with them two days, which must have created some interesting logistical problems for the disciples: as observant Jews, they could not enter the homes of Samaritans, nor eat with them.

         And because of his words many more became believers (Jn 4:41).

I wish John had recorded Jesus' words. What message did he have for Samaritans? And did it differ from what he told the Jewish crowds? I also wish he had recorded her name -- this anonymous woman who learned Jesus' divine name from his own lips.

      

In summary, while other Gospel writers sometimes show Jesus as reluctant to talk to Gentiles, John not only opens the door to them but blows it off its hinges. In his recollections, Jesus was willing to step over the line separating Worthy from Unworthy, Men from Women, Clean from Unclean. He could reach out to a needy Gentile, someone who was not merely a foreigner like an Egyptian or Ethiopian, but one of the enemy within, a person of a despised race whose very ethnicity was a byword to the virtuous Jew. In this encounter, Jesus was laying the foundation of what would become an international, inter-racial Kingdom.