Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” …Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
In our society, it’s commonplace to feel entitled to things. Especially in such an individualistic society, everyone thinks they’re deserving of this or that. And the entitlement only grows with age. The older one gets, the more they think they’re entitled to.
When a child turns 13 and finally becomes a teenager, all of a sudden she thinks that she deserves more respect and independence from her parents. When a boy becomes a “man” at the age of 18, he thinks people should stop calling him “kid-o” and start treating him like an adult. When a college grad gets a job and starts living on her own, she thinks that she’s deserving of respect in the work place. …He thinks he’s entitled to have more comfort. She thinks she deserves appreciation and love from a boyfriend/husband. He thinks he should be recognized for the accomplishments in his life (and don’t forget, this list includes Christians). This is how society works: the older we get, the more we feel entitled to this, or deserving of that.
And the older I’m getting, the more I’m noticing this attitude in my head and heart. But it’s funny, along with age, more than anything, I’m realizing how much more of a sinner I am. More than seeing how I’m growing in great wisdom as Solomon, or great sanctification and transformation as Saul to Paul, or great godliness as Elijah – I’m seeing the great sin of Clark Fobes IV. The simple fact is, the older I get, the more I realize just how much of a sinner I really am.
In this passage from John 4, Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman. Just the fact that Jesus, a Jew from Galilee, was talking with a Samaritan, was shocking enough. The Jews hated Samaritans; Galilee and Judea (where Jerusalem was), were separated by the region of Samaria, where these half-breed Jews lived, who had transgressed the Jewish covenant, and married foreigners during the time of exile. When a Jew went down to Jerusalem from Galilee, or returned from Jerusalem to Galilee, as Jesus does here (“he left Judea and departed again from Galilee”), they often would travel all the way around Samaria, just to avoid running into Samaritans. She was already marked as a sinner, one undeserving of God’s grace and mercy by her race, and even more by what Jesus reveals to us about her.
But the fact that I want to highlight, is how this woman became a missionary to her own hometown. We often read this passage, commending the Samaritan woman for her testimony, and preaching the Gospel to the other Samaritans in her hometown. But what did she really preach to them? Was it a Gospel that Jesus was sent from God, coming as the long-awaited Messiah? Was it that Jesus was going to free the Samaritans from the social stigmatism that marked their race? John makes it very obvious.
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
And what was it that Jesus told her that she had done?
“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband;’ for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”
We could say that it was Jesus’ prophetic nature that made the Samaritans believe the woman’s testimony of Jesus. But the very fact, is that this woman was telling the whole world that Jesus had exposed her sin. Why in the world would this have caused the Samaritans to believe in Jesus?
It was when Jesus exposed her sin, that Jesus had also shown her her need. And in showing her her need, he had also shown her the solution: that he was the Christ (4:26). That he is the one who calls true worshipers to himself, regardless of race, geographical location, or past shame and guilt. He is the one who pronounces true worshipers, not by their background or track record, but by their desire to worship Him, in spirit and truth (4:23-24).
I wish I could give a word of wisdom here, as I’m growing in age. I wish I could tell you how I’m growing in godliness as I’m getting older. But the fact is, the thing I’ve come to know more in another year of age, is the great sin that I have committed against the God of this world, and the great sins that I continue to commit daily in my ignorance, my anger, my selfishness.
I am a sinner who daily forgets to worship the God who’s created me. I’m a murderer, who’s brutally killed both friends and family, being angry with them in my heart, and slandering them in my mind. I’m an adulterer, who’s cheated on my future wife, letting lustful thoughts enter my mind and entertain me at my will. I’m selfish, not giving to those who need more than me, but hoarding to satisfy my own comforts. I’m self-absorbed, thinking everything is about me, not putting the needs or desires of others higher than mine, and thinking that everything in this world must serve me. I’m prideful, thinking that with each accomplishment, each year of age, that I am more entitled to respect, love, encouragement, recognition, and praise.
These are all the things that Christ has told me, which I have done. These are all the ways which I have offended the God of the world. These are all the ways that I fall so incredibly short of the perfection that the Lord demands. These are all the ways that I daily fail to live up to the standards of His infinite holiness. These are all the ways that I spit in the face of the King, and mock His glory.
…But knowing all these things, Christ has told me what He has done. He erased my offenses that I may call Him my God. He made a way to perfection through Christ, that I may call Him my Lord. He daily forgives me and gives me His infinite holiness. He took my place on the Cross, that I may call Him my King, and now gives me His glory.
I am sinner, who’s only Savior could have been Jesus. And like this Samaritan woman, I want to tell the whole world that I am a sinner, so that the whole world may know that He is the only Savior. And at a ripe, young, and dumb 24, I can only say that I am undeserving of what I’ve been given. I am not entitled to the salvation that God has given me. I am a sinner, who’s only Savior could have been Jesus. In the words of DA Carson, “I am not what I should be; I am not what I hope to be. But by the grace of God, I am not who I was.”