I am he.
40 blogs of Lent – Day 4
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:25-26 ESVUK.
Ever turned to the end of a who dun it to find out who the murderer is? John’s Gospel is a bit like that, starting with Jesus as the Word of God present at the creation of the universe, who becomes a human and is proclaimed by John the Baptist as the sacrificial Lamb of God. And all that in the first chapter. What this means is then explored in detail in a few miracles (referred to by John as signs), some conversations and some sayings where Jesus uses the phrase, “I am …”
It is at the end of one of these conversations that the quote above comes. Jesus is at a well in Samaria, and has a conversation with a woman which starts with getting water and moves on to other things. (I do not like referring to people as ‘the woman’ as it is too impersonal, but as she is not named in the script I have little option.) After Jesus reveals knowledge of the woman’s life the verses above come. You can read the whole passage in John 4:1-43. [a]
The end is that people in Samaria said: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
Jesus did not often identify himself as the Messiah, or its Greek equivalent, the Christ (in English the Anointed) as it would have been interpreted politically as one who was going to boot the occupying Roman army out of the country. In Samaria, away from Jerusalem and the Temple he does this. “I am he,” he says to the woman.
Not to the religious leaders.
Not to the politicians.
Not even to his own followers.
No. Jesus reveals himself to a foreigner, someone who is not one of
the nation chosen by God. Someone of a people despised by the Jews at that time. Not just from a despised people, but also someone of not very high moral standards. The Family Values people would hate to have someone like this as an example of how to react. Even his followers when they returned were surprised to see Jesus speaking to her.
“We know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” The response of other Samaritans, other despised people. They know that Jesus is about salvation not just to one race of people, but to them as well.
It is not to the privileged, that Jesus first admits he is the Messiah, but to someone outcast from society.
That is the nature of Jesus. He turns the values of society upside down, and choses those who are week and despised to enter God’s kingdom. Those we would chose not to speak to because of their social standing, or ethnic origins, or sexual orientation are the ones Jesus calls into his kingdom. Salvation is for these as well.
It is outrage.