SCRIPTURE: John 8:48-59
48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. 51 Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Gerald L. Borchert shares that “With respect to the “Samaritan” designation, the Samaritan people were usually dishonored by Jews. The Samaritan woman’s surprise at Jesus’ willingness to converse with her (4:9) is thus completely understandable in light of the Jews’ general dishonoring of her people. Samaritans were regarded by Jews as half-breed heretics who also (at least later) were associated with demonic/cultic magic.194 This verse is the only place in the Gospels where the charge of being a Samaritan is laid on Jesus. Since Jesus came to be the Savior of the world (the confession of the Samaritans, 4:42), he was not about to accept the prejudiced Jewish view of Samaritans. Indeed, in Luke 10:25–37 Jesus told a pointed story about a gracious Samaritan whom the Jewish inquisitor could not even bring himself to call by name (Luke 10:37).”
There are so many places in Scripture that have historically been used to exclude groups of people, often incorrectly, it is comforting to find examples that support a more inclusive view of faith and of Jesus’ mission to save the whole world. Labeling of other people has been a plague in the world since almost the very beginning. Jews versus Samaritans, whites versus blacks, LGBTQ+ versus straight, and so many, many more. These divisions of human assigned labels have led to pain, suffering, death, and so much more. Yet, when we put aside those divisions and instead see all people as equal in the eyes of the God who sent God’s only Son to save the whole world, that is when we can truly see the kingdom of God here on earth.
How do you respond when someone tries to put you in one category or another, further dividing you from others? Has it happened to you a lot, or only occasionally? Have you been guilting of doing it to others?
God of all creation, you have made everything in the world, including all humanity. Help us to see all creation and one another through your eyes, eyes of mercy, grace, and love. Soften our hearts and open our minds that we might stop trying to further divide ourselves, and instead come together under the grace of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.