The Saviour of the World

John 4:41‑42  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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The Samaritans besought the Son of God to abide with them, and there He did abide two days (ver. 40). What confidence on their part! what grace on His! Others more favored, who despised them, besought Him with one consent to depart from them (Luke 8:3737Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. (Luke 8:37)). Who else are recorded as ever preferring such a request for His presence? But those who asked received a blessing both now and evermore, as faith in Him ever does. “And many more believed because of His own word, and said to the woman, No longer because of thy speaking do we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Truly a noble and most suited confession! No Jew did or could then have uttered it. It was God choosing the foolish things of the world that He might put to shame the wise; it was God choosing the weak things of the world that He might put to shame the things that are strong; and the ignoble things of the world and the despised God chose, the things that are not, that He might bring to naught the things that are; so that no flesh should boast before God.
It was an anticipation worthy of His personal dignity, which faith saw and testified, as grace created and sanctioned it. The Son of God is recognized in the fullest sphere of divine mercy. It is the more striking because He had maintained the place God had given the Jews as compared with Samaritan pretension. As surely as He was the Messiah, so salvation is of the Jews. But the Jews, blinder than their blind whose eyes He so often opened, were rejecting Him through trusting their own thoughts and indulging their own will. And the rejected Messiah, about to taste its bitterness to the uttermost, was displaying grace and truth open to any needy soul, and pressing home the reality of that need, that He might bless according to the love of the Father. His own word deepened the conviction which the woman's testimony had awakened; and the faith of the many that believed expressed itself in the confession, “This is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Was it not all worthy of God and His Son? The sin of His ancient potpie, in despising the grace of the Messiah because He did not come in power and glory to exalt their nation and confound their foes, only gave occasion to more grace. But the Samaritans believed without a miracle, and entered into the blessing all the more deeply. They take their own place. not a word of rivalry with the Jew. They were sinners: Jesus is the Savior. They were of the world. And “this is indeed the Savior of the world.” God saves not because we deserve, but because He, Jesus, does; and we believe on Him.
As long as the Jew was under probation, this could not be manifested. But one of the peculiarities of the Gospel of John (and each has its special design, not merely from the writer's style, but from the particular purpose of the inspiring Holy Spirit) is that the Jews received not Christ, as we learn, from the very first. Hence a larger and deeper scope of blessing begins to shine through the clouds, even before the Lord's public testimony and right through it. This chapter is an unmistakable witness.
And is it all nothing to you, dear readers? Is not this, and more than this, expressly written that “ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through (in) His name”? John 20:3131But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31). Is it in vain that the Holy Spirit has perpetuated for you the grace that reached the many Samaritans? Or are you disposed to follow the proud and stiff-necked Jews in nullifying as to yourselves the counsel of God? If so, beware of perishing, as they did.
Beyond doubt, as all scripture declares, whatever be the grace of God, you forfeit it by unbelief. It is of faith that it might be according to grace. It is here you have sinned, and now you must be saved; and there is no means other than believing on Jesus. You in Christendom have heard more than either the Jews who refused, or the Samaritans who believed. And whoever you are, whatever you may have been, their testimony is for you, for anyone: “This is indeed the Savior of the world.” Such is the spirit of the gospel that went forth in due thee to all the creation, as the Lord came expressly to call not righteous men, but sinners. “To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but to him that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4, 54Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:4‑5)). Were it otherwise, no sinful roan could be justified. Whereas, “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” It is the distinctive blessedness that God loves with no motive in the object loved, but because He is love. Hence says the apostle, “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And as the Samaritans at the beginning were divinely led to own the Savior of the world, so the apostle John in his First Epistle, avowedly written for the dangers and evils of the last time, repeats the testimony when unfolding the love of God superior to all changes. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:1414And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14)). Yes, but how am I to receive certainty for my own soul? “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (ver. 15). It is the Spirit of God anticipating conscientious difficulty and satisfying the just desire of assurance from above in one who might otherwise be overwhelmed with the sense of sin. One cannot too much judge one's self, provided that along with it there is no distrust of grace. The person and the work of Christ account for salvation and the highest privileges to him that believes, were he chief of sinners. God puts all honor on the name of His Son, whether in blessing the believer or in punishing the unbeliever by-and-by.
To believe God's testimony is the first of duties, and Christ is the object of that testimony. So, when the trembling jailer at Philippi fell down before Paul and Silas, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” The way is simple, the warrant sure, the salvation rich and full. The call of God is to believe on His Son, the Lord Jesus; the result is salvation for all that believe, the house no less than its head. Hence it is His commandment that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ: loving one another follows, as He gave us commandment. But it is in vain to urge love, holiness, or aught else, till we believe on Him.