The Samaritan Woman (1992): The Truth Will Make You Free

Whatever is true is Christian          John 4:5-42

Sermon notes for   May 24, 1992     The Samaritan Women

What is truth?

Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who ordered the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, once asked Jesus, that question, “What is truth?”

The answer to that question is the key to understanding Christ and to being a Christian. The 4 Gospel writers use the word true or truth, 44 times, which can give us some idea of how important truth is to the entire mission and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How does the Lord answer the question? Long before Pilate asked, Jesus had answered the question, What is truth?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the [truth], and the life. (John 14:6)

To the question, What is truth, Jesus tells us, “I am.” And the Evangelist John tells us that it is Jesus alone who gives us truth (John 1:17).

You all heard Jesus tell the Samaritan women in today’s Gospel lesson:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:23-24)

The Lord spoke to us constantly about TRUTH, and when He wasn’t speaking about truth, He was revealing to us the Truth about God in everything He did and in His very person. Truth becomes one of the main criteria by which we can judge spirituality and religion.

All religions claim to speak the truth, but Jesus Christ lays down for us the criterion for truth:  Himself.    True religion reveals to us the Lord Jesus Christ, and help us to know Jesus, the Son of God. You can critically judge any religion or any spirituality by asking yourself the question, does this help me to know Jesus the Son of God? Does this religion, or this religious information help me to know God the Holy Trinity as revealed in the Bible and through the Church?

I offer you these thoughts on the critical evaluations of religion, because all of us living in this country are bombarded by diverse religions and spiritualities. These messages come to us through the papers and magazines we read, are beamed into our brains through radio and TV, and come knocking at our doors in the form of Jehovah witnesses and Mormons. New Age and Pagan ideas are constantly being sent to us through the media. So we all need some simple criteria by which we can judge the religious messages aimed at us:

Does this message or this religion help me to know Jesus the Son of God and the Holy Trinity as revealed in the Bible and through the Church?

Truth is essential to Christ Jesus, and we must never lose sight of this through religious claims which offer us warm-fuzzies or promise to unlock hidden potential.

There is one more aspect of the truth which I want to remind you of today. There is a tendency in our lives to treat Jesus and Christianity as if they speak to us only about “religious” truth. As if there other truths in life – religious truth say is somehow unrelated to scientific truth or truth in government or personal truth.

However, St. Justin the Martyr said it well when he said, “Anything which is true is Christian.” Truth is truth and all truth is related to Jesus Christ.  Even scientific truth.  Christ is not opposed to us understanding what is true about life or the universe.

In the Gospel lesson today, Jesus reveals to the women, truth about her personal life when he speaks to her about her 5 husbands. The women perceives that there is something special about Jesus, that he is a prophet, but this perception and religious experience comes in the midst of their discussion on her personal life. Jesus helps connect in the women the truth about herself with the truth about God. It is only when we are truthful about ourselves, about our sins, about our relationships with others, that we become open to the truth about God. Why? Because truth is truth.

Jesus unmasks the women’s religiosity, not to embarrass her, but to help her experience the connection between her private life and religion.

This same experience is available to us when we become open and honest about ourselves, by examining our consciences, by confessing our sins, by repenting of sinfulness rather then making excuses for our sins or trying to hide them. Being painfully truthful about ourselves leads us to the purely joyful experience of God.

The one who is Lord of the world and is worshiped as God in the churches is also to be Lord of our hearts, minds and homes.

As Jesus said, “If you know the truth, the truth will make you free.”