The Christ, the Saviour Of The World
John 4:39-42 MKJV And many of the Samaritans of that city believed upon Him because of the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that I ever did. (40) Then as the Samaritans had come to Him, they begged Him that He would stay with them. And He stayed there two days. (41) And many more believed because of His own word. (42) And they said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying, for we have heard Him ourselves and know that this is truly the Christ, the Savior of the world.
The Samaritans, in just a few days came to the amazing conclusion that Jesus was the Christ, the savior of the world, and they seem to have arrived at this conclusion as an entire community.
[Now Jesus could have stayed there and set up home, for this was the first community to truly believe in Him, but instead, as we shall see, He went to where He was not honored (in Galilee, see the next few verses).]
Now in order to understand what the Samaritans meant, and what john recorded we need to look at the terms “Christ”, “Saviour” and “World” and we will start with this last term first..
According to Leon Morris the term kosmos or world originally meant “decoration’ or ‘bauble” from which we still get the term “cosmetic”. Thus the universe came to be seen as the ultimate decoration, a ordered system of beauty.
The term is mainly used by Paul and John and has a few different shades of meaning.
The first is the realm under the control of Satan and the astrological powers of the Greco-Roman world, which was governed by elaborate religious taboos called “stoichea” or the “elemental principles of the world”. It was the realm that served “luck’ and had sacrifices and libations and worried about curses and propitious times. It was entirely hostile to Christ (John 7:7, 15;18). Thus friendship with the world was enmity towards God (James 4) and one could not enter into this system without arousing the jealousy of the Holy Spirit. A modern equivalent would be trying to be a Mason and a Christian, or believing in Lady Luck and going to casinos and being Christ’s. It was a vast realm entirely in bondage to superstition, human philosophy and religion and the worship of angels and demons. In this sense Satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 1 John 5:18,19) and the world does not know Jesus or the Father (John 1:10, 17:25) nor can it receive or know the Spirit (John 14:17). Paul makes it clear that Christians must exit this system being crucified to it (Galatians 6:14,15) and thus needing to be separated from it (Colossians 2:8-23, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). The world (kosmos) is never the place of blessing in Scripture; we must leave it in order to b blessed.
The second main meaning is fallen; tragic humanity enslaved to the above system which God loves and rescues e.g., John 3:16 and 4:42. Christ speaks to the world the things He has heard from God (John 8:26), takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), is the Saviour of the world (John 4:42) and gives it life (John 6:33) even giving his flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51) because He came to save it and not to judge it (John 3:17, 12:47) and overthrow Satan its prince (John 12:31, 14:30, 15;11) and thus victory over the world system remains with Christ (John 16:33). To fallen humanity Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). When John says that Christ is sent “into the world” (John 3:17, 11:27 etc) he may mean sent into the Universe as a whole or more specifically into the hostile world of cosmic powers governed by Satan in order to overthrow it.
The third main meaning, used less often is simply ‘everyone, or everything” and is used as loosely and generically as we use the term “the world” today e.g. when the Pharisees say of Christ ‘the whole world has gone after Him” or “the world was made through Him” (John 12:19, John 1:3, Hebrews 1:1-3)
Thus as the Christ the Savior of the world Jesus is the Christ that is the Chosen One, the Messiah with the Holy Spirit anointing, that breaks all the bondages of the evil spiritual realm led by the prince of darkness. Jesus as the anointed Christ, rescues humanity from the oppression and possession of spiritual powers and from enslavement to rituals, superstitions and the fear and dread of ghosts and taboos. Jesus rescues us also from what they do to our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits and takes us out from their destructive power to a place of abundant life.
John only used the term savior twice – here and in 1 John 4:14 and in both cases he uses it in the phrase “the Saviour of the World”. 1 John 4:14 MKJV “And we have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” In other words, John sees Jesus as being sent by God to save us from the powers and principalities that dominated life in the Graeco-Roman world and which still dominate our various cultures, both Western and non-Western today.
Jesus is not just the Saviour of individual people who walk the sawdust trail at a revival meeting, rather He is the Saviour of all those fallen human beings, trapped by Satan and caught up in darkness, and in the throes of evil and addiction, if they repent and believe in Him. Thus Jesus is the way out from all our bondages.