The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” John 8.48
The Jews are violently enraged at Jesus in John 8, so much so that they try to stone him. Jesus has made clear He is the Son of God - that He is God. Jesus has so thoroughly answered their arguments the only tools left to them are name calling and violence. They call Jesus a Samaritan, and say he has a demon. He has been accused of having a demon before, but being called a Samaritan is a new charge. Why would they say that? Earlier in the confrontation the Jews clearly acknowledge that Jesus is a Galilean (John 7.52). Of course calling Jesus a Galilean is a way of calling him a “hick”. Calling him a “Samaritan” seems to be a way of hurling a greater insult at Jesus.
John has already told us Jews have no dealings with Samaritans (4.9). The racial hatred and strife between the two peoples was intense and real. When they tag Jesus a “Samaritan,” they are not just pulling an awful name off the shelf. Jesus does have dealings with the Samaritans. He spoke at length with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well, and spent two days in her village teaching the people (John 4.1-42). He also told stories about Samaritans who were moral, noble and caring (Luke 10.25-37). We have heard enough racial slurs to know why they call Jesus a “Samaritan.” He is, to them, a “Samaritan-lover.”
Of the two charges they make against Him – that he is a Samaritan, and has a demon – Jesus answers only the second. He makes no comment on the first. “I do not have a demon!” He answers the second charge in verses 49-51, “I honor My Father…I do not seek my own glory.” But to the charge of being a Samaritan he answers not a word. Why?
It might be that Jesus refuses to dignify a racial slur with a response. Some evil, like racial prejudice, is based in stupidity, and stupidity has to be subverted. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest you be like him,” (Proverbs 24.6). You cannot wrestle in the mud with anyone without getting muddy yourself. One must stand up to evil, but stupidity has to be subverted.
It might be that if they are actually calling Jesus a “Samaritan lover,” no answer is necessary, because He is.
Or it might be that Jesus makes no response to the charge because it is true. I am not arguing that Jesus has Samaritan DNA in his cells. His lineage is more solidly documented than any Jew of His era (see Matthew 1, and Luke 3). But the Bible makes clear that when Jesus hangs on the cross as our atoning sacrifice, He hangs there as a Jew, a Samaritan, a Gaul, a Hun, an Ethiopian, a Malay, a slave, a free man, a man, a woman.
For He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. I John 2.2
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ. Galatians 3.27-28.
“We were right when we called you a Samaritan,” the Jews taunt Jesus. As we read that passage in David Binkley’s fine class on the Gospel of John last Sunday, I wished I could have been there and said, “Yes. Yes you are. You are right. And if you knew why you are right, you would finally understand.”