Q: Why did Jesus say that salvation is of the Jews?
A: From your question, I gather you are making reference to what Jesus stated to the Samaritan woman in John 4:22. The statement that Jesus made was in regard to worship. What He was saying to the woman is that people of other religions do not understand real worship because the Jewish Law, (testimonies, commandments, precepts, judgments, and statutes) established the right way to honor God in practices, to properly show awe in conduct towards Him and others, approach Him according to godly judgments and obey righteous doctrine, and uphold Him in light of His testimonies.
As you consider each aspect of God’s Law, you realize that each virtue of it has significance in establishing a person in the right frame to worship the Lord. His testimonies deal with people’s perception of Him, His judgments establish His followers in wisdom and the fear of the Lord, His commandments in regard to moral living, His precepts in proper conduct, and statues in acceptable ordinances. All these virtues together were to establish a proper attitude of worship.
As Christians we know that the actual Law was a schoolmaster that pointed people to the need for salvation, and the tabernacle, priests, and sacrifices possessed types, shadows, and patterns of Christ and His work of redemption (Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 8:5). Jesus fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law (Matthew 5:17-18).
Promises were given by God to the Old Testament patriarchs such as Abraham in regard to being a blessing to all nations, and to King David about a King coming from his loins who would sit on the throne of Israel forever. This pointed to the Messiah, Jesus coming to establish an everlasting kingdom (Genesis 12:3; 2 Samuel 7:12-16).
This brings us to the real meaning behind what Jesus was saying to the Samaritan woman. Jesus came through the Jewish nation. He was/is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, prophesied by Israel in Genesis 49:8-12. Since the Jewish religious practices pointed to Him as the Messiah, and He came through Mary, a Jewish handmaiden, who provided Him with the means (body) to become the Savior of the world, it is clear why He said salvation is of the Jews.
God used the Jewish nation to bring forth the Redeemer of the world. This nation was clearly used as a valuable avenue in which to bless the world with a Savior. There have been great empires and nations who have left their mark on history, but they are no longer. Although many have rejected and persecuted the nation of Israel, it is still here and now serves as a hot potato to the nations of the world. It is clear God has preserved the people of Israel because of His promises to Abraham and David and will ultimately bring them from being the tail of this world to being the head of all nations.
The Samaritan woman knew about the Jewish Messiah. In fact, she was expecting Him. “The woman saith unto him, I know the Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25). This woman had already recognized that Jesus was a Prophet. She was confident that the Messiah would answer all questions, especially the one that was on her heart about true worship that had produced great conflict between the Jews who worshipped in Jerusalem and the Samaritans who worshipped on Mount Gerizim.
Jesus clearly answered her question about worship, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
When the Samaritan woman told Jesus she knew the Messiah would answer all of her questions, Jesus said to her, “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26)
Jesus revealed Himself to the woman as being the Messiah. The greatest challenge that this passage of Scripture brings to each of us is, are we true worshippers of God? The first and foremost criterion of being true worshippers of God is that we must believe, know, and love the true Messiah.