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Thursday 16 May 2019

How did Jesus go about doing evangelism? (Part 2)

John 4:16-30 and 39-42

He (Jesus) told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’

‘I have no husband,’ she replied.

Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’

‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’

The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’

Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way towards him.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’

We might read this passage and say, “Well, I can’t do that. I’m not the Son of God and I do not know all the details of strangers’ lives.”

Actually, this is missing the point. Although Jesus was the Son of God, he did not tell people random facts whenever he wanted, just to show that he was omniscient. Jesus explained it this way:

the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing… (John 5:19)

Sometimes the Holy Spirit may give us a prophetic word, a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom which he wants us to share with somebody. We can learn from Jesus to share these insights boldly, yet sensitively. Notice that Jesus manages to convict her of her sin without shaming her.

We can also learn from the way Jesus avoided the secondary issues and got to the heart of the matter. The woman wanted a debate about the correct location for worship, but Jesus told her that worship is about relationship with God (spirit and truth), not about outward things like religious rituals and holy places.

During this conversation, the woman moved from ignorance and confusion to personal knowledge of Jesus’ identity. She may not have had all the correct theology, but she was able to talk with her family and friends about the man she had met. As a result, many Samaritans from her town came to believe in Jesus

Are people today still interested in believing in Jesus? Yes – and more are interested than we may think. I believe that the words Jesus spoke to his disciples on the day he met the woman at the well are still true and apply to people all over the world today:

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.(John 4:35)

Thomas Halley, Sawyers Church Leadership Team

Sawyers Church
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