Jesus the Evangelist: Learning to Share the Gospel from the Book of John

jesustheevangelist2Chapter 9 – Jesus the Evangelist: Connecting with People

The following is an excerpt from the book where Jesus is at the well with the Samaritan woman. 

Even crossing multiple barriers merely brought Jesus into contact with this woman. His next step involved connecting with her on a personal level.

We find out in this chapter that the Samaritan woman was a sinful person who held all kinds of false beliefs, just as many people do today. However, Jesus did not treat her as a pariah, but as a person. He started with a simple request -“Give me a drink”-that sparked a connection. We might think that He should have opened the encounter with a display of miraculous power to awe her-perhaps making the water flow up the well to fill His cup. Or perhaps He should have rebuked her for the mess that her life undoubtedly was. But Jesus thought it wiser to humble Himself in His true humanity and give her an opportunity to minister to His need.

Many Christians today wall themselves off from the world the way the Jews of Jesus’ time did. Just as the Jews chose to bypass Samaria to avoid defilement, we tend to travel only within our own subculture. If we interact with worldly people, we certainly don’t think they have anything to offer us. Small wonder, then, that they are not open to what we have to offer them. Jesus was not like that: He walked through the world and treated even a scandalous Samaritan woman as a person of worth, capable of giving Him something of value. As Frederick Godet wisely notes, “He is not unaware that the way to gain a soul is often to ask a service of it.”

Vastly superior as Jesus was to this woman, He placed Himself in her care. By exposing her to His need, He opened the door to a relationship in which meaningful content could be exchanged. Christians today need to see this, for we hinder our witness if we cultivate a facade that masks our weaknesses, struggles, and needs. There are skills we lack that our neighbors can offer and matters on which we can turn to them for advice. We should not hide our anxiety, fear, and grief from non-Christians. Being Christian makes us not less human but more human, and we can connect with people by living authentically in all our weakness, displaying Christ’s power through our faith. Our example is the Lord Almighty, who did not hide His weariness from the Samaritan woman; He who offered living water was not ashamed to say, “Give me a drink.” J. C. Ryle comments: “Simple as this request may seem, it opened a door to spiritual conversation. It threw a bridge across the gulf which lay between her and Him. It led to the conversion of her soul.”

It is my opinion that Jesus came to this well knowing this woman would be there. Given His divine omniscience, He must have known; therefore, He came specifically for her. He even seems to have waited in thirst until she should come along and give Him the pail. This reminds us that the doctrine of election is no deterrent to evangelism but a motivation-we know God has people around us to be saved, so we witness with confidence. And, like Jesus, we should have specific people on our hearts for whom we are praying and with whom we are seeking to share the gospel. Yet God in His sovereignty can send anyone to us at any time to hear about Jesus and be saved. Knowing this, we should look upon every encounter as a divine appointment and seek to make a connection through which we may talk about Jesus and the gospel.

The woman at the well was so astonished by Jesus’ approach to her that she gave Him an immediate opportunity to share the gospel: “The Samaritan woman said to him, `How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”‘ (John 4:9a). Likewise, unbelieving people who live next door to Christians, who work alongside Christians, or whose family members are converted to Christian faith ought to be compelled to ask us what makes us different. They ought to observe a sincere godliness in our conduct, a graciousness in our speech, and a compassion and concern in our hearts-all of which are in decreasing supply today-so that they ask us to tell them what Christ has done in our lives.

Richard D. Phillips. Jesus the Evangelist: Learning to Share the Gospel from the Book of John (Kindle Locations 1310-1324). Kindle Edition.


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