Sunday, September 17, 2006

John 4:1-26: A Model for Personal Evangelism

Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well
Christ and the Woman at the Well
Pray. Read John 4:1-26-30, 39-42
Opening thought: An American chaplain in the Civil War asked a wounded soldier, "Would you like me to read you something from the Bible?" The soldier said, "I'm so thirsty, I'd rather have a drink of water." After he had drunk it he said, "Could you put something under my head?" The chaplain took off his overcoat, rolled it up, and placed it under the man's head as a pillow. "Now," said the soldier, "if I had something over me. I'm so cold." The chaplain took off his jacket and covered the man. Then the wounded man said, "For God's sake, man, if there's anything in that Book that makes a man do for another what you've done for me, let me hear it!" Isn't that what the world needs today-Christians who exemplify Christ? His glory should be our concern. We are His image in the world.

Textual Notes

Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds, a remnant of half-Jews mixed with other peoples during the Assyrian exile of the northern kingdom of Israel several centuries before. The Samaritans claimed descent from Joseph through Ephraim and Manasseh, but the Jews rejected them as unclean and outcasts. They held only to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible as Scripture, and rejected the Prophets and the Writings, the rest of the OT. They had their own altar on Mount Gerazim, a place where Joshua had pronounced blessings on the Israelites, and they were looking for a restorer they called a Taheb (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).

Jesus ignores custom and tradition to talk to this woman. First of all, no man talked with a woman directly. He talked with her husband. That is why he asked her to call her husband. When she said she had none, there was some entendre there by her that she was available. Jesus corrected the ambiguity immediately with a word of knowledge. “You’re right. You have had five men.”

Jacob is not said to have dug a well, but he did buy the area of Shechem and gave it to Joseph (Genesis 33:19; 48:22). It is still over 100 feet deep and was probably deeper then. The Greek word used phrear; cf. 4:6: pege) indicates that the cistern was fed by an underground spring. Tradition (Targum Neofiti of Genesis 28:10) has it that when Jacob removed the stone from the well, that it overflowed its mouth for twenty years.
Women drew water together in the morning, chatting, and she came in the middle of the day, suggesting that she is an outcast
The story of the woman at the well is often suggested as a model for personal evangelism. This woman came in the middle of the day
  1. Jesus initiated conversation (4:7).
    1. “Will you give me a drink?” (4:7)
    2. Jesus is open to the charge of flirting, but he handles it well. Remember that Isaac and Jacob met their wives at wells (Genesis 24:17; 29:10). She and he are alone at the well.
  1. Jesus asked her to do something for Him (4:6-7).
    1. He assumed a humble and non-threatening position.
  1. Jesus quickly introduced the theme of eternal life as a gift from God (4:9-10).
    1. Jesus didn’t shove it down her throat, but merely put the subject out there to see if he got a response.
  1. Jesus was ready to give her more information when she asked for it (4:11-14).
    1. He was not overly religious about it.
    2. He was down to earth, using the well, the things around him, as his illustration.
  1. Jesus was listening to the Holy Spirit to know how to answer her (4:15-18)
    1. As we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, He gives us insight into people’s lives
    2. Illustration: baseball player from Union; the drug dealer.
  1. Jesus did not argue with her over religion when she threw it up as an obstacle (4:19-24).
    1. She was trying to avoid the issue of sin.
    2. Jesus simply spoke of who God is, and assured her that he is looking for worshipers.
  1. Jesus presented Himself as the long-promised Messiah (4:25-26).
    1. You have not witnessed until they know that you are presenting Jesus Christ, not tolerance, not good works, not human brotherhood, not good will and peace, but Jesus. He and He alone is the answer to the real need of people.
  1. The woman responded with belief, and hurried to tell the news to her community (4:28-30, 39-42).
    1. Community transformation through an outcast.
  • Many a person shunned by others is waiting for one of us to approach him or her.
  • Like Jesus, we can recognize the sin in others without accusing or condemning. We only need to show, as Jesus did, that we know others as they really are, and that God still cares.
  • We keep the offer of Christ in plain sight.
  • We focus on God – not religious talk.
  • We invite people to respond to Him.
Whosoever Will, Come-the Final Invitation
It was Dwight L. Moody who said, "Many men fold their arms and say, 'If I am one of the elect-in other words, one of those God willed to be saved-I shall be saved; and if I am not, I shall not. No use bothering about it.' I have an idea," he said, "that the Lord Jesus saw how men were going to stumble over this doctrine of election, so after He had been thirty or forty years in heaven, He came down and spoke to John. On the Lord's Day in Patmos He said to him: 'Write these things to the churches.' John kept on writing. His pen flew very fast. Then the Lord, when it was nearly finished, said: 'John, before you close the book, put in one more invitation: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." '