This week we’re looking at the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, and what we can learn from him about raising people’s interest in his life-giving message. (You probably want to start with Monday’s short post to get the framework.)
Today, we look at two final ways in which is our model witness:.
6. Witness that seeks to impact a whole network
Unfortunately, just as Jesus starts to get somewhere, his dialogue with the woman comes to an abrupt end. The disciples return and she scuttles off, embarrassed. But this turns out to be no bad thing. In fact, she’s been impacted enough by what Jesus has said to go and tell her whole town.
28-30 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 ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
A little later, and the whole town’s been impacted by the woman’s witness:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ 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.’
Jesus might have started a conversation with one person, but it certainly didn’t stay that way. And I’m guessing Jesus knew that from the start. In creating an intentional interaction with this one woman, he was looking to impact a whole village – a whole network with the gospel. Something we would do well to remember. There are whole networks out there of people who don’t know Jesus; whole networks that may come to know Jesus simply because we start one conversation with one person.
What about you? Are you a follower of Jesus today because another person in your family first came to know Jesus? Or one person at your workplace? Your social group?
Entire families are at my church because someone bothered to be a witness to the gospel in the life of just one. Entire friendship networks are at my church because of the witness of just one. About fifteen years ago, one girl in our youth group, took this call seriously. Despite being about 4 ft tall in year 7, she was one scary customer. She kept inviting her friends to youth group and, according to the testimony of one of her friends, they were too afraid to say no. That friend is now a full-time gospel worker with Youth With A Mission. Two other friends are now key leaders in our youth ministry. All three weren’t brought up to know Jesus, and are now actively sharing the gospel with their own families.
Gospel witness seeks to impact whole networks.
7. Witness that delights in the task
Aren’t the possibilities exciting? Jesus seemed pretty excited. Have a listen to how he describes it to his disciples:31-35 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. … I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’
When was the last time you were so excited about something that you didn’t need to eat?
As a child, apparently for me it was cricket. Wouldn’t even stop for drinks. Mum was reduced to misquoting scripture at me: ‘Man shall not live on cricket alone’.
Of course, Jesus needed to eat. But there’s something that’s even more important than food; something feeds not Jesus’ physical body, but his soul. His food – what keeps him going – is not a double-shot espresso in the morning or a hit of Red Bull at three in the afternoon. It’s the buzz he gets from bringing people the message of salvation. It excites him; it energises him; it’s what he lives for.
What our world needs now more than anything is a generation of believers who are as excited about sharing the gospel as Jesus was. Who live for it. And who, like Jesus, are even prepared to die for it.
You’ve seen the master at work. Now go out and follow in his footsteps. We’re not called to save the world all by ourselves. Just start one intentional conversation with someone this week. Intrigue them with the gospel; raise their interest; ask a difficult question; point them in some way in the direction of faith in the one who can give them living water – living water that wells up in them into eternal life. Guide them to their destination.
And if that does happen – and it happens more often than you might think – when that does happen, you’re not going to need coffee for a week. Because our food is to do the will of the one who has sent us, and to finish his work.