I’ve been studying through John in my morning Bible reading and I came to the well-known passage of the woman at the well in John chapter 4:
So [Jesus] came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
The woman was shocked that Jesus, a Jew, was speaking with her. It was unusual because, under cultural norms, Jews did not associate with Samaritan women. Jesus’s reply was very cryptic:
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
She, understandably, had no idea what he was talking about. Then Jesus sweetened the deal:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This is a familiar passage to me, it may be to you as well. I know the temptation is to tune out or gloss over things we’ve read often or heard lots of teachings on. Surprisingly, as I was reading this, the woman’s response struck me anew:
Sir, give me this water…
It was as if I took a step back and saw the situation in a different light. This is a model for evangelism. A perfect, Christ-given model for sharing the gospel. I gleaned a few things from this conversation that I think are valid guidelines for us in sharing the hope that we have with those who do not know the Lord. Here are the 4 things I recognized.
Don’t let the world’s guidelines dictate who you speak with
It’s obvious from the woman’s response to Jesus talking with her as well as the disciples response later (v. 27) that Jesus “shouldn’t” have been talking with the woman. His reaction? He didn’t care. He continued their conversation. In the same way, it’s important for us not to shy away from those who we “shouldn’t” talk to. The homeless, the “mean guy/girl” at work, the grouchy next door neighbor, those who believe/live differently than us, those involved in sin. These are all people who desperately need the gospel and the hope that Jesus gives. They are the ones who need living water.
Share the beauty of what you have
Jesus told the woman what he had: living water. He showed her that what she was lacking wasn’t actual water from the well, but soul water. He told her how she would thirst again drinking from the well, but drinking from the water of life she would never thirst again. The same is true when we share of the hope we have in Christ. What do we have in Him? Forgiveness, joy, purpose, peace, belonging, comfort, true love, community, and more. These are things the world is desperately searching and seeking in every way but through Christ. Show them by word and deed that you have it and are willing to tell them how to have it as well.
Point out the obstacle in the way
Jesus then showed the woman, through his intimate knowledge of her home life, that the obstacle in her way was her own sin. This one is the hardest for me and I’m not advocating going around telling everyone that they are wrong or in sin, but per Christ’s model, people must realize that they have sinned, that the sin is against God (Ro. 3:23), and that only belief in God and acceptance of His grace through Jesus Christ (Ro. 3:24) can be their salvation.
Realize it’s in God’s hands
Jesus’s final words to her were to admit the fact that he was the Messiah–the Christ–whom they were all waiting for. And in that, we can also see a vital part of sharing the gospel. Whether or not someone accepts the truth or even listens to us is in God’s hands. Were are only responsible for speaking up.
I know this information is probably not new to most of you, but I hope you can read it through fresh eyes. I know for me it renewed a sense of comfort to remember that Jesus has gone before us and, as Hebrews reminds us, “[W]e do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…” (Heb 4:15a).
My challenge to you (and myself) is to live at the well and share this soul water with everyone!
*Note: I’ve been listening to Bethany Barnard’s (formerly Bethany Dillon) new album, A Better Word and realized her song, At the Well, fits perfectly with this post! I especially love her line, “He’s not bringing shame to you at the well”. Check out the song on Spotify here and the album on Amazon here.