Evangelism lessons from the Savior: Part 4
The Samaritan woman shares the gospel with others.
Donn G. Dobberstein
She had long, flaming-red hair matching the lipstick she wore—dead giveaways of her Irish roots. She stuck out from the normal crowd: tall, equal to my height due to the extra-high heels on her feet. Every Sunday, she dressed to the hilt. Combined with a warm extrovert-personality bred from a southern Appalachian upbringing in the foothills of Tennessee, conversation with her was never lacking or boring. She spoke as if every word ought to be in capital letters and every sentence punctuated with an exclamation mark! Unafraid to say what was on her mind, she would tell you exactly as she saw things. “You don’t lie to people,” she was taught growing up.
When she heard something in the sermon she liked from the church pew, her cultural instinct kicked in: “Mm mm! Oh! Amen!” she would say out loud. What a stark contrast to midwestern sensibilities. I was strangely fascinated by someone doing the exact opposite of what most of us were told to do growing up, “Be quiet in church.”
Roxanne couldn’t be quiet, but she wasn’t doing it for show. Nor was it contrived. She heard the gospel, and it affected her. She just had to say something!
She caught on to people looking at her. She came out of church and whispered to me, “Pastor, I don’t think people here have seen the likes of me before. . . . You probably want less now, don’tcha?”
Changed by Jesus
Have you ever known someone with a reputation for being a bit over the top? I don’t know the personality of the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4, but from the little we know of her scandalous life, it caused people to rubberneck and stare as if slowly driving by the scene of a stalled vehicle alongside the road. She already paid dearly for it with ruined relationships and a tarnished reputation. She quietly melted into seclusion.
Then she met someone beautiful at the well. He pulled her out of societal obscurity and onto the enduring pages of Scripture where we meet her to this day. He tantalized her with living water to quench her thirsting soul and revealed her sin-scarred, mis-lived life. As the two of them talked, the conversation changed from casual to spiritual and from water to Word.
Something else changed: “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 Messiah?’ ” (John 4:28,29).
Jesus changed her! Can you see the changes?
She arrived with an empty water pot and an equally empty heart. She left without her water pot (John 4:28) but with a heart so filled that it became a vessel overflowing with a message that could quench more thirsty souls!
She arrived during an off-hour, probably to avoid cold stares and judgmental looks of her townspeople. Yet returning to town, the townspeople were the very ones she eagerly sought out! Why? Jesus changed her priorities. Hope replaced hopelessness. A desire to love supplanted any grudge she might have harbored. People became her priority. She was given something precious. She now wanted to give it to them.
She arrived with a life she wanted to hide. She left with her past life as the perfect lead for sharing God’s grace: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”
She arrived hesitant to speak to Jesus. She returned emboldened, passionate, and with purpose. “Come, see,” she simply told others.
Compelled to speak
When you see something beautiful, you want others to see it too! Jesus was the beautiful hero of her story. “Come, see!” she declared. These simple, yet powerful words piqued the curiosity of more people.
They came. They saw. The Samaritan woman’s excited, passionate testimony (4:39) led them back to the well to find the one whom she had found. They returned and said to her, “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 Savior of the world” (4:42)
It’s simply sharing the One who has changed your life. The Savior’s love compels us to speak and to share the gospel with others with the boldness, passion, and purpose of the Samaritan woman. It didn’t matter what she had done or how others had treated her in the past. All she knew was a man who showed her genuine love and caring. Jesus was the hero of her story. His love softened her heart so completely that she had to share the One who changed her.
It’s fascinating to note the people God uses to share. The Samaritan townspeople had a socially-outcast woman invite them. Red-haired Roxanne was invited by a quiet, reserved believer on the day of his adult confirmation. The kingdom came into his heart, so he shared it with her. Roxanne loved it. She invited two of her friends to join her.
Roxanne said, “Pastor, I don’t think people have seen the likes of me.” But Jesus has seen the likes of the Samaritan woman, and he’s seen the likes of Roxanne and all of us! That’s why he wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth!
Return. Repent. Rejoice.
Why is it so easy for us to lose our passion for sharing the good news of Jesus? With that loss of passion, why are we tempted to share the gospel less and less? And what can we do about it?
Return to the well with Jesus. Keep drinking the same living water the Samaritan woman found there: Jesus and his love.
Repent daily of the mistakes and flaws in your life. How desperate is our need for him!
Rejoice to hear again and again of the peace of forgiveness found in the One who knows everything about you. He’s changed you! “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The one changed by Jesus becomes the one who shares Jesus. The gospel of salvation through the crucified and risen Christ is incredibly personal. But it never was meant to remain private. It is to be shared publicly. The beauty of sharing your faith with someone is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. There is no one conversation or formula for sharing Jesus. You don’t have to be an extrovert. Just find a way—your way.
Rekindle and refresh your faith like the Samaritan woman. Have your own visit with Jesus. The Samaritan woman can inspire you to say, “Come, see.” Can you find the courage to say such simple words to someone?
If a Samaritan social outcast could invite an entire town of people to come and meet Jesus for themselves, think of those who can meet Jesus through you!
Donn Dobberstein, director of discipleship for WELS, is a member at Trinity, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
This is the last article in a four-part series on evangelism lessons from the account of the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4.
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Author: Donn G. Dobberstein
Volume 105, Number 10
Issue: October 2018
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