Last week, we took the time to break down the first thing that Jesus did to win the Samaritan woman’s soul in John 4. He took her by surprise. We discussed how we too need to begin to take our acquaintances by surprise in our every day conversations if we ever expect to begin to have successful spiritual dialogue with them. The fact of the matter is, if we ever truly want to have spiritual conversations with people, we are going to have to get out of the habit of talking about the same old things day after day. We also were given a challenge to make sure we are seen as a spiritual person before talking to someone about spirituality. We said that it was nonsensical to try to speak to someone about Christ without having first proven that you yourself actively and openly believed in Him.
All the things that Jesus did in order to win the Samaritan’s soul were in an effort to get her to drink the living water described in verses 10, 13, and 14. That is the goal for our evangelistic efforts… to lead them to take a drink of the living water. The living water that is described as being able to lead someone to never thirst again, and lead them to everlasting life. If we could get our prospects, contacts, and the lost around us to take a drink of the living water, it would do the rest. That is the problem though… getting them to take a drink. Hopefully through this series, we can identify what Jesus did to get the woman to take a drink and thus how we too can spread the living water to others.
Jesus was truly a master evangelist. He knew exactly what it would take to prick someone’s heart. Jesus had the highest aptitude for soul winning the world has ever seen. Thousands would follow Him around city to city to see the miracles He could perform, to hear the things He had to say, and to see what He might do next. The question today is, what did Jesus do next in the case of the Samaritan woman and how should that effect our evangelistic efforts? He knew who He was talking to. So many times, we can completely ruin our chances of reaching someone’s soul by not knowing who we are dealing with.
Jesus shows the Samaritan woman proof that there was something very different about Him in John 4:16-18. “Jesus said to her, ‘Go call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’” Jesus shows undoubtedly that He KNEW her. He knew who He was dealing with, and He knew exactly what to say to make the Samaritan woman understand that there was something very different about this encounter.
What does this mean for us today? For me, it tells me that before I try to discuss Christ with a co-worker, friend, neighbor, family member, classmate, or teammate… I need to have built rapport with them, to know who it is I am dealing with. So many times we can destroy our chances with someone by popping off some comment that might turn them away from the vulnerability needed to have a spiritual conversation with us. If we truly want to bring these people into the family of God, we are going to have to take the time to get to know them. Jesus had the gift of discerning the true innermost parts of people’s hearts. We do not have it that easy. We have to build a trust, a friendship, a relationship, and a rapport with our soul contacts before ever expecting to have success evangelistically with them.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People do not care how much you KNOW, until they know how much you CARE.” In no way was he making reference to evangelism and soul winning, but today this adage rings true in our context. Until we show people how much we truly care about them and their needs, they will not be open to listen to what we might say to help their spiritual needs. The idea that we expect that the lost will receive us with open arms when we reveal to them that they are lost without having first built some form of relationship with them… is crazy. There is no fast-food approach to evangelism. It is called PERSONAL EVANGELISM for a reason. We cannot be personally evangelistic if we do not know the person we are evangelizing.
Jesus truly gives us the perfect example to follow through His encounter with the Samaritan woman. He surprised her, and He knew who He was talking to. If we could just begin with these two things when it comes to our conversations with people, we could truly begin to see a difference being made. The same way Jesus showed the Samaritan woman that there was something genuinely different about Him, we too need to show the lost around us that there is something different about us… we care about them as a person just as much as we care about them as a soul.
– Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism