In today’s Bible reading* we read a familiar story about the power of eyewitness testimony. It’s the story of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar.
The shortest path to Galilee from Judea would take them through Samaria, but most Jews went out of their way (literally), crossing and traveling East of the Jordan River. So why would the Jews avoid going through Samaria?
You may remember from our reading several months ago in 2 Kings 17:24–31 that some of God’s people settled in Samaria and married Gentiles who didn’t have knowledge of God and the residents even practiced child sacrifice. The Samaritans had a mixed ethnicity, having both Jewish and Gentile ancestry. And therein lay the rub. Because they weren’t purely Jewish, the Jewish people felt the Samaritans were defiled. They were compromised. But if you remember from our reading, the Jewish people were far from pure! That’s why they were exiled!
Jesus planted seeds with the woman and told her things a stranger would have had no way of knowing. He knew that she had been married four times previously and was currently cohabitating with a man she wasn’t married to.
Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
They left the town and made their way to him.
John 4:28–30 (CSB)
The townspeople came out to check out what the Samaritan woman told them. If Jesus had told her everything she had ever done — including the fact that she was living with a man who she wasn’t married to — one can only wonder what else she had done involving the people of Sychar. If Jesus knew about her, He probably also knew about them!
It was in this context — someone told people about an encounter with Jesus and they came to hear more — that Jesus told His Disciples that the fields were ready for harvest. The people were open to hearing more!
How often do we approach evangelism like a “cold call” telemarketer or door-to-door salesman? Having a relationship with someone is much more likely to increase sales — and win converts — than a cold call approach.
Walking up to someone you’ve never met may open up an opportunity to bring them to Jesus. But talking with a friend about Jesus will probably open up better opportunities.
If you have had an encounter with Jesus, you can give eyewitness testimony to what He has done in your life. And eyewitness testimony is a powerful thing!
Don’t worry about saying the right words. Just share your heart and how Jesus has changed your life. Pray about opportunities to tell people about Jesus. And just make it part of normal conversation.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: