From Outcast to Evangelist

Just then His disciples returned and were surprised to find Him talking with a woman.  But no one asked,  “What do you want?”  or  “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,  “Come, see the 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.  John 4: 27-30.

What we have is abbreviated, I’m sure, for the townsfolk weren’t going to go see someone based just on this woman’s word.  Something must have happened in her, however, to stir them up enough to go see who she was referring to and they were curious.

The reaction of the disciples, though, amuses me.  It’s kind of like John recorded their speechlessness with a rueful grin and a shake of his head.  Hindsight always allows us the luxury of seeing how utterly silly we can be and I think John tells us about the disciples reaction on purpose in order to demonstrate how little they understood about their Master’s purpose.  The fact that they were aghast is readily apparent in the text; the woman herself struggled with the fact that Jesus spoke to her at all, so why not the disciples?  They would buy food out of necessity from these Samaritans but they wouldn’t be found discussing the weather, let alone theological truths.

Also, I think John intimates that they had followed Jesus long enough to not second guess Him or question His actions too much.  Since they began following Him, they had noticed (because it was in their face constantly) that He rarely performed on demand, never took the path predicted and generally worked the works of God in a method diametrically opposed to the teaching of the day.  Their Jesus walked to His own music and wouldn’t dance at the piping of pouting children (the leaders of Israel, see Luke 7: 29-35) or become a performing circus act for the amusement of the unbelieving.

Later, we see the disciples, John and Peter, reaping a great harvest of converts in Samaria because of the above event.  By that time,however, they had learned the gospel extended at least to the Samaritans, though they weren’t going so far as to apply it to gentiles in general.  Their reasoning included the Samaritans in part because Jesus included them and the Samaritans had Jewish blood in their heritage and therefore were worthy of the gospel.

The woman on the other hand, lost all need for water, social decorum or fear of censure, for she forgot clean about her water jar in the joy of sharing Jesus with everyone she knew.  The story gives us the contrast of her lonely trek to the well to get water with her change of heart and attitude going back to share Jesus.  Though there are several important lessons to be gleaned from this story, I believe this is the most important one.  The hopeless find hope, the outcast finds belonging, and the sinner finds forgiveness and reconciliation.

The outcast became an immediate evangelist from sheer delight not some religious obligation.  It didn’t take her years to grow into one either because this whole incident couldn’t have take more than an hour or may be even less.  She didn’t know all the theological mysteries, couldn’t have argued effectively about the messiah as far as an in depth look at the subject might go, but she could testify to what God had just done for her.

Herein lies the key to effective evangelism:  Testifying to what we know.

We might not understand all the mysteries of creation, the formal history of the church, be able to answer all the doubter’s questions or prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus is God, but if our lives demonstrate the change, it’s impossible to refute.  If we show the attitude difference that Jesus brings through His grace and mercy, that love we know spills over onto others.

Because of this woman’s efforts, an entire town found the Way.  Her status of outcast became a tool for Jesus to wedge into hardened hearts and closed minds a glimpse of light and hope.  Here was a Jewish rabbi giving the outcasts through one of their own outcasts light, love and salvation.

If this were a game of chess and salvation a prize, Jesus put the enemy in checkmate and won the day in the most unlikely move ever.

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One Response to “From Outcast to Evangelist”

  1. Joel Says:

    Wow. This story is almost like a rebuke to Christians today, especially the Christians living in leisureful areas like America, Canada and most of Europe. It seems that it’s all about us and never about Christ.

    The attitude of this woman, who was motivated to share Christ by nothing other than sheer joy, is definitely a rebuke to us. It’s rather ironic how we can learn so much from a woman from a time period where women could teach nothing. It’s truly the power of God in using the weakest and worst of the bunch to do His will.

    Thanks for this entry!

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