Soul Winning in Samaria
Topic: Evangelism Passage: John 4:27–4:42
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn't able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."
Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994.
Jesus has given us the precious gospel, the good news that because of His death on the cross, all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. He’s given us this message and he tells us, “Take it into the world, and let people hear it.”
That’s what he and his disciples are doing in John 4. Jesus reveals his identity as the messiah to the woman at the well and then, and with her help, he shares the good news of the kingdom to the Samaritan people from the town of Sychar.
Soul Winning in Samaria
1. Jesus confesses He is the Christ. (4:26-30)
27 Just then his disciples came back.
• Just when? Let’s go back a couple verses to see. What was going on just as the disciples arrived.
25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
• Perfect Timing: God’s timing is perfect. He’s sovereignly guiding these events. The disciples arrive on the scene just as Jesus plainly states for the first time that He is the the Christ.
o Earlier: If the disciples had arrived earlier, they would have disrupted the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.
o Later: If the disciples had arrived a moment later, they would have missed Jesus declaration that He is the Christ.
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”
• They didn’t say it, but I’m sure they thought it.
o What do you seek? – You must be pretty desperate for something. Otherwise, we have no idea why you would be speaking with her.
o Why are you talking with her? This scene that the disciples come upon is shocking to them on three accounts.
• Declaration: Jesus just said he was the Christ.
• Woman: The Pharisees had a saying: “Let no one talk to a woman in the street, no not [even] with his own wife.” So it was surprising to the disciples that he would be talking to a woman in public.
• Samaritan: As is stated in verse 9, the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. They despised the Samaritans.
o What do you seek?
• Water: Practically speaking, Jesus was thirsty. He asks her for a drink. His aim was partly to satisfy his physical thirst, but mainly he wanted to get a conversation going with this woman. He saw the fields that were white for harvest and He was ready to start reaping.
• Accomplish His Mission: As He states in verse 34, he was on a mission to accomplish the work the Father had given him to do.
28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town…
• Forgot it: Some say she forgot it. She was so excited that she had found the Christ that physical, earthly things just lost importance for her. And she ran into town so ecstatic about the good news she had to share that she just forgot her water pot.
• Left it: Other commentators point out that the text does not say “forgot” but rather left. The same Greek word is used in 4:3 when it says that Jesus “left Judea”. He didn’t forget Judea, he just left there to go to another place.
• So, if she didn’t forget the water pot, then why did she leave it?
o She was coming back.
o She could get into town and get back quicker if she didn’t have to carry the pot.
o This was her way of saying “Yes” to Jesus. Jesus had asked her for water, basically, “Can I drink from your water pot?” She left the pot so he could get a drink.
o (Disclaimer: Commentators don’t all agree how far along this woman is in her faith at this point.) But I think she was at least starting to believe what Jesus said in verses 22 through 24, not only that salvation was from the Jews, but that this salvation was not just for Jews but for her as well…and that Samaritans could be true worshipers who worshipped God in spirit and truth. The schism between Jews and Samaritans was not needed. Jesus didn’t treat her as other Jews treated her. He didn’t give her the silent treatment. He didn’t shun her. The rest of the Jews would never have spoken to her, and they definitely would not have drunk from a Samaritan woman’s water pot. When she left that water pot, she did it on purpose. She was subtly sending Jesus a message, “I think I get it. I’m starting to believe. You’re the Jewish messiah, but you’re not just the messiah for Jews, you’re the messiah for me too. So go ahead take a drink from my water pot. Take as many drinks as you would like, for I have drunk from your water pot. I’ve tasted of the living water and I’ll never thirst again.”
o Jesus smile: I think Jesus understood this. I imagine him watching her run off into Sychar and then looking down at the water pot as smile comes across his face…and in his heart he rejoices, “She gets it!”
28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
• “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did.”
o Miracle: She speaks of Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of her life.
o No more shame: She doesn’t seem to care anymore about her reputation. She refers “all that I ever did” which she knows is going to bring up thoughts in people’s minds about her sordid past, but she doesn’t care anymore.
o She Drank: I think that’s because she had drank of the living water. Her faith in Jesus had somehow changed her. She didn’t need to live in shame any more. She thought to herself about her wicked past and she didn’t wince in pain anymore, but rather she thought to herself, “That’s who I was. That’s not who I am.” I’ve encountered the messiah and somehow everything is different.
• “Can this be the Christ?”
o Literally: This is NOT the Christ, is it? She asks the question in the negative.
o Non-threatening Method: She states a fact and then asks the question, can this be the Christ?
o Why doesn’t she just say it outright? She believes. Why doesn’t she just say, “I have found the Christ!”? Why does she ask a question? And why does she use the negative?
o Consider her reputation: She’s the town flusy. She’s had at least 6 men. 5 husbands and now she’s got a live-in that she’s not married to. She doesn’t have the best reputation in town.
o So She takes a gentle approach, just stating what happened, asking the question and leaving it up to them to check it out for themselves.
o How do they respond? Verse 30 says…
30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
• Jesus had attracted her curiosity and she used the same strategy to get the people of her town curious about Jesus so they would check him out.
• Jesus actions had surprised them, it caught them off guard, and the Holy Spirit was working on their hearts drawing them to Jesus.
o Why would he come here?
o Why would he talk to this lady?
o How did he know her past?
o We’ve got to check this out.
Jesus takes this moment: While the Samaritan woman is in town telling everyone. Jesus takes this moment to teach his disciples a lesson on evangelism.
2. Jesus teaches the disciples a lesson on evangelism. (4: 31-38)
• And vs 31, says “Meanwhile”.
• Jesus doesn’t waste a moment. While she’s out proclaiming, Jesus decides to teach his disciples a couple of lessons.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
• My food: What nourishes and sustains me. What energizes me is to do the Father’s will.
• Chicken Coup: Danny and I were talking about this passage this week. I asked him, “Do you ever get so into your work that you forget to eat?” He mentioned this chicken coup he’s been building the last few weeks. He’s put chicken wire all around it and even underground fortification to keep predators out. He’s been working on the perches and the nests where they lay the eggs. Putting chicken wire under the perches so the poop can fall to the ground. He’s created an opening in the back so he can reach in and grab the eggs. Danny is creating a state-of-the-art chicken coup. And he admitted that sometimes he gets to into it, so excited about his work, that he forgets to eat.
• Work: I really enjoy graphic design projects. And sometimes at work, I’ve gotten so into what I’m doing that I completely forget about lunch. By the time I realize that I’m hungry, it’s 2:00, 3:00 or 3:30. I think to myself, “Hmmm… If I eat now, then I won’t be hungry for dinner.”
• Jesus was working on a project; he was on a mission! John 4:4 says he “had to pass through Samaria.” Not that he physically, had to pass through there, but the work of the Lord required it. Jesus meat, his sustenance more than physical food was doing God’s will.
o Doing God’s will is so satisfying. There is a hollowness, a void, an emptiness in this life that cannot be filled with food.
o But this void is filled with satisfaction and determination when you know you’re doing God’s will.
o That’s where Jesus is! --- He’s in the center of God’s will ministering to this Samaritan woman and he’s about to be ministering to the whole town.
o “Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure, and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.” – J. Campbell White, Secretary of Laymen’s Missionary Movement, 1909.
Transition: This is what satisfies Jesus…harvesting souls…bringing people to God. He explains this to his disciples and without missing a beat he continues his lesson on evangelism.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
o 4 months to harvest: These disciples must be thinking, “The fields aren’t white. They’re green. What’s he talking about?”
o Then Jesus says, “LOOK!” Lift up your eyes for the fields are white unto harvest.
o The disciples look across the fields and little white specks start to appear. These white specks get larger and larger. The Samaritans, who wore white, are walking through the fields to get to Jesus. These white specks turn into turbans and robes as the people of the town get closer and closer to Jesus. [Stop at the people on their knees.]
o Jesus had a lot of great moments in his ministry, but I wonder if this one might have been one of his favorites.
o What a beautiful story…the Samaritan woman…the disciples arriving at just the right moment…the people of Sychar approaching Jesus from beyond the fields…just as Jesus says, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
o The sun and water and soul…over time…start to change the wheat…and the wheat turns from green to white when it is ready to be harvested. Similarly, the Holy Spirit has been working in the hearts of these people and they are ready to be harvested. They are ready to be brought into the kingdom of God.
o In essence, Jesus is saying, “See all these people coming to meet the messiah. They are the harvest!”
o “Rejoice my friends, it’s time to reap!”
36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
• Reap that for which you didn’t labor: The hard labor of sowing has already been done. The disciples have the joy of bringing in the harvest they didn’t work for.
• So who labored for this harvest? Who planted the seeds?
o Samaritan Woman: She’s been going through the town sowing the seeds of curiosity about the possibility of Jesus being the Christ. But she’s not first to sow.
o Jesus sowed into her life.
o The prophets as well…specifically prophets like Amos and Hosea who prophesied mostly or even exclusively to those in the northern kingdom who later became the Samaritans.
o Some commentators say John the Baptist ministered to Samaritans and baptized some of them.
o All these men and women have sown to get these people to this special moment. Go get ‘em! It’s time to reap!
o You have entered into their labors. You pick up where they left off. You are standing on the shoulder of giants, that’s why you can see so far, that’s why you’re in this position where with one swoop of the scythe you can bring in the harvest that so many have labored for hundreds and thousands of years to plant and cultivate.
• Lessons on Sowing and Reaping:
1. There is great reward to be gained.
Vs. 36 “The one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life”
What are the wages? – 2 types of wages that come to my mind
1. The souls that the reapers bring in
o The Probers 11:30 says, “He who is wise wins souls.”
o Thought the reaper brings them in, these wages are credited to both to the sower and the reaper that’s why they both “rejoice together.”
o What better wage than to know that you were used by God to accomplish something that will last forever?
Build a business and it will fall apart very quickly
Build a building and it will be torn down and replaced in a generation or two.
Build an empire and it too will end up in the scrap heap along with the accomplishments of Alexander the Great, Assyria, Persia, Babylon and Rome. Once great empires, but today they are just things of the past.
o Win a soul to Christ and that gain for Christ’s kingdom will last forever!
Treasures in Heaven
o And along with these souls, you will gain what Christ refers to as “treasure in heaven”, great rewards beyond your wildest imagination. Jesus says in (Matthew 6:20), “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Inconceivable riches, blessing and pleasure. Think of the happiest most satisfying moments here on earth…double it, triple it, raise it to the 10th power. The rewards you receive for kingdom work outweigh any gain you will ever acquire here on earth.
o Jim Elliot said it well: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Click to Remove Jim Elliot
2. Sowers, don’t underestimate the importance of your work.
If you’re sowing and not seeing the harvest come in, take heart the Lord uses his sowers…and the sowing comes before the reaping. You may be planting a crop that will someday grow up and become a bountiful harvest.
3. Do the hard work of sowing.
Often, we don’t want to do the hard work of pulling the weeds, tilling the ground, planting seeds, faithful watering, keeping the birds away… We labor day after day.
And then some guy shows up at harvest time and lops off the heads of wheat we’ve worked so hard to grow. We did all the work, but it seems like he gets all the credit.
We get so much satisfaction from results, but what did Jesus get his satisfaction from? Vs. 34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.”
Whether you’re sowing or reaping, get your satisfaction from doing His will.
“We all have unique spiritual gifts. We are told to “wait on” those gifts; to devote ourselves to them. One goal I have is to use my gift in such a way that it has evangelistic impact. I’m not much of an evangelist. But when I can, I teach with evangelistic purpose and orientation. People with gifts of mercy, helps, leadership, service, prophesying, etc., can all feel better about themselves if they realize that God would have them focus on their gifts, but also use them to “do the work of an evangelist.” – Dean Davis
4. Reapers, don’t forget those who have sown.
If you’re reaping, consider how many others may have sown to get this soul to place where he/she was ready to be harvested.
5. Remember that often one sows and another reaps.
Often, the one who sows is not the one who reaps.
And often, the one who reaps did little or none of the sowing.
Also, God uses us differently at different times. Sometimes, he may be using you to sow, other times to reap.
6. Sowers and reapers, rejoice together!
We’re a team! We need each other.
Don’t become upset if you’re primarily used to sow and your brother is used to reap. Rejoice together!
Good Cop/Bad Cop: One time, God has used my dad and I like a Good Cop/Bad Cop Scenario. The bad cop goes in there are roughs the guy up. “If you don’t cooperate, we can put you away for a long time.” Then, the good cop comes in, “Sorry about that bro. He’s a little high strung. But think about it. If you’re willing to work with us, we can come up with something that will really benefit you.” The bad cop emphasizes the threats of the law and the good cop emphasizes the benefits of compliance.
When I was at home with my parents, a relative was living with us. I was concerned about his salvation because of the way he was living, and I told him so. I said. “I’m afraid you may end up in hell.” It’s amazing how quickly a conversation ends when you mention hell. My relative didn’t really want to talk to me after that, but what I said shook him up and he went to talk with my dad. Dad shared the grace of God with him and gently and lovingly brought him into the kingdom. He started reading his Bible and showing a marked change in his life after that time. I remember being a little discouraged about it at first, thinking, “I hate being the bad guy.” But the Lord encouraged me with verses like this. One sows. Another reaps. Both rejoice! And, I rejoice that God used my dad and I to do a work in this man’s life.
After the lesson on evangelism, Jesus has the disciples put it into practice immediately. What a great teacher! Lesson and the Lab. There’s the teaching part and the hands on experience.
3. Jesus and His disciples harvest souls in Samaria. (4:39-42)
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
• Never underestimate the power of your testimony!
o But I don’t have a good reputation! ---- Neither did she.
o But I’m not a man. ---- Neither was she.
o But I’m not in a position of power or influence. ---- Neither was she.
o God uses the weak things of this world to shame the wise.
o So let us use the gifts God has given us to spread his message. Let us stop concerning ourselves with our inadequacies and start concerning ourselves with His gospel. Let’s get to the point where we don’t care anymore about the praise of man. Man’s praise is not my sustenance, but my food is to do the will of the father!
o I think the people God uses most greatly are the people that are willing to die for His gospel.
o Colossians 1:24: Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
Not that there was any lack in regard to Christ’s atonement. It was finished on the cross. He paid the full price for our sin.
But Christ’s suffering on the cross was not the end of the sufferings of God’s people…but just the beginning.
God advances His gospel on the backs of His martyrs and on the backs of those who are willing to die for the sake of Christ.
o David Platt at the recent Together for the Gospel conference described the great need for the gospel message across our world.
Northern Yemen: Out 8 million people, there are only 20-30 Christians.
2 Billion Unreached People in the world: You say, “Yeah, there are unreached people right down the street from me. No, not like this. These are people who have no access to the gospel. They are born, they live and they die never having heard of Jesus Christ.” God calls us to reach these people with His message.
Like the collector told Fritz Kreisler: "It's yours, Sir… It’s yours Madam… It’s yours young man. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."
Platt tells the story of the Romanian pastor Joseph Tson who was being tortured and interrogated by 6 men. Joseph Tson said to one of the men:
“What is taking place here is not an encounter between you and me. This is an encounter between my God and me. . . . My God is teaching me a lesson [through you]. I do not know what it is. Maybe he wants to teach me several lessons. I only know, sirs, that you will do to me only what God wants you to do—and you will not go one inch further—because you are only an instrument of my God.”
Tson later commented: “Every day, I saw those six pompous men as nothing more than my Father’s puppets!”
During an early interrogation I had told an officer who was threatening to kill me, “Sir, let me explain how I see this issue. Your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. Here is how it works. You know that my sermons on tape have spread all over the country. If you kill me, those sermons will be sprinkled with my blood. Everyone will know I died for my preaching. And everyone who has a tape will pick it up and say, ‘I’d better listen again to what this man preached, because he really meant it; he sealed it with his life.’ So, sir, my sermons will speak ten times louder than before. I will actually rejoice in this supreme victory if you kill me.” After I said this, the interrogator sent me home. Another officer who was interrogating a pastor friend of mine told him, “We know that Mr. Tson would love to be a martyr, but we are not that foolish to fulfill his wish.” I stopped to consider the meaning of that statement. I remembered how for many years, I had been afraid of dying. I had kept a low profile. Because I wanted badly to live, I had wasted my life in inactivity. But now that I had placed my life on the altar and decided I was ready to die for the Gospel, they were telling me they would not kill me! I could go wherever I wanted in the country and preach whatever I wanted, knowing I was safe. As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it.”
This is the kind of determination Jesus had when he brought the good news to this earth. He came ready to die. He was energized and filled with determination as he did the Father’s will. And the will of the father here in John 4 was harvesting souls in Samaria.
40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word.
• I’m not opposed to meeting for an hour or two a week, but sometimes people are so green, so needy of the word that an hour or two just won’t cut it. Jesus put on the breaks. He laid any other plans aside and he spent 2 whole days teaching the people about the kingdom of God.
• Discipleship means Staying! “They asked him to stay with them.” Jesus “stayed there 2 days”. Discipleship take a serious investment of time!
• Often, the work for the reaper is after the reaping. This new soul that’s brought into the kingdom may need a lot of discipleship to get strong in the Lord.
• Jesus takes the time to disciple the Samaritans, to build them up in their faith.
• Matthew 28:19, Jesus doesn’t say go make converts… He says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Transition: After Jesus tales the time to build up these Samaritans in their faith, they go back to the Samaritan woman who sowed the seeds and look what they tell her. [VERSE 42]
42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
• They said, “We have heard for ourselves.” That’s the goal of evangelism. Get them to Jesus! Share your testimony to spark curiosity in their hearts, so they’ll go to Jesus and hear for themselves.
• They say, now it’s not just because of what you have said. But now we have heard for ourselves. It’s almost as if they are minimizing the value of the role that she played in bringing them to Jesus. And how does she respond?
• I think she does the same thing that Jesus and the disciples are doing. She rejoices.
• Just like Jesus said, “The sower and the reaper rejoice together!”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”