In the forth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The very fact that Jesus—a Jewish male, would talk to her—a Samaritan female, gets her attention and causes her to realize that there is something special about this man.
In the course of their conversation, Jesus reveals that He knows all about her life, and about her five failed marriages and her current unholy relationship. To this, the woman replies, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.”
As their conversation continues to progress, Jesus finally reveals Himself to her as the Christ, the Savior of the world. When the woman says, “I know that Messiah is coming…” He responds to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
This experience at the well with Jesus must have made a huge impact on the Samaritan woman. Surely His demeanor and countenance must have communicated to her great depths of knowledge, wisdom, spiritual insight, and godly love. She had every reason to believe that this was the Son of God.
The text tells us, “the woman left her water pot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.”
Notice what the woman did not say: “I found a man who I know for a fact to be the Christ. If you don’t believe it, you’re going to hell.” “It is so painfully obvious that this man is the Christ, you’d have to be an idiot to miss it!” “You must not question what I am telling you, He is the Christ. End of conversation.”
Instead, the woman invited the people to come to Jesus for themselves, and have their own unique experiences in His presence just as she had. She invited them to take up and explore the question of His legitimacy for themselves.
The outcome of this woman’s evangelism was very great: “Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’”
Will we learn from the example of this woman when we seek to bring people in our life to Jesus?
When we discourage the asking of questions, we stifle the personal experiences of discovery and genuine learning in those who are seeking for answers.
When we respond with shaming and disdain towards those who question what we should believe, we miss an excellent opportunity to say “let us reason together… turn with me to this passage, what does it seem to be saying?”
Often, when we become angry or upset because someone has challenged what we believe, we betray the reality that our own faiths are shallower than we would like to admit. We may need not only to invite our children, friends, and neighbors to come see for themselves what God is like and what His word truly says, we may need to go and see for ourselves all over again as well.
May we learn, like the Samaritan woman, to invite the people around us to evaluate the evidence for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Memorizing correct answers is not the same as true learning. True learning must take place in the individual.