Summary: When going into a new situation, it’s always good to be prepared for what’s going to happen ahead of time. In this passage, we see how people typically respond to the gospel in one-on-one evangelism.
Pastor Jim’s blog: http://brushforkbanner.blogspot.com
As you know, we’ve been in this passage for three weeks now. There’s a reason for that. The reason is that I think this is one of the best passages on personal evangelism in the whole Bible. The Bible is filled with personal evangelism encounters. But this one is unique. It’s unique because it seems to be the most typical of a complete encounter. Many times in Scripture, the passage is just a clip of what happened during the encounter. But here, evangelism is the focus. And because it’s the focus of the passage, we seem to have one of the most complete encounters in the Bible. As we study the book of John, it’s important to keep in mind the reason why the Holy Spirit had him write the book in the first place. You remember he gives us that reason in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” So, remember that this book isn’t the complete history of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. As a matter of fact, the last verse of the book speculates that all the books in the world couldn’t contain everything that Jesus did while He was here. So the book wasn’t written to give a complete history. The Holy Spirit carefully selected each event that’s recorded here for a purpose. Each event was carefully selected and recorded so that we might have a saving belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ. So when we see this event that’s been before us the past three weeks, we have to see it in that light. The only reason that it’s recorded in Scripture in the first place is for evangelism. The only reason we know anything at all about this woman’s encounter with Jesus is that we might believe in Him. And as believers, we study this passage and learn from it in order that we might apply it. And with this passage in particular, the way we apply it is by using the principles we see in it to tell people about Jesus. This passage is about one-on-one evangelism. It is about directly passing the good news of Jesus Christ from our mouths to another person’s ear. When we study this passage, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, Jesus had certain advantages that we don’t have. Because Jesus is God, He was able to know the woman’s heart and her history before He even started talking to her. Obviously we can’t do that. So that’s why we have to build relationships with lost people. We have to build relationships with them so we can at least know a little bit about their heart and their history. But even though Jesus had that advantage over us, He didn’t use any other advantages He had. In other words, the only tool that He used with this woman was words. He didn’t do any miracles. He didn’t perform any signs or wonders. He didn’t heal her. He didn’t miraculously bring water out of the well. As a matter of fact, He didn’t do anything. He just talked to her. The only God-like thing He did with her was to read her heart. And that’s something that we can do to a certain extent just by talking to a person and building a relationship with them. Did you know that that’s why God has you where you are in the first place? God has divinely appointed you to be where you are in order that you might reach somebody. He brings lost people into your life in order that you might build relationships with them. And as you build relationships with them, you are to be constantly living the gospel before them. But not only are you to live the gospel in front of them, you are to tell the gospel to them. And do you know what? Those lost people that God has given you… they are uniquely your responsibility. He didn’t give you lost friends and family for someone else to reach. He surrounds you with them so that you will reach them. That’s why we call it personal evangelism. Not professional evangelism. God doesn’t call us to be a referral service. Inviting your lost friends and family members to church is great. But it is not a substitute for giving them the gospel. It doesn’t replace the need for the Gospel to come directly from your mouth into their ears. Evangelism is most effective when it’s done the way that God designed it to be done. He designed evangelism to be done one-on-one through relationships. The closer the relationship, the more effective it is. That’s why it’s so important to live the gospel and speak the gospel to your family. The Lord is responsible for the results. You’re responsible for the evangelism. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen some patterns in this passage. We saw the pattern of people as we compared Nicodemus with the woman at the well. We saw that even though they were completely different people with different backgrounds and different social standings… they both had the same need. They were both lost and needed Jesus. Then last week, we saw the pattern of evangelism. We saw how Jesus was intentional and determined and flexible and bold and focused and clear in His evangelism. This morning, we’re going to look at the same encounter… but we’re going to look at it from a different angle. Last week we looked at it from the perspective of Jesus’ presentation. This morning we’re going to look at it from the perspective of the woman’s response. Any time we start to think seriously about evangelism, that’s one of the first barriers to come up in our mind, isn’t it? Well, how are they going to respond? Are they going to get mad at me? Are they going to be offended? Are they going to laugh at me? Are they going to quit speaking to me? How is that lost person that God has placed in your life going to respond to you? That’s what makes us so uncomfortable, isn’t it? We can talk about the weather all day long. We can talk about cars or sports or food or our kids all day long. We can talk about those things because they are non-confrontational. They are personal, but they don’t expose us to eternal issues. But one of the reasons the Lord has given us this passage is to show us how people will react to personal evangelism. And at least when we know how they might react, we can be prepared for it. We can go into it with our eyes wide open. And once again, we trust Him with the results. So, since we’ve already looked at the pattern of evangelism, it’s time we looked at the pattern of response. And, just as there were six parts to the pattern of evangelism, there are six parts to the pattern of response. But here’s how it’s different. Last week, I tried to make it clear that we have to have all six parts of the pattern of evangelism. We have to be intentional. We have to be determined. We have to be flexible. We have to be bold. We have to be focused. And we have to be clear. If we leave out one of those, we risk giving people an incomplete gospel. And an incomplete gospel isn’t the gospel at all. But the pattern of response is different. Because people are different. And since people are different, they will respond in different ways. As the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life, they might be ripe for harvest. But while one person is completely ready, another person’s heart might be hard and cold. People respond differently to the gospel. The wonderful thing about this passage is that the woman responded six different ways. Her first response was defensive.