Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35)
I recall the first time my father put me on a bicycle. “I can’t do it!” I screamed. He continued to work with me, I fell several times, but at last I learned to ride. My father knew the ability was in me if I would develop it. When we are confronted with the responsibility of sharing our faith, we may become ashen white, and our knees begin to knock. We think, “I can’t do it!” Yet, we have the Holy Spirit within us to enable us—if we are willing to learn. Jesus sets the standard for soul-winning. In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, we can see how it is done.
Jesus had a passion for His mission. He was ever about doing His Father’s business of making disciples. Christ felt compelled to take a trip to Samaria (v.1-4). There was a thirsty soul there—waiting to drink of the Well of Salvation. Jews didn’t do this, however, as racial and religious prejudice were barriers to interchange with the Samaritans. Jesus was not going to yield to such sinful thinking. He was into building bridges rather than barricades. There are really only two kinds of people—those who are saved and those who need to be—and God has given His children the task of leading the lost to eternal life.
It was a long walk to Samaria. Jesus pressed on, for He had an appointment to keep (v.5-7). God gives us these divine appointments, if we are attentive. He brings us repeatedly into the intersection of testimony and opportunity. Today we may find ourselves in apparently random encounters with many different folks. These are not coincidental, but providential, if we will be conscious of our mission, and listen for the Spirit’s prompting to present the Gospel. Jesus saw in the woman who came to Jacob’s Well to draw water, a deeper spiritual thirst in her soul. People like this are everywhere. We see them every day. Do we look beyond the surface, however, and listen to the longing of their heart?
The Supreme Soul-winner engages her in conversation (v.10-14). His starts where she is and naturally turns the conversation to her spiritual need. There is an art to doing this, and we can learn how. Once the conversation turns to the Gospel, we must work to prevent it from being side-tracked. The woman, perhaps growing uncomfortable with the direction the discussion was taking, does what sinners often do, brings up religion and starts raising objections (v.15-20). She knew that her repeated marital failures and her current status of living with a man outside of marriage were wrong. Her conscience was convicted and she didn’t want to face it, so she brings up “denominational differences,” so to speak.
Jesus redirects the dialogue back to the central matter—belief in Him that would bring her salvation (v.21-27). One of the reasons we are often fearful of sharing our faith is the concern that others will raise all kinds of theological questions that we cannot answer. While we should be prepared to have these discussions, our real purpose is to bring people to the core issue—“What are you going to do with Jesus? Will you believe in Him?” The woman was transformed and becomes a soul-winner herself (v.28-42)! The result was a great harvest of souls.
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings