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13 - The Woman's Testimony

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?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 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. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. 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.”

The essentials of Jesus’ day were far more basic than what we consider to be essentials today. No one checked their pockets before leaving for the day to ensure that they had their phone on them. The essentials were water and the components for the day’s bread. This speaks to the significance of the woman’s conversation with Jesus – she left her water jar. She had apparently received the living water of which Jesus spoke and came to see that even the universally recognized essential of water was not what truly mattered – it was the presence of Christ, the living God, which made the difference. Without Him, all the water in the world could never satisfy. With Him, even water is a bonus and a blessing, for nothing compares to what He can do for the body and soul.

Jesus Himself goes on to speak to the disciples concerning the significance of spiritual sustenance over the needs of the physical body. That which sustains Jesus is obedience to the will of the Father. This is apparently true of all people. When, for instance, Moses was on Mt. Sinai with God, Exodus 34:28 reports, “So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Even in Moses’ case, it is possible to be sustained comfortably for extended periods of time by deep and meaningful relationship with God such that the needs of the physical body become insignificant by comparison. In the case of revivals and outpourings of the Spirit, for instance, many report spending many hours in the presence of God and feeling no desire to tend to physical needs. They will often report that they spent hours in a space and felt as if they had only been there for a few minutes. Such reports appear to be common experiences when it comes to dwelling in the manifest presence of God. Does this mean we need only spend time in intense prayer and meditation, neglecting food and drink completely? Of course not. Moses comes down from the mountain and he eats and drinks again. Jesus is documented as eating and drinking on numerous occasions throughout His earthly ministry. The point is not to fast indefinitely and never eat again; the point is that, if we come to rely entirely on the things of this world to sustain us, we will never find ourselves truly fulfilled. The one who is fulfilled is the one who relies, above all else, on the power and presence of God.

This discussion of the need for spiritual food is what leads, ultimately, to the Samaritans’ reception of Christ. This episode stands in stark contrast to the reaction of the Jews in the Gadarenes (Mt 8:28-34), who asked Jesus to leave their town. The Samaritans – those who are not allowed to have anything to do with Jews – ask Jesus to stay and they believe in Him because of the words which He speaks. It is those who were previously outside of the kingdom of God who are now receiving it with the utmost readiness and joy.

One of the greatest challenges for “church people” is, in my experience, acceptance of those who do not fit the accepted culture of that particular congregation. If your congregation doesn’t open its arms to the bikers, the addicts, the ones who don’t “fit the bill” for what the churchgoer needs to look like in your opinion, what you have is something that doesn’t look a whole lot like the kingdom of God. The kingdom isn’t a bunch of people of the same skin color and socioeconomic background sitting in pews and facing forward while singing hymns in the slowest pacing they can muster; it’s the Samaritans, those on the outside who have come to know the King of kings and Lord of lords because He encountered them where they were. Christ goes to the well. He goes to the places where others are unwilling to go, talks to those whom others would look down upon. If we do not do likewise, we’ve missed the point.

Our testimony of Christ can make all the difference for those we encounter. The question is, what do we preach concerning Jesus of Nazareth? Do we preach of one who knows us in every way, who can heal our every hurt and mend that which none other could ever repair? Do we preach one who goes to the uncomfortable places to bring transformation? Perhaps we preach a Christ who fits comfortably into our existing lifestyle and demands no change in us whatsoever. Perhaps, worst of all, we say nothing.

Those who have encountered Christ have a task. We are called to set aside the former ways and to spread the good news of the one who knew everything we had ever done and yet chose still to go to the Cross for our sake. We preach Christ crucified – a stumbling block to go to the Cross for our sake. We preach Christ crucified – a stumbling block to some, foolishness to others, but for we who are being saved, the very power and wisdom of God. We know a Savior who is mighty in power, compassionate, and gentle in spirit. We know the only One who can satisfy. How can we help but spread the word?

You have done wondrous works, O God, with Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm. I have seen Your hand at work in my life, and I know You have a task set before me. Grant me the boldness and courage to spread Your gospel with gladness. Here I am, Lord; send me!


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