Scripture: 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.” John 4:39-42 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, Jesus’ disciples return to the well from the village and are shocked that he would talk to a Samaritan Woman. As they approach, the woman hurriedly returns to Sychar and excitedly urges her fellow townspeople to come and see a man who may be the Christ, for he knows everything about her. Intrigued, they set out with the woman. Meanwhile, Jesus’ disciples implore him to eat something, but Jesus replies that they do not yet know his source of sustenance (referring to spiritual refreshment through doing the Father’s work). Jesus then clarifies by the analogy of harvest time that this is the anointed season to gather the crops ripe for eternal life. He adds that each kingdom laborer has a role to play. Some will sow, and others will reap, but all will rejoice together. And while he has commissioned his disciples to reap, they must not forget they benefit from the faithful toil of previous generations.
Today’s devotion continues with the arrival of the Samaritan woman and her fellow villagers. John tells us that many already believed based on the woman’s testimony. So rather than interrogate Jesus, they invite him to stay with them, and he obliges with a two-day visit. As they listen to his message and spend time with him, many more believe he is the Messiah, i.e., “Savior of the World.”
Takeaway: This short pericope reveals two essential and integrated elements of coming to faith: the testimony of others (one-on-one or through the preaching and teaching of church leaders) and personal contact with Jesus. While many believed through her testimony, all appropriated their faith by encountering Christ and hearing his Gospel. The same is true for us. The Holy Spirit attests to the truth that Jesus is our Lord and Savior in our hearts and minds through others’ testimonies and hearing his Gospel proclaimed. Simultaneously, we believe the Gospel is true, sense Christ’s presence, and confess he is Lord (Romans 10:8-10).
This second part of personal contact (being in the presence of Christ’s spirit) is essential to our perseverance in the faith. Periodically, a care receiver will ask me how a friend or family member who had confessed to being a Christian could renounce their faith. I remind them that their loved one either has genuine faith and is merely rebelling or has never actually come to faith in Christ. The latter scenario explains why a personal encounter with Jesus is so critical. Indeed, confession is more than speaking the words out loud. It must come from an inward transformation of mind, emotions, and will. But both believing and seeing (sensing Christ’s presence) are crucial. Judas benefited from three years of personal contact and yet did not believe Jesus’ testimony.
Our takeaway? Like the Samaritan woman, we testify, invite, and reveal. We confess that Jesus is our Savior and Lord, ask others to join us on the journey, and then show them by our lifestyle what it looks like to enjoy an intimate relationship with Jesus. Undoubtedly, the last part is more intimidating, for we often mar the image of Christ through our selfish behavior. But thankfully, grace abounds. Indeed, if we persevere with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, he will deepen our awareness of Christ indwelling us and simultaneously enlarge our hearts for Jesus. Consequently, we will grow in our love for him, which matures our understanding of his spirit in us, inspiring us to cooperate with the transformation of our minds and wills to align with that of God’s (Romans 12:2). And when we do, our testimony will significantly impact others as they see Jesus more clearly through us.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who revealed himself to the least, the last, and the lost. And we thank you for your Holy Spirit, who matures our awareness of Christ in us. So would you please help us to cooperate with your Holy Spirit, exercising patience with his sanctifying work in us so that we might mature in our love of Christ, our awareness of his spirit in us, and our desire to testify, invite, and reveal him to others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling