What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus wasn’t afraid to break custom and “cultural taboos” to reach people with the gospel.
- We need to reach out to people with the gospel who are outside our normal circle of relationships.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Jesus builds bridges with non-believers that lead to discussion about spiritual truth.
- We need to communicate spiritual truth graciously and skillfully when we are relating to non-believers
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Good morning disciple-makers.
Today we come to one of the best and most compact lessons on how to make a disciple that we find in the gospels. Before you read my comments, I would urge you to read the story of the Samaritan woman. Jot down your answer to this question: what are the steps in disciple-making that we discover from Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman? REALLY….don’t read on, yet! Do your own work first and then, compare notes.
OKAY…a few of my thoughts.
In 722, Assyria invaded and took into captivity thousands of the ten northern tribes of Israel. They were never reconstituted and became known as the Ten Lost Tribes. The Assyrians left some of their own people in the region and they intermarried with the Jews who had been left behind. The offspring of that intermarriage became known as Samaritans. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews from the two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin, who remained in the south until they, too, were defeated and deported by the Babylonians in 586. The Jews viewed Samaritans as unclean half-breeds who had corrupted both their racial bloodline and their religion. For instance, the Samaritans worshipped God at Mt. Gerizim in the north.
This is the background for the enmity between Jews and Samaritans. Because Samaria lay between Judea to the south (where Jerusalem was) and Galilee to the north, (where Jesus lived and carried out much of his ministry). This meant that any Jew who wanted to travel from Judea to Galilee had to pass through Samaria. But because proper Jews viewed Samaritans with such contempt, they would often cross OVER the Jordan River, travel up the east side, and then cross back over the Jordan…rather than contaminate themselves by having any contact with Samaritans.
THIS is the context for this story…centuries of contempt and religious rivalry. Yet Jesus breaks down every taboo when he travels through Samaria, rests at a Samaritan well, speaks to a Samaritan woman of dubious reputation and even “defiles” himself by drinking from a Samaritan vessel.
Here are some steps that I discover in Jesus’ disciple-making:
- He intentionally places himself where unbelievers are.
- He asks for help from the woman in order to build a relationship. V 7.; an effective way to build relationship; seek THEIR advice, help, assistance…
- He guides the conversation in a spiritual direction in a very natural, unforced way. 10 ff. (From water to spiritual thirst.)
- He identifies a spiritual need and hints at the solution to that longing. 13 ff
- He gently addresses the sin issues that will keep the woman from a relationship with God. 16.
- He avoids distracting side conversations about religious non-essentials, like whose mountain is more holy. He keeps the focus on himself. 19ff. He also doesn’t “bite” on religious relativism, but again, does it gently. (You guys worship this way; we worship that way. Isn’t it all the same? No!)
- When the times is right, AFTER relationship has been established, he presents himself clearly as the answer to her deepest questions. 26
Notice, too, the complete circle of disciple-making. The woman runs back to her village, tells them what she has experienced, and points them to Jesus. After they meet him, they tell her, “We don’t believe because of you anymore; we believe because what WE have found in Jesus.” The Samaritan woman had spiritual children! Disciple-making.
A thought: Ask yourself, “Which of these steps do I do naturally? Which ones do I need to develop in my own relationships with non-believers? Jesus said that the harvest is ready…it’s just waiting for the workers.
Your thoughts, either on this story on the rest of John 4?