John 4:28-42 – The First Female Evangelist
Reaping the Harvest
To read part one of this story, click here.
Scattering the Seed
Bursting through the gate, the Samaritan woman ran to the first person she saw—the gatekeeper—and excitedly exclaimed. “There’s a man at the well who told me everything I ever did. He must be the Messiah. You must go and listen to Him.”
Speechless, the gatekeeper stared at her open-mouthed. She laughed delightedly and ran to the next person and repeated the message. Then she ran into the market and yelled excitedly, “Listen, listen to me.” The people turned and stared at her in astonishment. This was completely out of character. She was an outcast; shunned by the entire town. She always scuttled around the edges of the crowd and tried to remain as invisible as possible, knowing full well that it would result in insults—or worse—if she didn’t. Now, beaming with inner joy, she enthusiastically and loudly called attention to herself.
The market fell silent as the people stared in shock at her audacity. When she was sure they were all paying attention, she proclaimed, “There’s a man at the well who told me everything I ever did. He must be the Messiah. You must go and listen to Him.” She laughed at their stunned expressions. “It’s true, it’s true. Go see for yourselves!” Then she took off running down the nearest street into one of the neighborhoods. They heard her knock on a door and then repeat the same message to whoever had opened it.
They looked at each other in amazement and confusion. Then the fruit seller grunted. “Well, if He can make that kind of a change in a woman like her, He must be the Messiah. I’m going to see Him.” With that, he packed up his fruit, put it back inside his shop, closed the doors, and headed for the gate. Others quickly followed suit.
At the Well
The disciples watched the woman running toward town. What had gotten into her? Was she angry at Jesus? Just what exactly had happened here while they were gone?
No one knew exactly what to say to Jesus. They wanted to ask what had happened. What was He thinking talking to a lone Samaritan woman in the first place? What if one of the spies that followed them reported it to the rulers in Jerusalem? All hope of gaining support from the Jewish rulers would vanish. But they dared not question Him.
Phillip walked around to where the woman had been standing and noticed that she had left her water jar. “Hey, look. She left her water jar.”
The others quickly joined him, and each took a turn drinking the delicious well water. They expected Jesus to join them at any minute. But He didn’t. So, they spread a blanket on the rim of the well and laid out the food they had bought. Still, Jesus didn’t move. He didn’t even look at them. He sat lost in thought. Or was He praying? His face seemed to glow with an inner light, and He was smiling broadly as He sat looking toward the town.
They looked questioningly at each other. He had to be as hungry as they were since they hadn’t eaten since the evening before. But He was ignoring the meal completely.
Finally, Peter spoke up, “Rabbi, we’ve laid out the food. Come and eat with us.”
“Thank you,” He replied, “but I have been satisfied by food that you know nothing about.”
Peter looked at James and raised his eyebrows.
“Don’t look at me,” James whispered. “I didn’t bring him any food.”
Peter looked around at the other disciples who all shrugged their shoulders.
He leaned toward them. “Do you think that woman gave him food?” he asked quietly.
The others just stared at him.
Jesus chuckled as he walked over to join them.“No, Peter, no one brought me food.
It nourishes my very soul when I can do my Father’s will by showing lost souls the love of God and they receive it. After such a feast as that, normal food and water aren’t as appealing.
He paused for a moment and then smiled, looking each one in the eye. “But thank you all for going into town and getting the food. James, will you offer the blessing?”
They bowed their head as James offered his heartfelt thanks for the food they were about to eat. When he finished, everyone helped themselves to the food. First, Jesus took a long drink of water that Peter handed him. Then, He took a slice of bread and cheese, as well as a handful of dates. The afternoon sun cast the tree’s shadow over the well and there was a slight breeze that was refreshing after the stifling mid-day heat.
Jesus really didn’t feel that hungry anymore. Elated over what had just happened and what he knew was about to happen, He could hardly eat.
After some time, He began to see small groups of people coming out of the gate and heading toward the well. “Hey guys,” He turned, His eyes sparkling with mischief. “Wouldn’t you say it’s about four months until the harvest?”
The disciples looked up confused. The majority of them were not farmers. Nathaniel was the first to reply uncertainly. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Jesus turned and waved his arm toward the city of Sychar and all the people heading toward them.
“Look, the fields are already ripe for the harvest.
The disciples looked at all the Samaritans coming towards the well and they stood up uncertainly. James and John began putting the food away.
Jesus didn’t notice their reaction. He continued, “Those who work in the Lord’s harvest receive the best wages and the fruit they harvest is the people who accept salvation and receive eternal life.
Jesus rubbed his hands together in anticipation and declared, “Both those who plant the seeds of truth for the Lord and those who harvest souls for His kingdom will experience the same great joy, just as I have experienced this afternoon.”
He turned and looked at them, His eyes alive with excitement. “You know that saying, ‘One plants and another harvests?’”
But the disciples were staring fearfully at all the Samaritans coming towards them. What could they possibly want? Were they upset that a group of Jews stayed so long next to their precious well? Were they coming to demand money for sitting near the well? Or were they planning to drive them away? Stone them?
They couldn’t understand why Jesus seemed so happy.
Instinctively they moved between Jesus and the oncoming mob. At least they could shield Him. Perhaps give Him time to get away.
Jesus watched them and His smile dimmed a little. “Guys. What’s wrong with you? They’re coming to listen to Me. They aren’t coming out here to hurt us. Go sit down under the tree.”
Reluctantly they went and sat down. Jesus repeated his question. John responded hesitantly, “Yeah, we’ve heard that saying.”
His smile broadened again, and His eyes lit up.
“Well, it’s true. I am sending you to go into areas and harvest souls where you haven’t planted the seeds of truth; those who came before you did that, but you will get to gather in a huge harvest of souls for My kingdom.”
Jesus turned then to face the first group of Samaritans. He welcomed them graciously and asked them to sit down. Then he began answering their questions.
The disciples huddled miserably in the background. They didn’t have any idea how to react to this turn of events. Jesus was treating the Samaritans with the same courtesy and thoughtfulness He did the Jewish crowds. But these were Samaritans, for crying out loud. Fraternizing with them would make them unclean… for days probably. And if anyone in Jerusalem got wind of it…well, they would all be in danger.
The crowd kept growing and growing until it seemed the entire town had gathered at the well to listen to Jesus teach.
The woman, whom they caught Jesus talking to earlier, filled her jar repeatedly from the well and went throughout the crowd giving the listeners water to drink.
Finally, as the sun neared the western horizon, the elders of the town came forward.
“Rabbi, the leader of the group began, “we are so grateful for all that You have taught us so far this afternoon. Please accept our hospitality and stay with us so that we can learn even more.”
Jesus’ face lit up. “That would be wonderful. I would be more than happy to accept your hospitality.”
The disciples looked at one another in shock. This was completely out of their comfort zone. Jews were not supposed to accept any form of hospitality from Samaritans, nor were they to offer it. Yet, here was Jesus happily accepting to stay, not only in their city, but in their homes.
Then, to their dismay, He did not even consult with them but began walking back to town with the elders. Fear seized them. It felt safer with Jesus than without Him, Samaritan village or not. They grabbed their belongings and hastened to catch up.
The Harvest Begins
That evening, in the home of the wealthiest elders of Sychar, enjoying a delicious meal, the disciples listened as the elder and Jesus talked.
Finally, the elder, ready to retire for the evening, stood and turned to Jesus’ disciples and declared, “You know, when I heard that woman declaring in the middle of the town market that Jesus had told her everything she had ever done and declaring that He must be the Messiah, I believed. The transformation in her whole being was all the evidence I needed. However, having listened to Him all afternoon, I am even more convinced. You are truly blessed to be His disciples.”
Embarrassed and uncomfortable, the disciples murmured their thanks.
Jesus ended up staying two full days with the people of Sychar. By the end, the disciples started treating the Samaritans as Jesus treated them, though it certainly came more naturally to Him than it did to them because they still didn’t fully understand. The Samaritans’ ready acceptance and belief in Jesus astounded them. If only the Jews were as receptive!
When they were ready to leave on the third morning, the entire town turned out to see them off. Of course, the woman who started it all was there as well, standing in the very front of the crowd. As they said their goodbyes, John overheard several of those standing near her tell her. “You know, at first we believed in Him simply because of what you said, but now that we listened to Him ourselves, we know that He really is the Savior of the world.”
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