One of the first evangelists in the New Testament was a woman. She didn’t have a degree in theology. She didn’t have good technique. She didn’t even have experience.
What she did have, though, was a straightforward and honest approach.
And she had results.
As we‘ve seen in previous posts, the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well was surprised when he knew details about her personal life that she hadn’t even posted on her Facebook page. Thinking him to be a prophet, she drove the discussion deeper, until she got more than she expected. This man sitting in front of her was not just a prophet, but the Messiah.
She had come to the well to draw water for her daily needs. But when Jesus told her who he was, she left her water jar behind and ran back into the city. “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done!” she told the people. “Could this man be the Christ?” (John 4:29, CEB).
Jesus, of course, hadn’t really told her “everything” she’d ever done. He merely told her things that he shouldn’t have been able to know. But more to the point, the people probably knew what she meant — he knew those things, the facts about her life of which she was least proud. Jesus hadn’t said, “Well, let’s see — you were born in Cincinnati and your favorite flavor of ice cream is Rocky Road.” He cut straight to the heart of where she questioned her own identity, and did so without judgment or condemnation. As far as she was concerned, he knew everything about her that mattered.
We’re not told that she said explicitly and directly, “This man claimed to be the Messiah!” But her question — “Could it be?” — seems to imply it. This isn’t a conclusion she reached by weighing the evidence. She wasn’t asking people to check the logic of a deduction. She was probably wondering aloud, hoping against hope that she wasn’t just dreaming.
The people responded in droves. Whatever checkered reputation we may think she had, people listened to her, and went to see this miracle man for themselves. They ended up begging him to stay, and he agreed.
A Samaritan village inviting a Jewish rabbi to hang out? Not unless he was more than that. “We no longer believe because of what you said,” they told the woman, “for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world” (vs. 42).
“Savior of the world.” In John, language operates on more than one level, which is why Jesus is so often misunderstood. The title the Samaritans gave Jesus could also be ascribed to the Roman emperor, so they may have been saying much more than they knew. But surely their response was a faithful one, part of the harvest into which Jesus was sending his disciples.
And it all begins with a woman who was not afraid to invite people to meet a man who knew her secrets. She was indeed an honest seeker of the truth. And when she found it, she ran excitedly to others with two simple words: “Come! See!”