90 Days With Jesus, Day 16: John 4:39-42: The Savior of the World

John 4:39-42

39Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41And because of his words many more became believers. 42They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

“Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can be had only as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christians are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargain hunters…No. Let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.”—David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow’rs, 308-309

First, the Samaritans came out from the town because of the woman’s testimony and as a result of this coming out many believed in him. Well this was certainly the intended result. Her testimony was compelling whatever ‘He told me everything I ever did’ might actually mean. I disagree that she ‘shared her experience’ with the town folk. Instead, she went and shared Jesus’ words, ‘he told me everything I ever did.’ It was not her experience that persuaded people, but Jesus’ words. Even so their faith did not end there. Jesus stayed with them for two more days. Then verse 41.

Second, ‘And because of his words many more became believers.’ So this woman’s testimony did not stand on its own. Jesus’ testimony confirmed what she had been saying and also had the effect of causing many more to become believers. Again, the intended result—producing believers—was accomplished. But it was not mere experience that persuaded the first group and an additional group. No, again, it was the words of Jesus. They heard for themselves what Jesus was saying. They heard for themselves his testimony. Because of his ‘words’ many more became believers.’

Here’s the part that is most important to consider in today’s meditation: We know that this man is really the Savior of the World. They believed something about Jesus because of something Jesus said. It had something to do with what he told them, something we are not privy to. What did he say over the course of two days that so convinced them? Better, how did all these people give up their day jobs for two whole days to do nothing but sit and listen to what He had to say? (Did they take breaks for volleyball or shuffleboard? Did they sit in a circle like a sort of ‘Sermon in Samaria’? What was the content of his instruction to them?

I hate to harp on this, but here’s the simple truth. There were no gimmicks, no tricks, not nonsense, no fliers, no banners, and certainly no side-show. These people went out and listened to what Jesus had to say. On the other hand, there’s this: Jesus had something to say. I suspect that the content of his message is found in part in the words he spoke to the woman. I suspect he discoursed about freedom of worship, His identity as Messiah, eternal life, Living Water, springs of water that well up inside, the reaper gathering wages for eternal life and all such things. But whatever it was, it was surely the Gospel. The fact remains, the people went out to listen and Jesus had something to say.

Churches need to get a grip on this. People come to worship, they come from cities, they come from the country, they come from here and there; we meet them by wells, water-coolers, at ball games, at the soccer field, and all such places as this and more. So, when they come out, when we meet them, do we in fact have something to say? I don’t mean fluffy nonsense that has nothing to do with pointing to Jesus, the Messiah. I mean precisely that: Do we persuade them about Jesus the Messiah? I suspect that is the real content of Jesus’ message that day. They believed precisely because he took the time to explain things about himself. This is also our job: If we expect people to believe, then we must tell them about Jesus. Jesus must be the content of our message, our testimony, our proclamation. If we don’t tell them about Jesus how can they ever announce, “We know that He really is the Savior of the World”? And isn’t that quite the point of Gospel proclamation?

All I’m saying is that churches would do better from the pulpit if churches had preachers who stood up and pointed to Jesus and not to anything else. I’m steadfast on this belief. There are other venues for learning about good sex, managing finances, raising children and the like. But the only place people will hear the Gospel is from the church. The Church, in my judgment, must be about the business of proclaiming Jesus: Every time, All the Time, and At Every Opportunity. It is Jesus people need; it is Jesus people must hear about.

Jesus is the One, the only One, Who is the Savior of the World. That we must not forget.

I hope your 16th Day of 90 is Blessed in the Lord!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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  1. Hear, hear…if we think that people are looking for pop psychology in preaching and in the church, then we’ve missed the mark. I appreciated your comments.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. My fear is that the church will become irrelevant if we continue preaching the sort of non-sense that has very little to do with Jesus–stuff people can learn from Dr. Phil or Dr. Keith or whoever. If you are interested in books that touch deeply on this subject, please read David F. Wells. He has written a series of 4 books that speak to this very problem in the churches and pulpits of the church in the United States. After all, look what happened and continues to happen to the church in Europe. Thanks again for your comments and for taking the time to read.–Jerry




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