She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.”
Meanwhile, Jesus’ disciples come back with lunch – but he doesn’t want any:
Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.’
Is Jesus having a moment of discovery? Has he found, in this alien territory, a mission field he had discounted, assuming he was only to bring his gifts to the Jewish people? Perhaps this encounter has reminded him of his broader mission. Or maybe he knew all along, loitering by that well.
He and his disciples will soon find out just how ripe these fields are when they spend a few days in that town: 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 truly the Savior of the world.’
Our job as Christ followers is to tell the stories of our encounters with God - often across boundaries of culture, race, age or gender. We don’t have to persuade anyone about the Nicene Creed, just speak our God-stories. And if our stories are tepid, we may be too locked into thinking our “God-encounters” are things that happen in church. Church stories can be dull to those outside the congregation. But “God stories” are rarely dull – this woman’s story certainly wasn’t. And her excitement and passion helped ignite curiosity and anticipation in her neighbors.
What kind of news do you tend to share with excitement? Great things that have happened? Achievements? Stories of travel? Cultural events? Meals? Your children’s exploits?
If telling people how great our church is was an effective means of spreading the Good News, our churches would be full. They’re not. Yet, the fields are still ripe with people hungry for spiritual connections that are authentic and personal. Let’s do what this woman did, and go tell our neighbors about our encounters with Jesus, with God, with the Holy Spirit.
We just need to introduce people to Jesus; he will do the rest. Then maybe we’ll get to hear those joyful words too – “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe. We have heard for ourselves, and now we know.”