No one can remember her name. It is odd that there is no official record of the first public evangelist of Christianity, don’t you think? We know and recognize the names of Andrew, Peter, John, James, Barnabus, Paul, Stephen, Philip, Timothy, etc., but we do not know her name.
John described her as the woman at the well in Sychar, a town in Samaria, 20 miles north of Jerusalem, and south of Galilee and Nazareth, where Jesus was born. One day she came to draw water at the town well at noon. It was unusual for a woman to visit the well alone, and at that time – she would be considered a social outcast, and in this case, it was probably due to her social behavior. It was the sixth hour, which was the hottest part of the day, and she ran into Jesus sitting by the well. He was alone and asked her for a drink. Unbelievable. Read John 4:1-42.
With one question, Jesus violated two Jewish prejudices – Jesus a Jew, spoke to a Samaritan, and Jesus a man, spoke to a woman. She said, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? Jews in our day wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.”
She knew she had three strikes against her. One, she was a Samaritan, a minority person in the majority Jewish culture. Two, she had five previous husbands and was currently living with a man she was not married to. Wrong morals. Three, she was a woman. Men who counted themselves wise did not talk to women in public. But did you hear her question in verse 9?
She was curious. Jesus had broken cultural norms and she wanted to find out why. This nameless woman had more questions. Jesus answered her and talked about the water of eternal life (v 10, 13-14). She wanted to know about God and asked another question. Jesus answered her and revealed himself as the sent one, the anointed one, the Messiah of God (v 25-26). Her response? John tells us that she became an evangelist! She left her water jar (v 28) and went back to tell the people of her village about the man “who told me everything I ever did” (v 29).
Did you notice the process? First, she left her jar – she had something else on her mind that took precedence – it was no longer business as usual after meeting Jesus. Second, she went back to her own village – it was the place she could have the most impact because her changed life would be most visible in the context of her reputation. Third, she gave an invitation to her entire community – come and see a man who is different from any other, who knew me to the core, and broke through the stereotypes and misconceptions. Could this be the Christ?”
Jesus saw her for who she was and who she could become, and she became an obedient disciple of His. John gives us a glimpse of a changed life and a persuasive testimony. She gave a witness of what she had seen and heard. She issued an invitation. She left her audience with a question. If I am not mistaken, that is the kind of evangelism we all long to practice on campus.
A good evangelist is a person who introduces people to Jesus so they can get to know him directly and find out for themselves the truth of what he says. None of the disciples thought it necessary to write down her name, but I am eager to pattern my life after hers. How about you?
Live communally. Be sure to affirm the women around you who are Christ-followers for their example, leadership, and service in God’s Kingdom. Thank God for this Samaritan woman (and countless others like her) who had the courage to follow Jesus and become a fisher of men and women.
Love is a verb,