The familiar passage about the woman at the well in John 4 reveals some key truths about Jesus’ style of sharing the gospel.
On their way to Galilee, Jesus and His disciples traveled through Samaria. There, Jesus took a rest at a well, where He met a Samaritan woman drawing water. Jesus’ encounter with this woman not only led to her faith in Him but to many other Samaritans in the town becoming believers.
The events in this story provide a model for evangelism that can be applied today. Here are 10 important takeaways from this passage to consider as you share your faith with others:
1. You can evangelize to a person from a different culture.
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” -John 4:7-9
Jesus was a Jew, and the woman was a Samaritan. The interaction surprised her because of their backgrounds, but it didn’t stop this divine encounter.
2. Believers need to step out of their comfort zone.
Jews and Samaritans were considered to be people of different classes. They did not interact with each other in any social setting, and the interaction likely made the Samaritan woman uncomfortable. But it’s sometimes in uncomfortable situations that God will move hearts toward Him. Do not be afraid to step into an awkward situation for the sake of the gospel.
3. Transition conversations to spiritual matters.
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” -John 4:10
When the opportunity arises to talk about Jesus and the gospel, take it with enthusiasm. Jesus moved from general conversation—asking for drinking water—to a spiritual conversation—speaking about the living water.
4. Don’t be surprised by pushback.
“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’” -John 4:11-12
A non-believer’s response to spiritual conversation may be confusion or pride, much like the religious pride in the Samaritan woman. Don’t allow a harsh response to discourage you. Instead, reply with gentleness and kindness.
5. Speak truth with love.
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” -John 4:13-14
Jesus did not shy away from truth. Instead, He spoke it firmly and lovingly. After this answer, Jesus also revealed that He knew about the woman’s past and present sins, leading her to begin to understand who He really is. When Jesus spoke truth, His words began to melt the ice and open the spiritual door.
6. Be unashamed of the gospel.
When the Samaritan woman mentioned the Messiah, Jesus responded, “‘I am he (John 4:26).’” Do not be afraid to declare that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We are called to be bold in proclaiming Jesus is the Messiah—the only way to salvation, forgiveness, and Heaven.
7. Stay focused when distractions try to pull you away from the conversation.
Notice how the disciples returned and urged Him to eat at the same time Jesus was sharing a key truth (John 4:27, 31). Jesus was tired and likely hungry, but He was focused on the mission. He concentrated on God’s task for Him.
“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’” -John 4:34-35
8. Proclaim the gospel, and watch it spread.
The Samaritan woman left her jar at the well and ran to the town. When she heard real truth, it led her to tell others, who followed her back to Jesus. When we tell the truth, it will spread!
9. Use your testimony.
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” -John 4:39
God has given you a testimony so that many people will believe in Jesus through it. Use your testimony to lead others to Christ.
10. But don’t just rely on your words. Point to the words of Jesus.
“And because of his words many more became believers. They 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.’” -John 4:41-42
Jesus’s words are powerful and enough to bring people to salvation. Others will believe through Christ’s own words, so use the Bible to tell others what Jesus really said.
Throughout your life, your “Samaritan” may look different, speak another language, and eat strange foods. But, their soul needs the same living water given by Jesus in John 4. Apply the truths in this passage as you go about making disciples of all nations.