“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 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 4:39-42, NIV).
This series of devotions, Untold Tenets, captures its lessons from lesser-known and sometimes overlooked scriptures that are embedded within or immediately following a well-known bible story or biblical text.
John 4:1-42 contains the familiar story of the Samaritan woman or the woman at the well. In this story Jesus spoke the renowned “living water” declaration: “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” (vs. 14). Jesus also explained to the Samaritan woman that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (vs. 24).
Because of the spiritual sagacity of the living-water and Spirit-and-truth-worship declarations, what may go unnoticed in this story is the strategic relevance of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well near Sychar, Samaria, to His post-resurrection Great Commission to His disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water’” (John 4:13-15, ESV).
In the familiar story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria in John 4:1-42, Jesus provided a perfect demonstration of personal witnessing:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV).
The Apostle Peter indicates in these verses that Christians can be ineffective! I’m sure you’ve heard of an ineffective employee or an ineffective manager, but an ineffective Christian?
“Ineffective” simply means not producing results, not productive–or as Peter defines it for Christians, not fruitful.
An ineffective employee doesn’t produce results. An ineffective Christian doesn’t bear fruit.
“Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:13-16, ESV).
Will Rogers is a folk-hero of mine and of many of my fellow “Okies.” One of his most well-known sayings is this: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Will Rogers endeavored to affirm the humanity of people–even those he didn’t know–by treating them with respect and good will.
In these verses from Numbers God seems to have a similar perspective about human beings–God never met a person He didn’t love!
Numbers 15, which describes laws for offering and sacrifice, is inserted between the stories of two rebellions: Israel’s refusal to enter the promised land in Chapter 14 and the rebellion led by Korah against Moses’ leadership in Chapter 16. After the Israelites’ rebellion in Chapter 14 God had determined to destroy the Hebrew nation. Upon Moses’ intercession God sentenced the Exodus generation of Israelites to perish in the wilderness.
So, Chapter 15 marks the point where the plan for entering the promised land became the punishment of wandering in the wilderness for the next 40 years. It indicates the beginning of the end of the Exodus generation who rebelled against Moses’ leadership to enter the promised land. Perhaps the Chapter 15 worship statutes are an appeal by God for the next generation to be reconciled to Him despite the severe punishment He had imposed.
“And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them…” (Numbers 11:17, ESV).
During their wilderness wanderings God told Moses to select seventy elders to help him judge and lead the people of Israel. Moses gathered the elders and placed them around the circumference of the tabernacle. Then, God poured out His Spirit on them as they were gathered around the tabernacle and they prophesied.
Two of the elders were not present at the tabernacle when the Spirit was poured out. Yet, these two also received the Spirit and prophesied while they were still in the camp.
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, NASB).
What greater way to teach than to model or be an example of the lesson you are teaching! But, when you set yourself up an example, it requires an extremely high level of accountability and responsibility.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB).
Are you a Light-Under-A-Basket Christian? A Clandestine Christian? A good gal or guy but people don’t know why?
A lot of Christians are Clandestine Christians. They want to conceal the fact that they are Christians because it might be uncomfortable for them or others . More often than not, I am! And, sometimes, maybe you are too…
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance” (Isaiah 60:1-2, NLT).
When Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to be the light of the world and compared them to a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14), He may have been alluding to Isaiah’s description of the future glory of Jerusalem in these verses.
“There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body” (Luke 23:50-52, HCSB).
Joseph of Arimathea was apparently a member of the Sanhedrin and a man of wealth. He was a good and righteous man so he had disagreed with the injustice of the Sanhedrin’s decision to execute Jesus.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).
In these verses that are known as the Great Commission, Jesus articulates to His disciples their mission just prior to His ascension into heaven.
Jesus simply tasks them with the job of making more disciples. And, to accomplish this task, He said He would be right there with them (and us) to help make more disciples.
The accomplishment of the Great Commission is a process we call evangelism. We develop many strategies and programs for evangelism. But, evangelism is not intended to be as complicated a process as we make it. And, it’s certainly not meant to be done only by ministry professionals such as pastors, evangelists, and youth ministers.