The Ultimate Goal of Our Evangelism
Seasoned evangelists will tell you that it is very hard to get a response from an unbelieving heart. The reason is that many people work strenuously to avoid facing their sin. An outstanding example is the Samaritan woman in her response to Jesus’ offer of salvation.
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” —John 4:28-29
When Jesus revealed His detailed knowledge of her sinful life, she said, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (John 4:19). She would have been wise to entreat Jesus for salvation and embrace His offer of living water. But instead—and how typical this is of rebellious hearts—she attempted to divert the conversation. Raising the issue of a local controversy regarding worship, she said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship” (John 4:20). When Jesus answered this question, she attempted to wriggle out by another way—by appealing to the supposed limitations of the Bible. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25). Of course, she didn’t really want to know about the Messiah—the point was to end this annoying conversation dealing with her sin!
What is the Christian to do to help someone determined not to consider the claims of Christ? On numerous occasions like this, I have simply pressed a Bible into such a person’s hands, saying: “Why don’t I give you a copy of God’s Word to read for yourself. If you are really interested—and I hope you are—you will find the truth about Jesus in here.” Often, I have advised people to start by reading the Gospel of John, and in some cases I have learned that a man or woman read it and came to believe the gospel.
Jesus, however, had certain advantages over the rest of us when it comes to evangelism. I can only give the Word to a reluctant believer, but Jesus is the Word. I can only say, “Jesus is the Messiah.” But when the Samaritan woman mused that things would get sorted out someday when the Messiah finally came, Jesus was able to respond, “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:26).
There is no greater witness to the gospel than Jesus Himself, which is why the ultimate goal of our evangelism is to bring people to meet with Him. It is always marvelous when someone comes to realize the truth about our Lord, but imagine what it must have been like as the Lord Jesus revealed His divine person to this woman, with the evident effect that her eyes were opened to see that He was the Messiah of whom she had spoken. Did her eyes bulge? Did tears flow down her face? Did she kneel before Him and grasp His hands? We do not know, but, it is evident that her unbelief was overwhelmed by Jesus’ self-revelation and that her life was changed forever by what happened in that moment.
This excerpt is taken from Jesus the Evangelist by Richard Phillips.