The Perfect Example of Evangelism
Jesus not only preached to masses of people throughout His ministry here on earth, but He also knew the importance of teaching the individual. In seeing Him as the perfect example of evangelism, notice several lessons from Him in His contact with a Samaritan woman and other Samaritans from Sychar in John 4. First, Jesus showed compassion. In leaving Judea for Galilee, the text reads that “he must needs go through Samaria” (John 4:4).
Since many of the Jews traveling from Judea to Galilee circumvented Samaria on the eastern road through Jericho, Christ’s need to travel through Samaria was spiritual and not geographical. When Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman after sending His disciples for food, she was perplexed that He would have dealings with her because of her race and gender. Christ’s contact with a hated race was enough to impress her with His compassion. If I am to follow His example of evangelism (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1), then I must be compassionate to others.
Second, Jesus introduced the gospel with the gift and the giver (John 4:10, 14). We are living in a world of sin. People do not need a “watered-down” gospel. Rather, the world needs to hear about the gift and the giver (Rom. 6:23). The gospel we are commanded to teach should involve both, and any other gospel is accursed (Gal. 1:8). Thus, if I am to follow the example of Jesus in evangelism, then I must introduce the gospel with both the gift (salvation) and the giver (Jesus).
Third, Jesus was interested in all souls, and He looked for more opportunities to share the gospel. After she inquired about receiving everlasting life, Jesus asked her to call her husband. Certainly, He already had in mind the opportunity to prove His deity, but He was not only interested in her soul, but the souls of her family as well. Later, the Samaritan woman brought many from Sychar to see Jesus, who then believed in Him (John 4:39). We should open our eyes and look for opportunities to spread the gospel to as many as we can. We must be interested in all souls!
Fourth, Jesus taught her properly the truth. He corrected her concept of worship (John 4:19-24), not giving her any idea that she was worshipping properly. He did not commend her sincerity. To be more precise, he said, “Ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22) and then taught her the proper method of worship according to both spirit and truth (John 4:24). Sometimes, teaching the gospel in an evangelistic manner requires some tearing down before building (cf. Jer. 1:10). We cannot overlook the need to deal with false doctrines; we must teach people properly the truth, for only it can save (cf. John 8:32).
Fifth, Jesus continually realized the importance of soul winning (John 4:35). Although the disciples questioned His involvement with this woman and tried to urge Him to eat, He was interested in the harvesting of souls. What more of a purpose statement do we need as Christians? Evangelism ought to be as much a part of our lives as breathing air! To follow the example of our Lord in evangelism, we ought never to let down in looking for opportunities, realizing its great importance.
Sixth, Jesus understood the concept of preparation in soul winning. Many of the Samaritans believed in Him from this account (John 4:39-42). A short time later, Philip would come to Samaria and baptize many of them (Acts 8:12). Possibly, some of the Samaritans that heard Philip remembered the day they heard Jesus. Many times, we get discouraged in soul winning because we cannot see the immediate fruits of our labor. However, just because we do not see immediate success does not mean that we have not been successful in preparing the soil for another to reap the harvest. For us to follow the example of Christ in evangelism, we ought to rejoice when others can build upon the work we have done in teaching the gospel. We ought to be patient when we do not see an immediate harvest. We ought to be selfless, occupied in our task and willing to rejoice when others reap the harvest.
Seventh, Jesus knew the correct way to teach was exclusively from the word of God (John 4:42). When we teach the world, not with creeds or doctrines, but from the holy word of God, then God will add many saved souls to His kingdom.
Therefore, let us all apply these wonderful principles of evangelism from the example of the greatest soul-winner, and thereby gain more success in our endeavors!