Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jesus is indeed the Savior of the World (John 4:39-42)

“Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”” (John 4:39–42, ESV, Caps added to pronouns referring to Christ)

The Samaritans in the town believed that the Christ was there with them because of the words of the woman who encountered Him at the well. Those words, “He told me all that I ever did” connected with their hearts and they were moved to go meet Him for themselves. When meeting Him they invited Him to stay with them, and John records for us that He indeed did stay for two more days. In the process of His staying, John went on to record that many more believed for themselves because of what He said to them.

As I thought about this transfer of belief from second hand by the word of the woman to first hand through hearing from Christ Himself, I thought of an evangelism method taught to our church’s youth a number of years ago. It was about bringing together three stories—my story, His story and your story. As I understand this concept has been popularized in books and numerous church outreach programs. It has also been used to encourage believers to connect deeper with our Lord as we open ourselves to His work in our lives such that we seek to align ourselves fully with His will. In our passage of Scripture for today the woman connected with Jesus as Jesus connected with her. He knew the secrets of her life and through that He gained access to her heart which led to her recognizing who He is. And as she left Him to return to town, it was not the wondrous things about who He is which she spoke of, but the fact that He knew all about her. Jesus had made a connection with the woman, and the woman used that connection to open others up to Him such that they would then go and find out for themselves. There is a “T” word which Christians have been encouraged to prepare for times like this—times when we seek to let people know the impact that having a relationship with the Living God has had on us so that we might encourage them to open themselves up to Him as well. That word is “testimony.”

Out passage says that the people believed because of the woman’s testimony. And through her testimony we read that there became many others who believed directly from Him as well. They no longer trusted in her connection because they had come to have their own personal connection with Jesus Christ. They knew for themselves, as our passage records, that He indeed is the Savior of the world. The One who knew the woman’s heart and the hearts of all men (John 2:24-25) had captured theirs as He spent time with them.

Coming to know that there is a God who knew everything about me and that He loved me and was intimately interested in me made all of the difference in my own coming to Jesus for salvation. As I heard the words of Psalm 139 I knew that I wanted to have a relationship with this God of whom the pastor spoke on that day. I know I’ve cited this psalm numerous times in my blogs, but it is only a miniscule fraction of the times that I personally have returned to it in times when maybe I’ve felt alone or uncertain about things that were happening. Knowing that my God knows me and that He is faithful to complete the work which He started in me makes all of the difference in bearing when things seem unbearable. I know it is lengthy, but I’ve included a significant portion of the psalm here because of how appropriate it is when considering our God who knows us so well.

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You. For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:1–18, ESV, Caps added to pronouns referring to God)

When we look to those who don’t know Him, we can do so knowing that He indeed does know them. And as we struggle ourselves, we can be reminded that He continues to watch out for, care for, and guide our steps being fully sovereign (in control) of all of the events in our lives. As we speak with others about Him, we also have the testimony of how He has touched us in ways that no one but the One sent by God can. Praying for His Spirit to move in their hearts, we can invite them to join their story with His just as we have seen Him do with us.

Becoming a Christian is not joining a religious movement, though we quickly learn that being knit together with other believers is an important part of God’s plan. No, it is entering into a relationship with the Living God who calls sinners to repentance and forgives all of their sins. He breaks down the walls so that we might enter His presence, know His love, and inherit a great hope that will never perish.

Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of the world!!!

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