Advertising is a tricky business. People trying to sell you something try to make their product so appealing that you’ll want to go out and buy it. At the same time, they can oversell it to the point of it being unbelievable. Advertisers have to strike a fine line between truth and hyperbole. One way that advertisers like to do that is by using product testimonials. Sometimes you’ll see what actual consumers thought about the product. Major companies often have customer review sites. Movies will post quotes from critics on their posters. Books will post blurbs from critics who’ve been given advance copies to read. Sometimes you’ll see customers raving about the product through a hidden camera. All of this is done to let you know that people like you like their product.
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, she got it. She understood who Jesus was. She talked to a Jewish man from whom she could expect nothing but contempt and instead was treated with respect. During the discussion, she realized that Jesus was the Messiah. She got excited and ran back into town so that she could tell all of her neighbors, who probably looked down on her, about this Jewish guy who was the Messiah. To make a long story short, after meeting Him, the Samaritans wanted to know more and invited Jesus to stay for a few more days. At the end of the time, here was their reaction: “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 4:42)
The conversation between Jesus and the woman was intense. Every time Jesus got close to her heart, she deflected; she changed the subject. First, they talked about water, then they talked about her personal life, then they talked religion. Through it all, Jesus kept focusing on letting this lady know that she needed a relationship with God. Then, when she realized that Jesus was the Messiah, and the way to a relationship with God, she ran home to tell others. The disciples came back from buying food and Jesus told them to hold off on making lunch. The next thing you know, Samaritans are coming out of the village to the well so that they can hear from this guy that the local tramp had called the Messiah. They were so impressed that they asked Jesus to stay awhile in Samaria and share with them. Even though it wasn’t a prime vacation spot, Jesus spent a couple of days with them and the result was a band of believers who trusted in Jesus not just because of the witness of this lady, but because of their own experience with them.
If you understand anything about evangelism, that’s how this whole thing is supposed to work. Word of mouth is how we share the gospel. We don’t do big advertising campaigns, we share what Jesus has done in our hearts and in our lives. When people hear and then follow Jesus themselves, we often hear this same refrain: “we no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have experienced Jesus for ourselves and know that He is the Savior.” That’s how faith progresses. Once we have experienced Jesus for ourselves, then we start sharing our own faith with others. It’s a beautiful cycle that brings people to know Jesus: we hear the gospel, we experience the gospel, we share the gospel so others can hear. If we hear the good news, but don’t experience Jesus, we have missed out on the joy of life in Christ. If we experience life with Jesus and don’t share the gospel with others, we miss out on the joy of seeing other people come to know Jesus. Go all the way in your faith once you experience Jesus and share that joy with others. Experience the joy of seeing others experience the joy of Christ.
Lord, help me to share Your love and Your grace with people who don’t know You.