The First Evangelist
Who do you think of when you hear the word evangelist? For many of us, that would be Billy Graham.
By definition, an evangelist is a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith, especially by public preaching. (Google search)
Likely, you’ve never wondered who the first in that field was.
Let’s take another look at the woman at the well, as recorded in John’s Gospel. As mentioned in my last post, she was a person who would be unnoticed and disregarded by any Jew—especially any upstanding Jewish man. After all she had three strikes against her: she was a Samaritan; she was a woman; she had a bad reputation.
Yet Jesus gave her His full attention and even told her He was, in fact, the Jewish Messiah. Other than His disciples, this unqualified woman, whose name we don’t even know, was the first person to whom Jesus revealed His identity as the Christ.
According to John, it was just after Jesus said, “I am He,” that His disciples showed up with lunch. They were shocked to find Jesus having a conversation with this undesirable person.
The woman, by this time, was full to overflowing with living water. She left her waterpot by the well and rushed back into the city of Sychar.
John records that she went into the city and told the men, “Come, see a man who told me all things I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:39)
Her enthusiasm must have been convincing. Can you imagine the changed countenance of this woman? She was known to the locals as tainted. She was personally insecure and guilt-ridden. But now—now—she was radiant. She had met the Messiah—the Deliverer—Who had just delivered her from her shame and her past. Now, all of a sudden, she was a change agent—an influencer in her city.
Immediately those she told left the city and went out to see Jesus for themselves. The Gospel writer says that many people of the city believed in Jesus because of her testimony when she said, “He told me all that I ever did” (John 4:39).
The townsfolk then urged Jesus to stay with them for they were hungry for more. Like the woman, they were thirsty for the living water that only Jesus could give.
So Jesus and His disciples stayed with them in Sychar for two days, and according to John, “Many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now, we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world’” (John 4:41-42).
So now this city of Sychar, in the outcast region of Samaria, is known as the first place where a large group of people became followers of Christ. And this outcast woman was the first recorded evangelist. She believed Jesus, then went out to tell her testimony to others and said to them, “Come and see.”
We learn much form John’s chronicled account. Our King will not hesitate to go to downcast places to reach downcast people. We also see here some principles of the Great Commission. As Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a).
In obeying His command, we are to tell of our own experiences with Jesus, and invite people to come and see for themselves. We can also introduce others to Jesus, using our Bibles and by inviting them to church.
Without a pulpit or a title, we can tell others about Jesus. Eloquence is not necessary and credentials are not required. Like the woman at the well, we can each be an evangelist. We should routinely ask God to show us who to tell and invite. I know it’s not easy for most of us, but the Holy Spirit is well able to lead us. Also, He just may be preparing that person’s heart to receive what we have to say.
There are lots of thirsty people out there and within each follower of Christ is an ever-flowing fountain of living water. We have the words of Eternal Life. Let’s tell them to, “Come and see.”
Your comments are welcome.
©Connie Wohlford 2016