Evangelism is Not Following the Example of the Disciples, Part 1 (The Soul-Winning Motivator #36)

Our soul winning passage from the Word of God today is John 4:35 which reads: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

Our soul winning quote today is from Robert Coleman. He said: “Are those who have followed us to Christ now leading others to Him and teaching them to make disciples like ourselves?…What really counts in the ultimate perpetuation of our work is the faithfulness with which our converts go out and make leaders out of their converts, not simply more followers.”

Our soul winning devotional is part 19 of our series titled “What Evangelism Is” from Dave Earley and David Wheeler.

Evangelism is not following the example of the disciples.

In our previous five broadcasts we looked at how Jesus went about sharing the good news with a Samaritan woman. But Jesus and the Samaritan women were not the only characters in this story. Also at the well that day were Jesus’ disciples.

In John 4 we read that after Jesus led her to understand that He was the Messiah, she left her water pot and invited the entire town to meet Jesus. In a sense she was the catalyst for a citywide crusade. At this time Jesus’ disciples returned to the scene. From the disciples we learn several negative lessons about how not to do effective evangelism.

1. The disciples overlooked the woman and didn’t affirm her or acknowledge her spiritual need
When they returned from getting food, the disciples saw Jesus wrapping up His dialogue with the Samaritan woman. John 4:27 reads: “And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?” The disciples were, no doubt, uncomfortable being in Samaria much less coming back to find that Jesus had been publicly speaking with a Samaritan woman of questionable morals. Nevertheless, they were silent. They not only said nothing to Jesus, but they also said nothing to the woman.

This may not sound like much, but their silence speaks volumes. It is almost as if they did not want to say anything that might prolong their stay. They obviously ignored the woman as if she did not matter. Either they just didn’t pay attention, or, worse, they were too proud to speak to her.

Unlike Jesus, the disciples did not affirm the woman’s humanity or the eternal value of her soul. Their hearts were hardened by years of religious traditions and cultural perceptions. As a result, the disciples’ reaction communicated that they did not care about her!

Most of us miss countless opportunities to make a difference because we either don’t notice people or don’t care enough about them to get involved in their lives. We will never see anyone come to Christ if we don’t actively acknowledge, affirm, and care about them.

2. The disciples ignored Jesus and what He was doing
Not only did the cultural and religious prejudice blind the disciples from the need and potential of the woman, but it also blinded them to Jesus Himself. John 4:31 reads: “In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.” Through the disciple’s obsession to make sure Jesus eats as quickly as possible, they actually appear to be rude and ignore Him. After all, the quicker Jesus eats, the quicker their nightmare is over, and they are able to leave Samaria.

When we refuse to open our eyes to the needs of the world around us, we do ourselves a double disservice and lose on two levels. Not only do we lose the joy of being used by God to make a difference, but we also lose out on noticing what God is doing.

God is always working around us. Those who are sensitive to His ways will rejoice with Him and join Him in His work. In doing so, He opens our eyes to the needs around us, then empowers us to meet the needs.

In our next broadcast, we will look at the third and fourth reasons why we should not follow the evangelism example of the disciples.

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