The fourth chapter of John’s Gospel records how the Lord Jesus converted a Samaritan woman at a well. It happened when He and His disciples stopped to rest from their journey at Jacob’s well. As they were all tired and hungry, the disciples left Him there while they went to buy food at the nearby city of Sychar. During their absence, a woman came to the well, and our Lord took the opportunity to witness to her. This resulted in her salvation, and she began to tell others to come and see the Messiah.
When the disciples returned with food, Jesus was still talking with her. Not knowing what had happened, the only thing they were concerned about was that their Master should have His long-awaited meal. But Jesus replied that He had something greater to be concerned about. Here was an excellent opportunity to save sinners, and there was much work to be done! He, therefore, challenged them to do the work of bringing sinners to salvation, first with His own Example, then with an Exhortation, and finally with an Encouragement. In these, we can find three good reasons why we should evangelise.
Example of Christ: Our Kingdom’s Mission
John 4:34 – “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” The disciples had seen Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman and had seen her going away leaving the water pot behind, because she was overjoyed at having found the Saviour. But they hardly seemed to be excited or interested in this. Why was this so? Perhaps they were too preoccupied with the mundane subject of food. All that was on their minds then was that they had bought food for themselves and for their Master, and that their Master should now come and dine with them.
Like these disciples, we are oftentimes concerned about the basic necessities of life like food and drink, rest and sleep, health and comfort, clothes and shelter. There is nothing abnormal about being concerned with these things. But when our thoughts and our time are grossly preoccupied with them, then there must be great cause for concern.
There are definitely more important things in life to be concerned about. Here are some diagnostic questions: Would you forego a meal as easily as you would forego your daily quiet time? Would you forego your leisure time or rest time if there is an opportunity for you to lead someone to Christ? Would you forego buying the T-shirt you always wanted, to purchase a Bible for a non-Christian friend who is interested in reading God’s Holy Word?
If you cannot answer these questions affirmatively, you may be preoccupied with the mundane things of life. If you are earnestly seeking to advance God’s kingdom on earth, the first thing you need to do is to embrace a sense of mission, a sense of being urgently compelled by a divine purpose. That mission must be as important to you as any basic necessity in life. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” (v.34) To Him, doing the will of God and finishing the work of God’s kingdom was his food and drink. He could not do without them. They were His mission!
Do you have a sense of kingdom mission? The work of saving souls from eternal death is part of your mission in life. It is as basic to your existence as food and water. Matthew 6:31-33 – “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Unless you take this kingdom mission seriously, you will not see a need to bring people to the saving knowledge of Christ. The real issue behind all this is the Lordship of Christ in your life. Do you accord to Christ the full rights He has to rule your life? Is He really the Lord of your life? If He is, are you willing to do anything for Him? If Christ is not Lord of your life, you will never make it a top priority to seek His kingdom.
Exhortation from Christ: The Kingdom’s Needs
John 4:35 – “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.” There are two contrasting elements here: The way the disciples perceived the cultivated fields and the way that our Lord perceived them. The disciples perceived that the fields were not ripe yet for harvest. Therefore they can take their rest, as there were four more months before the harvest. But Christ perceived that the fields were already overripe for the harvest. They were white – this means that if no one bothered to harvest them soon the whole crop would be lost!
The message here is that there is an urgent need to bring the lost to salvation. The world of sinners is God’s harvest field. The harvest involves the reaping of souls by preaching the gospel far and wide. The needs are truly overwhelming. The problem is that we do not perceive these needs well enough to take them seriously and act upon them. Like the disciples in this situation, our vision is myopic. We do not see far enough.
Therefore Christ says to us, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields.” Have you lifted up your eyes and looked hard enough and far enough? Can you see the urgent needs of the unsaved who are around you? Do you not realize that if someone had not taken this need seriously enough to bring the Gospel to you, then you too would be one of the millions who are perishing! Lift up your eyes and look on the fields! Do they not cry out to you for help?
Do you have loved ones who are still outside Christ? What about those at your place of work or study? Do you not feel burdened that they do not know the joy of salvation yet? How do you feel when you see them? Do you not see them sinking deeper and deeper into the eternal fires of hell? Who will go and help them escape from such a horrible end?
Isn’t it time that we lift up our eyes and take a long, hard look on the fields? Isn’t it time to advance God’s Kingdom in all these fields, “by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can?” (John Wesley)
Let us not be contented with a short-sighted complacency. To remain indifferent to the Kingdom’s needs is to be cold and heartless. Let us be like our Lord Jesus: When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with warm compassion on them because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:37).
Encouragement from Christ: The Kingdom’s Reward
John 4:36 – “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” The first part of this verse tells us that we will receive wages for reaping. The harvest is therefore gainful work! The second part tells us that we will rejoice. The harvest is therefore joyful work! These are the rewards we can look forward to in the work of harvesting souls. And when will these joyful rewards be given to us?
The answer is given in 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” The Apostle Paul writes about the same event in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 – ”Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” We who are saved will have to go through this judgment one day, not to decide our eternal destiny, but to be rewarded for the work we have done for the Lord. Only the work that endures the Lord’s fiery assessment will bring rewards.
Let your present efforts to do the Lord’s work be driven by the incentive of receiving such wonderful rewards from Christ! Imagine how happy you will be when Christ says to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). Let this motivate you now to bring the lost to Christ. Do all that you can do to reap a good harvest of souls, because Christ has said, “He that reapeth receiveth wages.”
In addition to this, there is yet another incentive for evangelism. John 4:37,38 – “And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” Christ was telling His disciples that the work required of them is relatively easy because it is the work of completing what others have already done. This can be seen when we view the whole work of redemption from beginning to end.
The “other men” mentioned in v.38 refer to the Old Testament prophets and saints who had laboured to write the Scriptures and to lay the foundation for the Gospel. Christ may also have been referring to Himself, for He had to accomplish the most difficult part of the labour: He had to humble Himself and suffer the agonising death on the cross for our sins. And now that all this labour for redemption has been completed by Christ and the prophets, our part is simply to reap the results of it! Should we not be more willing then, to do our part in the whole scheme of redemption?
There is one final incentive for evangelism: John 4:39 – “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” It is truly amazing that just by one single act of soul-saving by Christ, so many more were now coming to believe on Him. The work was multiplying rapidly, because the woman was spreading the good news to other Samaritans, who would, in turn, spread it to others (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2).
The same process is continuing even today. The work of evangelism is a multiplying work. This makes it so worthwhile because whatever effort we put into it is bound to multiply in time to come. Psalm 126:6 – “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Who can tell what great things God will do through you, if you take the initiative to go with the Gospel? Who can tell how many will eventually be saved and brought into the Kingdom of God as a result of your efforts to win souls to Christ?