Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1959

"The Woman Then Left Her Waterpot"

Leslie Diestelkamp, Apapa, Nigeria

The challenging story of Christ's encounter with the Samaritan woman and later with the men of her village is recorded for us in chapter four of the gospel according to John and contained in this narrative are some very vital lessons for us. There are three particular lessons that can be derived from this chapter that I wish to emphasize in this article. Each of the three stresses a common theme — the duty and privilege of Christians to take the gospel of Christ to all people everywhere.

"Why Talkest Thou With Her"

Verse 27 says that the disciples came to Jesus as he talked with the woman of Samaria and marveled that he talked with her. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, and almost no Jew would speak to them, much less engage them in a friendly conversation as Jesus did this woman. In the minds of the disciples were those two unasked questions, "What seekest thou? or Why talkest thou with her?" They dared not ask them, but their hearts were filled with concern that their Master had so openly violated their national and religious custom.

Many months ago when I was still in the U. S. our plans for going to Nigeria were being discussed with a preacher and his wife. She said, "One would surely have to love the Negroes to go to Africa". She was so right! Likewise those who would go with the gospel to any other nation, or people, and even those who have the courage to go north or south or east or west in the U. S., leaving the ties of home behind, must do so out of a heart of love for strange people. Terrifying indeed will be the day when gospel preachers go anywhere for money, for fame, for honor or for ease. Furthermore, it will be a disastrous day for the church of the Lord when preachers have not that abundant love for any and all, people, rich and poor, black and white, red and yellow, educated and illiterate. Finally, this love for all people must be demonstrated in our lives and not just declared from our lips. Love that is declared and not demonstrated is useless and the one who shouts and boasts of his love for everybody ought to be sure that the use he makes of his time, his talent, his energy and his money is a certain proof of the truth of his words.

"The Woman Then Left Her Waterpot"

That verse didn't mean much to me until I came to Africa. Here, just like it was in Samaria in the days of Christ, women and children carry water on their heads, many times drawing it from wells first (but here sometimes getting it from filthy streams also). These water vessels are relatively precious to the people. When a woman has walked a long distance (sometimes two or three miles) with her empty vessel, she fully intends to return with it filled with water for her household. She will not readily leave the vessel behind — in fact I think it would be very difficult to get a woman to do so. Even if she is hurried and excited she will at least fill the vessel first and take it with her, for two reasons: (1) She values the vessel itself too much to leave it behind and (2) She knows her household is depending upon her to bring the precious water for their needs.

Why Did The Samaritan Woman Leave The Waterpot?

Why does the New Testament give us this little detail? Precisely this: the woman now was only concerned with informing her people of the great discovery she had made! She said, "Come, see the man which told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ?" Hers is the story of a woman who had been fully convinced of the divinity of Jesus. She was sufficiently attracted to Him that worldly concerns became very secondary to her. Today so many people have a half-hearted interest in Jesus. So many just have enough religion to make them miserable! The kind of conviction manifested by this Samaritan woman will cause people today to put down the tools of their trade, the instruments of their profession and the devices of their household to "take up their cross" and follow Jesus. Her first concern was to tell others, and the one today who truly catches the significance of the Deity of Christ will also be filled with the zeal to share the good news with all people.

" ...And To Finish His Work"

When his disciples asked him to eat, Jesus said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of". When they asked if someone had brought him food, he said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work". Jesus had now become so fully concerned with teaching the Samaritans the enemies of Israel, that he forgot the pangs of physical hunger and eloquently charged his disciples to "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already unto harvest". He was teaching one of his first lessons to them about the universal nature of the gospel which they would soon be preaching to all men, beginning in Jerusalem, but going on to Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.

Jesus dramatically clarified to all who had ears with which to hear that he had a twofold task before him: (1) To do the will of Father and (2) To finish the work he had come to accomplish. His one task involved him in strict obedience to the will of God, for even though he was a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, (Heb. 5:8) and it was necessary that he follow explicitly every commandment of the Father. His other task required perseverance. He could not quit. Only on the cross, could he say, "It is finished". The great life he lived, the many miracles he performed, and the perfect words he had spoken could not bring remission of sins to lost humanity. He had come to "seek and to save the lost" and to do so he had to live perfectly before them, teach every true principle, and demonstrate his divinity by his mighty works, but not until his blood was shed on Golgotha's hill was the price for redemption settled in heaven.

Christians need to say, "Our work is to do the will of God and to finish the work he has given us". In everything — in personal conduct, in worship, in gospel work — we must be subject to heaven's directives. We must "learn not to go beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6-R. V.) and to "abide in the teaching of Christ" (2 Jn. 9). Likewise we must "be ready unto every good work" (Titus 3:1), possess the pure religion of Jan" 1:27, and "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). Each and every day we must be busy finishing the work God has given us to do. We are "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10), and we are declared by the Lord to be "The light of the world" (Mt. 5:14). The Lord has not commanded that we convert the world, but he has commanded that we "Preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2). Our responsibility does not include forcing people to believe, and we have never failed just because men and women do not obey, but our obligation does include looking out upon the harvest fields of the world with love in our hearts and truth upon our lips and we have never succeeded until we have "sown the good seed" into as many hearts as possible.

The life of a gospel preacher will be a life of frustration if he constantly reads, writes and quotes, "Go into all the world", but if he still tries to satisfy the demands of his own conscience in a work where he is hired to do the work that elders should do, where he is general custodian of the building, where he is a nurse-maid to a group of weak-kneed Christians, where he preaches again and again in the same four walls to the same sleepy people, and where the ones who are supposed to be already saved take so much of his time that he must neglect to "do the work of an evangelist", for which specific work, God, through the gospel, has called him to preach. But the work of any Christians can be a satisfying work when it is characterized by the fruitfulness that comes to the pioneer, the real soldier of the cross, the one who goes into the highways and by-ways, at home and away, near and far, seeking honest people of all nations who will hear the truth that can make them free.

Brother, look out upon the harvest today — and go sow the good seed, for the harvest is indeed great. Remember, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance, so let us preach the goodness and severity of God that brings sinners to conviction and conversion, to every soul in all nations.