People generally come to God for one of two reasons: either their life has ended up in shambles and theyre left with no other option, or they find themselves in a situation where the presence of the Holy Spirit becomes so strong that their resistance and confusion melt away and they rush into Gods arms. In other words most people turn to God either because theyre desperate or because theyve been awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What Jesus taught His disciples before the crowds of Samaritans arrived at Jacobs well was that they were about to see many turn to God because a miracle would take place. Large numbers of people were going to quickly come under conviction and surrender to God. The time between hearing and believing would be miraculously shortened to such a degree that those who were presenting the gospel would end up working side by side with those who were helping people receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord. The disciples were about to be part of a quick work, so Jesus was preparing them so they would understand what was happening; and at the same time He was cautioning them to remain humble in the midst of such amazing fruitfulness. In Judea Jesus had already begun seeing great fruitfulness (Jn 4:1), but in the future that fruitfulness would only continue to increase; and His disciples needed to know why it was happening, and they needed to know how to react when it happened. They needed to understand that the huge ingathering of souls that would begin in a few minutes was the result of the power of God, and so do we.
A miraculous harvest
v38 (continued): In this case Jesus did not tell them who it was who had previously labored among the Samaritans. Moses certainly had influenced them by writing the five books of the Torah that they considered to be scripture, but we have no way of knowing who else He means. Yet the point of His comment is to put the miracle they were about to experience into perspective. They were going to see an enormous number of people believe in Jesus in a very short period of time, but they must not allow themselves to become proud. They must remember that they were reaping a harvest which had been planted by others and which God Himself had ripened. So the glory for the evangelization of Sychar belonged only to Him.
vs39-42: Then John described what took place during those two days in Sychar. He said many believed after hearing the womans testimony about Jesus supernatural knowledge, and the city asked them to stay there as their guests. During that time many more believed as they listened to Jesus preach, and they told the woman we no longer believe because of what you have been saying for we have heard [Him] for ourselves and know (see) that this man is truly the Savior of the world (literal).
Lets try to put in our own words what Jesus taught His disciples that day. Its important to remember that what He taught them is just as true for us. If we had been standing there beside them heres what we might have heard:
1) Dont disqualify a group of people in your mind because of your prejudices. God is at work ripening every field, so you need to be constantly watching for what God is doing. You didnt recognize that you were standing in an area that is ripe for spiritual harvest. You would have eaten a meal and left.
2) Wherever I (Jesus) go or wherever I am proclaimed, a great prophetic promise is at work: the Holy Spirit, if welcomed by faith, will shorten the time required for the human heart to believe and surrender. Hard hearts will suddenly melt and stubborn rebellion will collapse in tears. And the number of people who respond will be much larger than you had any reason to expect.
3) Dont grow proud when you have the privilege of ministering with great results. You are only one part of a process. God was at work through many others long before you arrived. And after you leave there will be those who gather the grain, place it in barns and winnow the wheat from the chaff. God is the only constant influence. He alone deserves the glory. There is no place for pride, only joyful amazement.
So did we hear our coach? He said you and I need to:
Stay spiritually alert and watch for what God is doing.
Remember that its only when we present Jesus that the miracle takes place.
Wait for the power of the Spirit.
Expect supernatural results.
Stay humble when it happens.
The importance of power
Now lets talk about Gods power. You can do everything else right, but if its not there nothing happens. You can talk about it, believe in it and pray for it, but if its not there, nothing happens. Its not something we can control; its something we can only seek and wait for until it comes. What is it? Or rather we should ask, Who is it? Its the active, tangible presence of the Holy Spirit which at times can become so strong that we can actually feel something or observe Him at work. Human efforts to serve God by themselves can be well-intended but very limited in what they accomplish. But when Gods power arrives, those results change dramatically. And its His power thats so often lacking when someone is preaching and everyones bored or ministering and the experience feels hollow and empty. Everyone can intuitively sense that something is missing, that whats taking place is merely humans trying to say or do the right things.
When we proclaim Jesus Christ, or pray for the sick, or help someone receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or engage in some type of spiritual warfare, the outcome will be decided not so much by what we say or do but by whether or not God actually shows up. And if He does everyone knows it. And what they sense in that moment is not emotionalism; its not a psychological state someone has manipulated; its a phenomenon as real and touchable as the temperature in the room. You cant see it with your physical eyes (Jn 3:8), but you can observe what its doing, and in some way, which is hard to describe, you can feel it. It might feel like a warmth, or electrical energy, or a soft gust of wind, or a beautiful perfume, or being near someone who loves you.
Many in our culture have been taught that they must not believe in a spiritual realm, so when this presence arrives they are often shocked and may recoil in fear. Some may invent all sorts of psychological explanations for what just happened to them because in their view of reality this isnt possible. But the honest ones, the courageous ones will in time admit that God visited them and begin to adjust their thinking about reality.
Preparing for the Spirit
There beside Jacobs well Jesus taught us that we must partner with the Holy Spirit if we want to see miraculous harvests. So what must we do if we dont want to rely on our own human efforts? How do we position ourselves so Gods Spirit can perform His wonders among us? There are undoubtedly many more insights that could be added to this list, but here are a few that are essential. As a disciple of Jesus Christ each of us must:
1) Make a deep commitment that we will never minister apart from Gods power.
2) Realize that the Holy Spirit will always come to help us when we as Jesus disciples seek Him.
3) Understand that preparing for power is a process that may vary in length and intensity depending on the situation, but will usually require such forms of preparation as intercessory prayer, supplication, fasting, worship, praying in the Spirit, spiritual warfare and even physically cleaning a place before we begin to minister.
4) Watch for God to initiate and lead all ministry. He alone knows what that person needs to hear and when they are ready to receive. If we lead, the entire process breaks down.
5) Expect miraculous results. When God initiates and the power shows up, amazing things will always happen.
6) Never lose perspective and think we caused such wonderful results. We must remember that God was at work long before we arrived and that He will continue working long after we leave. Joyful thanks is our proper response for the privilege of ministering in the power that comes only because we belong to Jesus.
This passage is full of great expectations. Jesus was preparing His disciples for supernatural levels of fruitfulness. If they followed His example they too would share in His promise that the power of God would bring people to faith in strange, difficult places, in brief periods of time and in unreasonably large numbers. And Jesus would say the same things to us today. As His disciples, if we will follow His example, the power of God can still reach people in strange, difficult places, in brief encounters and in unreasonably large numbers. If we will listen to Him carefully and let His words sink into our hearts, never again will we be able to look at a situation and feel defeated. Instead, well watch for His leadership, wait for His power and expect a great harvest.
1) Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit led you to do or say something to someone and you obeyed? What happened? Did God show up?
2) Have you ever been surprised to find that someone you thought would never be interested in God had become believer? Did you ever find out why? If so, what did God see in them that you couldnt see?
3) Have you ever felt the power of the Holy Spirit? Tell us when and where. What did you feel or see?