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The Woman at the Well
As we enter this remarkable story, we wish to suggest three distinct things concerning our Lord.
1. The Lord weary and worn. We read that "being wearied with His journey, [He] sat thus on the well." This picture of Christ is a picture of Him in His humanity, that is, in His body which was similar to our own and which knew the same hunger, weariness, and exhaustion which we know. We cannot but think of Him as the Holy One, and yet He was the Holy One manifest in the flesh.
To me there is something sublime in this vision of Jesus sitting at the well. It makes me think that there is one up yonder with the Father, who once was down here "in all points tempted like as we are," but apart from sin.
"Jesus fainting trod up Calvary's
Rough and rugged road;
Yet tired and worn He turned not back,
But pressed on, up the blood-marked track"
Whenever we faint by the way, or are weary, let us remember that we have a sympathetic High Priest.
2. The Lord natural and unsophisticated. This whole story of Christ speaking to the woman of Samaria reveals the simplicity of Christ. He did not approach her as though He were better than she. He carried no airs of superiority of any kind. He was God; she was woman. He was holy; she was unclean. He knew all things; she was uncircumscribed in knowledge. In every way there was contrast, and yet in His mien and attitude toward her, He put Himself upon a level.
Perhaps, you have read that little poem which runs something like this:
"The parish priest of Austerlitz
Climbed up on a high church steeple
To be near to God so that he might
Drop down God's Word on his people.
In sermon script he daily wrote
What he thought came down from Heaven,
And he let it fall on his people's heads
Two times one day in seven.
In his old age he had to die,
So, he cried out from his steeple,
"Where art Thou, Lord?" The Lord replied,
"I'm down among the people."
I am not sure that we have quoted this poem correctly. However, it will give the same thought. So many of us move around on stilts cognizant of our assumed authority, while our Lord, Himself, mixed and mingled with the people. We read in Luke 15:2 , "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." He did not enter, in any way, into their sins, or even their thoughts, but He did sit in the midst of them.
3. The Lord humble and holy. As we think of Christ worn and weary, and natural in His movements among men, we remember that He was the meek and lowly Christ. We wish to stop just long enough to suggest the deeper meaning of Bible separation.
To be separated from the world does not mean that we should not enter into the world with a message of light and life and love. To be separated from sinners does not mean that we should refuse to walk down the street with them as we seek to bear testimony to the Saviour.
We would like also to bear one other thought: the deeper meaning of Christ's mission on earth. He came to seek and to save the lost. He came to meet every need of the human heart.
I. THE WOMAN APPROACHED (John 4:7 )
As the woman of Samaria came down to the well to fill her waterpot, she found what she supposed to be a common everyday Jew sitting at the well.
1. The request. As she came near Christ said unto her, "Give Me to drink." Little did this woman expect the Jew to speak to her, let alone to ask of her a favor. She supposed if there was anything said, it would be a word of scorn; or, if He looked at her, it would be with proud disdain, but not so. The Lord quietly said, "Give Me to drink."
There is a far-reaching meaning to the little expression, "Give Me." To think that the Son of God, by whom all things were created, and in whom they all consist, should say to a woman who was a sinner, "give Me to drink." Me-thinks that we can all give Him something. He seems to look at us now, as He says, "Give Me your confidence, your trust," and then He must add, "Give Me your praise."
2. The query. The woman quickly said, "How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?" The expression, "How is it?" shows the very throbbings of her heart. She was altogether surprised, and taken aback. She had supposed that an argument might be started, but certainly not a favor asked. We wonder if the unsaved know that the Lord desires to come into a conference with them and that He is still seeking to draw near.
3. The challenge. Jesus said, "If thou knewest * * who it is that saith to thee." She did not know. Neither do the unsaved know. If they did know the Lord, they would have trusted Him; they would have believed in Him. Even now He stands knocking, knocking. Who will let Him in?
II. THE WOMAN AND THE WELL OF WATER (John 4:9-10 )
As Christ spoke to the woman He said, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee Living Water." Christ, in effect, said, "I asked for water and received it not; if thou hadst asked Me for water, I would have given Living Water unto thee."
1. Christ's willingness to help. The words still ring in our minds: "If thou hadst, I would." We cannot but think of Christ speaking to the Jews and saying, "How often would I have gathered * * and ye would not." May we suggest to everyone who is not saved that Christ long ago would have given you the Living Water, if you had been willing to receive it.
2. The well of Living Water. The well by which Christ sat was a well of water that had lasted a long time. It had been dug, according to the woman, by Jacob centuries before. She said that Jacob drank from it, as also did his children and his cattle. The Lord, however, told her of another well of water that would be living, from which, if she should drink, she would never thirst again. When we think of Christ as the Water of Life, our minds go to Isaiah 55:1-13 , where the marvelous invitation is given: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Our minds run on to the 7th chapter of John where Christ said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink." Then we remember that last great appeal in the Bible: "Let him take the Water of Life freely."
God grant that every one who is thirsty may come to this Water and drink.
III. THE WOMAN CONVICTED OF SIN (John 4:16-18 )
1. The Lord's omniscience. After the conversation concerning the Living Water had lulled, Jesus turned the woman's mind away from the Water of Life, to her own sinful heart. He knew that if she should drink of this Living Water, so pure and clean, that she must herself be cleansed. Therefore, Christ said, "Go, call thy husband, and come hither."
As we read these words we realize that we stand before an omniscient Christ. "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
2. The woman's confession. "I have no husband," said she. This was a confession of her sin. If Christ had come out boldly, and condemned her scathingly, He would never have had such a response. However, He approached her wisely, and even kindly. He did not at first tell her that she had no husband, but He led her on to confess that fact with her own lips.
3. The woman's truthfulness commended. Jesus said unto her, "Thou hast well said, I have no husband; For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."
To us this Scripture shows such profound consideration and wisdom that we must consider it for a moment. Think of it! In a woman living in sin Christ found something that was good. He said, "Thou hast well said." And again, "Saidst thou truly." In other words, in showing her the depth of her depravity and her sin, He conceded that which was "worthy" in her.
Would that every one of us had this same spirit. Before Christ gave unto His seven churches His words of just reproof, He bathed every one of them in an ocean of love. He told them first of the good things, saying, "I know thy works, and thy patience," etc. Then He said, But "I have a few things against thee."
IV. THE WOMAN'S ESTIMATE OF CHRIST (John 4:19-25 )
1. She confessed, saying, "I perceive that Thou art a Prophet." At last she beheld in the One who sat at the well more than a common, everyday Jew. She perceived that He was a Prophet. It was because He had revealed unto her, her own private history and her own evil heart. The woman, however, sought quickly to start an argument. The contention between the Jews and the Samaritans was not only a contention of race, but also of religion. She began to say, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." The Lord quickly threw her off of her effort to change the subject, and said, "The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." Then came one of the most astounding things found in this chapter. "Ye worship ye know not what."
The woman was by no means an ignorant woman. She knew much about the Bible. This she had already revealed, and she revealed it again further on. However, Christ plainly told her: "Ye worship ye know not what." How many there are today who have no definite conception of Christ, or of the God they worship.
2. The Messias cometh. This was the second estimate of the woman concerning Christ. She candidly admitted that she expected the coming of the Messias, who was called Christ. She said, "When He is come, He will tell us all things." Jesus quickly replied, "I that speak unto thee am He."
At that juncture the disciples came up. No more words, so far as the records go, were spoken. The two: Christ and the woman, stood for the moment looking deep into each others eyes. In her, Christ saw a sinner who needed a Saviour. In Him, she must have seen a Saviour seeking a sinner.
V. THE CONFUSED DISCIPLES (John 4:27 ; John 4:31-38 )
1. The disciples marveled that Christ talked with the woman. They said nothing, but they thought a great deal. They knew that Christ had said a little while before, I "must needs go through Samaria," but they did not know why. Now, it began to dawn upon them that this woman may have had something to do, or perhaps all to do, with His passing that way.
2. The Lord spoke to His disciples of the other meat which He had to eat. "His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat." He replied, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." We have just been learning about two kinds of water: the water in Jacob's well, and the Living Water. We now find that there are two kinds of meat. When Christ said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of," He was rebuking them in a loving way, just as He had before rebuked the woman. He had told the woman, "Ye worship ye know not what"; now, He tells the disciples, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." They thought that some one must have given Him meat, therefore Christ said to them, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me. and to finish His work." May God grant that we may not labor for the meat that perisheth.
3. The whitened harvest. As Christ sat that day speaking to the disciples, He said, "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." Here were the disciples oblivious to the fact that a city sunk in sin was about to be reaped for God. Oh, that we might thrust in the sickle and reap!
VI. THE WOMAN BEARING TESTIMONY TO CHRIST (John 4:28-29 )
While Christ was talking to the disciples about the ripened harvest, the woman had in the meantime returned to the city.
1. She had left her waterpot. She had come to get water, but evidently had forgotten it in her joy of another water of which she had been able to drink. Besides that, she could not have hastened so readily had she taken her waterpot with her. It would have proved her main consideration, perhaps, and would have hindered her in her new task.
Let us, also, leave our "waterpots" at this moment to follow Christ. Matthew left the receipt of customs. We are told to leave all and to follow Him.
2. She went into the city and gave testimony. Here are the words she said: "Come, see a Man, which told me all things that ever I did." Then she added, "Is not this the Christ?" She realized that the Messias of which she had spoken had come, and she rejoiced, and rejoicing she told the good news to others.
Would that every one of us who have met the Lord would acclaim Him from the housetops, and in the city streets, and wherever we go.
Bishop Thoburn said, "During my early years in India, I spent several months in a village and gained only thirteen converts. I returned there two years later and found eight hundred converts. No missionary had been there since I left. Every Christian had been a witness for Christ."
"That is the way souls were won in the first century. It is the way the message should be carried today."
VII. REAPING THE HARVEST (John 4:30 ; John 4:39 )
1. In John 4:30 we read: "Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him." We remember how years before when the angels gave the annunciation to the shepherds saying, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord," that the shepherds said. "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass."
The difficulty with the average unbeliever is that he is unwilling to seek the Saviour. He loves darkness, and will not come into the light. Oh, that men might turn unto God!
2. In John 4:39 we read, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified." So it was that believing the words of the woman, they came to Christ and heard Him. Then they besought Him that He would tarry with them, and He abode there two days. What a wonderful two days were those. Of them we read, "And many more believed because of His own Word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
3. In Acts there is a little verse which runs like this: "And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds."
My friend who knows not God, if you would only come and see the Saviour, you, too, would believe, and believing would confess His worthy name. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to serve Him. If you have come to Him, are you willing to do what this woman of Samaria did, and what these Samaritans did to confess Him to others?
Christ has said to all of us, "Ye are My witnesses." Let us, therefore, give our testimonies. When we think of the woman of Samaria, and how her testimony turned the tide of a city toward Christ, we wonder what your testimony may do.
Christ knew the value of a soul, when He dealt as He did with the woman of Samaria.
"The famous Madonna by Botticelli was painted on a wooden panel at least four hundred years ago. Recently the wood began to crack, and it was feared that the painting would be ruined; but a restorer was found who said he could save it. His first step was to paste thin strips of tissue paper on the face of the picture, pressing the paper into the uneven surface of the paints. He added layer after layer, until a thick body of paper concealed the picture. Then the restorer turned the picture over and began to sandpaper the board away. After many months of careful work he had all the wood removed, and nothing but the paint adhered to the paper. Next he glued a piece of linen canvas very carefully to the paint, and slowly and patiently removed the paper bit by bit. The work took nearly a year, but when it was finished the painting was in a condition to last another four centuries.
It was the value of this painting that justified such extreme care and the expense in restoring it. How patiently the great Master deals with human souls in order to save them! The value of the soul is proved by the fact that He gave His precious life for it."
Missions in the Gospels
The fourth chapter of John contains one of the most marvelous stories of the Word of God. It is beyond doubt a revelation of the heart of God toward the lost, as set forth in the story of conversion and ministry of the woman of Samaria.
Remember that while the disciples had gone to the city to get meat, the Lord had met this woman, and had brought to her the knowledge of Himself as the Saviour of men. While she was returning to the city, and telling the people what had happened to her, and that she had discovered the Christ, the disciples appeared with bread, and prayed Him, saying, "Master, eat." The Lord in return said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of."
Then it was that the Lord gave the remarkable message of the Scripture assigned, concerning the harvest. Read John 4:35 , John 4:36 .
It was after this that the woman returned, and we read, "And many more believed because of His own word."
1. The story of a great "must." In John 4:3 we are told that the Lord Jesus, having left Judea, departed again into Galilee, contrary to every usual procedure. We read: "And He must needs go through Samaria."
We can never understand His words concerning the harvest, until we understand this "must" of going through Samaria.
There is only one reason for that "must": that reason is the woman of Samaria, and the people of Sychar.
Is it not this same great "must" that stirs the hearts of willing men, and willing women, as the call of the great mission fields falls upon them? They "must" needs go to the ends of the earth, because souls are groping in darkness.
2. The best meat of all. When the disciples offered Christ meat, He was so consumed with the work of winning this woman, and the people of her city, that He said: "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34 ).
Shall we not, with Him, put our earthly food, and everything else, as beneath the great task of carrying the Gospel to "every creature"? Let us never take time for anything else, in any consuming sense, until we have first finished this work.
3. The vision of whitened harvest fields. In John 4:35 Christ said, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." Does not the heart of God toward a world ripened to harvest, touch our own souls?
4. A commanded prayer. We slip away from John 4:1-54 , a moment, to Matthew 9:37-38 , where Christ once more is speaking of the harvest. He says in Matthew: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest."
5. Harvesting wages. We are back in our study reading John 4:36 : "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal."
The Lord does not promise us wages at this time, though He does promise to supply our needs. The real wages of gathering in the harvest will be the souls we have saved. Certainly every toil will be fully repaid when we see them coming from the east, and the west, and from the north and the south, in the glorious eternity, and know that they are come as the fruitage of our labors.
I. THE SENDING OUT OF THE TWELVE (Matthew 10:6-10 )
1. The calling of the twelve. It was after a night of prayer that the Lord chose His twelve Apostles, or "sent ones." Do you not think that it is always a matter of real consideration on His part, when God calls anyone to go out on a mission for Him? He truly must pick out men and women panoplied for the work; He who looks on the heart is able to do this.
2. He gave commandments to those whom He sent. He told them what they were to preach, as well as what they should do. He said, "Go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
The Lord also told His Twelve that they were to provide no scrip for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves. For, said the Lord, "the workman is worthy of his meat." He was telling them that, as they went out, He would provide them with coats, and shoes, and staves.
Is not this still true? Wherever we go there is One who will provide for us.
3. A designated mission. Matthew 10:6 says, "But go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." God is not saying this to us now in any exclusive sense. The middle wall of partition was broken down when Christ died. It was to the Jew first, but it was not to the Jew always, and only.
II. THE SENDING OUT OF THE SEVENTY (Luke 10:1-9 )
The same Lord who sent forth the Twelve, sent forth the Seventy.
1. The first message to the Seventy. Unto them the Lord said: "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2 ).
This is the same Scripture that we find in the ninth chapter of Matthew, and very similar to the one in the fourth chapter of John. The repetition of these words reminds us of the intensity of the heart of our Lord in behalf of those that were lost.
2. The Seventy were sent forth two by two. They were sent into every city, and every place, traveling two by two. The wisdom of the Lord is very plain: comradeship in service adds power, in the matter of prayer, of wisdom, and of contact.
So far as prayer is concerned, is it not written "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them?" In the third chapter of Acts, Peter and John went up together, to the House of prayer.
In the matter of service, is it not written "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established?"
3. The Seventy were sent as lambs among wolves. Every missionary finds that he is going into the midst of wolves. Satan has far greater power in the lands of darkness than elsewhere. Obstacles will be many, difficulties will be not a few; persecutions will abound, and yet, Luke 10:3 says, "Go your ways: behold, I send you forth."
We need missionaries with more than a testimony; we need missionaries with the power to work miracles; with an undaunted and unwavering faith. These miraculous manifestations of a Living God, will prepare the people to know that the Kingdom of God is indeed come nigh unto them.
III. THE SOWER (Matthew 13:3-8 )
The 13th chapter of Matthew is a great missionary philippic.
1. In the parable of the sower, the field is the world. It is not this time, "to Jews only," but to "every creature." With God's help even the local pastor, who gives his testimony from a local pulpit to a local crowd, should remember that through tears, and gifts, and heartaches, he must be reaching the last lost man of earth. Those who are at home by the stuff must not forget those who are on the far-flung battlefields of the heathen world.
2. In the parable of the sower there are four kinds of seed. The first one is he that was sown by the wayside. Then cometh the wicked one and eateth up that which is sown.
The second one is he that is sown in the stony places, and has no root in himself, but endureth but for a while, "for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended."
The third is he who is sown among thorns, "and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful."
The fourth is he that is sown into good ground, and bears fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundred, and some sixty, and some thirtyfold.
We wonder if our Lord is setting before us the fact that only a ratio of one out of four of those who are called to preach the Word of the Kingdom will be found serving and faithful to the end of their task?
It seems a dark picture to think that many whom the Lord has sent will be unfaithful to their task, and untrue to their call.
We think of Gideon. Read Judges 7:1-7 .
May you who are called to the harvest-fields (and surely we are all called), not to be numbered among the seeds sown by the wayside, or in the stony places, or among the thorns.
IV. THE FEEDING OF A MULTITUDE (Matthew 14:15-21 )
We do not know how you feel about it, but in all the Gospel miracles, and every miracle is a message, there is not one that seems to us to carry a more remarkable missionary message than this.
1. There was a hungry multitude. This multitude was much on the heart of the Master. He saw their hunger and their need, and He said to the disciples, "Give ye them to eat." The Lord's heart toward the multitudes of earth, today, is that of a like compassion. He has not changed at all. As He looks at the people who surge to and fro over the earth, His command is still for us to go.
2. There was a trembling discipleship. The disciples quietly, but urgently, said, "Send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals." The Lord said, "They need not depart; give ye them to eat." They said, "We have here but five loaves, and two fishes."
Is not this exactly what is going on today? Shall we leave the lost to their woes? Shall we suffer them to try to feed themselves with the Bread of Life? Nay, the Lord has said, "Go * * to every creature," and again, "Give ye them to eat." Are we still crying, "We have here but five loaves, and two fishes?"
Where are we to obtain the necessary funds to finance the work?
The Lord is still saying to the saints of today, "They need not depart; give ye them to eat." He has sufficient in His treasury to finance the evangelization of the world. He has sufficient in His power house to energize His sent ones to carry an effective and faithful message. So let us bestir ourselves.
3. There was, finally, a multitude filled and satisfied. When the disciples told the Lord the scantity of the few provisions they had, He simply said, "Bring them hither to Me." Are we willing, then, to bring to God our little all?
Did not the Lord take five loaves and two fishes, and, looking up to Heaven, did He not bless them, and break and give to the disciples and the disciples to the multitude? If we are willing to go out, faithful to His command, will He not take, and bless, and break again? The result, on that memorable day, was that "They did all eat, and were filled": there were even twelve baskets of fragments left. What a wonderful missionary vision is this, and it is His.
V. THE MISSIONARY COMMISSION, AS FOUND IN MATTHEW (Matthew 28:18-20 )
If we want to see the climactic visions of the heart of God in missions, in the Gospels, we need to go to the final message of each Gospel. Here is the message in Matthew.
1. It is a promise of all power, given by the Risen Lord. When Jesus Christ stood before His disciples, they worshiped Him, but some doubted. The Lord, however, drew nigh unto them, and said, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth."
No missionary is ready to truly serve God until he truly believes on an all-powerful Christ. If he is going forth in the power of the knowledge gained in a college or a seminary, it will fail him. If he is going in the power of his own oratory or skill, it will fail him.
The missionary must go forth, fully taught in the school of faith, in which he knows that he has the backing of the power of the great, Almighty Jehovah.
2. It is a command to all nations. The Lord said, "All power * * Go ye therefore." We are going because we are panoplied with all power, but where are we going? We are going to all nations; not one is to be left out. Some nations are far more difficult to reach than others. Some nations are dwelling in climates most dangerous to the missionary, but no nation must be left without the message.
3. It was a commission carrying a specified service.
1. They were to teach.
2. They were to baptize.
3. They were to teach their converts to observe all things.
Every missionary must obey his orders. The Apostle Paul went into Thessalonica, and reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Jesus Christ must have suffered and died; must have been raised, and must come again. We must go and teach these things to the nations.
At Pentecost, and ever after, the disciples, as they accepted Christ, were baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This pictorial ordinance must not be omitted on the part of missionaries. Until this day, on every foreign field, the baptism of converts is the moment when their real testimony to Christ, and their real sufferings for Christ, begin.
The missionary must also teach the converts of the faith to observe all things which Christ has commanded. When these things are done as God commands, then He gives the promise, and the promise is certain and sure: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
The Lord did not mean that He would sympathize with the missionary. He meant He would be at his side, sharing his burdens, encouraging, strengthening and giving victory to those who went forth in His Name.
VI. THE MISSIONARY COMMISSION AS FOUND IN MARK (Mark 16:14-18 )
1. A staggering command. Mark 16:14 tells us that our Lord appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, "because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen." It was to such a group as this that He gave the command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
Think of it. He told eleven people to go into all the world! To be sure He knew that the eleven would be increased in number, but that did not lessen their responsibility. Every one of us should feel that the command is ours.
If you will follow the story of the Early Church, you will find that the eleven at Pentecost had passed from unbelief to faith; and from weakness to power.
2. The scope of the command. It was, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." In Matthew we found that no nation was to be left out. Now God says that no creature must be omitted. The commission is not accomplished until the last man on earth has heard the message.
3. The results of the command. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." There is no promise here that all will be saved.
We may preach the Gospel to "every creature," but it does not follow that "every creature" will be saved. Our responsibility is to see that all have the opportunity of accepting the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The signs that will follow obedience to the command. Those who believed would cast out devils, would speak in new tongues, would take up serpents, and so on. Every one of these things was fulfilled by the believers in the Early Church.
We still believe that our God is an omnipotent God. If He could preserve Daniel in the lions' den; if He could save the three Hebrew children in the furnace; can He not save us from serpents and any deadly thing? If they laid their hands upon the sick, and they recovered, may we not do the same?
Mark 16:19 says, "After the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right hand of God."
VII. THE MISSIONARY COMMISSION AS FOUND IN LUKE (Luke 24:45-49 )
1. The commission was given to disciples whose eyes were open. Luke 24:45 says, "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." Before the ascension of Christ, the Lord spent forty days with the disciples, speaking unto them, and teaching them concerning the Kingdom of God.
The unbelief of the eleven, of which Christ spoke in Mark, had now passed away. They knew the Scriptures, and they knew how "it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day."
2. The commission was given to the disciples as to what they should preach. They were commanded, in Luke 24:47 , "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." It was of these things that they were to be witnesses.
Did not Peter so preach at Pentecost? He did. When the multitude began to cry out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter told them, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins," It was of these things that the disciples were to be witnesses, and the commission is to us as much as to them.
3. The final great promise. "Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on High."
Once again the promise of power is given, and the source of power is emphasized. They were to receive power from on High. How marvelous it was that Christ, as they beheld, ascended up, in their very sight. He went up, leaving behind Him these last words of commission. Beloved, we thank God for the missionary vision in the four Gospels.
The O. M. S. is one of the finest illustrations of missionary achievement of which we know.
The Oriental Missionary Society needs the white missionary, but not in the same sense or measure that other missionary societies do. We are "set" for the training of a native ministry, and what white missionaries we need must be "preacher makers," that is, they must know how to teach others. In the ordinary understanding of the word we do not need them. We mean by this that we believe that the native can do the work among his own people just as well or better than his white brother.
Let us consider this for a moment. There was a time in the history of missionary work when white missionaries were the only kind there were because it was with the white race that the idea of modern missions was planned and put into operation, but that day passed as converts were made and sent out to preach Jesus; and today, at the end of the age when what we do must be done quickly and more economically, we insist that the training of a native ministry is the one and only way to reach our generation of lost souls.
Americans are best fitted to reach the American people. We enjoy, in a patronizing way, the ministry of a Hindu or Chinese preacher and he is an attraction and more or less of a curiosity for a time, but we would never think of calling him to minister to an American congregation as pastor. It would be unthinkable, but why? Race prejudice, of course. We do not like the word, but at the root of the matter that is the real explanation of our bias. We believe that the Japanese are the best folk to reach their own people, the Koreans to reach the Koreans and the Chinese the Chinese, therefore we are training the natives and emphasizing that ministry "up to the hilt." We need white missionaries with that vision and who have the ability to help work it out. Of course we understand that there are variations in this idea and these are taken into consideration, for not all nations are alike and some need more help than others, but in principle this states our fundamental purpose.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20