Unlikely Tools

by Gami Ortiz

 

John chapter 4 tells us the account of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus had sent the disciples out for food, but when they return, it says in verse 27, “They marveled that he was talking with a woman.” Due to the social structure and the Jewish sentiments about Samaritans, it is no surprise. Though they didn't question him out loud (something they do in other situations), they certainly were thinking to themselves, as John tells us they were. They looked at her through their preconceived notions and made their own judgments.

 

But the Samaritan woman is so excited at Jesus' declaration that he is the Messiah that she left (forgot?) her water jar and then went and told people in town to come and meet Jesus. In fact, that reaction was so radical that others had to come see for themselves (v 30). Here's this woman that was so ashamed of herself and what she'd done that she gets water in the heat of the day so that she doesn't have to talk to anyone. And now, she's running through the town, willing to bring up her sinful past to talk about this stranger that she met. That's a pretty big change and it got people's attention that they had to see for themselves. As a result, “many more believed...” (v 41).

 

Among the many trips that I took while I was in the Army was a deployment to South Korea in 2009. The mission itself required us as field artillery as well as a company each of infantry and armor (tanks). The three units formed one task force. Once the mission was over, we had a few days left on a base in the southern part of the country before we flew back home. Several of the soldiers got together and organized a softball tournament between the three units. I love baseball (and softball is close enough), so I was excited to play, even if I was the only officer in the tournament. Both infantry and armor units naturally assumed that we would be eliminated the first round and the tournament would be between them two. The first game of the tournament, we went up against the infantry team. I was the first at bat. In PT uniform, no one wears rank, so we're all just soldiers playing a game. Everyone sees a short guy at the plate, so people start moving in closer in both the infield and outfield. The first couple of pitches go by and they were either too high or too low. My team had all told me not to even worry about swinging. They hoped I'd get walked and then I could steal a base, since they knew I was fast. Then someone else could hit me home. Well, I decided I didn't like standing there without getting a hit. The next pitch was at about my head level, so I took a crazy tomahawk swing at it. The ball soared into the outfield and over the heads of the outfielders. Before it hit the ground, I was almost at second base. The ball rolled to the backstop and by the time they had picked the ball up and thrown it to the cut-off man, I was home. My team was whooping and hollering with much excitement. No one had expected that from the 5'3" Puerto Rican! And the infantry guys were frustrated at having underestimated what they perceived was someone incapable of hitting that far. We went on to win that tournament - undefeated.

 

The disciples took one look at the Samaritan woman and reached their own conclusions of her. This was a woman, a Samaritan, and an adulteress. By their standards, there was no lower qualification you could give her. Why would they waste their time on her? But Jesus knew better and invested in her. She ended up being the key to winning that Samaritan village. In this short teaching, Jesus gives them a couple of different lessons. First, to look for opportunities where they least expect them. Two, in order to reap a harvest, seed must be sown. You can't lead others to Christ where the gospel hasn't been preached. Finally, we don't work alone. You may reap the harvest where someone else has sown the seed of the gospel. Or, you may labor to sow the seed, but someone else may be the one to reap the harvest.

 

We’re often quick to draw conclusions out of our own understanding, rather than leaning on divine wisdom. Pray that the Lord would help us to see the opportunities before us and that we would be obedient in them. What fields in your life are ripe for harvest? Where can you be sowing the seed of the gospel?