Short Meditations in John 4: 38. The Power of Testimony
Jn 4:39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
There seem to be two stages of believers being added to the kingdom there in Samaria. First there is a group – who have presumably heard of Jesus before – who simply believe because of the woman’s testimony (here in this verse) and then others who believe after they meet him (in v.41). So note in passing that turning to Christ is a mystery and there do seem to be people who need very little to repent and turn and are saved, while there are others who need further, more prolonged encounters or conversations. Ultimately it is to do with being convicted by the Spirit but why some hearts are hard and refuse to respond and others seem to open easily is a mystery.
Clearly here in Samaria the people are open and hungry for this first group respond quickly simply to the words of the woman. No doubt she said more than the words in this verse but however much or however little she shared with the people she knew back in the town, they were quick to respond because, as we’ll see, many soon go out to meet Jesus at the well before he moves on.
It is worth noting how powerful a person’s testimony is. Every believer has a testimony, a story of how they came to Christ. The classic and perhaps most powerful testimony we find in the Gospels is that of the blind man healed in John 9. When the religious people argue with him about Jesus he simply says, in response to their words about Jesus, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (Jn 9:25)
It really annoys atheists who argue their hearts out against God and against Jesus when a simple believer says something like, “Well, I don’t know all about what you are saying but what I do know is that my life has been transformed by meeting Jesus Christ. Before my life was full of stress and worry. I smoked, drank and took pills, but as soon as I met Christ I found a peace that I cannot explain and I am free of stress and worries and I no longer smoke, drink or take tranquillizers.” Of course every testimony is different but each one has a before and after element to it – what my life was life before I met Jesus and what it is like now.
I, like many, am happy to explain, debate and argue over the facts of the Gospel but at the end of the day, so often, the most powerful thing is my testimony – Jesus has changed me. It wasn’t a work of self effort but simply of receiving the love of God through Jesus. There are many people who are longing just to hear an authentic account of life being changed, and that is what a testimony is all about.