There are over forty accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ personal evangelism. Studying these accounts demonstrates several truths: Jesus could adapt His presentation to different audiences, for instance. He started where the person was and took them to the truth they needed, and almost always he did so in a conversation rather than as a presentation. He obviously knew people well. He was sensitive to His Father’s leadership. He was urgent and persistent. And even our Lord did not reach everyone with whom He shared. The following illustrations help us to see three specific ways Jesus evangelized people.
First, Jesus sought people. In Luke 19, we read how Jesus sought Zacchaeus. He intentionally set out to meet him and even made an appointment to meet him at the tax collector’s house. He met Zacchaeus where he was as he sat in a tree (v. 5). He identified with a sinner, regardless of the consequences (v. 7). Jesus further convicted Zacchaeus of his sin. Finally, this account shows us Jesus did not just meet sinners, He sought to save them (vv. 9–10). Who are you currently seeking for the cause of Christ? Do you have names of people for whom you are praying, people with whom you are establishing friendships who do not know Christ? I recently took part in a survey of pastors. One of the questions asked the pastors how many times they had an unchurched family in their home and how many times they were in unchurched friends’ homes in the past year. Several of the pastors’ commented how the survey made them realize what a low priority they put on seeking those without Christ.
Next, Jesus was approachable. Most of the encounters Jesus had with people in Matthew’s Gospel came because they approached him (examples). In John 3, we read of Nicodemus approaching Jesus by night. Nicodemus was searching for truth (v. 2). The reply of Jesus was direct. He boldly confronted Nicodemus (v. 3). A dialogue ensued concerning the gospel, but no immediate change was indicated (vv. 4-21). However, there is evidence of Nicodemus’s possible change (see John 7:50–52). He brought gifts to anoint the body of Jesus after His death (see John 19:39). Are you approachable? If a lost neighbor, family member, or coworker suddenly began to think of spiritual things, would they think of you as the person to speak with about their questions? When people approach you on the subject of spiritual things, be very ready to explain clearly the salvation available in Jesus.
Third, Jesus made the most of every opportunity. While every example of the witness of Jesus is critical, His encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4 is especially enlightening. Compare Jesus’ approach to this broken and ostracized woman to the way he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemus crept in at night, was a religious leader, and flattered Jesus. Jesus’ replied to him directly, admonishing him to be born again. Jesus tended to be very direct with openly religious people, by the way.
But He approached the woman of Samaria with great care and kindness, despite her failure and sin. She had after all been married and divorced five times and was currently living with a man. Yet Jesus spoke to her in a way that compelled her to consider His truth.
[From the Evangelism Handbook]