The DEEP

Downplaying the Situation

can be clever apologetics.

John 4:21–30

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

This is the point of the whole encounter. Jesus did go through Samaria to avoid the Pharisees—but mostly to deliver this message to the Samaritans.

The disciples figure that out instantly. That’s why, despite their amazement at Jesus talking to the woman, they don’t question it. They’re used to Jesus having an unexpected agenda.

But it’s the woman who displays amazing insight. She knows that Jesus is the Messiah—He proved it to her. His knowledge of her past showed that He’s a prophet; she gets that. Thus, she knows that His claim to be the Christ must be true.

Yet, notice her choice of words back in the city. “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

Why not just say that she found the Christ? Why phrase it as a possibility?

Because she’s smart, very smart. She knows she’s not exactly “Miss Credibility” in this town. By downplaying the situation, she gets people’s interest without sparking any skepticism.

So, they go and check it out.


Apologetics is a subtle art form. People are naturally skeptical, and the culture we live in is especially skeptical of Christianity. Sometimes it’s right to make your case straight up, but often it’s better to plant seeds of the gospel that will sprout later.

Remember, you’re part of a great team. Don’t rush it. It’s not all up to you.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.