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Gospel of John – Week Three

This week: Chapters 3, 4:1-45

Week Three PDF

  • Chapter Three
    • Nicodemus visits Jesus at night (John 3:1-21). Nicodemus, a Pharisee and thus a high-ranking Jewish official, could have wanted to keep his visit a secret from the other Pharisees.
    • A ‘ruler of the Jews’ (KJV) means that he was a member of the Sanhedrin.
      • The Sanhedrin was a group of 20-23 men. One such group existed for every city.
      • They presided as judges over religious matters.
      • Nicodemus perhaps was a member of the Great Sanhedrin, which was a group of 71 judges in Jerusalem and who was sort of a ‘Supreme Court’, taking appeals from the ‘Lesser’ Sanhedrin in the cities.
  • Jesus tells Nicodemus what is required for salvation- and it isn’t adherence to religious laws.
    • Consider the significance of this. Nicodemus was a man of laws- a judge according to the Law.
  • You must be ‘born again’ (John 3:3)  and ‘born of water and Spirit’ (John 3:5)
    • Is this describing water as in childbirth? Baptism? “Living Water”?
  • Nicodemus appears three times in the Bible, note how his actions change over time:
    • John 3:1-21— He recognizes that Jesus is ‘from God’ and calls him ‘Rabbi’- thus he shows respect for Jesus, but is ignorant and asking questions.
    • John 7:50— He defends Jesus saying that a man must have a hearing prior to being judged. Though he defends Jesus, he does so in a legal manner (stating the law), and does not personally show any acceptance of Jesus.
    • John 19:38-42—He assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus and His burial. At this point, he brings a heavy load of spices for preparation of Jesus. This seems to be a public and open acceptance of Jesus.
  • Jesus compares Himself to the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9). Note the similarities between the serpent and Jesus.
    • The Israelites had abandoned God and were complaining, so poisonous snakes were sent to bite them. Moses prayed for the people and God told him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Whoever was bitten and looked up on the bronze serpent would live.
    • Similarly, Jesus came to free the world from the poison of sin. He was lifted up on a cross for us, and whoever looks upon Him will live.
    • Chapter Four (vv1-45)
      • Jews and Samaritans did not get along. At all.
      • The Samaritans believed in Israel’s God, had their own temple, and accepted the first five books of the Old Testament (written by Moses. Called the Pentateuch or Torah).
      • Typically, Jews would walk around Samaria to get back and forth between Galilee and Judea.
      • Jewish custom did not allow a man to talk to a woman in public. Note that in verse 27, the disciples were amazed that he was talking to a woman.
      • Jesus talks to the sinful woman, and he actually starts the conversation. (John 4:7)
      • Jacob’s well is not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament; the location of the well is probably referenced in Genesis 33:18-20.
      • Living Water. The Holy Spirit is compared to water in the Bible. (See John 7:37-39; Acts 2:33; Luke 3:16). Also note that our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Isaiah 1:18)
      • Discussion
        • Consider the significance of Nicodemus, a religious leader and keeper of a strict set of laws, having a one-on-one talk with Jesus the Son of God. How can we free ourselves from law and live in Grace? Will we continue to be a law-keeper?  Was the law destroyed through Jesus? (Matthew 5:17, Romans 7:7-9, Galatians 3:23-25, Romans 10:4)
        • If Jesus had known the Samaritan woman’s sinful nature and past, would He have started a conversation with her? Did he know already her? (John 2:24; John 4:16-18)
        • Considering the woman at the well… The Pharisees had a simple way of dealing with sinful people- they avoided them. Jesus did just the opposite. What can we learn from this? (see Mathew 11:19; Mark 2:17)
          • Could there be circumstances where a Christian should not get involved with a sinner- even to talk?


Next week:
Gospel of John chapter 4:46-54; chapter 5.