Ye Must Be Born Again
The third day (John 2:1):
In the Holy Land, the Roman names for days of the week are not used. The days of the week are simply First Day, Second Day, Third Day, Fourth Day, Fifth Day, Sixth Day, Sabbath (“Shabbat”). Days are reckoned from sundown to sundown and the Sabbath is the seventh day, which for us is Saturday (beginning Friday night and ending Saturday night). If you were to keep the Sabbath day according to this order, how would you have to reorganize your family’s activities? How would those changes separate you from others around you in what you could do or couldn’t do? Suppose the Greeks and Romans who surrounded the Jews kept a different schedule. How would that affect life in general?
What have I to do with thee (John 2:4):
This sounds like a rebuke from Jesus, almost like He could do nothing because His ministry had not yet begun. But Christ is simply asking what His mother would like Him to do. He is free to serve until He performs His ultimate miracles and sacrifice.
The ancient Jewish culture, as in most cultures, focused on milestone events. Feasts and celebrating were (and are) very important. Having no wine wasn’t life or death, but it was a problem, and having wine instead of water to serve would have been a memorable tender mercy. Many people claim that the ancients had to drink wine, because water was not safe. But townspeople either used springs or collected rainwater in cisterns, which, unless fouled by a dead animal falling in, was safe for the whole six-month dry period.
So wine was a matter of celebration and delight, not safety. Still, Jesus turned the water to wine—His first recorded miracle. What could the message of this miracle be? Note that not everyone noticed this miracle, but those who were close to Jesus were strengthened by it. How many miracles happen in your life that others might not see? How can you find joy in such tender mercies?
Christ cleanses the temple (John 2: 15 – 22):
This must have been a confusing and bizarre experience for those who witnessed Jesus cleansing the temple. He went down to Jerusalem for the Passover, and merchants were on the temple grounds, exchanging money and selling sacrificial doves and other animals.
Jesus also confused the people by saying that if the temple was destroyed, He would build it again in three days. This quote from Mark helps us understand: “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58). Christ was referring to His own body (John 2: 21, 22), which would be the first to be resurrected.
Those who hated Him would use this temple reference to mock Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27: 40, 63), but when Jesus was crucified and resurrected, His followers finally understood what He meant. Another notable thing about this story is that in the cleansing of the temple we see the wrath of Jesus. God is love, but He has the potential to exercise wrath, He has exercised wrath, and He will, when He comes again in power.
Jesus won disciples in Jerusalem (John 2: 23 – 25):
While in Jerusalem, Jesus performed miracles and gained followers. He was able to discern the hearts of men and know which of these followers would become sincere disciples.
The story of Nicodemus (John 3):
To Nicodemus, who was a ruler in Israel, Jesus seemed to be talking in circles about being “born again.” With no doctrine or cultural pattern that explained spiritual rebirth, Nicodemus must have been thoroughly confused. But we know he gained understanding because he became a true follower of Christ, and as far as we know, he never abandoned his faith. Ritual immersion for Jews was for purification, but the idea of being born again a new man wasn’t part of the imagery for them. When we talk about “mysteries” we usually fail to realize that baptism for spiritual rebirth IS a mystery, an image and practice no man could invent on his own.
For God so loved the world (John 3:16, 17):
These are two of the most famous, loved verses of the Bible – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” You and your family can listen to a choir rendition of “For God so Loved the World” here.
Jesus goes to John the Baptist in Judea a second time (John 3: 22 – 36):
After He left Jerusalem, Jesus took some disciples and went down to the Jordan River near the Dead Sea where John the Baptist was teaching and baptizing. Christ’s disciples began to teach and baptize there also, and some observers thought there might be a conflict between the two rabbis. John explained the identity of the Savior and gladly took a lesser role. Everything he did pointed to the role of the Savior. These scriptures could lead to a discussion on authority and how as disciples we don’t serve in order to bring glory to ourselves.
The woman at the well (John 4: 1 – 42):
The woman at the well is a famous Bible story, and there are many messages within it that are worthy of discussion.
The woman and the people of her village were Samaritans. Samaritans were considered mongrels and apostates by the Jews. They shared the ancestry of their Assyrian conquerors and had built their own temple at Mt. Gerazim (which was already destroyed by the time of Jesus). Christ’s calling was to Israel, and it was Israel’s calling as Firstborn of humanity to carry the gospel to the world.
Jesus visited with a woman long enough to teach her and make her a missionary to the people of her village, who converted. What does this say about how Jesus treated women, what women can do, and how He loves all people?
Jesus recited to the woman all of her many sins, but she wasn’t frightened or offended. What does this say about how Jesus can correct us with a pure love that enables us to repent? Can you imagine this happening during a “life review” in heaven? Could Jesus review with you the mistakes you made and still make you feel loved?
Jesus returns to Galilee (John 4: 45, 46):
Jesus traveled through Samaria to get to Galilee. He had already testified that no prophet is honored in his own country, but many Jews from Galilee were returning from their Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and they had seen Christ’s miracles there. They were beginning to take notice.
Jesus heals the nobleman’s son (John 4: 47 – 54):
As of yet, turning the water into wine was the only miracle Jesus had performed in Galilee. The nobleman’s son was sick in Capernaum, and the nobleman asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus didn’t go to Capernaum but told the nobleman that from that moment his son would be healed. The nobleman’s servants reported that this indeed did occur, right from the moment of Christ’s promise. You might want to discuss how this healing occurred even though the Savior was not there. Do we have other accounts in the scriptures where prophets “sent” healings instead of performing them in person?