Gospel=Good News–this is the English translation of the Koine Greek word evangelium. Be sure to read these texts carefully. If helpful, refer to surrounding text to get an idea of the larger context in which these discussions took place. A good Bible dictionary (most likely accessible online) would enhance understanding of Second Temple Judaism, and also the unique religious views of the Samaritan “offshoot” of Judaism.
Answer both sets of questions pertaining to the particular gospel reading about these two very different conversations and cultures. ow there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
In reply, Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “And do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:1-21 *Marc Chagall White Crucifixion 1938, Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago
Five questions to answer:
1. Who is Jesus talking to, and what might he mean when he says: you must be born again? Compare this to the teaching of reincarnation. Same or different? Explain.
2. When Jesus compares the Spirit to the wind, what might he mean?
3. Jesus’ favorite self-designation was the Son of Man as used in the Book of Daniel. What does he emphasize by using this appellation? Why might this be important?
4. What are the implications of these contrasts: saved/condemned? Light/darkness? Evil/truth? Discuss if Jesus is being judgmental using this type of language.
5. According to Jesus, how does God demonstrate his love for the world?
ow he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
“Sir,” the woman replied, “I can see you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, ”Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain (Mount Gerizim, the Samaritan alternative place to worship) nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah [called Christ] is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out to the town and made their way toward him….Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony: “He told me everything I ever did”… Later they said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:4-20, 39, 42
Five questions to answer:
1. In Scripture, this is perhaps the longest recorded conversation of Jesus. Here he reveals significant truths to a female “despised Samaritan.” Try to visualize or get a feel for the dynamics of conversation between them. How would you evaluate his treatment of her as a minority?
2. What do you think Jesus meant by living water? What was he offering her? Us?
3. Jesus told her salvation is from the Jews. What would that mean to her as a Samaritan?
How did he challenge her belief system? How might he challenge our belief systems?
4. Some say Jesus never called himself divine. How might this passage refute that claim?
5. What is your understanding of “messiah” or “Christ”? (e.g., how would you define “salvation” as used in the New Testament context)
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