This post piggybacks on two of my previous posts: one from last week in which I tried to imagine how the meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well went, and another in which I shared tips on how to read John’s gospel.
First, a quick comparison between the respected rabbi and the woman at the well:
|He is a Jewish man||She is a Samaritan woman|
|He is named||She is anonymous|
|He is socially respectable||She is a social outcast|
|He seeks Jesus out at night||Jesus seeks her out at noon|
|Jesus does not fully reveal Himself to him||Jesus clearly tells her He is the Messiah|
|He hides his belief||She tells the whole town|
|He misunderstands ‘being born again’||She misunderstands ‘living water’|
(With help from Eutychus Nerd.)
Here’s what I came up with in answering the questions (refer to the original post for details):
1. How does this scene flash back to ideas introduced in John’s prologue?
- Misunderstanding: Both Nicodemus and the Samaritan misunderstand Jesus.
- Jesus’ humanity: He was tired (4:6) and presumably hungry (the disciples went to get food)
- Jesus as life and light: John 3:14-21
2. How does this scene foreshadow Jesus’ “glorification,” his death, resurrection and ascension?
- In talking with Nicodemus, Jesus talks of being ‘lifted up’ like the snake in the desert. ‘Lifted up’ in John refers to Jesus’ death and subsequent glorification (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32)
- God sent His Son into the world to save it (John 3:17). This salvation would be accomplished by His death and resurrection
- Jesus has ushered in a time when God’s people can worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23)
3. Are there any repeated sayings or final sayings in the scene that help explain the meaning of the scene?
- Necessity of new birth: With Nicodemus, Jesus talks of being ‘born again’ and being ‘born of water and spirit’ (probably both refer to the same thing)
4. Are there any symbolic elements in the scene?
- Meeting times (night and noon)
- Water in the conversation with the Samaritan
- Food: Jesus explains to his disciples what His food is (4:31-34)
5. What elements of first-century Judaism does Jesus confront, replace, or surpass?
- Jesus chides Nicodemus on not having understood the scriptures
- With the Samaritan woman, He confronts heretical Judaism
6. Are there any important references to the Old Testament?
- Moses and the snake in the desert (Numbers 21:5-9)
- The ‘kingdom of God’ may have reminded Nicodemus of the Messianic kingdom foretold by the prophets
- From where should Nicodemus have seen the new birth? Two possibilities:
- Water and spirit in OT: Isaiah 44:3-5
- Wind (spirit)giving life: Ezekiel 37:9-10 (both the Hebrew (ruach) and the Greek word(pneuma) can be translated either ‘wind’ or ‘spirit’)
7. How does this scene relate to John’s purpose statement?
- We’re not told when Nicodemus believed, but he eventually did (John 7:50-52, 19:38-40)
- The Samaritan woman matures in her perception of Jesus:
- A Jew (4:9)
- Sir/ Lord (4:11, 15, 19)
- A prophet (4:19)
- Messiah/ Christ (4:25, 29)
- She believed, and on the strength of her testimony many in her town listened to Jesus and came to belief too (John 4:39-42)
Anything I missed?