Even though the Jews and Samaritans did not have anything to do with each other, Jesus started on the short route across Samaria. At noon, He was tired and sat down on a well while the disciples went into town to get some food.
As a Samaritan woman approached the well to draw water, Jesus asked her for a drink. He was thirsty, but He also wanted to teach her a lesson about living water or eternal life. Jesus made quite an impression on the woman because He revealed some personal facts about her that a stranger just would not know.
Perceiving that Jesus was a prophet, the woman asked Him about worship. He informed her that true worship is in spirit and truth—that, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Not according to man’s ideas and traditions, but with faithful obedience to God’s commands.
After the disciples returned with lunch, the woman returned to the city to tell the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” When the men saw Jesus, many of them believed and they persuaded Him to stay two days and as He taught them, many more believed in Him.
Mt. 4:12; Mk. 1:14; Lk. 3:19, 20; Jn. 4:1-4
When Jesus heard about John being in prison, He left Judea and started toward Galilee to continue John’s work. There were two routes to Galilee. One went east across the Jordan River and through Perea. This took seven days to reach Galilee. The second route was much shorter, taking only three days. Jews usually did not take this shorter route because it went directly through hated Samaria.
Jesus continued to teach for a few months in the land of Judea, which included the Jerusalem area. John the Baptist was also teaching in this area, but Jesus and His disciples were teaching and baptizing more people than he. John explained that this was the way it should be. “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John’s preaching got him into trouble with Herod the tetrarch because he had condemned him for his evil life and for taking his brother Philip’s wife.
One of the main sects of the Jews was the Pharisees. They were strict in their beliefs, but their traditions meant more to them than did obeying the Scriptures. The Pharisees believed that the soul was immortal and would be rewarded or punished in the future life.
Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews was a prominent Pharisee. Since Jesus had become controversial, Nicodemus came to Him at night so perhaps no one would see him. He understood that Jesus had come from God because of the things He had done.
Jesus recognized a need that Nicodemus had and taught him an important lesson about the new birth. Nicodemus could not understand how an old man could be born again. He was thinking about a physical birth, but Jesus was referring to a spiritual birth. Based on the teachings of Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-14; Titus 3:4-7, we know that we experience the new birth through baptism, which adds us to the family of God, the church.
As Jesus explained to Nicodemus His purpose for coming to earth, He reminded him of the story of the fiery serpents in Numbers 21:4-9. Even He must be lifted up to save mankind. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Verse 16 should be considered within its context in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. He tells Nicodemus AND us how we may qualify for the promise of eternal life.
God loves us enough to send His Son to die for us, but salvation is not automatic. Also, believing cannot save us without a new birth. Some use the term “born again Christians” as if there are other kinds of Christians. If one is a Christian, he is by definition, born again.
As we continue our study, we shall learn how the Old Testament prepares us for the New Testament to teach us how one may be born again to become a true child of God.
Many years earlier, God, through Moses had attempted to get King Pharaoh to release His people from Egyptian slavery. God had sent nine plagues against the Egyptians and each had failed to win their freedom. The tenth plague against Pharaoh and the Egyptians was the death of the firstborn.
In order to save the Israelites from this plague, God required them to place the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their houses. That night, when He passed over the houses sprinkled with blood, He spared their firstborn. God established the Passover as an annual feast to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt.
When Jesus arrived at the temple to observe the Passover, He was most unhappy with what was taking place in the house of God.
Since many of the people had to travel a great distance to Jerusalem, it was not easy to bring their Passover sacrifices with them. As a convenience, traders had located in various parts of town to supply those needs and make change for the temple tax. Unfortunately, some had taken over the outer court of the temple for their markets, defiling the house of God. Using a whip, Jesus drove them out and overturned the tables of the moneychangers.
The Jews were angry with Jesus and asked Him for a sign or reason for His actions. He made a prophetic statement regarding His death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” These words were used against Him three years later.
Shortly after meeting Philip and Nathanael, Jesus and His mother were guests at a wedding in Cana. Since Cana was about ten miles north of His home in Nazareth and Mary was also invited, those being married were probably close friends of His family. A very embarrassing moment happened at the wedding party. They ran out of wine!
Knowing the divine nature of Jesus, Mary probably felt that He could save the day. She informed Him of the situation and He rebuked her for trying to get Him involved in something that wasn’t His problem. However, Mary told the servants to do whatever He told them to do. This is excellent advice for us today
After commanding the servants to fill six stone water pots with water, Jesus told them to take some of it to the master of the feast. The master did not know where the wine had come from, but he was amazed that it tasted better than the first. There is some question about the alcoholic content of this wine. Since there are many admonitions in the Bible against drinking alcohol, and Jesus did no sin, one can conclude that this wine was non-alcoholic.
Jesus, His mother, brothers and disciples left Cana and went to Capernaum and stayed a few days until time to return to Jerusalem for the annual Feast of the Passover.
John the Baptist was standing with Andrew and John, two of his disciples one day. He saw Jesus and pointing Him out to them, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Since John was preparing the way for Him, these two disciples left him and followed Jesus.
Andrew brought his brother, Simon (who would later be called Peter) to Jesus. The next day, Jesus found Philip and Philip brought Nathanael (Bartholomew) to Him. He then had five disciples who would work with Him during His ministry.
Various Scriptures proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus and at this point in his ministry, he pronounced that Jesus was, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He further stated, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12, 13; Lk. 4:1-13
The Spirit then led Jesus into the wilderness for a test to determine how well He could withstand temptations. During these forty days, He did not eat. Afterward, He was hungry and the devil tempted Him three times. Jesus responded each time by quoting Scripture. The defeated devil left Him for a more opportune time and as far as we know, he never tempted Jesus again.
Mt.3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21, 22
Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. At first, John objected to baptizing Him, saying that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Jesus explained that it was necessary in order to fulfill all righteousness or to do God’s complete will.
After Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and lit upon Him. God endorsed Him by a voice from heaven that said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Mt. 3:1-12; Mk. 1:1-8; Lk. 3:1-18; Jn. 1:19-28
At about the time Jesus became thirty years old, John the Baptist began preaching in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. John’s ministry was prophesied by Isaiah many years earlier. He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. His message was, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
John was an outdoorsman. His clothing was made of camel’s hair and he wore a leather belt around his waist. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey—and he was a fiery preacher. He called sinners children of snakes and admonished them to show by their deeds, whether they had repented of their sins.
Only one event in the childhood of Jesus is recorded from the time He returned from Egypt to Nazareth until He was about thirty years old. One can speculate that He had a normal childhood playing games with His friends and going to school. Fathers taught their sons to work and Joseph taught Him the carpentry trade.
Since the Boy Jesus was the Son of God, He had a special relationship with God. Even though His childhood was probably normal, it was different in that He was sinless. One cannot imagine the Son of God in a fight or getting into trouble with His parents.
Each year, the Jews were required to attend the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem. On one of those trips, when Jesus was twelve years old, He became separated from Mary and Joseph. After the Feast had ended, His parents started on their journey home and at the end of the day, they realized that He was not with them. They frantically searched among their relatives and friends for their twelve-year-old Boy, but could not find Him. Upon returning to Jerusalem, they found Him in the temple talking with the teachers and asking them questions. His mother scolded Him, but He replied, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” At this young age, Jesus realized the importance of His spiritual life.
All that is known about Jesus from that time until age thirty is that He continued to be subject to His parents and He matured physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
When Herod realized that the wise men were not returning to him, he became so angry that he gave an order to kill all of the male children in the area of Bethlehem who were two years old and under. The killing of these children fulfilled a prophecy that had been made by Jeremiah many years earlier.
After the death of Herod, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and informed him that it was safe to return to Israel. Upon returning to Israel, Joseph learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus was king in Judea. He was afraid of Archelaus and after God had warned him again, he went into Galilee to Nazareth. This also fulfilled a prophecy that, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
The story is told that Herod was so wicked that he left an order for leading citizens to be executed at his death so there would be mourning instead of celebrating when he died.
A group of wise men from the East had followed Jesus’ star to Jerusalem and were asking where they could find, “He who has been born King of the Jews.” King Herod heard about this and was troubled because he thought this “King of the Jews” would be taking his throne. Herod called for the wise men and instructed them to let him know the location of this young Child so he could “worship Him also.”
We do not know how old Jesus was when the wise men saw Him. We do know that He was more than forty days old, however, because Mary had already been purified. When the wise men found Jesus in a house (not the stable), they fell down and worshiped Him and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
God warned the wise men to not return to Herod, so they returned home by another direction. That same night, God warned Joseph that Jesus was in danger and that he should take Him and His mother to Egypt until after the death of Herod.
As in the case of John three months earlier, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day and officially named, even though Mary and Joseph had already been told by the angel that the Child’s name would be Jesus.
According to the Law of Moses, mothers were required to go through a period of purification after the birth of each child (forty days for a male and eighty days for a female child). At the end of this purification, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. While in the temple, they met a man named Simeon, who had been told “by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” There are people who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ. If they are correct, Simeon is still living and is a very old man.