August 8, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for John 3-4
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Context: Not all Pharisees called for Jesus’ death. In chapter 3, we are introduced to Nicodemus, who sought out Jesus. Nicodemus recognized Jesus’ authority came from God. Jesus talks of being born again, a common term used today among believers. To Nicodemus the concept was foreign. How can someone be born again? Jesus explained that He did not mean literally, but spiritually. The first half of chapter 3 is an explanation of salvation by Jesus! Read these words carefully and treasure them. John the Baptist teaches all believers and important lesson: it is not a matter of becoming great in the eyes of the world, but continually serving Christ. Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan women at the well, is similar to His conversation with Nicodemus. It is also the only time outside of His trial, that Jesus directly acknowledges Himself as the Messiah. When the disciples returned to Jesus, they found Him conversing with the woman and were able to recognize the spiritual significance of the situation. Jesus ministry in Samaria was based on His teachings, whereas the next town visited wanted to see miracles. They wanted proof before they believed. Jesus challenged the man who came begging for His help to show proof of faith. The man’s son was dying (not to be confused with the dying slave in other Gospels). Jesus was his last and final hope. Jesus healed his son, but required him to show his faith by leaving without having physical proof that his son would be healed.
World History: Jews avoided Samaria when traveling, preferring to take a longer route to avoid the city. Tension between the two began when Samaritans settled the area while the Israelites were held captive by Babylon. When the remnant of Israel returned, they clashed with the Samaritans. Tensions continued to increase between the Israelites and Samaritans until Roman Emperor Claudius intervened to settle the violently growing dispute, several years after Christ’s death and resurrection.