Trinity Sunday: water and spirit

waterandspiritThe Dialogue Continues… Nicodemus is oblivious to the two levels of meaning. He focuses on one meaning of “born anōthen” (“again”) and protests that what Jesus calls for is physiologically impossible (3:4). As in v. 2, Nicodemus’s categories of what is possible intrude into the conversation. On the level that Nicodemus understands Jesus’ words, Nicodemus’s protest is correct. It is impossible for a grown man to reenter his mother’s womb and be born a second time. Nicodemus’s protest is ironic, however, because his words are correct and incontestable on one level, but that level stands in conflict and tension with what Jesus intends by the expression “to be born anōthen.” Jesus’ words speak of a radical new birth, generated from above, but Nicodemus’s language and imagination do not stretch enough to include that offer. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: prelude to belief

Nicodemus and JesusCommentary. In John 3:1-21, the focus shifts from the interaction of the many with Jesus to Jesus’ interaction with a single individual, Nicodemus. What follows seems to naturally divide into two parts: vv. 1-10, the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus; and vv. 11-21, a discourse by Jesus. This text is the first instance of a common Johannine pattern of a central event, in this case a dialogue, followed by a discourse that draws general theological themes out of the particular event. Continue reading

At the well: context

SamaritanWomanAtTheWellJohn 4:5-42 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 (The woman) said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Continue reading

The Samaritan Women: a context

SamaritanWomanAtTheWellJohn 4:5-42 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 (The woman) said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Continue reading

Whoever believes: context

Bronze-Serpent14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: water and spirit

waterandspiritThe Dialogue Continues… Nicodemus is oblivious to the two levels of meaning. He focuses on one meaning of “born anōthen” (“again”) and protests that what Jesus calls for is physiologically impossible (3:4). As in v. 2, Nicodemus’s categories of what is possible intrude into the conversation. On the level that Nicodemus understands Jesus’ words, Nicodemus’s protest is correct. It is impossible for a grown man to reenter his mother’s womb and be born a second time. Nicodemus’s protest is ironic, however, because his words are correct and incontestable on one level, but that level stands in conflict and tension with what Jesus intends by the expression “to be born anōthen.” Jesus’ words speak of a radical new birth, generated from above, but Nicodemus’s language and imagination do not stretch enough to include that offer. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: prelude to belief

Nicodemus and JesusCommentary. In John 3:1-21, the focus shifts from the interaction of the many with Jesus to Jesus’ interaction with a single individual, Nicodemus. What follows seems to naturally divide into two parts: vv. 1-10, the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus; and vv. 11-21, a discourse by Jesus. This text is the first instance of a common Johannine pattern of a central event, in this case a dialogue, followed by a discourse that draws general theological themes out of the particular event. Continue reading