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Lesson 4: The Water of Life *

Introduction: Read the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and ask yourself "Why did John start out his account of Jesus this way?" My reaction is that John is concerned that people do not understand who Jesus is. John essentially says, "Pay attention and I'll teach you what you should know about Jesus." Then John tells us a number of stories to teach us about Jesus. Three of John's first four stories explaining who Jesus is have something to do with water. The wedding at Cana story (John 2) converts water to wine. The Nicodemus interview (John 3) focuses on water baptism. The Samaritan woman story (John 4) explains about living water. Let's dive into our study and learn more about "the Water of Life!"

  1. Wedding Water

    1. Read John 2:1-5. Have you ever heard a conversation between a teen and a parent that sounds like this? (It seems that Jesus' mother is not really listening to Him. Jesus says "This is not the right time," and His mother hears "Yes, I'll do it.)

      1. Is this a problem which needed fixing? Our lesson series is about health and healing. Which would be better to drink, water or wine?
    2. Read John 2:6-10. How much wine did Jesus make? (Between 120-180 gallons!)

      1. Since we are on the topic of water, what does this teach us about Jesus and water? (Jesus has the power to convert water into something special. He can make water more than water.)

      2. What does this teach us about Jesus' willingness to make water special for us? (Jesus is liberal in His gift of converted water. He gives us more than we need. He gives us better than we need.)

  2. Well Water and Living Water

    1. Read John 4:1-3. Why would the Pharisees keep track of how many people were being baptized by John versus Jesus' disciples? (No doubt the Pharisees considered these two to be unauthorized competition. They were concerned.)

      1. What caused Jesus to go back to Galilee - learning that the Pharisees were keeping track of Him or learning that He was winning in the baptismal contest? (Recall John 2:1-4. Jesus was concerned about the timing of His ministry. Apparently, He did not want to appear to be in a contest with John or to focus the attention of the Pharisees on Himself so soon in His ministry.)

    2. Read John 4:4-6. The most direct way for Jesus to go back to Galilee is to travel through Samaria. He has been doing that, it is noon and the disciples have gone off to buy food ( John 4:8). Jesus is tired. He sits down at a historic well to rest.

      1. What kind of a relationship did the Samaritans have with the Jews? (It was pretty bad. The Jews thought the Samaritans were inferior, and the Samaritans had the kind of reaction you would expect.)

    3. Read John 4:7-9. Is this woman being nasty to Jesus? Or, is she just needling Him for asking for a drink?

      1. Do you think she is refusing to give Jesus a drink? Or, is she just reminding Him of the problems between the Jews and Samaritans?

    4. Read John 4:10. How would you react to this statement if you were a Samaritan? (Talk about a superiority complex! He asks you for a drink, then announces He is "very important" and already has better water than you can give Him.)

    5. Read John 4:11-12. How does this woman react? (She challenges Jesus - none of what Jesus says seems possible. After all, it was Jesus who first asked her for a drink!)

      1. Does Jesus answer her question? Does He say He is greater than Jacob?

      2. The prior chapter of John recounts Jesus' night meeting with Nicodemus - one of the most powerful spiritual and political leaders of the Jews. Read John 3:3-5. How would you compare the reaction of Nicodemus to the reaction of the Samaritan woman? (Jesus has both Nicodemus and the woman asking "How can you say such a thing? It makes no sense!")

        1. Why is Jesus talking with Nicodemus about water? (He is talking about baptism - spiritual cleansing.)

    6. Read John 4:13-14. What kind of water is Jesus talking about? Well water? (No. Spiritual water.)

      1. Let's contemplate this just a minute. Assume you lived in that area of the world. What would water mean? (In dry, sandy, dusty areas, water makes all the difference. My brother used to live in Palm Springs, California. One city block is green and lush, the next block a dry sandbox. Water makes all the difference.)

        1. What does Jesus' water mean for our life?

        2. Think back to the wedding at Cana. What did Jesus' water mean for their life? (It made basic life better. It made life enjoyable. It made life richer and fuller.)

      2. Look again at John 4:14. What happens to us when we drink Jesus' water? (We become springs of Jesus' water "welling up to eternal life.")

        1. Tell me what you think it means to live that kind of life? (Full, exciting, vibrant life!)

        2. I once read a magazine that attacked those Christians who love to celebrate their salvation. The magazine suggested that Christians should be very sober and sad because of their sins? (Our sins should sober us, but Jesus has forgiven our sins and has given us eternal life. A bubbling spring is not a good description for a sad and sober Christian.)

      3. Our lesson series is about health. What lesson do we learn about health from Jesus' conversation about water? (Jesus gives us a life-giving, lush, bubbling life!)

  3. Deep Water
    1. Read John 3:1-5. Why is Jesus' statement true? What is the underlying logic?

    2. Read Romans 6:1-4. What does the water of baptism do for us? (This is the logic of baptism: when we go under the water ("buried") we symbolically go under the ground and die Jesus' death for our sins.)

      1. How does this symbolism unite the lesson of the wedding of Cana and the lesson of the Samaritan woman at the well? (Water, in Jesus' hands, can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Water, in Jesus' hands gives us new, bubbling, vibrant life to share with others.)

      2. In the story of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, what do class, station in life, intelligence, gender, spiritual learning, money, power and past sins have to do with the availability of Jesus' water? (Not only is Jesus' water available to those in the highest and lowest places in life, but the need for Jesus' water is the same for both.)

    3. Read Romans 6:5. What kind of life does Jesus' water bring us? (We will be resurrected into eternal life!)

    4. Friend, human history is filled with the quest for some special drink that will give us life and health. We have the secret that humans have long sought - the water that give vibrant, bubbling, everlasting life! Will you, today, determine to follow Jesus' instruction to Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman? Will you (if you have not been) be baptized into the death of Jesus, and rise from the water into His resurrection? Will you determine to drink Jesus' living water that will make you a bubbling, vibrant spring of a Christian sharing Jesus' life-changing water with others?

  4. Next week: The Environment.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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