We are in the Christ Stream reading from the International Standard Version.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Dear Jesus, we pause and remember and rejoice with you over the historical reminders today that you are the Savior. Amen.
Those who smuggle Bibles into the Communist and Islamic world get caught up in the most eerie and exciting situations you will ever hear of. It’s been said that when the security passageways get really tense, they just take in New Testaments since they are smaller. When things are much more threatening, they will pare down and smuggle in copies of the Book of John only. When things are life-and- death-level dangerous, all is cast aside and they just bring in John 3 …! They are printed on single sheets the size of a 3×5 card. These are given to Pastors and new believers. Is it not true that eternal life and death hang on the matter of us understanding John 3?
3 – Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, comes to Jesus at night to get clarity on some spiritual matters while remaining incognito. He needed to keep his intentions hidden from his peers. Nicodemus gets an earful and the interaction ends up being the most famous discussion of all time! Billions of lives have been changed by this conversation that has been printed and retold, enacted and films and viewed more than any scene in history. Rebirth, salvation, the infilling Holy Spirit – it’s all here. And Jesus continues to press the matter in a subtle way when he tells Nicodemus about light and dark and the hearts of men who had gone wrong long ago. The hint here is that some day soon Nicodemus is going to have to come into the light with his personal beliefs and also come out into the open with his testimony. God is not a secret to be kept. What did this one conversation do to Nicodemus? Well after Jesus had died it was Nicodemus who joined in the process of preparing Jesus for burial and then placing him in the tomb. Just one conversation, folks, just one conversation with Jesus, just MEET him and you will follow Him to the end. We meet with people who are disgruntled, given up on church, left the Light, are gone bad and dark and are dabbling in cultic activity now and are even quite pompous about it all. They retort to our questions about their spiritual state and defend themselves saying, “they tried church…” Yes, perhaps, but they didn’t meet Jesus. They heard about Him, they were lied to about Him by people who do not follow Him wholeheartedly, but they haven’t met Jesus personally like Nicodemus did. It’s important that we meet Jesus personally, deeply, undistracted, and with complete transparency. Meeting Him changes everything forever.
The dervish about John the Baptist continues. There were so many people going to him in Jericho and other places to hear his powerful preaching and be baptized that the leaders in Jerusalem were going out too. The distinction is that they were just upset that people weren’t in Temple paying their due$ so they wanted to go scrutinize John v.s. be blessed by God and his ministering through John. John/Baptist does a marvelous job of preparing the way for Jesus and then getting out of the way (for Jesus’ sake). John’s ending is painful and unfortunate but Jesus said his place in heaven is most prominent. If we’d like a prominent place in heaven, John has shown us what to do.
4 – This famous meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well is the same well that Jacob used 1800 years prior. It can still be visited today. And you will be invited to drink of it too! Last chapter Jesus explained the Holy Spirit and Light and new birth, here He explains Living Water and the fact that HE IS Living Water. Water is the most economical way to transport anything. Interesting that transporting anything is called ‘shipping’ -even on land. In our bodies all nutrients are carried to all cells via water. Most of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean. I.e. water=life, dry=death. How important is water? there were situations when the wagon trains going west would run out of water. In one instance someone offered his canteen. He demanded $100.- for each eight ounces of water (that was four months wages per cup!). The thirsty pioneers resented the bill but they paid it – and lived. Jesus is who keeps us from dying … in case anyone missed that part. The setting here is keen in that Jesus oversteps three taboos to prove a vital point: conversing with a woman / meeting one-on-one with a Samaritan / engaging a prostitute in public. Remember the Catholic priest who dubbed, that this woman was no stranger to sin – she was no stranger to anyone! And there is Jesus demonstrating that issues need to be put aside and this woman needs to be saved along with the rest of the town. Jesus “reads her mail to her” and she is astounded. Did you catch the fact that the cowering sinful woman of the town became the evangelist of the town? It’s an amazing transformation. So many had followed her into darkness. Now virtually the whole town followed her testimony and found the Light of the World (He says that in ch. 8) She too was like John/Baptist who told of the Way and then got out of the way [v.42 is a good indication].
Jesus’ salient encounters continue as He traverses the entire cultural terrain in these two chapters: Nicodemus is a high end Jewish leader / a Samaritan hooker is the bottom of the barrel, a government official (who answers to Rome) is a power broker; not someone to be trifle with! [The memo is that Jesus is for everyone!!] The official comes to Jesus and repeatedly asks Him to come heal his son. Top dogs for Rome do not beg at the knee of a Jewish man. Never. This situation tells us how desperate this official was, how much he loved his son, and that he has complete confidence in Jesus power to heal. You don’t stoop culturally like this unless you want something really bad and have unflinching belief that your requesting requesting requesting is going to avail the results of healing. He would get his son back if he persisted. He knew Jesus wouldn’t say, “uh, healing the ‘mayor’s family’ is above my pay grade, pal.” He knew that coming to Jesus would take him, his life, and his family where they needed to be.
The lessons we learn from Jesus’ interactions today are lessons we need, the world needs to hear for they are truths that none of us ever outgrow. Halelujah!