New Testament Lesson 07 (John 2–4)
For the week of February 11–17

THE SAVIOR’S FIRST MIRACLE

Turning Water Into Wine (John 2:1–11)

● Jesus was at the marriage in Cana—apparently within His mother’s household (John 2:1–5; footnote 4a).
● According to the JST, Jesus willingly responded to His mother’s request for help by saying, “Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; for mine hour is not yet come” (JST John 2:2–4).
● The title “Woman” was one of great respect and endearment in that culture; Jesus loved and respected His mother.
● He helped His mother by performing the first miracle of His ministry (John 2:6–11).
● A “firkin” is about nine gallons; thus each of the six water-pots contained around 18 to 27 gallons of water (v. 6).
● Jesus therefore created between 100 to 150 gallons of wine.
● This, in turn, shows that the wedding celebration was quite large.
● It caused Christ’s disciples to believe more strongly in him (v. 11).

DEFENDING SACRED SPACES

Driving Money Changers from the Temple (John 2:18–22)

● People came from all over the world, including Israel, to make sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem, especially at the time of the Passover.
● They needed to purchase animals of all kinds for the sacrifices; they also need to exchange their money for the required temple coins to make these purchases as well as financial offerings.
● Hence, the Sadducees (who controlled the temple and its ordinances) made a lot of money by managing these activities, which took place within the temple environment.
● On this occasion, Jesus drove these money changers out of the temple with physical force, telling them not to make His Father’s House a house of merchandise. He would repeat this action toward the end of His earthly ministry.
● From this we can learn how important it is to maintain sacred spaces in our homes, our churches and our temples.

JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES BAPTIZED CONVERTS

● Following his public displays of authority in Jerusalem, Christ and his disciples traveled briefly in Judea where they baptized many disciples (John 3:22; John 4:1–2).

● The JST clarifies that the Lord “himself baptized not so many as his disciples” (JST John 4:1–3). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Contrary to the false teachings and traditions of sectarianism, Jesus personally performed water baptisms so that in all things he might be the great Exemplar. Without question he also performed all other ordinances essential to salvation and exaltation.”

BEING BORN AGAIN

The Savior and Nicodemus (John 3:1–15)

● Nicodemus was a leader in the Jewish community, being a member of the ruling Sanhedrin.

● He came to Jesus knowing that Jesus was “a teacher come from God” (John 3:1–2).

● Jesus taught that we must be “born again” (John 3:3–8). What does this mean?

● President Harold B. Lee said, “Baptism by immersion symbolizes the death and burial of the man of sin and the coming forth out of the water, the resurrection to a newness of spiritual life. After baptism, hands are laid upon the head of the baptized believer, and he is blessed to receive the Holy Ghost. Thus does the one baptized receive the promise or gift of the Holy Ghost or the privilege of being brought back into the presence of one of the Godhead, by obedience to whom and through his faithfulness one so blessed might receive the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in his daily walks and talks, even as Adam walked and talked in the Garden of Eden with God, his Heavenly Father. To receive such guidance and such direction from the Holy Ghost is to be spiritually reborn.”

● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, [Being born again] “doesn’t happen in an instant. [It] is a process.” “Those who go through the form of baptism in water and by the Spirit, under the hands of legal administrators, thus becoming members of the Church, by such course have power given them to be born again in the full sense that is required for salvation. Church members are not born again by the mere fact of baptism alone; rather, after baptism they must so live as to experience a ‘mighty change’” in their hearts.”

● Elder McConkie also taught:

“The first birth takes place when spirits pass from their pre-existent first estate into mortality; the second birth, or birth ‘into the kingdom of heaven’ takes place when mortal men are born again and become alive to the things of the Spirit and of righteousness. The elements of water, blood, and Spirit are present in both births. (Moses 6:59–60) [This] birth begins when men are baptized in water by a legal administrator; it is completed when they actually receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, becoming new creatures by the cleansing power of that member of the Godhead.

“Mere compliance with the formality of the ordinance of baptism does not mean that a person has been born again. No one can be born again without baptism, but the immersion in water and the laying on of hands to confer the Holy Ghost do not of themselves guarantee that a person has been or will be born again. The new birth takes place only for those who actually enjoy the gift or companionship of the Holy Ghost, only for those who are fully converted, who have given themselves without restraint to the Lord. . . .”

● Jesus explained why he spoke symbolically to Nicodemus (John 3:9–14).
— He testified of his forthcoming resurrection (v. 13).
— He testified of his forthcoming crucifixion (v. 14).

● Jesus explained the purpose for which He came into the world, and the importance of believing in Him and His atonement (John 3:15–18).

● Nicodemus respected Jesus and remained loyal to him:
— Nicodemus defended Jesus when the rulers sought to arrest him (John 7:50–53).
— Nicodemus helped prepare the Lord’s body for burial (John 19:38–42).

● Jesus also used the concepts of light and darkness to teach Nicodemus (John 3:18–21).

THE MASTER IN SAMARIA

Animosity Toward Samaritans

● The preferred route to Galilee was up the Jordan Valley because (1) Samaritans could be avoided, and (2) it was an easier route (John 4:1–6; JST John 4:1–4).

● Elder James E. Talmage said, “The direct route from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria; but many Jews, particularly Galileans, chose to follow an indirect though longer way rather than traverse the country of a people so despised by them as were the Samaritans. The ill-feeling between Jews and Samaritans had been growing for centuries, and at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry had developed into most intense hatred . . . To the orthodox Jew of [that] time a Samaritan was more unclean than a Gentile of any other nationality.”

● The Savior deliberately traveled through Samaria on the way to Galilee

The Woman at the Well

● Sychar, located between two mountains, had springs of water of religious significance to its inhabitants.

● Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at this well (John 4:7–26).

● Doing this was extraordinary since she was (1) a Samaritan, (2) a woman, and (3) an adulterer. These three things made her absolutely a reject in the eyes of the racist Jews of the time. But it was to her that Jesus chose to make His first declaration of Messiahship.

● He told her that He (Christ) had the words of eternal life (living water) (v. 10). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “His solemn invitation, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink,’ was a plain and open claim of Messiahship. In making it he identified himself as the very Jehovah who had promised drink to the thirsty through an out pouring of the Spirit.”

— He showed seership in saying that the woman had no husband (vv. 17–28).
— He declared Himself to be the Messiah (v. 26).

● The Samaritan woman told others about her experience and they came to hear Him (John 4:28–30).

● Jesus spoke about missionary work—that the field was white and ready to harvest (John 4:35–38).

● As a result of Christ’s disregard for the animosity toward the Samaritans, he was able to bring living water to many of them (John 4:39–42).

DOCTRINAL INSIGHTS

What are the doctrinal insights we receive from this week’s lesson material? You should consider discussing one or more of these with your class.

● Miracles alone don’t provide a firm foundation for faith (Ether 12:12, 18). President James E. Faust said, “I am persuaded that the miraculous and spectacular does not necessarily convert people to the gospel. Miracles are more to confirm a faith already held. . . . A quiet witness that Jesus is the Christ is more the product of a committed faith coming from dedication and sacrifice, an effort to keep God’s commandments, and following the constituted priesthood authority of the Church.”

● Signs follow belief and faith (Mark 16:14–20). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Miracles are the fruits of faith, . . . Where faith is there will be some of the fruits: all gifts and power which were sent from heaven, were poured out on the heads of those who had faith. . . . Faith has been wanting not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and Apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting.”

● Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Nicodemus had not yet been baptized by John the Baptist, and neither had any of the ruling classes of the Jews. The reason he came to the Savior during the night was so that he would not be seen conversing with Him. Jesus began the conversation by telling him that he must be baptized in order to be saved.

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “It is one thing to see the kingdom of God, and another thing to enter into it. We must have a change of heart to see the kingdom of God, and subscribe the articles of adoption to enter therein.”

● Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). The Kingdom of God on the earth is the Church of Jesus Christ. The only way to gain access to this kingdom is to be baptized by water and then receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no other way.

● There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.”

— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The Lord will reveal the truth once; then when this testimony has been given, the person should accept the truth and receive the gospel by baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy’ Ghost . . . The Spirit of The Lord will not argue with men, nor abide in them, except they yield obedience to the Lord’s commandments.”

● “The Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority” said the Prophet Joseph Smith. “We believe that, and that the gift of the tongues, and also the gift of prophecy, are gifts of the spirit, and are obtained through that medium; but then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands, would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the Apostles, and at variance with holy writ . . . Frequently there is no manifestation at all that is visible to the surrounding multitude.”

● Jesus Knew and Testified that He Was the Messiah (John 1:3). Many false teachers today claim that Jesus was only an inspired teacher, but neither a God nor the Messiah. His own declarations show that this is not the case. When the woman at the well testified that she knew that the Messiah would come, Jesus said to her, “I that speak unto thee am He.” (John 4:26)

Notes:

1.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:148.
2.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1947, 64.
3.  “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 399.
4.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:142.
5.  Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 101.
6.  Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 172–173.
7.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:445–446.
8.  “A Legacy of the New Testament,” 12th Annual CES Religious Educators’ Symposium, 12 Aug. 1988.
9.  History of the Church, 5:355, 218.
10. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 328.
11.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 199.
12.  Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 3:29.
13.  Times and Seasons, 3:823–824 [15 June 1842].

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