The Good Book Club | Week of January 12
This week: John 2:13—4: 54

Imagine the movie trailer for this part of the Gospel of John: First, there’s the action at the temple. Jesus, being both divine and human, shows his anger at the money changers, making a whip out of cords, and flipping over their tables. Lights. Camera. Action.

Then there’s the courtroom-like conversation with the equivalent of the famous line from A Few Good Men : “You can’t handle the truth.” Nicodemus presses Jesus, trying to trip him up with difficult questions, until Jesus rises with the crescendo and gives perhaps the most quoted—and utterly profound—line from scripture (and the most beloved of sports-loving cardboard sign makers): “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Then, the cameras pan to a stone well in Samaria on a hot, dusty day where Jesus has the longest conversation recorded in scripture—with anyone, man or woman. And it’s a pretty salty dialogue, with some interesting innuendo.

From these three scenes alone this seems like a movie I want to see.

We’re only in our second week of reading the Gospel of John and already we’re hip-deep in significant stories about Jesus. While the other gospels place the scene with the money changers at the temple near the end of Jesus’ ministry, John puts it at the beginning. The disciples see a very human emotion in Jesus with his anger at the temple being used as a marketplace. But there’s more to the story (as is always the case with scripture). The disciples are likely experiencing a bit of foreboding: Following Jesus may not be as rosy as they anticipated. Jesus talks of tearing down the temple that took forty-six years to build—and he will raise it up in three days. Remember this moment—and the idea of the temple of Jesus’ body—when we come to the resurrection.

Next up is Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Jewish leader. It would be easy to skip straight to John 3:16 but there’s a lot of meat in this passage. Read it through a few times. One thing to note is that Nicodemus calls Jesus’ actions “signs” instead of miracles or acts. This is an important theme in John: Jesus’ actions are signs, pointing to the wonderful, redemptive, transforming love of God.

Later in the week, we arrive at one of my favorite conversations in scripture between Jesus and the woman at the well. While we don’t know her name, we learn an important lesson about this woman who becomes one of the earliest evangelists. She is a powerful reminder that all of us—despite whether we have glowing backstories—are called to drink of the living water and to go out into the world, inviting others to “come and see.”

We conclude our reading this week with another of Jesus’ signs, the healing of a child.

1. How does John’s placement of the scene at the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry shape your understanding of that story? What does it tell you about Jesus? How does this story reflect both the human and divine aspects of Jesus?

2. What’s the difference between a miracle and a sign? Are they synonymous? What is John’s Gospel trying to tell us by emphasizing the “signs” of Jesus?

3. What signs have you experienced in your life? How did you know they were of God?

4. Of all the conversations in the Bible, the one with the woman at the well is the longest. What does this tell you about the importance of the content? Is it significant to you that the conversation was with a woman?

5. What steps can you take to invite others to come and see? When have you experienced that invitation from someone else?
 Partner Spotlight:

Did you know that St. John is the most common name for an Episcopal congregation? The  Episcopal Asset Map has invited congregations named after Saint John (whether the Baptizer or the Evangelist!) to share their stories of how God is calling them to minister. Here’s one story from St. John’s in Kane, Pennsylvania:
The Episcopal Asset Map is a grassroots populated site that shares how we as the Episcopal Church are living out Christ’s call to us. Visit their  Facebook  page throughout the season of Epiphany for a short reflection on the daily reading and some stories about how God is at work!
Participant spotlight

The Rev. Victoria L. Collins, a deacon at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Melbourne, Florida, writes that they held the first session of their Good Book Club Bible study on Epiphany, with a lively group of close to twenty-five in attendance. She was inspired to respond to one of the reflection questions from last week: Twice in this passage, we hear the invitation: “Come and see.” What do these words mean to you? How do they shape your own calling and the ministry of your community?

She writes: “Come and see remains the most effective evangelization tool. No amount of preaching, teaching, or witness can equal a personal encounter with the Risen Christ! Our personal witness, therefore, must be more than mere words; it must be what you hear and see in my life. Jesus himself is the example of how his light will be seen and experienced in the world.”

How are you participating in the Good Book Club? Share your story with us (and send pictures too, if you have them!). We’ll highlight participants from across the church. Send the information to Richelle at .

Let’s learn from and be inspired by each other!

Even the TV game show Jeopardy is getting in on the Good Book Club! Earlier this week, on the first night of the Greatest of All Time tournament, final Jeopardy tested contestants on their knowledge of the Gospel of John. Good Book Club folks could go "all in" on the answer: "In the beginning was the Word."