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.