Jesus teaches Nicodemus that all must be born of water and the Spirit to
enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus teaches a Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that to receive everlasting
life, we must be "born again" and continue to follow Jesus Christ.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 5 Handout (PDF
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
Jesus' Early Ministry.
We read in John 2 about Jesus going up to the marriage
feast at Cana accompanied by his disciples.
Cana was a small village a few miles west of the sea of Galilee.
By this time, Jesus had gathered at least five disciples: Andrew, John,
Simon, Phillip, and Nathanael (see
Jesus' mother, Mary, was assisting with the marriage feast. She was concerned
about the wine running out and asked for his assistance.
Jesus gave instructions to the servants to fill six water pots with water.
The liquid was poured from the water pots and served first to the governor
of the feast. The governor of the feast tasted the wine and found it to
be the finest.
This is the first recorded miracle of Jesus.
After the wedding feast, Jesus went to Capernaum (along the north coast
Jesus seems to have chosen Capernaum as a home or base from where to carry
forth his ministry.
We know that this was the home of Peter, Andrew, John, and James.
We also know that this was where Matthew sat as a tax collector.
Capernaum was among the more prosperous areas of Galilee.
After a brief stay in Capernaum, Jesus, his disciples, and his family went
down to Jerusalem for Passover
and the feast of Unleavened Bread.
While in Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the temple (see
JOHN 3:1-12. Nicodemus comes to Jesus.
WHO WAS NICODEMUS?
a ruler among the Jews, and a member of the Sanhedrin.
WHAT WAS THE SANHEDRIN?
The Jewish senate and the highest native court in both civil and ecclesiastical
Under the high priest it regulated the internal affairs of the Jewish nation.
At the time of Jesus, the extent of its legal jurisdiction was restricted
to Judea. Its decisions were considered morally binding over all the Jewish
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE NICODEMUS WAITED UNTIL DARK TO VISIT JESUS?
It appears that Nicodemus had been touched by the teachings of Jesus and was coming
to learn more. It is obvious that he felt it necessary to
protect his position. How would it look if a Catholic Bishop was found
making an inquiry of an LDS mission president?
WHAT DID JESUS FIRST TEACH NICODEMUS THAT HE MUST DO TO ENTER THE KINGDOM
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God" (v3).
It appears that Nicodemus had no comprehension of things spiritual. When
Jesus spoke of being "born again," Nicodemus could only relate it
to a physical birth and was puzzled. "How can
a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's
womb, and be born?" (v4).
Jesus clarified his earlier statement, "Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (v5).
IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLD, WE HEAR MUCH ABOUT BEING BORN AGAIN. WHAT DID JESUS
Born of water: baptism by immersion by one having proper authority.
Born of the Spirit: to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Nicodemus did not understand what the Lord was teaching about this rebirth
and asked how a man could be reborn by his mother. Though Nicodemus did
not understand, the analogy is perfect. When we enter this world, we are
born from water. Sometime between conception and birth, a spirit enters our physical
body. This is only the beginning and the rest of our life is determined
by the actions we take after our birth.
Jesus said that we must be born again, meaning that we come forth from
the waters of baptism and take on a new spirit, the spirit of the Holy
Ghost. The success of this rebirth is determined by the actions we take
from that day forward.
Alma helps us to better understand the meaning of being born again by asking
us some penetrating questions (see
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the
church, have ye spiritually been born of God?
Have ye received his image in your countenances?
Have ye experienced this mighty change in your
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him
who created you?
Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and
view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised
in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds
which have been done in the mortal body?
I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves
that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come
unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness
upon the face of the earth?
Later Alma asks: "And now behold, I say unto you,
my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt
to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
Being born again does not take place in an instant, but is an ongoing process.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "We are born again when
we die as pertaining to unrighteousness and when we live as pertaining
to the things of the Spirit. But that doesn't happen in an instant, suddenly.
That...is a process. Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few
isolated instances that are so miraculous that they get written up in the
scriptures. As far as the generality of the members of the Church are concerned,
we are born again by degrees, and we are born again to added light and
added knowledge and added desires for righteousness as we keep the commandments."
(BYU Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1976)
WHAT CAN WE DO TO CONTINUE THIS PROCESS THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES?
As I have read the Book of Mormon, I have been impressed with Lehi's dream
and the images he saw. Lehi said that there arose "an
exceedingly great mist of darkness" (1 Nephi 8:23). Those that
were desirous to partake of the tree "caught hold
of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist
of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron" (1 Nephi 8:24).
In today's world we often find ourselves caught up in a "mist of darkness."
By clinging to "the rod" we can find our way through the challenges,
the lies, the deceptions that would lead us astray. As Nephi tells us,
the iron rod is "the the word of God; and whoso
would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would
never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the
adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction"
(1 Nephi 15:24).
Immersing ourselves in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets
will enable us to successful continue this process of rebirth and renewal.
JOHN 3:13-17. Jesus testifies
of his mission.
- Elder Charles A. Callis: "The power to suffer and
the will to sacrifice is always encased in great love, and surely only God
could have suffered as he did in sending his Only Begotten Son into the world
to be slain for the sins of the world.
"The Lord Jesus Christ suffered so much, that he, the
greatest of all, even God, sweat great drops of blood, that men might not
suffer if they would repent. If the Savior had not come into the world and
endured the suffering of death there would have been no redemption for
mankind." (CR, April 1930, pp112-113)
JOHN 3:19-21. He
that lives by truth comes to the light.
THERE SEEMS TO BE GREAT DARKNESS IN THE WORLD TODAY. WHY DO SO MANY NOT
SEE THE LIGHT?
This light of the gospel of Christ has been restored to the earth in our
day. Why do so few see it?
- The wickedness in the world must be so great that, as the Savior says,
one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest
his deeds should be reproved" (v20).
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Jesus warned us that evildoers
hate light that illuminates their iniquity. Some foolishly think that if
they merely cover their eyes, they can cover their sins." (Notwithstanding
My Weakness, p80)
WHY DO OTHERS SEE THE LIGHT?
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO WITH THE LIGHT WE HAVE RECEIVED?
Jesus Teaches A Samaritan Woman
"After these things came Jesus and his disciples
into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized them."
According to this verse, Jesus went out and ministered to the people of
Judea following his sojourn in Jerusalem.
According to Elder McConkie (The Mortal Messiah, volume 1):
This ministry in Judea lasted until December (9 months).
He ministered to towns and cities throughout Judea.
The mission: To preach the gospel and baptize souls.
"He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he
must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to
a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground
that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well
was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the
well: and it was about the sixth hour."
The village Sychar appears to be about half way between Jerusalem and Galilee.
Why did Jesus go through Samaria? The route through Samaria was more dangerous
and robber-infested. It was the Jewish custom to take the long way around
through Perea. The Samaritans were hated for their customs and traditions.
Some suggest that Jesus avoided Perea, where Antipas governed, due to the
recent imprisonment of John the Baptist.
More likely is the fact the Jesus chose to preach the gospel and testify
of his divinity to these people, who were part Israelite.
Review John 4:6-26.
HOW DID THE SAMARITAN WOMAN'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE SAVIOR CHANGE WHILE
SHE SPOKE WITH HIM?
WHAT CAUSED THIS CHANGE?
He taught at her level of understanding.
- Robert J. Matthews: "Sitting at a well where
people came to draw water and utilizing this setting to make a comparison
between earthly water and the 'living water,' Jesus taught the woman that he was
the Messiah. He said that if someone drank the water drawn from the well, that
person would thirst again; but a person who drank the water He had to give would
never thirst again. The woman doubted he could provide such water, because he
had neither rope nor bucket and the well was deep. She also asked him if he
thought he was greater than Jacob himself, who gave them the well. The whole
episode compares secular things to spiritual. The woman was engrossed in the
worldly things-the flesh, the natural water, the rope, the bucket. She could
hardly grasp the idea of the 'living water,' and even when she began to believe,
her response was that she would like some of that special kind of water so that
she would never have to come again to the well to draw. She was still thinking
in physical terms. It took some time before she could appreciate that the
'living water' Jesus could give would be like a flowing well
'springing up unto everlasting life'." (A Bible! A Bible!, p 225)
He showed compassion.
She stood in the Light and the Spirit bore witness.
WHAT DID JESUS MEAN BY THE LIVING WATER?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Living water is the
words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and
his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel. Those who thirst are invited
to come unto Christ and drink. Where there are prophets of God, there will
be found rivers of living water, wells filled with eternal truths, springs
bubbling forth their life-giving draughts that save from spiritual death."
(Mortal Messiah, 1:497)
The Master used a wonderful comparison when he spoke of living water.
How important is water to life?
What did parts of Utah look like before water was used to irrigate the valleys?
The gospel is "living water" to a thirsty soul.
There are a lot of thirsty souls out there.
What does this say about our responsibility towards sharing the gospel?
HOW CAN WE ASSURE OURSELVES CONSTANT ACCESS TO THIS "LIVING WATER"?
Go to the "well" frequently.
- Attend church meetings and conferences.
- Study the scriptures.
- Get on your knees and speak to the source of living water.
"The woman then left her waterpot, and went her
way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all
things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
Then they went out of the city, and came unto him....
"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for
the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans
were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and
he abode there two days. And many more believed
because of his own word; And said unto the
woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him
ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the
world." (John 4:28-30, 39-42)
Jesus' introduction to the Samaritans of Sychar came through a woman who
had five different husbands during the course of her life and was living
with a man to whom she was not married.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS ABOUT THE LORD?
WHAT DOES THIS INCIDENT TEACH US ABOUT SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH OTHER PEOPLE?
JOHN 4:31-36. Those that do the work of the Lord
will receive wages.
WHAT DID THE LORD TEACH ABOUT MISSIONARY WORK?
It is the will of the Father.
The fields of the Lord were ripe for the harvest.
He that works in the fields and reaps is gathering fruit unto eternal life.
"And if it so be that you should labor all
your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be
one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of
my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have
brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy
if you should bring many souls unto me!" (D&C 18:15-16)
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED WHEN YOU HAVE SHARED THE GOSPEL WITH OTHERS?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
As members of the Church, we should have done as the Lord taught Nicodemus and been
born again. To be born again is not so much an event as it is a process. We
should continually seek to renew ourselves, to be reborn time and time
again as we worship and partake of the sacrament on a weekly basis, as
we strive to keep the commandments, and as we frequently go to the well
of living water. As we do so, we will be blessed with peace in this life
and eternal joy in the life to come.
Record your thoughts on Jesus' encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan
woman. What principles from these stories can you apply in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Bible! A Bible! by Robert J. Matthews.
BYU Devotional Speeches of the Year.
Conference Reports (CR).
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Neal A. Maxwell.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
1, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
26 December 2014