The very last verse of St. John’s Gospel, chapter 2 (v.25) serves as a cogent introduction to the encounters we find in chapters 3 and 4. When Jesus welcomed Nicodemus (Jn 3:2) He wasted no time in customary small talk before steering the conversation toward the spiritual state of this Jewish leader’s heart and mind (Jn 3:3). It was almost as though the Lord had been holding an unsheathed sword, ready for the plunge! Nicodemus was symied.
Remember earlier, when Jesus was first confronted with Peter the fisherman, He “looked at him” (Jn 1:42). The Latin precisely translates this as “intuitus eum,” so we recognize that Jesus’ way of seeing entailed a much deeper knowing of the person than simple observation would involve. And this, of course, was the very fact that overwhelmed Nathaniel shortly afterwards (Jn 1:47-49).
As we move into chapter 4 we are drawn into one of the most significant encounters in all of Scripture: Jesus’ meeting and conversation with the Samaritan woman who came alone to draw water at Jacob’s well.
Here are some things to ponder, in meditating upon this incident:
1) In what ways does Jesus’ approach to this woman differ from His encounter with Nicodemus in chapter 3?
2) At what point do we begin to become aware of Jesus’ deep insight into this woman’s soul?
3) Do you get the feeling that her response to this Rabbi’s perceptive words (Jn 4:18-20) are an attempt at deflection and self-protection, or do you sense that she is sincere with her questioning in verse 20?
Jesus’ words about the “living water” (verses 10, 13-14) are puzzling to the woman, because she cannot as yet understand them on more than one level of meaning. Ponder their deeper meaning after reading Exodus 17:6; Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37-39; John 1:12; Acts 2:17-18; I Corinthians 2:4-5; II Timothy 1:6; Revelation 21:6 and Revelation 22:17.
Next Friday, I’ll give you a few more things to consider from John 4 before our next Faith on the Ferry book study group get together on Wednesday morning, Feb.6. JC