October 6 (Daily reading: John 2-4) In His brief time in Judea to begin His ministry, Jesus met Nicodemus. Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, made an amazing concession to Jesus: “We know that You have come from God” (3:2). God had been speaking to his heart! Nicodemus, like all the Jews, was focused on the messianic kingdom. So, Jesus quickly came to the point: “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (3:3). God’s kingdom was invisible and could only be experienced spiritually. Nicodemus thought that, being a Pharisee, the kingdom of God already belonged to him. He learned that, to enter into the kingdom of God, he had to have a change of heart, a completely new life. Nicodemus eventually came to believe what Jesus told him: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (3:16).
When Jesus left Judea, He “had to go through Samaria” (4:4). Most Jews followed an alternative route, but Jesus had an appointment with an entire Samaritan town. At a well outside the town of Sychar, Jesus met a woman and used the subject of water to talk about her need of “living water.” She went back to her town with a question: “Could this be the Christ?” (4:29, NIV). Because of this, many Samaritans met Jesus and believed in Him. They said: “We know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:42).
Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman were two very different people. He was a Pharisee and a respected religious leader. She was a Samaritan and an outcast because of her lifestyle. But they both learned that a right relationship with God depends on grace. Both could say about Jesus, along with John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
– Al Gary