Lesson 5 – John 3-4
Imagine an indoor plant. Consider what happens to the plant if you fail to water it regularly. Then consider what happens to you if you don’t drink enough water on a regular basis. Just as you would die without physical water, you would die spiritually if you did not receive spiritual water. This lesson presents Jesus’ teachings about being born of the water and the Spirit and about the living water he offers.
Nicodemus was a leader in the Jewish community. He came to Jesus knowing that Jesus was “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).
John 3:5 Jesus taught Nicodemus that he must be baptized to enter the kingdom of God.
Baptism is a symbol of rebirth because being immersed in water symbolizes the death or burial of our past sins; therefore, when we rise out of the water, we are reborn—starting a new life.
Being “born … of the Spirit” follows as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and then actually receive the Holy Ghost as a cleansing influence and constant companion.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that “Church members are not born again by the mere fact of baptism alone” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966-73], 1:142).
Besides being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the following are necessary in becoming born again:
John 3:16, 18 Believing in Jesus Christ
Mosiah 5:1-7 Experiencing “a mighty change in … our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (verse 2; see also Alma 5:12-14, 26)
Mosiah 27:25-26 –
Being “changed from [a] carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness”….
Becoming “[God’s] sons and daughters” (see also Mosiah 5:7.)
Becoming “new creatures”
Alma 5:14-35 Having “the image of God engraven upon [our] countenances” (verse 19, see 14 also)
Alma 22:15-18 - Repenting so our “garments [are] purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of [Christ]” (Alma 5:21; see also Alma 5:19, 33-34; Alma 22:18)
Elder McConkie also taught that being born again “doesn’t happen in an instant. [It] is a process” (“Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 399).
2 Nephi 31:19-20 gives us guidance on what we can do to continue this process of rebirth throughout our lives. According to the scripture, we must:
Maintain unshaken faith in Christ
Press forward in Christlike behavior
Have a perfect brightness of hope
Possess a love of God and all men
Feast upon the word of Christ
Endure to the end
We must also consider how we might overcome discouragement or setbacks in our spiritual progress.
Think about what changes you might have observed in yourself or someone else during the process of becoming born again.
John 3:14-18 teaches truths about the Savior’s mission that are related to his commandment that we be born again.
The Savior’s atonement provided the way for us to be born again
To benefit fully from the Atonement, we must believe in the Savior
Eternal life is possible as our ultimate reward
The atonement was a gift from our Heavenly Father
Christ came to save, not to condemn
If we choose not to believe, we condemn ourselves
John 3:19-21 Jesus used the concepts of light and darkness to teach Nicodemus. He taught that those who choose evil like to keep their deeds hidden so that they can avoid being reproved for their wickedness, so they appreciate darkness that cloaks them. On the other hand, those who follow the commandments seek the light so that their deeds glorify God and inspire others.
As we look around us, we see that some choose darkness over light, while we maintain the ability to love the light and shun darkness. Think about what helps us choose the light.
D&C 50:24; 88:67 remind us of the promises the Lord has made to those who come to the light. We are promised in Section 50 that as we receive light, we can receive more light and it will grow brighter and brighter. In Section 88, we are promised that we can be filled with light and comprehend all things.
While Jesus and his disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee, they stopped to rest at Jacob’s Well in Samaria. While Jesus sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water.
John 4:9 records that while the Jews had “no dealings with the Samaritans” and usually avoided Samaria when traveling, Jesus deliberately went through Samaria—drawing attention to his attitude about any person or group considered inferior. We can apply his example as we deal with our modern-day “Samaritans”.
John 4:9, 11-12, 15, 19, 25 show how the Samaritan woman made it easier for Jesus to teach her by being humble, desiring to know more, and believing his words. Following her example, we should develop those attributes to become more receptive to the Savior’s teachings.
The Samaritan woman changed as Jesus spoke to her and Jesus helped bring about that change. He taught her at her level of understanding, he testified of himself, he used the symbol of water powerfully, and he showed compassion. Obviously, we can follow his example as we teach others if we are guided and inspired by the Spirit as we teach the gospel.
John 4:10 Jesus told the Samaritan woman that he could give her “living water”.
After reviewing 1 Nephi 11:25 and D&C 63:23 we see that “living water” means:
We obtain living water when we study the scriptures, hearken to the living prophets, receive answers to our prayers, and when we worship and perform service in the temples. Pause a moment—think about how living water blesses you.
John 4:7, 28-29 The Samaritan woman had come to the well for water. However, after she spoke with Jesus, she left her pitcher at the well and went to tell others about the experience. Think about how well you follow her example.
John 4:39-42 Other people were blessed because of the faith of the Samaritan woman. Because of her testimony, many went to hear the Savior for themselves and asked him to stay with them for awhile. During two days of teaching, he converted many.
Class participation: In class, you might offer examples of how you have been blessed or seen others blessed for believing in the Lord and share your thoughts about how your faith can affect those around you.
Just as plants need water to live, we need to follow the Savior and his teachings to be born again and have everlasting life.
These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org