Jesus Surprises on the Margins (John 3-4)

Jesus Surprises on the Margins (John 3-4)

Jesus was on the move.

After causing a big stir by not only turning water into wine, but flipping tables in the Temple, He was only just getting started. Naturally, for Jesus’ second “sign,” He would take it up a notch and do something even greater than what He did for the first one.

Jesus would heal a Roman official’s son.

But this second “sign” would not happen before we see another vital explainer about Jesus’s mission: His conversation with Nicodemus—a Pharisee in his own rite—watching Jesus with vested interest, both for good and for ill. Like so many others who wondered something similar, Nicodemus came to visit Jesus at night, away from the crowds, because of what we read in John 3:2 and 9:

Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. … Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’

So many questions from Nicodemus … so many answers given by Jesus. Given the time, you could spend hours on end meditating on all the things Jesus tells us through this conversation, including about one of the most precious verses of all that so many of us are familiar with in John 3:16.

The treasure trove of insights does not end there, though. We also find Jesus interacting with arguably the unlikeliest of eventual converts to His ways. We see an intimate conversation with someone on the margins—outside of the normal “accepted” people groups by those who were Jewish—a Samaritan woman with a checkered past. Ironically, in what seems like a precarious situation, we see something else entirely. We see the compassion and love Jesus shares of himself with all that seek Him; whether they realize or know they need it or not. Jesus offers up “living water” in a cup that only He can.

Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.’ (Jn. 4:13-14, ESV)

And sure enough, upon this transformative conversation, she takes Jesus up on His offer, and “many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony (Jn. 4:39, ESV).”

Finally, comes the second “sign,” and we see, once again, something miraculous that sends shockwaves in the same place we experienced them at the wedding feast in Cana.

The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ And he himself believed, and all his household (Jn. 4:53, ESV).

However you come to our text in John 3-4, remember Jesus’ words as we dig deeper:

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things (Jn. 3:12, ESV)?

And may we all follow John the Baptist’s lead when he said this as we turn pages in the Gospel of John … “He must increase, but I must decrease (Jn. 3:30, ESV).”


  1. What are some of the things you find most challenging regarding what Jesus explains to Nicodemus?
  2. What are some of the things you find most enduring about Jesus in John 3-4?
  3. What can we learn about John the Baptist now that he’s announced the arrival of Jesus and made way for His ministry to advance?
  4. What sticks out to you, specifically, about this second “sign” from Jesus at the end of John 4?
  5. What are some questions you have about Jesus after studying these chapters? (Reach out and let us know if you have questions:


Our study of the GOSPEL OF JOHN in review:

JOHN 19-20 – Watch message / Read: “The King’s Path to Peace

JOHN 18 – Watch message / Read: “A Portrait of a King

JOHN 16-17 – Watch message / Read: “After the Helper Comes

JOHN 15 – Watch message / Read: “Abide and Grow

JOHN 13-14 – Watch message / Read: “A Ministry Defined

JOHN 12 – Watch message / Read: “The Glory Commences

JOHN 11 – Watch message / Read: “A Certain Man Was Ill

JOHN 10 – Watch message / Read: “The Good Shepherd’s Task

JOHN 8-9 – Watch message / Read: “Life-changing Light on a Longstanding Truth

JOHN 7 – Watch message / Read: “The Festival of Truths”

JOHN 6 – Watch message / Read: “No Ordinary Type of Bread

JOHN 5 – Watch message / Read: “A Dichotomy of Belief

JOHN 3-4 – Watch message / Read: “Jesus Surprises on the Margins

JOHN 2 – Watch message / Read: “And So It Begins…”

JOHN 1:19-51 – Watch message / Read: “A Revealing Voice in the Wilderness”

JOHN 1:1-18 – Watch message / Read: “A Prologue to Deeper Beginnings”