Posts Tagged ‘book of signs’

A. Water to wine in Cana – 2:1-12. Galilee [sign 1]

B. The leaders of Jerusalem in conflict with Jesus – 2:13-22. Jerusalem

C. Conversation with Nicodemus – 2:23-3:21. Jerusalem

D. Jesus baptizes more than John – 3:22-4:3. Judean countryside

C1. Conversation with Samaritan woman – 4:4-27. Samaria

B1. Many in Sychar believe – 4:28-45. Samaria

A1. Healing of child in Cana – 4:46-54. Galilee [sign 2]


A and A1 – 2:11 – There are several inclusion markers – “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did . . .” – 2:11; “This was now the second sign that Jesus did . . .” – 4:54. “Cana in Galilee” – 2:1, 4:26. 4:46 refers back to the making of wine in Cana. Additional parallels between both stories: 1. a need is expressed – for wine, for healing. 2. Jesus offers some resistance – “what does this have to do with me?” – 2:4; “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” – 4:48. 3. Faith in his power persists – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “come down before my child dies” – 4:49. 4. Both focus on Jesus’ word – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke.” – 4:50. 5. Jesus responds differently than asked – he does a miracle behind the scenes on his own terms; he doesn’t come with the man but heals the boy from a distance. 6. Servants are involved in both stories. 7. Faith is noted at the end of each story – “his disciples believed in him” – 2:11; “he himself believed and all his household” – 4:53. (With thanks to Ben Witherington for several of these.)

B and B1 focus on two cities: Jerusalem and its temple, and Sychar of Samaria. In the first Jesus symbolically announces judgment and encounters resistance. In the second there is acceptance of Jesus and salvation. In the first Jesus’ death and resurrection are foreshadowed. In the second Jesus as the Savior of the world is foreshadowed.

C and C1 focus on two conversations: Nicodemus is from Jerusalem, is a man, is upright; The woman is a Samaritan (heterodox), a woman, and immoral. Nicodemus came at night; the woman came at noon. Jesus knows people in general -2:24-25 and he knows that Nicodemus doesn’t truly believe – 3:12; Jesus knows the woman’s marital history – 4:16-19. In both Jesus speaks of “eternal life.” In both Jesus speaks of the “Spirit.”

B and C are bound together by – 2:13 “the Passover feast of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem”; 2:23 – “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast.” Nicodemus as a ruler of Israel also links these two passages together.

B1 and C1 are bound together by an inclusion – 4:4-6 – Jesus passes through Samaria; 4:43-45 – Jesus goes to Galilee. The woman from Samaria links these two passages together.

In B and C and B1 and C1) there are overly literal misunderstandings: B) Jesus says destroy this temple. They think he means the building, but he means his body. C) Jesus says you must be born from above. Nicodemus thinks he means another natural birth, but he means by the Spirit. C1) Jesus speaks of living water. The woman thinks he means a new spring of water, but he means the Spirit. B1)  Jesus speaks of food. The disciples think that he means literal food, but he is talking about doing God’s will.

*There is also geographical symmetry. It begins with Galilee, then two stories connected to Jerusalem, with the Judean countryside in the middle. Then there are two stories connected to Samaria, and Galilee again at the end.

William Higgins

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