John 2–3

“John 2–3,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 109–10


The Life of Jesus Christ


Events in these chapters likely occurred within this period

First year of the Lord’s ministry

Second year

Third year

Christ’s birth

First Passover

Second Passover

Third Passover

Final Passover and last week


John chapters 2–3 mark the end of Jesus’ years of preparation and the beginning of His public ministry. At a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, Jesus performed His first public miracle by turning water into wine. Afterwards He traveled with His family and disciples to Capernaum and then proceeded south to Jerusalem for Passover. There He cast “the changers of money” out of the temple, charging them with making “my Father’s house an house of merchandise“ (John 2:14–16). Soon thereafter, Nicodemus, a noted Pharisee and leader among the Jews, sought an audience with the Savior. Of all the truths Jesus taught during His ministry, it is interesting to ponder what He said in one of His first interviews.

Prayerfully study John 2–3and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 29, 37–41.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for John 2–3.

John 2:1–11. Through His example, Christ showed that we should honor and obey our earthly parents in righteousness.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • What names do you use to refer to your parents?

  • What are ways of referring to your parents respectfully?

  • How would you feel if you heard others refer to their parents disrespectfully?

Have students read John 2:3–4looking for how respectful Jesus Christ was of His mother. Refer them to the Joseph Smith Translation change in footnote 4a and ask: How does this change affect our understanding of how respectful Jesus was to His mother? Read the statement by Elder James E. Talmage in the commentary for John 2:4 in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (p. 29, right column). Help students understand that Jesus Christ set an example by never referring to His mother disrespectfully. Encourage students to do the same.

(Note: Avoid speculation as to whose marriage took place at this time. Also, this is not an appropriate block for a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. The miracle of turning the water to wine occurred in the first century A.D., while the Word of Wisdom was not given by the Lord until 1833.)

calendar iconJohn 2:12–25. Events in the life and ministry of the Savior played an essential role in the plan of salvation.

(25–30 minutes)

Write the accompanying chart on the board, but leave off the scripture references.

Give the students the scripture references in random order. Have them read the references looking for how each shows Jesus preparing for the Atonement. With your students, match the references to the four events and add them to the chart.

Discuss how these events led the Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane, the cross, the tomb, and His Resurrection. Stress to students that Jesus came to earth to accomplish the Atonement, and that all the events of His life led to this event.

Point out that Jesus’ entire life was dedicated to accomplishing the will of Heavenly Father (see John 5:30). Ask:

  • What was the purpose for our coming to the earth?

  • What could you be doing now that would help you accomplish that purpose?

  • What can we do to accomplish our life’s mission? (Repent of our sins, study the scriptures, live the commandments, learn to listen to the Spirit.)

Encourage students to live their lives in such a way that they can appreciate and qualify for the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

scripture iconJohn 3:5(Scripture Mastery). We must be spiritually born of God, changed from our fallen state to a state of righteousness.

(25 minutes)

Hold up a picture of a newborn baby and ask:

  • Why do we get so excited over newborn babies?

  • What are the characteristics we commonly attribute to newborns? (Purity, innocence, humility, dependence, love, freshness from God’s presence.)

  • Have you ever wished you could have those same qualities again?

  • What advantages are there to starting over?

Have students read John 3:3–7, and ask:

  • According to these verses, how does Jesus say we can begin anew?

  • Why do you think the Lord uses the phrase “born again” to describe baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Explain that when the Savior used the phrases “born again” and “born of the Spirit,” He was comparing baptism and spiritual rebirth to physical birth (see also Hebrews 12:9; Moses 6:59–60). If it would be helpful, draw this chart on the board and discuss it with the class. Ask students if they can add to the list.

Physical Birth

Spiritual Birth

Our mortal life begins.

We begin a new life in Christ.

We inherit physical and mental traits and material things from our parents.

Christ becomes our Father and we receive a spiritual inheritance from Him.

In many cultures we receive our father’s name.

We receive the name of Christ.

We can become like our parents.

We begin our progression towards becoming like our Father in Heaven.

Invite students to read and cross-reference Alma 5:14and Mosiah 5:2and look for changes that accompany being born again. If any of your students would feel comfortable doing so, invite them to testify of changes that happened in their lives at the time of their baptism or conversion.

Testify to your students that we all need to be born of the Spirit. Express to them the significance of your own baptism and the value of the gift of the Holy Ghost in your life.

John 3:8–13. We must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.

(25–30 minutes)

Have students observe or reflect on the effects of a breeze on a windy day. Have students read John 3:8looking for how the wind compares to being born of the Spirit. Ask: How did Jesus say they are alike? If desired, use the accompanying diagram to help your discussion:


Wind Influence of Spirit


We can’t see it with our eyes.

We can feel it.

We can see its effects.

It can be very gentle or very strong and powerful.

Have students read John 3:9–10, and ask:

  • Why was Nicodemus rebuked for not understanding the things Jesus taught? (He was one of the leaders and teachers of the people and should have understood these truths.)

  • In what ways might we sometimes be guilty of misunderstanding the effects of the Holy Ghost?

  • What are some of the ways in which people receive their testimonies by the power of the Holy Ghost?

  • Why do people react differently to the Spirit?

  • Have you ever been frustrated when you did not feel the Holy Ghost in the same way as others?

  • How do you react when your prayers are not answered in the way you expected?

Testify that although the effects of the Spirit can be as hard to describe as the wind, they are real. We can all be born of the Spirit if we follow the Lord’s example.

John 3:28–30(see also Matthew 3:11–15; Mark 1:7–8; Luke 3:15–16). John the Baptist’s humility and understanding of who he was helped him focus on his mission of testifying of the Savior.

(25–30 minutes)

Draw the following diagram on the board.


Have students read John 3:28–30, and ask: According to these verses, what could these two lines represent? (The line that rises represents the Savior’s renown among men; the line that falls represents John the Baptist’s.)

Ask students to read John 1:19–36; 5:33–36; 10:41, and ask:

  • What examples of John the Baptist’s humility do we see in these scriptures?

  • What evidence can you give that John knew who he was?

  • How did John’s humility help him fill his role as forerunner of the Messiah?

  • What can we learn from the example of John the Baptist that can help us in our lives?

Testify to the truth that salvation is only in Jesus Christ. Explain that John the Baptist understood this. He had a valuable role as forerunner of the Messiah, but he humbled himself before the Lord. We need to do the same.