The invitation of Jesus to the thirsty to come and drink from the living water that he will give leads to the discussion among the people which begins the text for today. While those who come on hearing this invitation regard Jesus as “the” prophet, others explicitly call him the Messiah. Still others question whether Jesus could really be the Messiah because of the popular belief that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Yet it was also true that some believed that the origins of the Messiah would be a mystery and no one would know where he would come from. These contrary views lead to a difference of opinion and though some want to arrest Jesus they do not lay hands on him.
When the police return to inform their masters that they could not arrest Jesus because they had never heard anyone speak like him, they are accused of having also been deceived by Jesus and taken in by his sophistry.
Nicodemus who is also one of the Jewish authorities speaks on behalf of Jesus and reminds his companions of the law and a hearing that was required before judgement. His question is ironic and seems intended to bring out that his companions knowledge of the law is a matter of doubt. They respond to Nicodemus in the same way in which they respond to the temple police. They deride him and assert their seemingly superior knowledge of scripture. Though they are emphatic that no prophet is to arise from Galilee, this knowledge is faulty, because the scriptures do speak of the Galilean origins of the prophet Jonah. John intends to convey through this assertion on the part of the Pharisees that they had misunderstood both the origins of the Messiah and who he is. Traditional messianic categories are inadequate because they rely on prior assumptions and expectations rather than judging Jesus on the basis of what he reveals about himself: that he is the one sent from God.
Jesus will always remain bigger than anything that we can ever imagine. Our most intimate encounters with him must make us realize this. He cannot be captured by the concepts, words or images that we use and while these help us to get to know his better, they will always be inadequate. Yet, this does not mean that we cannot know him as intimately as we want to. He reveals himself to each of us according to the level of openness we possess.