Connect Group Study Guide

Overview

The Gospel of John is a great place to go in search of the Real Jesus. The central theme in John is that Jesus is the divine Son of God who reveals the Father, providing eternal life to all who believe in him.  He concludes his Gospel with this definitive statement: “But these [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).

In the synoptic (“syn” = together or in common, “optic” = seen) gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus’ teaching focuses on the kingdom of God and his role as its inaugurator. In John, Jesus speaks more openly about himself and his unique relationship to the Father. He makes seven metaphorical descriptions of himself and his role as the Son who reveals the Father.

“I AM the bread of life” (6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I AM the light of the world” (8:12; 9:5)
“I AM the door [gate] for the sheep” (10:7, 9)
“I AM the good shepherd” (10:11, 14)
“I AM the resurrection and the life” (11:25)
“I AM the way and the truth and the life” (14:6)
“I AM the true vine” (15:1, 5)

Out of the many miracles that Christ performed, John selected just seven – four of which are exclusive to his Gospel. These seven signs are key to understanding the fourth Gospel as they play a key role in Jesus’ self-revelation.  The signs are often interpreted by Jesus’ teaching. For example, when Jesus feeds the five thousand, he then gives a discourse on the bread of life.  And he raises Lazarus from the dead after identifying himself as the resurrection and the life.  Each sign reveals Jesus’ identity and mission and calls forth a decision from the hearers. Here is a list of the miracles in order:

Water into wine (2:1-11) Officials son healed (4:43-54) Pool of Bethesda healing (5:1-15) Feeding of five thousand (6:1-14) Walking on water (6:16-21) Healing blind man (9:1-12) Lazarus raised (11:1-44)

Although John is believed to be the final Gospel written, it begins far earlier than the other three. While Mark begins with Jesus’ adult ministry, and Matthew and Luke begin with His physical birth, John opens with the beginning of all creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  This prologue (John 1:1-18) is the most profound statement of Jesus’ identity in the New Testament.

We invite you to take some time in the coming weeks to absorb this unique Gospel and journey with us as we discover together the Real Jesus.

Week 1

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Questions:
  1. How would you define Jesus from verses 1-5? What did the Word become v.12?
  2. What parallels do you see in this passage to Genesis 1?
  3. What are the truths we learn about the Light from verses 4-9?
  4. Who is John the Baptist according to Verses 6-9
  5. What right is given to those who receive Jesus and believe in His name? v.12
  6. What comes through Jesus Christ? v.17
Application Questions:
  • How do this introduction encourage your faith?
  • Considering this passage, how would you answer the question of who Jesus is?
  • How have you responded to Jesus Christ? In what ways could you improve your response to His revelation of God’s love through your life?

Week 2

John 3:1-21

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.  14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Questions:
  1. Who is Nicodemus? Why do you think he came to visit Jesus at night?
  2. How does Jesus respond to Nicodemus introductory comments?
  3. What does it mean to be “born again” and how does someone become “born again”?
  4. What is Jesus’ point as He compares the Holy Spirit with the wind?
  5. What do verses 15 – 18 reveal: About the Father? About Jesus? About man? About eternal life?
Application Question:

There is a big difference between being religious and being a follower of Jesus. Nic’s religious experience and position could not save him, he needed to place his faith (belief) in Jesus.  How do religion and being a Christ-follower differ in your life?

Week 3

Introduction:

The Samaritans were descendants of Jews who had intermarried with Assyrians after the captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel. They were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood and their different worship which was centered on Mt. Gerizim. Jews often go a longer distance to avoid going through Samaria.  The story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is similar to His encounter with Nicodemus in that the ultimate purpose was to point them to eternal life.  The two stories differ, however, in that Nicodemus was considered to be one of the religious elites by the people of his day and the Samaritan woman was seen as an outcast from her own people.  Yet, astonishingly, she responds to Jesus’ message while Nicodemus remains spiritually blind. 

John 4:1-26

1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.  Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)  10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”  13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  17 “I have no husband,” she replied.  Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”  19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”  21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”  25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Questions:
  1. Considering the hostility between the Jews & Samaritans, what does verse 4 tell you about Jesus?
  2. Why do you think the Samaritan woman was surprised by Jesus’ request for a drink? 
  3. What did Jesus mean by saying he would give living water? (Verse 10)
  4. What did Jesus prophetically reveal to the Samaritan woman and how did she respond?  (Verses 16-20)
  5. How are we supposed to worship the Father?  What does it mean?
  6. What is significant about Jesus’ declaration in verse 26?
Application Questions:

Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs, or prejudices. Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion. Who are the Samaritans in your world?  Are you willing to reach out to them to share how they can receive His living water?

Week 4

John 5:1-15

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Summary:

It was at the Pool of Bethesda, outside of Jerusalem, that Jesus performed a miracle showing that He is greater than any human malady and that superstition and religious folklore are foolish and feeble substitutes for faith in God. Amazingly, not everyone was happy about the man’s miraculous healing. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. The reaction of the Jewish leaders shows that, no matter how much proof God provides, there will be some who refuse to see the truth. Jesus was a bona fide Miracle Worker, but the religious leaders couldn’t see the miracle. All they could see was that someone had violated one of their rules.

Questions:
  1. Why doesn’t the man give a simple “Yes” when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well?
  2. What attribute of God is this miraculous sign an example of?
  3. What was the Jews response to the healing?
  4. Why did Jesus later seek out the man at the temple?
Application Questions:

Has your joy in God ever been squashed by someone’s concern over religious rituals and traditions? What did that do to you? Have you ever responded to someone in that way? How so?

Week 5

Jesus is the great healer.

Jesus is the great healer and giver of life.  He heals when up close and personal and He heals from a distance. He heals when people have faith and He heals when they need to have their faith strengthened.  We will look at two more of the miracles that Jesus performed that were only told of in the Gospel of John.

John 4:43-54 / Jesus heals the official’s son.

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. 46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” 53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed. 54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Summary:

The healing of the official’s son takes place at a distance. When the official heard that Jesus was in Galilee he sought out Jesus in faith that He could heal his son. All Jesus has to do is tell the man: “You may go. Your son will live.” This emphasizes that Jesus’ word alone has power and reminds us that he is God, as John’s prologue says: “the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Questions:
  1. How did Jesus heal the boy? (v 50)
  2. What did the official do until he was able to confirm what Jesus had said? (v 50)
John 11:1-44. / Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Summary:

“I am the Resurrection and the Life” Lazarus was dead. Earlier, Jesus had heard that His good friend was sick, but instead of going to visit Lazarus, Jesus “stayed where he was two more days”. He explained to His puzzled disciples that the sickness was “for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” Outside Bethany, Lazarus’s sister Martha went out to meet Jesus. “If you had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died.” Such was her faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus replied by assuring Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded again in faith: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” At this point, Jesus makes His fifth “I Am” statement in John’s gospel, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and He follows it with a call to faith: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Questions:
  1. When Lazarus was sick and his sisters sent word for Jesus to come, what did He say was the purpose of this sickness? (v 4)
  2. How long had Lazarus been dead and in the tomb when Jesus arrived?  Why is that amount of time significant?
  3. How do both Martha and Mary respond to Jesus when they see Him? (v 21) How does Jesus respond? (v 23)
  4. Why did Jesus weep? (v 35)
  5. Does Martha really believe that Jesus can raise Lazarus from the tomb? (v 39)
  6. What did Jesus do to raise Lazarus from the dead? (v 43) How does this compare to how He healed the official’s son in John 4:43-54?
Application Question:

Is your belief in Jesus unquestioning like the official or is it strong but not quite complete like Martha?

Week 6

John 4:27-42

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Opening Question:

    What causes you to skip a meal unknowingly?

Questions:
  1. Why were the disciples surprised to find Jesus with this woman?
  2. What does “leaving her water jar” reveal about Jesus’ impact on the woman?
  3. How is Jesus’ figurative speech once again misunderstood (John 2:19; 3:3; 4:10)? Why do you think he continues to speak like this?
  4. How does Jesus’ conversation about harvesting (v35-38) apply His disciples then & now? What do you learn about being a “witness” from the woman or Jesus’ harvest illustration?
  5. Given the social barriers between Jews and Samaritans, what do verses 40-42 teach you about Jesus?
  6. Try to put yourself in the disciple’s “shoes” and imagine how they felt spending two days as the guests of people they despised.  How would you respond?

Week 7

Introduction:

What mannerisms of your parents have you picked up?  As you get older, do you find yourself becoming more, or less, like your parents?

John 5:16-30

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Questions:
  1. What was the result for Jesus healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda?
  2. How did his response to the Jewish leaders only heighten their opposition? Why do you think Jesus would do this?
  3. In what ways is Jesus equal with the Father? What terms are used to show the kind of relationship between the two? How does this relate to John 1:1 & 1:18?
  4. What claims does Jesus make about himself in verse 24?  What is the promise? If you had to explain to someone what verse 24 means in your own words, how would you put it?
  5. How would you describe the business that God the Father and God the Son are in?  What is the offer God is making to humanity?

Week 8

Introduction:

In the following verses we will read of the fourth of seven supernatural signs that John records.  Can you name the previous three?

Do you prefer to socialize at large parties, dinner for four, or a quiet evening alone? Why?

John 6:1-14

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.  14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Questions:
  1. Why do you think the crowd followed Jesus?  What did they think of him?
  2. What was the test Jesus was using on Philip? How might the wedding at Cana be a factor in the test?  From their responses, what grades would you give Philip and Andrew?
  3. What is the significance of the Passover and how might it’s nearness fueled expectations in the hearts of the people gathered? 
  4. What does Jesus’ response indicate about his idea of kingship?
Application Questions:
  1. When have you seen God stretch your limited resources far beyond what you could have imagined (financial, physical, emotional)?
  2. In what way do you need to trust him to do so now?

Week 9

Opening Questions:

Have you ever been kept after school? Interrogated by police? Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? Were you guilty?

John 8:1-11

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Questions:
  1. How is this situation a trap for Jesus?  What would the Pharisees accuse Jesus of if he told them to let her go?  If he told them to stone her?  How does he spring the trap? 
  2. What do you think he wrote on the ground that day? 
  3. How would the woman just caught in adultery have felt?  What then would be the significance of Jesus’ question in verse 10?
  4. How does Jesus’ response to the woman exemplify grace and truth (John 1:17)?
  5. How does the way Jesus treated this woman help you face some of the sins you struggle with? 
  6. What can you learn from Jesus about helping a friend who has fallen?

Week 10

Opening Questions:

As a kid, what was your favorite pet? How did this pet respond when it heard your voice?

Introduction:

The gospel of John lists seven "I Am" statements.

- The Bread of Life (6:35)
- The Light of the World (8:12; 9:5)
- The Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
- The Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
- The True Vine (15:1)

 Can you find the other 2 that are in this week's study? 

John 10:1-21

Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Questions:
  1. What do the sheep, shepherd, and stranger represent? How does the story in chapter 9 provide one example of what this parable is about?
  2. What is the relationship of the shepherd to his sheep? How do the sheep respond to the shepherd? How does this relate to the Pharisees' difficulty understanding Jesus?
  3. What does Jesus mean by likening himself to a gate for the sheepfold?
  4. How does Jesus identify himself with the "good shepherd" (verses 11-15)? How does Jesus' death relate to his promise in verse 10?
  5. What final claim does Jesus make (verses 17-18)? Why do his listeners respond as they do? How would you have responded?