Connect Group Study Guide
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.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 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.
- How would you define Jesus from verses 1-5? What did the Word become v.12?
- What parallels do you see in this passage to Genesis 1?
- What are the truths we learn about the Light from verses 4-9?
- Who is John the Baptist according to Verses 6-9
- What right is given to those who receive Jesus and believe in His name? v.12
- What comes through Jesus Christ? v.17
Application Questions to Consider:
- 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?
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 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.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “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!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 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.” 9 “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.
- Who is Nicodemus? Why do you think he came to visit Jesus at night?
- How does Jesus respond to Nicodemus introductory comments?
- What does it mean to be “born again” and how does someone become “born again”?
- What is Jesus’ point as He compares the Holy Spirit with the wind?
- What do verses 15 – 18 reveal: About the Father? About Jesus? About man? About eternal life?
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?