On Sunday Jeremy introduced the series and explored the “prologue” of John’s gospel (1:1-18). Throughout this book, John tells the story of Jesus on two levels: the actual physical events of Jesus’ life, and cosmic “spiritual” realities that happen behind the scenes. In the prologue, John focused on this second, more theological aspect of Jesus identity: that he was the Word that was with God and was God, who became human and lived among us; he is the source of life and the light of the world that shines in the darkness, bringing grace and truth and showing us God in a very unique way. John’s initial reflections are meant to provoke awe and wonder at the miracle of what God did through Jesus. In this next section, however, John transitions to a more historical approach, describing the ministry of John the Baptist (not the John who is writing the gospel).
Intro: On Sunday Jeremy discussed the different translations of the Bible available today, which are found on a spectrum from literal word-for-word (e.g. NASB) to looser, paraphrased thought-for-thought (e.g. the Message). We usually use the New International Version (NIV) at MCC, which is in the middle of the spectrum, however for this study we’re using the New Living Translation (NLT, a bit looser) because of the availability of Gospel of John Study Bible samples. Discuss your own experiences and preferences with Bible translations. Do you think a more literal or looser translation is better? Do you have any experience with study Bibles? If so, what did you think?
Read John 1:19-34
What initially stands out to you? What did you notice? What questions do you have? Are any of them answered by the notes in the study Bible?
John the Baptist (or Baptizer) got his name because he ceremonially washed people in water as a sign of their response to the message he brought. Read Luke 3:7-14for a better understanding of the message that people were responding to. Why do you think he was so popular? How did this message help to “prepare the way” for Jesus?
John has clearly generated a lot of attention at this point and he is even being asked if he is the Messiah. What response does he give to those who want to know who he is? What kind of virtues/character traits do you think John displays in his answers and in his ministry?
How/when did John know that Jesus was the Messiah? Consider the fact that John was Jesus’ cousin and only a few months older than him. How do you think John felt when he came to understand that his carpenter cousin from Nazareth was “the Chosen One of God” (v. 34)?
John calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29). What does this phrase symbolize? Be sure to check your study Bible notes for insight. Also, the margins contain “cross-references” to other passages of Scripture that are thematically related. Use the cross references for 1:29 to look at three other passages for further insight on this idea.
How can John the Baptist be a model for us of a proper way to relate to Jesus? How do you feel you are doing at developing the kinds of virtues/character traits that he displays?
John testifies about Jesus so that those who are listening may believe. His testimony is based upon his experience and what he has heard from the Lord. What have you heard from the Lord or experienced in your own life that gives testimony to who Jesus is? How had God given you the opportunity to share with others?
Is there anything else from today’s conversation that calls for practical application? Pray for each other as you finish this session.