Light of the World: Movie Discussion Questions

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These questions are intended to go along with the Gospel of John movie and help get the conversation started, but feel free to deviate!

 

What struck you most from the scenes you watched today?

 

 

 

 

Did the filmmakers portray anything in a way that was different than you had imagined it?

 

 

 

 

Did you notice any of John’s major theme words? What kind of picture are they painting?

 


Word

 

Light/Darkness

 

Love/Hate

 

World

 

Life

 

Belief

 

See/Know/Recognize

 

Judgment

 

Witness

 

Truth

 

Glory

 

My Father


 

How do you see John leading us to his intended purpose, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”(John 20:31)?

 

 

 

 

 

What do we learn about the nature of God and ourselves as humans from today’s passage?

 

 

 

 

 

How should our lives (actions, attitudes, thought patterns, etc.) change based on today’s passage?

Light of the World: John 16:5-33

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On Sunday Jeremy talked about Jesus’ prediction that the world would treat his followers the same way it had treated him. They would be misunderstood, rejected, and hated because he had called them to be different from the world. Jesus wanted to make sure we understood things wouldn’t always be easy—to adjust our expectations. Today we look at the final section of his farewell discourse, in which he revisits some of the topics he introduced earlier.

 

 

Opening Discussion:

Have you ever judged, misunderstood, or treated differently (worse) because of your faith?

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 16:5-15.

 

Jesus says it’s “best” for his followers that he would go away, so that the Advocate (Holy Spirit) would come. What are the advantages of having the Holy Spirit over Jesus’ physical presence? What are the disadvantages?

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Holy Spirit’s role in “the world”?

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of a believer?

 

 

 

 

 

Read John 16:16-33.

 

Take a moment to celebrate: between Sundays and small groups, we have now read the entire book of John!

 

Jesus has already described many ways their relationship with him is about to change, and now he adds another: direct and unfettered access to his Father. Why is this such a big deal, and how does it relate to his departure? In other words, what was about to change about the way they would relate to God?

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think Jesus is referring to in verse 22 that would lead to permanent joy?

 

 

 

 

 

Why does Jesus say he has shared all of this with them?

 

 

 

 

 

What does Jesus mean that he has “overcome” the world? Note also that 1 John 5:4 says that “everyone born of God overcomes the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

 

John uses the Greek word “Paraclete” to describe the role of both Jesus (see 14:16) and the Holy Spirit in our lives. This word means someone who comes alongside to render aid or assistance, and can be translated as advocate, comforter, encourager, counselor, or simply helper. Can you think of a time in your own life when you have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in one of these ways? How do you need someone to come alongside to help you now?

 

 

 

 

 

In verse 32, Jesus makes it clear that he knows his disciples will desert, disappoint, and abandon him. But he doesn’t seem to be too worried about that, mentioning it almost casually. What does this tell us about how he views the ways we seemingly fail and disappoint him today? 

Light of the World: John 15:1-17

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On Sunday we looked at the second half of chapter 14, in which Jesus begins to paint a picture of how the disciples will relate to him after he leaves the earth. Their role changes from following him physically, to following/obeying his commands. But he promises not to leave them as orphans, but to come to them—in a new way, through the Holy Spirit or Advocate. This will actually mean a closer relationship than ever, even though he is no longer with them physically. Today he elaborates on how important it is to stay connected to him, even in his absence.

 

Opening Discussion:

 

Have you ever been chosen for a special task, in school, at work, on a sports team, or in some other setting? How did it make you feel to be asked to play a unique role, or be chosen for a particular team?

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 15:1-8

 

Jesus is using an analogy to describe a “fruitful” relationship with him. Sometimes we skim over this passage, assuming we know what it means, without paying careful attention to all of its implications. Take a couple of minutes to think through each aspect of his analogy, and how it relates to actual life. What does it mean:

 

To be a branch of the vine?

 

To be cut off?

 

To be pruned?

 

To be purified by the message?

 

To remain “in him”?

 

For him to remain in us?

 

To not remain in him?

 

To wither and be burned?

 

To produce fruit/much fruit?

 

To bring glory to the Father?

 

Read John 15:9-17

 

What does a relationship of mutual love and friendship look like, according to Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

In verse 11, Jesus brings up the idea of overflowing joy. Just a few verses earlier (14:27), he promised to leave an unworldly peace. Why do you think he is emphasizing these emotions as part of his farewell speech? What relevance might this have for us today?

 

 

 

 

 

What is the distinction between a slave/servant and a friend, and how does that make a difference for the disciples? How does it make a difference for us?

 

 

 

 

 

In verse 16 Jesus says, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” Yet John’s earlier description (e.g. 1:37-39) seems to indicate that, at least on a visible level, it was the disciples who initiated the relationship. Why is it important for Jesus to give them a different perspective? What did he want them to think/feel about themselves and their relationship with him? 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application:

 

In your own life, do you have a sense of being “chosen” by Jesus? How would it make a difference if you were to live into that idea more fully?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you feel you are doing staying connected to Jesus in love and friendship? Do you see a corresponding level of “fruitfulness” in your life? What can you do to better “remain in him?”

Light of the World: John 14:1-14

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On Sunday, Peter talked about Jesus’ restoration of his friend Peter, after he had denied him three times. That brought us to the end of John’s gospel, and now we are going back to the part we skipped: John 14-16, a section of teaching that is often called Jesus’ “farewell discourse.”

 

 

Opening Discussion:

Have you ever experienced a worship service, ritual, or other event that was part of a religious tradition outside of Christianity? What was your experience like? 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 14:1-3

 

Jesus is using language familiar to people in his own day. After a man and woman were ceremonially “betrothed,” or engaged, the man would return to his parents’ home to begin construction on an attached dwelling for the two of them to begin their married life. This meant a period of prolonged separation. But when he had finished their new home/room, the groom would return for his bride, to take her back for a joyous wedding celebration and to live with him from that point forward. 

 

How does this cultural knowledge shed greater light on what Jesus is trying to convey to his disciples here?

 

 

 

 

 

How should this affect our own outlook/worldview today?

 

 

 

 

Read John 14:4-11.

 

 

 

 

What is the overall message of this passage?

 

 

In verse 6, Jesus describes himself as three things: 

 

1.    The way – This word also means road, and was used to describe the early Christian movement (e.g. Acts 9:2, 22:4-5). The only other time it is used in John is 1:23.

2.    The truth – This word has been important in John, used so far in 1:14, 17; 3:21; 4:23, 24; 5:33; 8:32-46. 

3.    The life – This is a main theme, used over 30 times, often with the adjective “eternal”

 

What is the significance of each of these terms? What is Jesus trying to convey to his disciples about why he came and what he offered people?

 

 

 

The second half of verse 6 says, “no one can come to the father except through me.” This can sound exclusive and narrow in our multi-faith society. What do you think Jesus wanted to communicate by saying this? Consider especially the surrounding context.

 

 

 

 

Do you think God can truly be found in other religions? To what extent? Why/why not? 

 

 

 

 

Read John 14:12-14.

 

What do you think it means to ask for something “in Jesus’ name”?

 

 

 

 

Why did Jesus’ departure open up the possibility of his disciples doing “even greater works”?

 

 

 

 

It seems Jesus gives us a blank cheque: “Ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Yet, this doesn’t seem to match our experience of reality. Why do you think this is?

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

In the very first verse of this passage, Jesus gives a simple remedy for a troubled heart. Where in your life is your heart troubled, and how can trusting God and Jesus bring peace?

 

 

Light of the World: John 20:19-31

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On Easter Sunday, Jeremy talked about Mary’s encounter with the risen Jesus in the garden outside his tomb. The main question being raised by the passage is, “Where is Jesus?” The answer? He’s alive and well, closer than we thought, and calling our name. Like Mary’s, our journeys often include five elements: a quest (for God, truth, purpose, etc.), an encounter (though we may not recognize it), a calling (a personal experience of Jesus), a response (turning to Jesus and acknowledging his proper role), and a mission (to tell about our own experience of meeting the risen Jesus and share his message).

 

Opening Discussion:

Can you identify any of the five elements Jeremy described on Sunday (reviewed above) in your own spiritual journey? Share a significant moment with the group.

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 20:19-23.

 

What stands out to you or speaks to you from that passage?

 

 

In his post-resurrection state, Jesus is often described as having some sort of a new, super-human existence, where he can “appear” in locked rooms, yet still have be a physical presence (e.g. eating Luke 24:42-43). Yet even before his resurrection he could do physically impossible things, like walking on water. How different do you think Jesus’ state was after his resurrection, compared to normal human existence?

 

 

 

Verses 21-22 are very significant, because they begin to shape the answer to “what comes next,” after the story John is telling ends. What do these passages tell us about how the story of “the Word who became flesh” continues after he ascends back to heaven?

 

 

 

What do you think v. 23 means? (Excerpt from commentary included on back page)

 

 

 

Read John 20:24-31

 

This is the third time Jesus says “peace be with you” to his disciples. What do you think is the significance of these words?

How does this passage treat the relationship between doubt and faith?

 

 

 

 

To this point in the gospel of John, there has been a lot of emphasis on “seeing and believing.” How does v. 29-31 signal a significant shift in how Jesus is to be related to? What is faith in Jesus based on now, rather than “seeing” personally?

 

 

 

 

Personal Application:

In what ways do you personally sense you have been sent into the world to continue the mission of Jesus?

 

 

 

 

How can you depend more fully on the Spirit’s empowerment in day to day life?

 

 

 

 

 

How are doubt and faith at work in your life? What do you need from Jesus to help you believe?

 

 

 

 

Light of the World: John 19:1-42

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On Sunday Peter talked about Jesus's trial before Pilot in Chapter 18. He spoke about how Jesus was steadfast in his identity and his mission, and how as his followers we too can be unwavering in our identity and mission.

Opening Discussion:

Have you ever been really excited about doing or getting something, but then found that it was very different from what you had anticipated? Were you disappointed or delighted? Share your story with your group.

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 19:1-16.

The kingship of Christ has been an ongoing theme in John’s gospel:

• When Jesus tells Nathanael that he had seen him under the fig tree (1:48-49), Nathanael responds “You are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

• In 6:15 the people try to force him to be king, but he slips away

• In 12:12-15 the people receive him into Jerusalem as king on Palm Sunday

• Much of Pilate’s questioning in 18:33-39 has to do with his kingship

• This all culminates with the sign over his head on the cross (19:19)

How was Jesus’ actual kingship different from what the people were expecting? Were they disappointed, or delighted?

Who killed Jesus? John makes it clear that the religious leaders are the ones who bring him in and insist on his death. The “crowd” shouts “crucify.” Pilate finds no fault in Jesus and tries four times to release him, but ultimately it is his decision, and his soldiers who nail him to the cross.

What might John be trying to tell us about “who killed Jesus?” How does it fit in with what he said in the prologue?

Where does Jesus say all power (or authority) ultimately comes from? What are the implications for all that is happening here?

Read John 19:17-42.

In light of the above account, read Isaiah 53:1-12. Though this reads like a description of Jesus’ death written by a Christian poet/theologian, it’s actually a prophecy written long before the time of Christ (the “Isaiah Scroll” found in the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrates it was not a later Christian addition). How does this prophecy line up with what John tells us about Jesus’ death?

Why do you think it was important to John (a Jew, who had only the Old Testament as the Bible) to demonstrate that the things happening to Jesus were “in order to fulfill Scripture”?

What else stands out to you from John’s description of Jesus’ crucifixion and death?

Personal Application

On your own this week, re-read the account of Jesus’ suffering and death, stopping after each section to thank him for what he endured for our sake.

Light of the World: John 18:1-27

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On Sunday Brad spoke about the prayer of Jesus found in chapter 17. He talked about how amazing it is to get a chance to listen in to Jesus's conversation with God. He discussed what we can learn about prayer, and about the way Jesus feels about us through this passage.

 

Opening Discussion:

The passage we are about to read is about Judas’ betrayal. Have you ever felt betrayed? How did you handle it?

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 18:1-11.

 

The word for a “contingent” of Roman soldiers generally indicated one tenth of a legion, and therefore about 600 men (though the number could vary). Why do you think the Jewish and Roman leaders thought it necessary to send so many people to arrest Jesus? For some insight, do a search for the word “arrest” in an online Bible and see how it has been used to this point in the Gospel of John. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jesus answers those who have come to arrest him, he says simply “I am” (the NLT adds the word “he” for clarity). Jesus has used this “I am” phrase again and again throughout John’s gospel, as a clever way of acknowledging his divine nature (see Exodus 3:13-14 for the background). What do you think is the significance of the fact that the hundreds of people who had come to arrest him fell back when he pronounced those words? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus stops Peter (and the other disciples) from defending him for two reasons: first, he wants to ensure they escape safely, and second, he says, “Shall I not drink from the cupof suffering the Father has given me?” What had Jesus just gone through that brought him to that point of confidence? (Read Mathew 26:36-46)

 

 

 

 

Commentators have often pointed out that Jesus’ ultimate “yes” to God in accepting the cup he had been given takes place in a garden. How does this compare with the very first “garden” story we find in Genesis 3?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Romans 5:12-19for Paul’s reflection on what happened in the two gardens. How does this passage give greater insight into what happened when Jesus was obedient to God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ReadJohn 18:12-27. Does anything further stand out to you in the last part of the passage?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

How do you think you would have responded if you were in Peter’s situation? Would you have acknowledged Jesus or denied him? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think of your own experiences of betrayal, how does it help to know that Jesus went through a similar situation?

Light of the World - John 13:18-38

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On Sunday Jeremy talked about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. It’s a powerful image, especially knowing that Jesus was the Word who was with God in the beginning, through whom all things were created. As his disciples today, we too are called to wash each other’s feet, both by living as humble servants, but also by taking an interest in each other’s “sanctification” (ongoing spiritual growth and cleansing).

Opening Discussion:

Have you ever observed or taken part in a footwashing service or ceremony? If so, what was your experience like?

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 13:18-30.

Who is “the disciple Jesus loved” in verse 23? What is John trying to get across by using this phrase? (see insert section on p. 39 if you’re stuck)

John likes to show us what is going on “behind the scenes” of the events of Jesus life. Last week we saw how he is foreshadowing a great cosmic clash between Jesus and Satan (12:31). This week, Satan enters the picture again, having “prompted” Judas to betray Jesus (v. 2), and later “entering” him (v. 27). How much freedom/responsibility do you think Judas exercised in his betrayal of Jesus? If John isn’t saying “the devil made him do it,” what else might he be saying?

How does Jesus’ statement “I know the ones I have chosen” in v. 18 apply to Judas?

How does the phrase “going out into the night” in verse 30 relate to one of the major themes of John’s gospel? What is the implication?

Read John 13:31-38.

Notice Jesus continues on the theme of “glory” that we looked at last week (12:28, etc.). Why do you think John and Jesus are emphasizing glory in such an increasingly dark moment?

Jesus gives his disciples a “new” commandment, to love each other. However, this isn’t really anything new—the Old Testament taught love as well (e.g. Lev 19:18). What is different about the kind of love Jesus is asking his disciples to show (especially in light of the what has just happened and what is about to happen)?

Jesus says that our love will be the proof of discipleship to the world at large. How did the early church live into this? How do you think we are doing today?

Personal Application

Do you think anyone would be able to point to the amount/quality of love in your life and identify you as a disciple of Jesus because of it? How can you show more love?

Peter thinks he is ready and willing to follow Jesus to his death, but Jesus knows better. What does this have to say about how Jesus sees our own commitment to him?

Light of the World - John 12:20-50

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On Sunday Jeremy talked about two examples of proper responses to Jesus: the grateful affection of Mary, and the hopeful exuberance of the crowd who welcomed him into Jerusalem. We were challenged to include these kinds of reactions in our own responses to Jesus. The conversation we will cover today takes place (presumably) on Palm Sunday, after Jesus has ridden in victoriously and enthusiasm about him was once again at fever pitch.

 

Opening Discussion:

The word “glory” is often used in the Bible, and occasionally in everyday language. What do you think it means? What kind of experience would it describe in life today? Try to come up with a definition based on your own impressions (and maybe with a little help from Google!)

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 12:20-36

 

In two previous scenes (2:4, 7:30), Jesus explains that his time had not yet come. But in v. 23 he declares that “the time has come,” and specifically for him to enter his glory. What are the implications of this? How is all of this related to “glory” and how you defined it above?

 

 

 

 

Read Daniel 7:13-14 (in the NIV preferably). It is this passage from which one of Jesus’ favourite names for himself comes, “the Son of Man.” How does it shed light on what Jesus is saying…and how the people respond in v. 34?

 

 

 

 

Interesting Tidbit:In the Greek language of the New Testament, v. 23 reads more literally “It is arrived!”, which has a grammatical construction that is very similar to Jesus’ final words from the cross in 19:30, “It is finished!” These two pronouncements can be seen as bookends to Jesus’ final days, his “passion.”

 

 

 

 

How is Jesus’ wheat analogy in v. 24 connected with his invitation to follow him? How is this reminiscent of other times he invited people to become disciples?

 

 

In v. 31, Jesus refers to Satan as “the ruler of this world,” who is about to be “cast out.” What does this tell us about what is going on “behind the scenes” (something John is uniquely interested in helping us understand)?

 

 

 

 

Read John 12:37-50

 

With this passage, John brings to a close the first part of his gospel (sometimes called the “book” of signs) and prepares for the second section (the “book” of glory). How does it serve to sum up the journey John has brought us on so far? How do you think John envisioned it challenging his readers to examine their own faith?

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

 

We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even when that means he leads us to the cross. But v. 27 lets us know that even Jesus struggled and was “deeply troubled” by what he needed to face for God’s sake. Is there anything God is calling you to that is emotionally difficult for you? How does Jesus example in this passage give you courage and hope?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gospel so far has called us to consider our response to Jesus. How do verses 42–43 challenge you personally to consider your own faith in Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are there any other things from this passage that challenge you to change your life and your thinking?

Light of the World - John 11:45-57

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On Sunday Glen Taylor shared about the raising of Lazarus, and particularly about how Jesus is present and weeps with us in our sufferings. Today’s passage gives an account of the response of the people. But first we will review what we’ve read so far.

Opening Discussion:

If you could go back in time and be present for one of the stories we have read so far in John, what would it be and why?

Looking at Scripture:

On Sunday we looked at the final of seven “signs” that John has narrated, powerful miracles that Jesus performed that were meant to point to deeper realities. Skim back through what we have read so far, starting at chapter 2 (v. 11 describes it as the “first sign”). List the signs below, and what you think they were meant to “point toward” or reveal about Jesus.

Sign Meaning

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

What is the overall effect of these seven signs? What kind of picture are we supposed to get about who Jesus is?

Read John 11:45-57.

Clearly after the amazing miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, excitement about him would have spread like wildfire. But once again, the religious leaders rain on the parade. What is it that they are so concerned about that they cannot recognize the Messiah in their midst?

What is ironic about what Caiaphas said about Jesus, and how it was to come true? What does this teach us about who God can use and how he can work?

In response to the negative attention and threat on his life, Jesus withdraws to a place “near the wilderness.” Why did he withdraw when he knew he was going to die anyway? What kinds of things does the wilderness stand for in the Bible (scan the New Testament results of an online Bible search for the word wilderness)?

John ends this chapter talking about Passover, with people wondering if Jesus will come during the feast. How is the story John is telling intimately connected with the meaning of Passover?

Application:

How does this passage (and the seven signs) affect our lives today? How should we live differently in light of the account John has given?

Light of the World - John 10:1-42

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On Sunday we looked at the healing of the man who was born blind. This passage challenged us to think about our own reaction to Jesus—whether, like the religious people, we refused to believe/see, like the parents, we sit on the fence out of fear, or like the blind man, we respond in obedience, faith, and worship. Today’s passage is a famous speech of Jesus gives in the context immediately following the healing.

 

 

Opening Discussion:

If you were to describe yourself as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 10:1-16.

 

Jesus describes a relationship between a shepherd (himself) and his sheep (his followers). List the characteristics of each from the passage.

 

Sheep                                                                          Shepherd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is Jesus talking about in v. 16? Why is this significant for us today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who do you think the “thief” is in the analogy? What about the “hired hand”? The wolf?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about Jesus’ words in the context of the healing of the blind man that has just happened in chapter 9. In that story, who has listened to Jesus? Who have acted more like thieves/wolves? Who have run away like hired hands? Does reflecting on it in context change any of your previous answers? 

 

 

 

Read John 10:17-42.John continues to build the tension surrounding Jesus and his identity, and helps us understand that Jesus knew where he was headed (meaning, the cross wasn’t some unfortunate or unforeseen accident). 

 

Discuss any insights or questions you might have from this latter part of the passage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

Two thousand years later, we are still included in Jesus’ shepherd-sheep analogy. Review the lists that describe the role/characteristics of the shepherd and the sheep. With these in mind:

 

1.    How have you seen Jesus fulfill his role as the Good Shepherd in your life?

 

 

 

2.    How are you doing at fulfilling your role as one of his sheep?

 

 

 

3.    Can you think of any other “sheep” passages from the Bible that might describe your own life?

 

 

Just for fun, take a look at “Do sheep only obey their Master's voice?” on YouTube. It gives a great visual of what we’ve been talking about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e45dVgWgV64

Light of the World - John 8:31-59

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On Sunday Jeremy talked about Jesus’ invitation to those who were thirsty to come to him and drink. Despite this, we often turn to other sources to get our spiritual thirst quenched. The challenge is to become aware of this pattern and learn to rely on the Spirit more. 

 

Opening Discussion:

Circle the words that best describe the approach you take when you are in a disagreement/conflict:

-      clam up                                   - angry                                     - calm

-      power up                                - uncomfortable                      - clear

-      direct                                      - smooth it over                     - afraid

-      stumble over words               - argumentative                       - avoidant

-      defensive                                 - persistent                              - patient

-      logical                                      - emotional                             - threatened

-      other(s): __________           - ____________                   - ____________

 

Now, which of these characteristics would you like to find in the other personyou are having a disagreement/conflict with?

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 8:31-59.

 

Make a list of the negative things Jesus is says about his hearers of in this passage:

-      e.g. slaves to sin                                        - 

-                                                                        -

-                                                                        -

-                                                                        -

-                                                                        -

 

 

 

Who is he accusing of these things? So far in this gospel Jesus has reserved some of his harshest words for the religious leaders (Pharisees, etc.). However, they are not mentioned in this passage. Why do you think he is being so direct with/hard on this audience?

 

 

 

 

How does this passage help us get a greater understanding of how Jesus understood himself and his mission? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in a society in which Jesus words in this conversation would likely be viewed as extremely rude and arrogant. If Jesus was Canadian and speaking to a crowd in 21stcentury Canada, do you think he would have softened or changed his message? Why/why not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Application

Jesus is not afraid to offend even those who are just starting to believe in him. There is no question about where he stands and what he believes to be true. He speaks with great confidence and directness—even when delivering a challenging and unpopular message. 

 

How can we, as his followers, better walk in his footsteps when it comes to being clear on and direct about what we believe? How is this in tension with our desire to overcome negative stereotypes against Christians and not turn people off? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there anyone in your life you could give the gift of being clearer and more direct with, even if it meant risking confrontation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light of the World - John 8:1-30

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Our service Sunday was cancelled, and we will backtrack next Sunday. This week we continue with a passage that prompts a different kind of discussion about the nature of the Bible itself.

 

Opening Discussion:

2 Timothy 3:16says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Most Christians believe the Bible is inspired by God, but there is much debate about what that means. Words and phrases like “trustworthy,” “authoritative,” “inerrant” (a word that the Bible doesn’t use of itself) and “in the original manuscripts” (which, of course, have long ago disintegrated) are often used in statements about how Scripture is seen, but often seem like verbal gymnastics.

 

What is your own view of the inspiration of Scripture? How did God inspire it? To what degreeis it inspired? Note: Don’t worry about whether it’s the “right” view or the one shared by others in your group. This is a time for honest sharing/listening, not a time to make sure everyone is “in line.” It’s important to think this through for ourselves, not just parrot what we’ve heard. If, after discussion, you want to check out our denomination’s statement on Scripture, see https://www.brethrenchurch.org/bible)

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 7:53-8:11.

 

The reason we began with a discussion of the inspiration of Scripture is that the words we find in the first part of our passage today can complicate how we view the Bible: “[The most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include…].” Most modern translations say something similar, and some even italicize the passage. Reading a statement like this about a passage as well-known and beloved as the one we just read can make us wonder what we cantrust in the Bible. 

 

Today we have thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, stretching back all the way to the first few centuries after the books were first written. Copies of copies of copies of copies were meticulously made, but along the way small changes and errors crept in. “Textual criticism” is the art/science of determining what the originals likely said. You will see many notes about possible discrepancies in the footnotes of your Bible. However, what is most remarkable is not that there are minor variances here and there, but that there is so much consistency across the manuscripts that very few notes like this one are necessary!

 

The manuscripts the KJV was based on contained this story; but scholars have since discovered much older manuscripts which do not include this particular section. They are almost certain it was not original to the gospel, but a later addition. So today’s translators are faced with a difficult choice: Should they leave out this beloved passage? Or should they leave it in, because of its popularity and familiarity? What would you have done?

Read John 8:12-20.

 

Jesus claims to be the light of the world, but the self-righteous religious leaders (Pharisees) were skeptical. Earlier in his gospel, John explained why some people responded negatively to the light Jesus brought (use the thematic cross references in the side-columns if needed to find the passage). What might this tell us about the real reasons the religious leaders didn’t accept Jesus? What might it tell us about self-righteous religious people today? What might it tell us about ourselves?

 

 

 

In verse 13, the Pharisees are again questioning Jesus’ authority (v. 13). Since Jesus hadn’t trained under a Rabbi, he didn’t have any of the proper credentials (it would almost be like someone practicing medicine without a license today). If you were them, how would you have felt about or reacted to his answer (vv. 14-19)? 

 

 

 

Read John 8:21-30

 

How is Jesus (and John) foreshadowing what is going to happen to him in the future? Why is it important that we know that Jesus was aware that his life was moving toward the cross?

 

 

 

 

In verse 28, the translators have added the words “on the cross” to clarify for us what they think Jesus meant (note that this is one of the weaknesses of a translation like the NLT we are using, in that while it is easier to read, it is sometimes less accurate). In the literal reading, Jesus told them they would recognize him once they had “lifted him up,” a word that could have a very positive sense like “exalt” or “praise.” How does this add a different sense to what he is saying to them?

 

 

 

 

Twice in this passage we see the phrase “I am” in small caps (vv. 24, 28). What is the significance of this phrase, and what does it tell us about how Jesus saw himself (see Exodus 3:14)?

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s study has been more analytical than most. This is a passage that is admittedly hard to pull practical application from. What is it that stands out most to you about this passage, and how will it affect your life?

Light of the World: John 6:60-7:31

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This Sunday we covered John 6:30-59 in which Jesus describes himself as the bread of life that has been sent down from heaven. Jesus used the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood to describe the type of unique and intimate relationship that we are to have with him. We found that in order to enter this relationship with Jesus we ought to imitate the way he interacts with his heavenly father: spending time with him in prayer, relying on him for strength and direction, and trusting his ways and his purposes. If we can relate to Jesus in these ways he can satisfy the spiritual hunger for something more that we all experience in in our lives. He can become a part of us and offer us true joy, purpose, hope and the gift of eternal life.

 

 

Opening Discussion:

The disciples response to Jesus talking about eating and drinking his flesh and blood is: “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” What is one thing about the Christian faith that you (or others) find hard to understand and/or accept?

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 6:60-7:31 (you may want to split it into parts and have different people read).  

 

We believe these events/conversations happened, and that God oversaw them being written down. But he used a human author who, like all authors, made careful choices about what to say and how to say it. What do you think John is trying to make his readers think and feel in the way that he is unfolding the story here?

 

 

 

Make a list of all the different things that are talked about in this passage (examples below):

 

-      Disciples don’t understand/can’t accept teaching            - Spirit gives life, not human effort

-      People can only come to Jesus w/ Father‘s help              -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

-                                                                                                -

See if you can identify a couple of major or repeated themes in the passage. What are the main things that stand out to you? Don’t worry if this doesn’t come easily—this is a complex passage, and there’s no “right” answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even when he was right there, in the flesh, doing miracles, people just didn’t know what to do with Jesus—not the crowds, not the religious leaders, not his disciples, not even his own brothers. Two thousand years later, people still don’t know how to react to him. How are people’s reactions/struggles today similar to or different from their reactions back then? How do these fit with your own reactions to Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The note on 6:66 gives a few reasons why people may have been leaving Jesus. What kinds of things are most likely to cause you to think about giving up your faith (or keep you from embracing faith in the first place)? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toward the end of his gospel, John lets us in on his goal in writing: “These are written that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you will have life by the power of his name” (20:31). Believing in Jesus—and continuing to believe in him when things get confusing or difficult—is hard. It always has been, as today’s passage illustrates. But Pastor John is trying to convey to his original audience (and us today) that believing is worth it—it’s the very path to eternal life itself. End by praying for each other that you would have faith to keep believing, even when you’re confused or discouraged (if appropriate in your group, you may want to ask if anyone would like to be prayed for specifically in this area).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light of the World: John 6:14-29

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On Sunday Jeremy talked about the miraculous feeding of thousands of people from just five small loaves and two small fish. It was an incredible (and delicious!) miracle, and today’s passage flows directly from it. 

 

Opening Discussion:

It’s been said that the way to a “man’s” heart is through his stomach—but surely that applies to more than just men! Have you ever had someone (a newborn, a pet, a spouse, a child, a friend) who seemed more interested in what you could feedthem than in you? Describe the situation and how it made you feel.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 6:14-29. We’ll use the three step process we learned a couple of weeks ago to think it through.

 

1.   Observation – What does it say? 

 

How do people react to the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand? Who did they believe he was? Where have we heard this term already in John’s gospel? 

 

 

 

 

What role did they want to assign to Jesus? Why do you think Jesus was resistant to this?

 

 

 

 

 

Where was Jesus when the disciples set out in the boat? What do you think he was doing, and why?

 

 

 

 

What does Jesus say God ultimately wants from people?

 

 

 

John 2:24 says that even though people were reacting positively to him, Jesus didn’t trust their sincerity, because he was able to see into their hearts. We saw a glimpse of this last week when he said that the only reason people were paying attention to him was to see signs and wonders (4:48, loose paraphrase). We see this again this week. Why does Jesus say people are paying attention to him at this point?

 

 

 

 

 

2.   Interpretation – What does it mean?

 

The people Jesus fed wanted to make him king—theirkind of king. What kinds of roles do people try to force Jesus into today? What do you think John would have to say about putting Jesus into “a box” of our own desires/understanding?

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is critical that people are just following him because he fed them. What are some other less-than-perfect motives for following Jesus that we might struggle with today?

                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think he means that faith/belief/trust is the “only” thing God wants (v. 29)? List out some other things that you think God might alsowant from us. What is the relationship of each of them to believing (trusting/having faith in) “in the one he has sent?”

 

 

 

 

 

3.   Application – What does it mean to me?

 

In your own life, how are you tempted to put Jesus “in a box?” What steps can you take to “let him out?”

 

 

 

 

What else can we learn from this passage that applies to our lives?

 

Light of the World: John 5:16-47

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This Sunday, Jeremy shared the healing of the disabled man by the pool, pointing out the parallels to the way that God works in our lives on a spiritual level. Now we’ll look at the conversation that took place (more of a monologue, really) with the religious leaders immediately afterward.

 

Opening Discussion:

If Jesus were to have come to 21stcentury Muskoka (instead of 1stcentury Palestine), how do you think people would have reacted to him?

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 5:16-30.

 

Why is Jesus giving this speech? What is he responding to (see vv. 9-15)? 

 

 

 

Make a list of Jesus’ claims about himself in this passage. Which ones do you think would have been considered blasphemous (or borderline) by those who were listening to him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In one sentence, sum up what you think Jesus is trying to get across here.

 

 

 

 

Take a moment to glance over John’s prologue (John 1:1-18). How are the themes that he introduces in his opening section taking shape in this passage? 

 

 

 

 

 

How are Jesus’ words in vv. 25-26 a description of what had just happened with the disabled man by the pool?

 

Read John 5:31-47.

 

What are the different things Jesus points to as evidence (witnesses) that his ministry is valid?

 

 

 

 

How does Jesus explain the fact that people don’t believe in him?

 

 

 

 

How does Jesus criticize their use of the Bible? Do you think there are any parallels in our lives and churches today?

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

In the same way that Jesus was trying to explain himself to the Jewish leaders who were criticizing him, John is trying to convey something to his readers as he writes this. What do you think there is for us to learn from these passages:

 

-      About Jesus and how we can relate to him in our lives today?

 

 

 

 

-      About ourselves, and how we can live as disciples (imitators) of Jesus?

 

 

 

 

-      About the way people react to Christianity in our society?

 

 

 

 

-      About anything else?

Light of the World - John 4:43-54

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Exploring the context of a biblical story can reveal a more complete and impactful understanding of the passage. This week Peter looked at the context for the story of Jesus and the disciples in Samaria, and Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. We saw that when we find ourselves out of necessity in places we would rather not be, there is often a reason that we are there. Even in these places God wants to use us to share the good news of Jesus with those around us, no matter how big the barriers between us may seem.

Opening Discussion:

Do you think miraculous healings happen today? Have you ever witnessed or heard of a healing that you thought was genuine?

Intro:

So far in John’s gospel, Jesus called together a small group of followers; turned water to wine (a first “sign” that only a few people knew about); staged a scene in the temple when he drove out money-changers and livestock-sellers with a whip; and performed some miracles in Jerusalem (that John doesn’t give us details about (2:23)). People were starting to pay attention—including people who had known him all his life, who happened to be in Jerusalem for the festival.

In today’s passage John relates his trip back to his home region (Galilee), where for thirty years he had been known as Jesus, son of Joseph, the builder/carpenter. What do you think this first appearance “back home” would have felt: 1) for Jesus? 2) for the disciples? 3) for the people who had known him as a tradesman? 4) for his family?

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 4:43-54.

How does the passage say the Galileans received him? What does v. 48 tell us about how Jesus perceived their welcome (the “you” in the passage is plural, addressed to more than just the man from Capernaum)?

There seems to be an edge of annoyance in Jesus’ statement in v. 48. Why do you think that is? Take a look at Luke 11:29-32 for a similar statement.

What can we know about the man who came seeking healing for his son? What does this tell us about who the message of Jesus is for?

The journey from Capernaum to Cana was over 20 miles on a road that climbed over 1350 feet. What do you think it was like for the man to walk there, alone, in the hopes of finding Jesus? What was going through his mind as he walked?

What do you think was going through the man’s mind as he traveled back toward his home? How do you think he felt when he met the servants on the road the next day, who gave him the good news? How did he respond to the miracle?

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt God had promised something good for you or a loved one, but you didn’t see it right away? What was it like to live in the in-between time?

How does this passage present a tension between seeing (miracles and signs) and believing (what Jesus says)? What do you think we can learn about how the two are related, and which is most important?

How can we cultivate the kind of faith that allows us to trust Jesus before we see him work?

Sum up the message of this passage in one sentence (you might want to start with “Jesus wants…”):

John 3:1-36 - Born Again

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On Sunday Jeremy discussed the cleansing of the Temple, pointing out that when Jesus shows up he doesn’t always bring wine (as we discussed last week). Sometimes he brings a “whip,” to drive out of his temple (and our lives) what should not be there. Jeremy also introduced a simple 3-step process to guide study of the Bible: What does it say? (observation) What does it mean? (interpretation) What does it mean to me? (application). 

 

Note:Today we have a whole chapter to get through.You may want to engage at a quicker pace than normal! If you don’t get it all done in the group, finish reading the chapter at home, reflecting on the questions on your own.

 

Opening Discussion:

Write down the first five words that come to your mind when you think of the word “childbirth.” Briefly share with your group what you wrote and why.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

Read John 3:1-15.

 

Observation - what does it say?

What kind of person was Nicodemus? Why do you think he came to Jesus “after dark”? (See notes in Study Bible for help answering both questions).

 

 

What are the two things Jesus tells Nicodemus can’t happen unless he is “born again?” What do you think Jesus is trying to get across to him?

 

 

Do you have any other observations?

 

 

Interpretation – what does it mean?

What do you think it means to be “born again” (or the word could also be translated “born from above”)? How does the opening discussion on childbirth shed light on what this experience might be like?

 

 

Application – what does it mean to me?

How have you experienced spiritual rebirth in your life? Where is God at work now?

 

Read John 3:16-21.

 

Observation – What does it say?

How does this passage relate back to John’s prologue for the book (1:1-18)?

 

 

 

What is the bronze serpent referred to in v. 14? What are the parallels John is making between what happened to the Israelites and what is happening through Jesus? (Have someone in your group read the note and look up the passage in the book of Numbers).

 

 

 

Interpretation – What does it mean?

John 3:16 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible, often used as a way to sum up the entire gospel in one verse. What extra meaning does the verse take on when read in the surrounding context? What has chapter 3 been trying to teach about Jesus and what it means to follow him (or be a Christian) so far?

 

 

 

Application – What does it mean to me?

How can you “lift Jesus up” in your life? What other points of application can you see here?

 

Read John 3:22-36.

 

Observation - What does it say?

In point form, summarize how John responds to his jealous disciples:

 

 

 

Interpretation – What does it mean?

What kind of character traits does John display in his response? How does this enable him to better serve God in his specific calling/vocation (as the one to prepare the way for the Lord)?

 

 

 

 

Application – What does it mean to me?

How can John the Baptist be an example to us as we try to fulfill our own vocations? What can we learn from his attitude and actions?

Discussion Questions: John 2:1-12

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On Sunday, Jeremy took us through John 1:35-51, the calling of the first disciples. John offers a gradual, relational perspective on the call to discipleship, reminding us that sometimes “follow me” (full commitment to Jesus) is preceded by a time of “come and see” (getting to know him). Most of the disciples come to Jesus because of the invitation of a friend (or brother). But each one believes because of their own experience—as the initially skeptical Nathanael reminds us, when Jesus wows him by knowing him better than he should have! Today we look at Jesus’ first miracle, and how that further solidified their belief in him.

 

 

Opening Discussion:

Many people today think God is the ultimate kill-joy. They feel that if they were to “become religious,” it would take away everything that is fun and brings fullness to their lives. Why do you think this is such a popular notion? To what extent do you think it is true or un-true?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Scripture:

On Sunday, Jeremy described the importance of bringing our imagination to our reading of Scripture, putting ourselves in the passage to experience the story being told. Have someone in your group read John 2:1-12slowly, while the rest of you close your eyes and imagine what it would have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples experiencing the events as they unfolded.

 

What stands out to you initially about this passage? Do you have any questions or points of confusion? Are any of them answered by the study notes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Study Bible note on 2:1-3that explains what weddings were typically like, and why running out of wine was such a big deal. Why do you think Jesus chose this as the first occasion to “reveal his glory” (v. 11)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

While some have argued that this “wine” was actually grape juice, verse 10 makes it pretty clear that this was typical wine that contained alcohol. Do a little math—how much wine did Jesus make? How much might it have cost to buy that much today? What does this have to say about the kind of Messiah Jesus would be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that John is describing how the Creator God (the Word) became flesh and lived among us (1:1-14). What does this miracle and the context in which it happened tell us about the character of God and the nature of his kingdom? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Application

Think about the kinds of embarrassing, everyday problems that you run into. How would you fill in this sentence: If Jesus cares about a wedding that runs out of wine, that must mean he also cares about…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there any area of your life you are afraid to turn over to God because you’re afraid he will ruin your fun or kill your joy? How can this passage help address that fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can we learn from the kind of faith that Jesus’ mother, Mary, displays in him in this passage? Is there an area in your life where you need to approach Jesus with the same kind of persistence and trust that she does?

 

 

 

Light of the World - Week One - John 1:19-34

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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. 

 

 

 

Personal Application:

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.