Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Have you ever been lost and could not find your way? Perhaps you knew where you wanted to go but not how to get there from where you were. I remember when my son learned to drive; he was clueless about how to get anywhere! I realized that teaching him “the way” would be as important as teaching him how to driveJ
This week the disciples reveal that they are about as clueless as my son as to the way to get where they want to go!
Read John 11:55-57; 12:20-33.
Diamonds in the Word: Read the entire passage John 11:55-12:33; we have to skip parts of it because of time. Notice the main events in this section.
Some Greeks (meaning Gentiles23) approached Philip about speaking to Jesus. Jesus’ response indicates that their interest was a signal that His hour had now come.
1. Let’s track what Jesus has said about the coming of “His hour” so far in John. Write down what He said and how it applied to the situation at hand. You will have to read some surrounding verses to get the context. What do you learn about “His hour”?
a. Jn. 2:4
b. Jn. 7:30
c. Jn. 8:20
2. What do you learn from Jesus’ teaching in 12:23-33 about the significance of His hour?
4. What happened in 12:27-30? How would you have felt if you had been a bystander?
5. Sharing question: The essential point of Jesus’ prayer in John 12:27-28a is a tough one for most of us to pray. Share with your group a situation when you came to the place where you could pray a similar prayer for God’s will rather than your own. What brought you to the place where you changed your prayer?
6. Responding to God: If you are in a tough situation right now in your life, pray for the grace to accept God’s will rather than your own. Whatever your situation, pray for the glory of God in the place where you find yourself. You may want to review kingdom prayers toward the back of this workbook. Write your prayer below.
Read John 12:37, 42-43.
Diamonds in the Word: Read the entire section, John 12:34-50. Note the motifs which we have already seen throughout John: light/ darkness, unity between Jesus and the Father, and belief/unbelief.
7. What insights does John give us in these verses about Jesus’ acceptance among the Jews? (The rulers, leaders, or authorities “denote members of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews.”24) Compare Gal. 1:10 with vv. 42-43.
8. Sharing question: We are all tempted to please people rather than God. Are you more a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser? What people or in what situations are you most prone to choose to please people instead of God?
We now get to John 13, where the book divides between what Burge calls the “Book of Signs” (chapters 1-12) and the “Book of Glory” (chapters 13-21). He says, “The focus of the first half of John is on the signs of Jesus, evidences of his identity borne by miraculous works. The focus of the second half of John is on the hour. Jesus now must say farewell to his followers and begin his return to the Father through his arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.”25
Read John 13:1-17.
“Ancient sources show that footwashing was a degrading and lowly task … in no way do we find those with a ‘higher’ status washing the feet of those beneath them … [Jesus} is adopting the posture of a slave.”26
9. What was Jesus exemplifying to us by washing the disciples’ feet (13:12-17)? How can a church leader practically follow His example?
10. Sharing question: How would you have felt if Jesus had washed your feet? What is a practical way in which you can “wash the feet” of another believer? Is there something you can do this week—maybe for your husband, children, co-workers below you? If so, share with your group what you did and its effect.
11. Responding to God: Ask God for the humility to be a servant to others. Write a prayer or poem below.
Read John 13:18-30.
12. Why was Jesus so troubled, distressed, or upset (13:21)? (This is the same Greek word we saw in John 11:33 and 12:27.)
13. What have we, as John’s readers, already learned about this in John 6:70-71; 13:2, 11?
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your commentaries about John 13:18-30 only.
John 13:19 may be read as another of the ego eimi statements. The NET Bible editors find this uncertain.28 Carson explains: “Here the content of Jesus’ … reassurance is that they might believe that ego eimi—an everyday expression that can be devoid of theological overtones … or can call to mind the ineffable name of God, the I AM, the I AM WHAT I AM , , , the I AM HE of Is. 41:4; 43:10.”29 In other words, it is not sure whether this is meant as a reference to Jesus as the I AM or not.
15. Sharing question: Have you ever been betrayed in some way by a friend or relative? Perhaps the person slandered you or undermined you in some way. Have you been able to forgive her/him yet? If so, how did you come to the place of forgiveness?
16. Responding to God: Pray for God’s grace to forgive even those who have betrayed you. Write your thoughts below.
Read John 13:31-14:11.
Diamonds in the Word: Look up the Greek word in John 14:2 for the English word translated rooms or dwelling places. Read in your commentaries about this one verse.
17. What was Jesus’ I Am statement? (It’s this week’s memory verse.) What was the question that caused Him to give them this truth about Himself?
18. How does this I Am statement parallel what we have seen before?
19. Jesus’ claim to be “the way” is not a popular one in our day. Our world says that there are many ways; Jesus is simply an option. Jesus’ claim to exclusivity is not new in this verse. Read these verses and write down how they parallel “I am the way. . . no one comes to the Father except through me.”
a. John 3:3
b. John 3:18
c. John 5:24
d. John 6:53
e. John 8:24
f. John 10:9
20. Sharing question: How have you seen non-Christians react to Jesus’ statement that “no one comes to the Father except through me”?
21. Responding to God: Write a prayer thanking Jesus for willingly coming to earth to give you a way to the Father, knowing you were lost completely without His provision. Illustrate that prayer with a picture showing your hopeless situation with no way out.
Review John 14:1-11.
22. Read these verses and write down your insights as to why people reject Jesus’ statement that “no one comes to the Father except through me.”
a. John 3:19-20
b. John 5:39-40
c. John 5:44
d. John 7:16-17
e. 2 Cor. 4:3-4
23. What is the promise to believers in John 14:13-14?
Carson explains the condition involved in this promise: “Prayers in his name are prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 Jn. 5:14), and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God . . . is Jesus himself.”30
Diamonds in the Word: Read the rest of John 14. Take special note of what Jesus taught here on three topics: the Holy Spirit, the love that His followers have for Him, and His departure.
24. Sharing question: Considering the verses in #22, what are some ways that you can pray for your friends and family who have not yet believed in Jesus? Share with your group one particular person and the exact prayer you intend to pray for her/him.
25. Responding to God: Pray that prayer to God, and write it below.
Our stories this week are about reaching out to those who don’t believe with love and grace. We don’t always see results when we do so, but we know that salvation is from God who can use the seeds that we plant.
Ban and I started dating in high school in Chicago, but I came from the wrong side of the tracks, so really was not acceptable in their social gatherings. Nevertheless, we were secretly married in college, which didn't help the situation, but they were forced to accept it. While in college we had our first child, so we did spend a lot of time with his family. Many members of my husband's family wondered why I was so nice to my mother in law when she treated me so badly; however, whenever she made me cry, she was always confused and said she was only pointing out all of my faults for my own good.
One day when we were sitting and talking with Ban's parents, his Mom said, "Jan reminds me of Susie, the little girl next door, homely little thing, but there's something about her that you can't help but like". I was thrilled and when I was alone with my husband, I kept saying, "She likes me, your Mom likes me" and Ban said to me, "Hell will freeze over before my Mom likes you". Nevertheless, from that time on I was encouraged and always prayed for her.
As I prayed for her, God gave me a real love for her and enabled me to share the gospel and why I believed when I had an opportunity, but I tried never to be obnoxious. We lived in many different states with our 4 children, but visited them every year and wrote often. My mother in law developed rheumatoid arthritis while in her late forties and was in a wheel chair by the time she was 50. By the age of 60, she was in a nursing home. We were living in Houston when we received the unexpected news that she had died. We were able to find someone to stay with our children and we went to the funeral in Chicago. At the service, the black nurse's aid who had been with her the night before she died looked for me. She said that Mrs. Capron had told her to go to her funeral and find her daughter-in-law and tell her what had happened that night. The aid had led her to the Lord her last night and she wanted me to know that she'd see me in heaven. I can't wait for that day.
In my job as a mentor counselor, I was responsible for 10 brand new elementary school counselors. I visited each one each week to make sure they were not overwhelmed, and that they were following the state's guidelines for school counselors. Of course, you establish friendships along the way. You always have one that is more than a challenge. I will call mine Dave. Dave was one that barely got hired for the job due to his attitude. Counselors are happy, uplifting people, right? Not Dave. Everything was an "issue" for him. But, I accepted the challenge and away we went. He could do the job and do it well. He simply did not have the right attitude. I was always nice and encouraging to Dave and we talked many evenings at home.
Early in the year, Dave told me that he knew something was different about me and he wanted to be like me. I told him that what made me different was my love for Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I knew this hit a nerve for Dave, because Dave is Jewish. However, even though I talked a while about how the Lord had provided for me and how I knew that if I died tonight, I knew I would be in heaven, Dave said nothing. I knew he didn't know what to say. I never pushed Dave and I never tried to get him to go to church with me because I knew he wouldn't. We had many conversations throughout the year about our religions. Dave's attitude changed a lot in that year. We accepted each other's religion and were able to compare our religions.
I don't think Dave has accepted Christ, but he was nominated last year for Counselor of the Year, and his attitude is great. I haven't talked with him in over a year, but I know that if he does accept Christ, he'll call me. I still pray for him.
My Bible study group had a unique opportunity last year to minister to two Muslim ladies here from Turkey. One of the ladies in our group works with these two ladies who are here for jobs at the medical school. She was in the habit of completing her Bible study homework during her lunch hour. They noticed her working on it and started asking her questions. She shared with them what she was studying, which at that time was women of the Bible. She invited them to come visit our study and they agreed.
These women had been brought up with some rather distorted views of Christianity. They were told things such as Christians were worldly, vain, greedy, and promiscuous. They were curious to see if these things were really true.
Our group was very welcoming and non-judgmental. They answered their questions in a polite and respectful manner. The lectures seemed to interest them, and it was interesting to note how they avidly looked up the verses quoted in the Bible that the lady from our group had given them. Both ladies eventually stopped attending due to work constraints and the fact that one of them married a Muslim man who was not comfortable with her attending. However, I think we planted some good seeds and gave a good example to these women of who Christ really is and what being a Christian really means. The lady in our group is also a great example of how the little things we do can have a huge impact on others if we’re willing to be open and honest about what we believe.
23 “The word ‘Greeks’ . . . does not necessarily describe someone from Greece, but was a label for anyone not Jewish—that is, from a Jewish perspective, ‘Gentiles.’ (Burge, 342)
25 Burge, 363.
27 An easy way to see several translations at once is to go to bible.org and type in the verse at the top under “Search Bible.”
29 Carson, 471.
30 Carson, 497.