There is nothing like studying the life of Jesus to refresh us in our faith! The gospel of John shows us Jesus in a way that no other gospel does. It focuses on His identity and gives us wonderful pictures of His greatness. It is as if John takes snapshots of Jesus so that we get to know Him from different angles and perspectives.
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There is nothing like studying the life of Jesus to refresh us in our faith! The gospel of John shows us Jesus in a way that no other gospel does. It focuses on His identity and gives us wonderful pictures of His greatness. It is as if John takes snapshots of Jesus so that we get to know Him from different angles and perspectives.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says to the church at Ephesus, “But I have this against you: You have departed from your first love!” My prayer for us all as we come to this study is that we will fall in love with our Savior again, that we will return to our first love.
May God richly bless you as you commit to know Jesus in a new and fresh way through the study of John!
This study is designed to help you consistently spend time in God’s Word. You will gain more from this study if you do it day by day, answering just that day’s questions, rather than trying to stuff it all in at once. Each week’s lesson is divided into five days of homework to encourage you to listen daily to His voice. The Bible is God’s message to you, and He wants to speak with you personally.
Unless instructed otherwise, use only the Scriptures to answer the questions. Rather than go to commentaries or notes in a study Bible, enjoy the excitement of letting God speak to you from His word. When we need help in interpretation because of a difficult passage or because of cultural information, I will include it in the lesson. Trust God to help you answer the questions.
Although paraphrases are often easier to understand, it is best to study with a literal translation. Paraphrases are someone else’s interpretation, not the actual words. The NET Bible, the New King James, the New American Standard, or the New International are good choices.
A Precious Word from God—Each week you will have a verse to memorize that brings out an essential lesson or thought from the week’s study. Begin learning it the first day, hiding God’s Word in your heart.
Personal Stories—Each lesson includes a true story that relates the truths of the week’s lesson to a woman’s real life experience. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty! These stories will encourage you in your walk with God and your growth in godliness.
Specific types of questions included in each day’s work
Sharing questions are designed for you to write stories, insights, and applications from your own life. You will never be forced to share one of these answers aloud with your group, but growing in community with one another requires us to be open and vulnerable so volunteer to share. What you share may be a needed influence on another woman’s life.
Responding to God questions are reminders that we study God’s Word so that He can speak to us and we are changed thereby. We should be listening for His voice. These types of questions ask for a response to God’s personal message to you. I have found that writing out my prayers helps me to focus better on what I need to say to God. No one will ask you to read yours, but you should always feel free to share your response with your group. Sometimes you will be asked to draw a picture. Please try! Stick figures work very well.
Diamonds in the Word are optional questions designed for those who want to dig deeper. Some of the answers will be easy for even a beginning Bible student, and some will require more experience in God’s Word. As a group you will not discuss these, but the background that you gain will certainly enrich your personal study. Feel free to discuss these with your leader.
Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983.
Burge, Gary. The NIV Application Commentary: John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.
Carson, D.A. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991.
NET Bible: New English Translation. Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., 1996-2003.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God… . Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.
John 1:1, 14 (NET)
I met my husband on a blind date. I had actually seen him before, but I didn’t know him at all. When a friend approached me about going to a party with him, I naturally asked her to tell me more about him. In a sense, she gave me snapshots of who he is, not in a visual sense but through her words. The apostle John does something very similar in his gospel; he provides some snapshots of Jesus, some word pictures, for us so that we can get to know Him.
I invite you to walk with Jesus along with the apostle John as He does ministry in early first century Israel. Picture yourself right there as He teaches and performs great signs for the people. Get to know Him afresh and fall in love with Him all over again!
The apostle began his book with an introductory section, often called the Prologue. It’s as if he wanted to be sure we didn’t miss his main point about Jesus so he began with it. John also used the Prologue to introduce many of the themes that continue throughout the book; you may think of the Prologue as a summary of John’s message. As you begin your first day of study, ask God to draw you closer to Jesus as you focus on Him not only today but throughout the next eleven weeks.
Read John 1:1-18.
1. John identified Jesus as “the Word.” Focus on 1:1-3. Write down exactly what John says about the Word in these verses. Just make a list of everything you learn about Jesus in these three verses. Spend a few minutes meditating on the greatness of Jesus, simply from what John says in these few verses.
Our memory verse Precious Word from God for this week includes verse 1. At the end of the study you will have some great verses in your memory banks! And take it from me; memorize as much scripture as you can as early as you can—later you lose your mind!
Diamonds in the Word: Those of you who enjoy looking at the entire book in advance and building a book chart can begin work on that today as your optional work for the week. To do so, you need to read the entire book, but quickly! You will be looking for the obvious theme in each chapter rather than looking for details; we’ll see those as we study week by week. If you are unfamiliar with a book chart but would like to try it, basically find the theme of each chapter and then a theme for the book. The theme is really the most emphasized, repeated idea. You are looking for the big picture and thinking through how the book fits together. Many people find it helpful to write the themes in few words, making them more like short titles. You may want to draw it out on a chart, but that is not necessary.
You may be wondering why John called Jesus the Word. The Greek word used here is logos. According to F. F. Bruce, “Word” does not convey the complete thought involved in the Greek. It literally is “a means of communication, the expression of what is in one’s mind.”1 There is more to the meaning of logos than that, however. Bruce goes on to explain: “The true background to John’s thought and language is found … in Hebrew revelation. The ‘word of God’ in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation, and deliverance.”2
We want to look at some of that Old Testament background. Remember that those to whom John was writing would have been familiar with these passages.
2. Read Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26. What repeated phrase relates to the idea of Jesus’ being the “word” of God? What do you learn from these verses about the importance and power of God’s word?
3. Read these verses and write down how they relate to the verses in Gen. 1.
a. Ps. 33:6
b. Heb. 11:3
Over and over in the Old Testament, the word of the LORD “came to” the prophets who then spoke His word to the people and called upon them to “hear the word of the Lord,” meaning not only to listen but also to obey.
4. Read Heb. 1:1-2. If the nation of Israel was to listen and obey God’s word sent through the prophets, how important is it for us to hear and obey Jesus? Why?
5. Sharing question: What one specific action can you take to more carefully and more frequently listen to Jesus, God’s Word in the flesh? What can you do to be more disciplined in taking time to listen, maybe through this study? What can you do to better focus on His words? How can you listen well so that you take what He says to heart rather than simply hearing? If you are clueless, ask God for direction and listen for His answer.
6. Responding to God: Write out a prayer, asking God to give you the grace to follow through with your plans to better listen and obey. Ask Him to give you the desire to hear Jesus day-by-day and moment-by-moment as you walk with Him.
Review John 1:1-18, the Prologue of this gospel.
7. Focus now on 1:4-5. What does John say about Jesus in these verses that he didn’t say in the first three verses?
8. How does 1:3 relate to 1:4a?3 In other words, what is the relationship between the description of Jesus in 1:3 and the description of Him that begins 1:4? (Don’t make this hard!)
9. Read 1 John 1:5-7. How does the contrast of darkness and light in both 1 John and the gospel of John help you better understand Jesus?
10. How does it feel to know that Jesus is the light who came into the darkness for you? What emotions does that truth stir?
11. Sharing question: Consider your day so far. Has it involved more darkness or light? Why or how?
12. Responding to God: Ask God to shine His light on you today. Ask Him to speak to you and draw you close to Himself that you might better hear His voice. Pray Ps. 139:23. You may want to draw a picture of the light shining in your life.
Review John 1:1-18. Focus on 1:6-13.
13. The John mentioned in v. 6 is not the author of the book but John the Baptist. What was God’s purpose for him, according to vv. 7-8?
14. What is the contrast between the people mentioned in v. 11 and those in v. 12-13?
15. What does it take to receive Jesus, according to v. 12?
Read John 20:30-31.
16. These verses state John’s purpose in writing this book. Everything he says throughout the book is designed to accomplish this purpose. Why does John say that he wrote these things? What response does he hope the reader will have?
If you have not yet believed in Jesus, I want to invite you to continue with us through this study so that you can consider that step in your life.
17. Sharing question: Where are you on the journey of faith? How did you get where you are? Christians come to faith in a variety of ways, but it is a journey for each person. Share with your group where you are—have you already believed or are you seeking to know God and moving along the path? If you are uncomfortable sharing this with your group, seek out your small group leader and tell her where you are so that she can pray for God to lead you on your journey.
18. Responding to God: Write out a prayer thanking God for bringing you to this place on your journey.
Review John 1:1-18, focusing on vv. 14-18.
19. We read yesterday that John the Baptist testified of Jesus. Write down his words concerning Jesus. What was his point?
20. How does John the Baptist’s testimony in 1:15 support what the author already said in 1:1-14?
21. What have we received according to 1:16? If you have more than one translation of the Bible available, look up this verse in at least two versions.4
There are several possibilities for understanding what 1:16 says that Jesus has done for us. The NET Bible note says, “… It is this idea of favor given to one who has already received favor which lies behind 1:16, and this seems very probable as a good explanation of the meaning of the phrase.”5
22. What do you learn about how to know God in 1:18?
23. Sharing question: How do you see people searching for God in other ways? How have you helped others know God without preaching to them?
24. Responding to God: Thank Jesus for coming to earth and revealing God. Write down a prayer or poem of thanks.
Review the purpose statement in John 20:30-31.
25. In the purpose statement, the author mentions that Jesus performed many signs. Think of signs that you regularly see, such as road signs, etc. What is their purpose?
26. John 20:30 says “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples.” Go back and read the previous verses to discover the sign to which he is referring. How is the event in John 20 a sign?
27. Let’s take a quick look at the signs that John recorded to help accomplish his purpose in the book. Write down what each sign was. As you read them, write down any thoughts that you have about how each sign signifies something important about Jesus. We’ll obviously look at them more closely later.
a. Jn. 2:1-11
b. Jn. 4:46-54
c. Jn. 5:1-9
d. Jn. 6:1-14
e. Jn. 6:16-21
f. Jn. 9:1-11
g. Jn. 11:1-44
h. Jn. 20 (look back at the previous question to answer this one) and compare with Jn. 2:18-22. (Some scholars call this a sign, and others don’t. The scripture doesn’t use that term for it, but we will include it.)
28. Sharing question: How would you have felt if you had walked with Jesus as He performed these signs? Which one stands out to you most?
28. Responding to God: Ask God to help you see Jesus’ glory, as John described in 1:14. Ask Him to give you the same awe and amazement that you would have felt if you were the recipient of the miracle involved.
It’s easy to see God’ majesty and grandeur when I look at snow capped mountains or the vast ocean. But since I don’t live near a beach or ski resort, I look for God’s grandeur in more subtle places—by really stopping to observe and consider God’s handiwork up close and personal (where He can bombard my senses).
Usually, I look for God’s beauty just walking around the neighborhood with my dog. Sometimes I trace the veins in a leaf and think how fearfully and wonderfully God has made all things. Sometimes I feel God’s embrace in the breeze and know that His power working towards me is as limitless and mysterious as the wind. I love to listen to the chorus of birds and insects, especially at dusk or nighttime; then I hear God’s lullaby to me as He sings of His constant love and care. Of course, there are flowers to smell and leaves to crush that release their own fragrance; these remind me of the sweet smelling sacrifice of Christ and how I am to be a sweet aroma of Christ to others. Then, there’s the occasional taste—a rosemary leaf, honeysuckle nectar, even a blade of grass that witness to God’s diversity, His creativity. Sometimes it’s just the blueness of the sky, the drifting clouds, a certain sunset or the constant stars that all speak of God’s magnificence. Basically, I find that if I just get outside and away from the TV, Ipod, etc., worship is imminent.
As I read God’s word, I usually experience something in nature that reinforces what He is already telling me. Creation draws me to who God is; then it’s easy to respond with awe, wonder, thanksgiving and trust as I yield myself and cares to Him. More often than not I find God just like Elijah did—not in the whirlwind or the fire, but in the still small voice.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking at your surroundings in the lushness of a tropical forest in Hawaii or at the flat barren plains of West Texas; landscapes are beautiful. I love landscapes and am fascinated by clouds. Years and years ago, I was taking photos of landscapes and clouds long before fancy digital cameras and computer photo programs.
If you look at your surroundings closely, you will always be able to find God’s glory in His handiwork. I am reminded of the lyrics to Nichol Mullins’ version of the song Redeemer – “who taught the sun how to shine in the morning. Who taught the oceans you can only come this far. And who told the moon where to hide til evening…” Well, who indeed but our loving Redeemer who bought us back from sin and death with His own precious blood? The very One who created the beauty around us is the One who controls it as well. All that power, yet He loved us enough to Redeem us to Himself.
And did you know that God commanded the clouds and opened the doors of Heaven? (Psalm 78:23-25) Then He rained down provisions in abundance from Heaven for the children of Israel until they were full and satisfied. That is what He did for them, and He can surely do so for His children today. What are your needs? What are your desires? Look to the Heavens and watch as God moves the clouds and know that He is gloriously intervening in someone’s life in that very moment. See Him in His creation!
In my lifetime there have been unmet desires – things I wanted to do, but never accomplished. One of those is to learn to paint – and I’m not talking walls! I mean really paint – like an artist – the beauty of God’s creation in landscapes and clouds. I have never had an art class in my life and so far, my left brain has overpowered my right brain. In fact, I had not even held a paintbrush until a few months ago. But praise God, He controls my entire brain!
After a particularly difficult year, I attended a women’s evening session at our church where Sheila Walsh was the speaker. She talked about dreams. As I listened, I realized that somewhere along the way of life, my dreams and desires had gotten lost. As I stood in line to have Sheila sign her book, I became so emotional, I had to quickly leave. It was a humiliating moment for me, but one of God’s finest because the moment of realization He gave was the beginning of healing.
The next morning as I prayed and read the Bible, I asked the Lord to remind me of those things in my life that were healthy for me, but had gotten lost along the way – things that would glorify Him and satisfy the desires of my heart. Wow! What an amazing day He gave me! A few weeks before, I had bought a canvas, brushes and paints. (Talk about faith!) And so, on this day, I set up everything and prepared to make a mess. The praise CD was playing and I was praying, “Lord, show me how…” and I began to paint.
What transpired over the next 24 hours was miraculous indeed! It was the most amazing experience. I was filled with complete peace as I painted and sang praise music to the Lord. Yes, I had a photo in a book to go by and even instructions, but I wasn’t prepared for what God did that day. I really painted a landscape!! Hours flew by, the music played and the paint flowed. There is no doubt in my mind that God fulfilled the desires of my heart and brought peace to a wounded spirit that day by His Spirit. It was as if His Spirit rested on my hand guiding every stroke. God used me as His paintbrush and His glory was revealed in His creation through me. I am so blessed by His power and presence I am speechless.
And so, as you see the glory of God in His creation all around you – in the clouds, the oceans, the trees and even the desert – you can know these things about our Redeemer:
· His precious Son as the gift of life (John 3:16)
· The Peace of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-14) (Col 1:20)
· The Desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4) and
· His provisions in abundance (Psalm 78:23-25)
He made the heavens and the earth. He made you and will continue to work through you as you put your trust in Him. You are one of God’s greatest assets!
As I look back at what He has done in my life, I am so thankful. And I keep the painting above my desk so that as I am working, I am inspired in knowing once again that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!
1 F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983), 29.
3 An “a” refers to the first part of the verse; “b” would mean the second part, etc.
4 You can always go to an online resource which includes several translations, such as bible.org.
5 Note #15 in NET Bible: New English Translation (Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., 2003) on John 1:16.
“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John the Baptist in John 1:29 (NET)
My husband and I recently went to the rodeo with some friends. At one point they put little bitty kids on the backs of sheep, let them go, and watched to see how far they could last on the sheep’s back without falling off. I think it’s some kind of children’s bucking bronco contest!
I prefer to drive by fields and see sheep eating and lying down instead of being ridden by terrified kids who must terrify them as well!
Our snapshot of Jesus this week pictures Him as a lamb, but the image involves more than a pastoral setting and a life of eating and sleeping. The roots of this picture come from the Old Testament sacrificial system and the annual Jewish feast of Passover.
Review John 1:6-8 and read John 1:19-28.
1. What three roles did John the Baptist deny for himself when questioned by the priests and Levites? [Note: The text in 1:19 says that they were sent by the Jews. John does not use that term for the entire nation, but it “generally represents the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (particularly the temple) who are hostile to Jesus.”6]
2. Read these verses and write down what each prophesies. Why may these men have wanted to know if John fulfilled these roles?
a. Mal. 4:5
b. Deut. 18:15-19
Diamonds in the Word: Use your commentaries or go online and find some resources. Read about the three roles that John denied for himself to the Jewish leaders. Be sure and look up the verses mentioned. What additional insights do you gain?
Read John 1:29-36, but continue to keep the entire passage from John 1:19 in mind.
3. What role did John claim for himself as he quoted Is. 40:3 (v. 23)? How did his words in 1:19-36 fulfill his purpose? What did he say about Jesus? (List everything he said about Him!)
Gary Burge comments on 1:27: “Untying a sandal thong was a chore never done by disciples for their teacher. Rather, it was a chore reserved for slaves.”7
4. In light of that historical information, what was John the Baptist saying about Jesus and his relationship to Him?
5. Sharing question: Go back to your list in #3. Which identification of Jesus is most meaningful to you? Why?
6. Responding to God: Spend time meditating on the identification of Jesus that was most meaningful to you. Write your thoughts below. Then, praise Him in prayer or through a poem.
Review John 1:29-34.
7. When John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, what significance did he give that statement? In other words, what did he say that Jesus would do as the Lamb?
Scholars have debated the significance of John using the picture of a lamb for Jesus. It is definitely rooted in the sacrificial system, but some feel that it points more to the Passover lamb and others to lambs mentioned elsewhere. Today we’ll go back to the original Passover, which occurred at the end of the period in which the Jews were slaves in Egypt.
You probably know the story of Moses and the plagues that God sent in order to force Pharaoh to allow the nation of Israel to leave Egypt. After each plague had ended, Pharaoh reneged on his promise to let the people go. Finally, one last plague came upon Egypt, and the events that surrounded it were the first Passover.
6. Read about the first Passover in Ex. 12:1-14. Describe the Passover ritual and the plague that accompanied it. Why the word Passover (v.13) and how did it relate to a lamb?
7. What does 1 Cor. 5:7 say about Jesus and the Passover?
8. Think about the picture in Exodus of the lamb’s blood and its purpose. Why do you think John the Baptist chose to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God?
9. As we consider Jesus as the Passover lamb, read about the Last Supper, the dinner that Jesus celebrated with His disciples the evening before He was crucified. Read one of the gospel accounts in Mt. 26:17-30, Mk. 14:12-26, or Lk. 22:7-20. Write down any thoughts that you have about the relationship between the two.
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Bible resources about the original Passover. If you have time, you may want to read the entire chronicle of the plagues in Ex. 7-11.
10. Sharing question: Put yourself in place of the people of Israel who were living as slaves in the land of Egypt. God opened the way for them to leave and live as free people. How would you have felt about the feast of Passover? How important would it be for later generations of your family to remember it?
11. Responding to God: How can you better remember that God made a way for you to leave your past and begin afresh with Him, as He did the children of Israel?
Review John 1:29-31.
Yesterday we considered the lamb’s place in the Passover. Today we will look at other biblical references to a lamb. Keep in mind that God had given the Jews the sacrificial system after leaving Egypt while they camped at Mount Sinai, where they also received the Ten Commandments.
12. Read these verses and write down any insights you have into the snapshot John the Baptist used for Jesus when he called Him the Lamb of God.
a. Isaiah 53:7
b. Rev. 5:1-14
c. Ex. 29:38-46
Diamonds in the Word: Read about the sacrificial system in your Bible resources. Write down your insights.
13. Imagine yourself in that culture, where daily sacrifices were made. Likely you and your family would often bring animals that you had raised to serve as sacrifices for your sins. How would that help you appreciate Jesus and His sacrifice? Do you think that such a culture would help or hurt people in accepting Jesus as their sacrifice?
14. Sharing question: Review Rev. 5:1-14, which you read in #14. Some day all believers will participate in this kind of worship. What emotions does that stir in you today? Why? Write a poem or draw a picture to depict this throng of worshippers.
15. Responding to God: Use Rev. 5:9-10 as a pattern to worship Jesus today. Write out your prayer.
I hope today’s study helps us appreciate all that Jesus did as the Lamb of God!
Review John 1:29-31.
16. Read the following verses and write down your thoughts about Jesus as the Lamb:
a. Acts 10:34-43 (note v. 43)
b. Rom. 5:6-9
c. 2 Cor. 5:21
d. 1 Peter 1:18-19
e. Rev. 1:5
17. The author of the book of Hebrews compared Jesus’ sacrifice to the sacrifices of the Old Testament system. As he did so, he pointed out how extensive that sacrifice was. Compare what happened to the sins under that old system with what happens to the sins of those who believe in Jesus from the following verses: (Diamonds in the Word: Read the entire passage of Heb. 9:7-10:18.)
a. Heb. 9:9-10, 13-14
b. Heb. 10:1-4, 10-18
18. Sharing question: Which of the verses in #18 or #19 is most meaningful to you? Why?
19. Responding to God: Use the verse or verses which most impacted you as the basis of a prayer of thanks for Jesus and His sacrifice. Write your prayer or poem below.
Let’s go back to our story in John 1. Review John 1:19-36 and continue reading the rest of the chapter, through v. 51.
20. This section gives an account that takes place over three days in the area of Judea. Summarize what happened on each of those days.
Day Two begins with “the next day” in v. 29:
Day Three begins with v. 35: (note the change in location and consider how much of the rest of this passage may have been succeeding days in the new location)
21. Who else besides John the Baptist shared testimonies of Jesus? What did they say about Him?
22. What was the effect of these testimonies on those with whom they shared?
Diamonds in the Word: Look at a map in the back of your Bible or in a Bible atlas to find where Jesus was and where He went. See if you can determine from the map how far He traveled.
23. Sharing question: What specific people, like John the Baptist and the others in this chapter, have testified to you of Jesus through their actions and/or words?
24. Responding to God: Thank God for all of those who shared with you about Jesus. Consider writing them a note to thank them, even if you have previously done that. You may want to share what God has been doing in your life recently as an encouragement to them.
Yesterday we read in Hebrews that Jesus’ sacrifice took away our sins completely and forever. He was indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Alma shares a story of her sin and God’s forgiveness. Her story turns out well, but beware of thinking that sinning in the way that she did will always turn out this way!
I have been married for 25 years. I met my husband at the beginning of my senior year in High school, at which time he was in his second year of college. We dated for three and a half years. We have a great marriage and we both love the Lord. He is number one in our lives; we feel great joy and pleasure when we serve Him. Although we have always loved each other, our relationship with God was not always the same as now.
When I met Amit I was already a believer, but he was not. He came from a Hindu family, but he was not an active believer of Hinduism. He believed in science and his own strength to achieve everything he wanted. I was immediately attracted to him and him to me. I liked the fact that he had high morals, loved his family, was polite, believed in abstinence and was a very good student. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have met this wonderful guy. My parents liked him immediately, but reminded me time after time that he was not a believer. My father read to me straight from the Bible all the verses having to do with “not being equally yoked”, but I was too in love to break up with him. After we decided to get married, I did break up with him a few weeks before the wedding because he was not a believer, but the breakup only lasted a few hours.
We got married against everybody’s wishes; my family didn’t want me to marry a non-believer and his parents didn’t want him to marry a non-Hindu. I was not really bothered too much about it. We loved each other, and to me, that was all that counted. I just knew that Amit had the morals that a lot of guys that I knew who called themselves Christians did not have. But God had another plan. I did not remain comfortable for long.
After a few months of marriage, the realization that I had placed God second in my life started to bother me. It was painful to think about what I had done, and it also bothered my mother. I began to stop calling home so I did not have to talk about my situation with my family. I felt guilty, but I made a lot of excuses for my reasons to be married to a non Christian. My relationship with my husband was good, but I knew my relationship with God had suffered. I felt separated from Him. I was hurting and wanted to hide from Him in order to excuse my sin. I felt horrible. I felt sad, lonely and scared all the time.
One day I was listening to Luis Palau on the radio. He was preaching exactly about what I was experiencing. At that moment I prayed to God like I have never prayed before. I knew and understood with my heart that the only thing for me to do was to surrender myself to God, confess my sin and go back to Him, my first and number one love. I rededicated my life back to Him and felt a sense of relief that I haven’t felt before in my life. I felt free, and back in my walk with God. I also knew that I could not change my husband; only God can change a person’s heart. But I knew that I could pray for him and set a good example of how a Christian wife should be. After twelve years of marriage God changed my husband’s heart and Amit accepted Christ as his savior. We are happier now than when we first got married 25 years ago.
I know that God has forgiven me. I am free of any guilt I felt during those dark years, and I believe that God has fully forgiven me. I don’t think a lot about that stage in my life, except when God sends someone to my life who might be going through a similar experience. I now thank Him for the experience because I am able to tell others how God can fully restore us and we can enjoy our relationship by being in communion with Him. God, in His mercy, restored my life. This experience has helped me show mercy to others.
6 Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 71.
7 Ibid., 73.
“Jesus replied, ‘Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.’”
John 4:13, 14 (NET)
Water in the desert—life itself! When I visited Israel, our guides constantly exhorted us to drink water because of the heat. We carried water wherever we went and had large bottles on the bus to re-supply our small bottles as needed. We found that many ruins contain cisterns dug out of the rock to hold a supply of water for people in a land which has little. There are still visible remains of huge aqueducts built to take water to ancient cities, where it would have been impossible to live otherwise. This is the land in which Jesus painted the picture of Himself as the Giver of living water.
At the end of John 1 we saw Jesus travel with a few of John the Baptist’s former disciples from Judea to Galilee, the area where He was raised. Although we are focusing on the picture of Jesus as the Giver of living water this week, we do want to pick up the story in John 2 because it recounts Jesus’ first sign. Tomorrow we will look at the story that communicates our snapshot for this week.
Read John 2:1-12.
1. What was the occasion of Jesus’ first sign? Summarize the story.
I have put a chart at the end of the study so you can keep track of the various signs as we go through them. Fill this one in now. We looked at all the signs in this gospel quickly in Week Two Study and considered the purpose of signs. John always uses the term signs rather than miracles. A sign points to something else, to some other truth. Burge says, “The signs are not merely acts of power and might, they unveil that God is at work in Jesus and indeed is present in Him.”8
2. In our first lesson we looked at the Prologue (Jn. 1:1-14). We said that it introduces many of the themes of the book. How do you see this first sign relate to truths about Jesus in that introductory section?
Diamonds in the Word: Because our study is not a comprehensive look at John, I’ll give the sections that we skip as optional assignments. Read John 2:13-22 and consider what you learn about Jesus, His authority, and His message to the Jewish leaders through His actions in this passage. Feel free to consult any commentaries on this section only.
Read John 2:23-25.
3. What do these three verses suggest about the purpose of the signs that Jesus gave? What do they suggest about people?
4. Sharing question: As we consider the story of the wedding in Cana, we see Jesus’ concern over people and their situations. This wasn’t a major illness or a death or a lack of food or shelter. Yet, Jesus showed His care and concern to meet the needs of the hosts. Share about a time when you saw Him come to your aid in something small and you were awed by His care and concern for you.
5. Responding to God: Go to Jesus with whatever is concerning you, whether it is large or small. Ask Him to come to your aid in whatever way is best for you and for others. Give Him that concern and trust Him with the answer. Write down your prayer or thoughts below.
Diamonds in the Word: If you want to read the entire book as we go, read John 3 before you go on to John 4. If you have time after you have done the rest of the week’s study, you may want to come back and read your commentaries on John 3.
Read John 4:1-42.
6. Good reporters know that they must answer the basic questions related to a story: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Either write down each question and answer it, or write this story up as a newspaper article. What would your headline be?
7. Write down everything that Jesus told the woman about living water. Just use the words of the text.
8. In light of all that Jesus said about living water and in light of what you know about water, why do you think Jesus used the picture of water to explain who He is and what He does for people?
Over and over in John we see people respond to Jesus with confusion about what He is saying (e.g., Jn. 2:18-22; 3:3-10), and this is true of this woman. Even his disciples were confused by what He told them in Jn. 4:30-34. As we go through John, note how often people misunderstand Him. When you feel confused about Jesus and His teaching, remember that often that happens because we are thinking on a physical level while He is teaching us something spiritual.
9. Sharing question: What attracts you to the snapshot of Jesus as the Giver of living water? Why? If possible, share with your group a story of a time when He revealed Himself in your life as the One who gives you living water.
10. Responding to God: Go back through the list you made in #7 of the qualities of the living water that Jesus gives. Use that list as the basis of your prayer of thanksgiving. Write your poem or prayer below. Or maybe you would prefer to draw a picture of Jesus giving you that living water.
Review the story in John 4:1-42.
Diamonds in the Word: Go to at least one Bible resource and read background about the Samaritans and their beliefs.
11. Jesus eventually led this woman to the basic issue of her need. She was a sinner who needed God to come into her life and become as necessary to her as water in a dry land. Read Rom. 3:9-18, 23. What do you learn about her and about yourself?
12. As Jesus led this woman through this conversation, He eventually revealed who He was. Explain the process by which they arrived at that revelation (4:16-26).
13. Sharing question: What can we learn from this conversation about sharing Jesus with others?
14. Our culture likes to say that faith is about sincerity, that it doesn’t matter what we believe. Every belief is as valid as the next one. How do Jesus’ words about worship argue against that perspective (4:20-24)?
15. Responding to God: Ask God to lead you to worship in spirit and in truth. Give up any false notions of who He is, and express your willingness to worship Him as He truly is. Often we make God in our image rather than accepting what He reveals about Himself in the Scriptures.
Review John 4:1-42.
16. What was the woman’s testimony about Jesus (4:28-29, 39-42)? How did the other people who heard her respond?
17. How does this account between Jesus and the Samaritan woman help John accomplish his purpose in the book (Jn.20:30-31)?
18. What do you learn from 4:31-38 about doing God’s work and about sharing with others about Jesus? What are some ways that a believer can “sow” into another person’s life? (Think beyond sharing the gospel.)
Diamonds in the Word: Look up other New Testament references to sowing, sow(s), sowers, reaping, etc. Write down any insights you gain.
19. Sharing question: In general, are you a sower or a reaper? Are you praying right now that you may be a sower in a friend’s life? Who is it? As this week’s prayer request, ask your group to pray that you will sow in a particular way in that person’s life.
20. Responding to God: Take time to pray for that person right now and pray that God will use you as a friend who sows. Ask for a specific way to do that this week.
I have had comments from past studies that indicated that some of you don’t understand why you read the same verses over again. There are a couple of reasons that I ask you to do that. First, we must understand the Bible in its context or we may misinterpret it. To reread is to review the context. Second, the more we read a passage, the more insights God can give us. I am always amazed when I read something in the Bible and don’t remember ever having read it before! There are just days when the Holy Spirit shines a light on a verse and I see it in a new way. So as you reread this passage in John, pray that God will show you something that you haven’t seen the last three days.
Review John 4:1-42.
Today we want to look at some other passages that use the picture of water.
21. Compare how the water in the following verses relates to the water Jesus offered the woman in Jn. 4. (You may need to read some of the surrounding verses to get the context.)
a. Rev. 21:6
b. Rev. 22:17
22. The Old Testament uses a snapshot of water to warn the people. What warnings does Jeremiah give and how would using the picture of water help them understand the warnings?
a. Jer. 2:13
b. Jer. 17:13
Diamonds in the Word: Go to your resources and find out what you can about the background of the book of Jeremiah. What was happening among the people of Israel religiously and spiritually?
23. How can Christians be guilty of the things for which Jeremiah warned the Israelites? How would that manifest itself?
Read the rest of the chapter, John 4:43-54.
24. What sign did Jesus do in this case? How did this sign differ from the previous one with the wine? Think about what it showed about Jesus that was a bit different. Write down your insights. (Don’t forget your chartJ)
25. Sharing question: Think about Jesus and the amazing signs that we have seen so far. Think about what it means to forsake that kind of God. Share with your group where you have sought to have your needs met anywhere other than by Jesus. Write down one thing you will do to avoid that in the future.
26. Responding to God: Write down your confession if you find that you have sought what you need anywhere else other than in Him. Believe that God forgives completely!
Kay graciously gave us her story of coming to believe in Jesus. It is a reminder to us all that God loves us no matter where we are or what we have done, and it is an encouragement to faithfully pursue friendships with those who need Jesus.
Two questions I get asked all the time are: “Where are you from?” (Texans typically use the more direct form, “You’re not from here, are you?”), and, “If you graduated from high school in Hawaii, how did you end up at the University of Tulsa?” (a legitimate question since when I chose Tulsa University I didn’t even know where Tulsa is—in fact, I wasn’t really clear on where Oklahoma is).
I grew up in an East Coast Navy family, meaning we lived in several different places along the East coast while my dad served in the Navy. Overall, we had a fairly normal, routine life—at least compared to all my friends whose dads were also in the military. My dad was gone most of the time and my mom raised 3 daughters and ran the household. To the best of her ability, she instilled in us a sense of good morals and strong work ethic. As a young child I learned to strive for achievement and try to do the right thing.
However, as I entered my teenage years life became more difficult and confusing. My efforts toward academic success became an obsession and I began to rely heavily on my own ability to reason and figure things out. I entered the stage of doubting everything my parents taught me. Lacking any foundation or authority for the morals I’d been raised with, what was “good” and “right” became for me a matter of my opinion verses my parents’ opinion, and I was pretty confident that I could figure things out for myself. It was about this time, as I was beginning my junior year in high school that my family moved from the extremely conservative and structured environment of Northern Virginia to the laid-back and liberal culture of Hawaii.
Suddenly everything changed. In this world, academic success and alcohol were no longer mutually exclusive. “Good” kids did things I’d always been told were bad and would lead to failure. But they weren’t failing. I was introduced to alcohol on a school field trip. Over the next few years, though far from being an alcoholic, drinking impaired my judgment on several occasions and I ended up making some very poor decisions. By the time I graduated from high school my life was a mess. On the outside everything looked great—I had good grades, good friends (though my mom would dispute that assessment), and a good part-time job. To my sisters I was the “golden child,” the one for whom everything was always easy and turned out right. But on the inside I was in turmoil. My mother was barely speaking to me because of some of my friends and the choices I’d made. I was generally angry, depressed, and rebellious even though deep down I still wanted to do the “right” thing. I just wasn’t sure I knew what that was anymore.
So, that’s the answer to the question, “You’re not from here, are you?” Now on to how I ended up in Tulsa, OK. The surface answer is that I filled out the form on the SAT to allow any college or university who wanted to contact me. Tulsa sent me an application which was relatively short and didn’t require a lot of essay writing, so I filled it out and sent it in. I also applied to other schools, but when Tulsa responded with a scholarship offer my parents’ minds (if not mine) were made up. I enrolled in their College of Arts & Sciences to pursue a math degree without ever visiting the school or knowing anyone who was going or had ever been there. The deeper, and I think more realistic, answer to the question is that Tulsa is where God wanted me to introduce me to His Son and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just didn’t know it yet.
When I went to Tulsa it wasn’t like I was looking for God. In fact, if anything I was running away from Him, but since I didn’t really believe in Him anyway, I didn’t give it that much thought. But then there was my roommate, Evelyn—a quiet, somewhat shy Christian girl from Arkansas. If she’d known me then, I’m sure I would have been her mother’s worst nightmare as a roommate for her daughter. Evelyn and I were in a philosophy class together along with several other Christians and it didn’t take them long to figure out how lost I was. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by Christians and in response to challenging ethical questions they didn’t just give their opinions, they supported their arguments with what the Bible says. I wasn’t shy about telling them how silly I thought their arguments were and so what if they had a book telling them they were right—what made their book better than any other? I think I became their project. I know Evelyn spent a lot of time on her knees praying for me. Still, I turned away every person who came to my door to talk with me about God. I rejected every invitation to join Evelyn in going to church or on outings with her “religious” friends. But nothing deterred them. Evelyn continued to pray and invite. Others continued to knock on my door. After talking with a friend about all the problems I was having in my relationships at home, she said, “Wow, Kay, that’s really rough. Do you mind if I pray for you?” I responded, “Sure, I don’t think it will help but if you do, knock yourself out.” She started, “Dear God, thank You for my friend Kay and thank You that You love her and You care about the problems she’s having….” Up until then I’d always thought of Christians as part of an exclusive club of people who thought they had all the answers and believed anyone who didn’t agree with them would go straight to hell. Through my friend’s prayer and compassion, Evelyn’s patience and prayer, and the consistent efforts of the others no matter how rude I was to them, I began to see that they had something that I wanted (needed), and they really wanted to share it with me. God started breaking through.
Over the next several weeks I talked a lot with Evelyn and my other friend, Sarah. One day I opened a Bible to the table of contents and asked Sarah, “What’s Genesis about?” She answered. “What’s Exodus about?” She answered. “What’s Leviticus about?” She answered. I continued down the table of contents and she patiently answered until I got to about Job and then she said, “Kay, let me just tell you the whole big story. The entire Bible is about God’s great love for mankind, man’s sinful rebellion and rejection of God’s love, and God’s gracious forgiveness and reconciliation with man through His Son Jesus Christ who died a painful death on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sin and then rose again to prove He is God and that His sacrifice in our place was accepted by His Father.” That was the first time in my whole life I had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I started to see the trouble and turmoil I was having as a result of my sin against God who, I began to understand for the first time, really loved me.
I heard the gospel again a week or so later when I finally accepted one of Evelyn’s invitations to a “religious” event. It was Harvest Week for all the campus ministries. Being one of the uninitiated, I didn’t realize that “Harvest Week” meant “harvest me.” There was a hayride, hot chocolate, and a gospel presentation complete with a challenge at the end: “If God is beginning to show you that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior, take this opportunity to accept His offer of forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ. Don’t just sit there. Stand up and acknowledge Him.” I knew I’d heard the truth. I knew God was drawing me to Him. Yet many of the people I’d criticized, made fun of, and turned away were also sitting in that small audience. What would they say if I stood up? Would they have an “I told you so” attitude? Would they treat me the same way I had treated them? It didn’t matter. I was compelled to stand up, and I did. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. And, to my surprise, I was surrounded by people who were happy for me and rejoicing with me.
Some things changed right away for me. I began reading the Bible and learning more about God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. I learned that there is such a thing as absolute right and wrong and that good morals are based in God’s Word, but without Him I’m powerless to live them out. No wonder I’d been having such trouble.
Other things took a lot longer to change. Some relationships improved, others got worse, and several just faded away. It took a long time for God to weed some sinful habits and patterns out of my life—a long time for me to allow Him to do it. It took even longer for me to regain my mother’s trust and respect. And my life hasn’t always been easy. A year after I graduated from college my dad died of cancer. I worked for several years under a very demanding and demeaning boss. I still sometimes struggle with being too focused on achievement, leading to frustration and discouragement. But now I talk to God about it, knowing that He cares about me personally. He carries me through the difficult times. He’s replaced broken relationships with strong, healthy ones. Most of all, He’s given me forgiveness in His Son and hope for the future.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35 (NET)
We have such an abundance of food in the United States that we may not be able to fully comprehend the significance of Jesus as the Bread of Life. I know that I have never been truly hungry in my life! Perhaps it will help if we think of bread as being the basic food of life. Without it we cannot live!
Read John 5:1-18 so that we don’t miss any of the signs that John recorded.
1. When did Jesus perform this sign? What was the sign and what was its significance in comparison with the others we have already seen Jesus do? Was there anything additional or different that sets it apart? How does this sign reveal Jesus’ divine power? (Chart) Write down any insights or questions you have as you read this passage.
Diamonds in the Word: Read John 5:19-47. Once you have completed your other questions, feel free to read in your commentaries on Jesus’ discourse here.
Read John 6:1-15.
John followed the account of the previous sign and the teaching that Jesus gave in light of it with another sign.
2. What was this sign and how do you understand its significance as to Jesus’ identity and power? Did it differ from the previous signs in any way? (Chart)
3. How would you have felt to be present when Jesus performed this sign? Consider the location and what had been going on that day, etc.
4. How did the people respond to this sign (6:14-15)? Compare their identification of Jesus with the question that the Jewish leadership asked John the Baptist in Jn. 1:21. (You also looked up Deut. 18:15-19 in Week 2 question #2.)
5. Sharing question: Even today people fail to grasp the greatness of Jesus. They think He is a good teacher or great leader, but they do not realize that He is the very Word of God, as we saw in John 1. How can you show them through your life (not words) that He is actually Lord and not simply a good man? How should you respond when you truly believe that?
6. Responding to God: Write a prayer or a poem extolling Jesus’ power, keeping in mind how mighty these signs really were.
Another sign is nestled between the feeding of the five thousand and the teaching that accompanied that sign. Read John 6:16-21.
7. As a good reporter, give us the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the story. Consider being creative and writing it out as a television reporter would. (Don’t forget your signs chart—I can probably quit reminding you about this but I am afraid you are like me and need itJ)
8. How did this sign differ from the previous signs? How did it reveal God’s presence in Jesus? How does it relate to the truths about Jesus in the Prologue (Jn. 1:1-14)?
Diamonds in the Word: Compare the other accounts of this sign in Mt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:10-17). If you have time, you may also want to read about the feeding of the 4,000 and how it differed in Mt. 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9).
Read John 6:22-27.
9. What happened the next morning? What did the people really want (6:26-27)?
10. Sharing question: It’s easy to be guilty of seeking the gift and not the Giver of the gift. Sometimes we only recognize this in hindsight, after we become angry when God doesn’t give us what we desire. So often, my prayers are about what I want and not about the greatness of the One to whom I speak. My time with Him is all about me rather than being about His glory and His kingdom. Share with your group something you have sought from God in place of His presence and His love.
11. Responding to God: Draw some sort of pictorial representation of seeking a gift rather than the Giver. Draw yourself turning from that to God. You can draw stick figures! Then, pray that God will convict you when you seek His gifts over Him.
Review John 6:26-27 and continue reading through 6:51.
12. What did Jesus tell the people that they should seek before physical food (6:26-29)?
The feeding of the five thousand became an object lesson about the greatness of Jesus and the fact that He was bringing in something greater than the Jews had under Moses.
13. Read quickly the story of God’s feeding His people in the days of Moses in Ex. 16:1-31. Write down your thoughts and insights from this story.
14. Jesus taught the people that the true bread of life is greater than the manna they received under Moses. How is it greater (6:32-51)?
15. Write down everything that Jesus says is true of those who come to Him (6:35-51).
Diamonds in the Word: Read in Bible commentaries about Jesus’ teaching in John 6:35-51.
16. Sharing question: Have you ever experienced real hunger? Perhaps you have seen the effects of not eating on someone else, either from lack of food or from the body wasting away in sickness. Share whatever experience you have with your group. Even if you haven’t experienced this, think about how it helps you understand the snapshot of Jesus as the Bread of Life. What primary thing keeps you from fully depending on Jesus to meet all of your needs?
17. Responding to God: Spend time thanking God for the physical food that you receive. Thank Him for the way He designed the body to receive daily nourishment in order to live. Thank Him for using this snapshot for Jesus.
Review John 6:35, our memory verse for this week.
We want to look at this point at the “I Am” claims of Jesus. If we really want to understand the significance of not only His statement here but also the other I Am statements that we will study in the weeks to come, we need to go back to the Old Testament.
18. Read Exodus 3:13-14 and answer these questions:
a. Why did Moses ask for God’s name?
b. What was the name God used for Himself? Names in the Bible were significant because they revealed who the person was. Why might God have chosen this name? In other words, how does this name help us understand who God is?
19. The Hebrew word I AM in this passage is related to the word YHWH, the name of God usually pronounced Yahweh. (In the past the word Jehovah was used for this name, but present-day scholars discount that name as inaccurate.) In most Old Testament passages, the name YHWH is translated LORD in all caps.
Gary Burge says, “When this term (Heb. Yahweh) was translated into Greek, it became ego eimi (“I am”), and throughout John we will see Jesus’ absolute use of this phrase without a predicate to disclose more of his divine identity.”9 (The first example of this is in John 4:26 when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. His words there can be translated, “I am—speaks to you.”10)
Burge lists seven places in John where “Jesus provides a clear predicate noun to describe himself, and they take on features that sound like solemn pronouncements… In each of these sayings Jesus is taking a motif from Judaism (often in the context of a miracle or major festival discourse) and reinterpreting it for himself.”11 This saying in John 6:35 is the first of these, and obviously, the motif here is the miracle of the manna.
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the name of God in Ex. 3.
20. Write out an explanation in your own words as to what it means that Jesus is I Am (not the Bread of Life but simply the I Am). If you like, write it as a letter to answer a child’s questions about God.
21. Sharing question: How does it affect your relationship with Jesus to know that He is the same I Am who spoke to Moses, delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, and provided for them in the desert with manna to eat?
22. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem extolling God as the I Am.
Review John 6:32-51 and read John 6:52-58.
23. Jesus described belief in Him as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. How does the picture of food or the previous snapshot of Jesus as the Lamb of God (See Week Two Study) help us understand what He is teaching?
24. What promises do we have as believers in Jesus from His words in 6:47-58?
25. Sharing question: Which of those promises is most meaningful to you? Why?
Read John 6:59-71.
26. Compare the various responses to Jesus’ teaching about eating His flesh and drinking His blood (6:60-71).
27. Sharing question: How do you generally respond when you hear teaching that you don’t like or teaching that is hard to understand? Do you quit walking with Jesus or do you say, “To whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” What should we do when we are faced with hearing something we may have never heard before?
28. Responding to God: Talk to God about something in His word that you struggle with believing, understanding, or handing over to Him in trust.
As we think about Jesus as the Bread of Life, we appreciate the fact that the Bread was broken for us. Each time we participate in communion, we should remember that He is the Bread and that we live by His nourishment. Dianne shares the feelings that she has when she participates in this ancient rite of the church.
“For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ Take and eat.”
“The Eucharist itself was instituted by Christ at the supper on Holy Thursday to perpetuate the remembrance (anamnesis) of His redemptive work and to establish a continuous intimate communion (koinonia) between Himself and those who believe in Him.” (The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)
The idea that I can participate in a remembrance of My Lord that countless millions have done before me is staggering to my expanding vision of the perseverance of the saints moving into eternity with Christ. When the bread is offered to me with the reminder that it symbolizes Christ’s body, broken for me I visualize the cross and the unique sacrifice of the God-Man, for the forgiveness of my sins. Encouraged by the comfort of forever forgiven, I am strengthened to live with the nourishment that His brokenness provides my daily life. No matter how I “feel,” when I partake of His “gifts” I affirm and confirm that I am His and He is mine, which is my remembrance of His sacrifice and our continuous intimacy as Savior and redeemed. One day we will eat and drink together, forever.
Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (NET)
I don’t know how I would do if I had to live within the Arctic circle during the winter when there are days without the sun. I understand that many people who live in the far north of the globe suffer from depression during that time of year. I begin to feel down when we have overcast skies for days at a time, and there is still light outside! God has certainly given us a great picture of the need for light through nature! It is essential to our well-being, whether we realize it or not.
Diamonds in the Word: Because we are skipping a large section of John (John 7:1-8:11), your optional assignment for this whole week is to study it. I suggest that you just read it quickly today and go back to it to do more study after you complete your five days of work. Primarily focus on the discussions that Jesus had with people. Think about the divisions that He caused among the Jews. Consider His arguments and their misunderstandings. How does this discussion help John accomplish his purpose in the book?
The events in John 7-9 occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles. We begin our study section this week in Jn. 8:12, but it simply continues the narrative of what happened at that feast. (See Jn. 7:1-2, 10, 14, 37; 8:12). If you read the entire section from 7:1-8:12, you may not notice it because the narrative that begins at 8:12 seems like a new story. However, most scholars believe that the intervening story in 8:1-11 was added later and not part of John’s original text.12 If you took that section out and read the story without it, you would more easily see that 8:12 continues the story of what happened at the feast.
Before we get into our study in John, let’s study a bit about this feast. As with the other feasts of Israel, God gave Moses instructions for it.
1. Read Lev. 23:33-34, 39-43; Deut. 16:13-15. Write a news story about this feast. Be sure and include the who, what, where, when, why, and how!
Gary Burge notes some interesting details about the Feast of Tabernacles as it was practiced in Jesus’ day. This feast occurs in September-October on our present day calendar and celebrates the autumn harvest of tree and vine. Its date coincides with what we call the autumn equinox, that day when day and night are of equal length. “Jewish ritual practice recognized this ‘dying of the sun’ and incorporated into the festival ceremonies of light to hallmark the passing of the season.” Because the fall normally produced little rain, the feast also integrated symbols depicting prayer for refreshing water, which were understood to represent both physical rain and spiritual refreshment.13
So water and light were both emphasized at this feast; Jesus came into the midst of the celebration and used those symbols as a teaching tool, more snapshots of Him.
Before we go to John 8, we’ll backtrack and see what happened earlier during the feast. Read John 7:37-39.
2. What did Jesus offer the people on the last day of the feast?
The rituals for that day were the backdrop for Jesus’ words. For the first six days of the Feast of Tabernacles, priests descended from the Jerusalem temple to the Gihon spring. One of them then filled a golden pitcher with water, took it to the temple, and poured it onto the altar. On the last or seventh day, this was done seven times.
3. Read these Old Testament references to water. Write down how these verses give significance to Jesus’ saying that He was the source of the water of life:
a. Ex. 17:1-6
c. Is. 55:1
4. Sharing question: Is Jesus truly the source to which you turn to meet your needs? Obviously, water is a basic need for life, and He is the source of true life. But He is also the source of all of our other needs: love, security, purpose, etc. What is your greatest need right now? How are you trying to meet that need?
5. Responding to God: Draw a picture—sticks are fine! Picture the need you mentioned in the last question as water. Show yourself going to the Water to have your need met.
Now that we have a bit of background about the Feast of Tabernacles, we will actually read the verse that gives us our snapshot this week, John 8:12.
6. Write out John 8:12, another I Am statement. It is our Precious Word from God this week. Use your memory verse cards at the back of the study to help you learn it.
Yesterday we mentioned that light was used as a symbol at the Feast of Tabernacles to signify the passing of the season. As part of the ritual of the seven-day feast, every evening four giant lamps in the temple court were lit, and the people celebrated under their light. Remember this was a time when cities were actually dark at night. This was an unusual event, and it was reported that the light from the temple area at the top of Mount Zion brought a glow to the entire city of Jerusalem. It was in this context that Jesus got up and claimed to be the Light of the World.14
7. Let’s look at some other verses that use the picture of light. How do these verses help you understand Jesus as the Light of the World?
a. Ex. 13:21-22
b. Ps. 78:14
c. Ps. 27:1
d. Prov. 6:23
e. Ps. 119:105
f. John 1:5
g. John 3:19-21
h. 1 John 1:5
8. Sharing question: Which verse from the previous question is most meaningful to you as you think about Jesus being your light? Why?
9. Responding to God: Write a prayer to the Light of your life. Base it on one of the verses above.
Read John 8:12-20.
10. Jesus’ claim to be the Light of the World produced criticism from the Pharisees. In His response, Jesus connected Himself and His work to His Father. This is a hard passage, but don’t go to any sources! Instead of focusing on what isn’t clear, consider all the verses from 8:12-20 without spending a lot of time on them, and write down how you see Jesus connect Himself with God the Father.
Read John 8:21-30.
11. This section contains I Am statements in Jn. 8:24, 28. You may not have recognized these as I Am statements because your translation may add the word “he” after the “I am” [NET, NASB, BBE, NKJV] or it may say “the one I claim to be” [NIV]. (Your Bible should have these words in italics to show you that they are not in the original Greek.) In other words, Jesus literally said in Jn. 8:24, “Unless you believe I am, you will die in your sins.” Knowing the significance of I Am, how would you explain what Jesus was saying in verses 24 and 28?
Now jump to John 8:48-59. (If you have time read 8:31-47.)
12. There is one more I Am statement in John 8:58. This one is significant because the Judeans to whom Jesus is speaking finally seemed to grasp that He was claiming to be God; thus, they try to stone Him for blasphemy. What in Jesus’ comments concerning Abraham made it clear?
13. Sharing question: Think back to what you know of the God who revealed Himself as I Am to Moses at the burning bush. He was the God who rescued His people with a mighty hand from slavery in Egypt. He was the God who opened the waters when His people faced a seemingly impossible situation at the Red Sea. What are you facing in your life today that seems like a prison or an impossible situation? Share with your group what you can without gossiping about others.
14. Responding to God: Take your situation from the previous question and make it into a prayer to the great I Am. Don’t pray the answers that you want from Him, but give Him the situations. I am quite sure that Moses was surprised with the ways that God moved to free His people and protect them from the army of Egypt! Realize that His answer may be different from the one you expect!
Read John 9:1-12.
15. Summarize the story. Be sure and write it down on your chart of signs.
Read John 9:13-34.
16. The Pharisees had two different perspectives of Jesus from this sign. Explain the two views and their arguments.
17. How did the formerly blind man get involved in the middle of the debate? What was his perspective? What did the leaders do to him because of it?
18. Compare how this man handled the questions of the Jewish leaders with the way that the man at the pool of Bethseda (some manuscripts say Bethsaida)15 handled them in John 5:10-15. What insights does this contrast give you into the two men?
19. Sharing question: Have you ever dealt with hard questions from others about your faith? How have you felt when that happened? What did you learn about yourself and about the ways others respond to Jesus?
20. Responding to God: If you have ever failed to stand up for Jesus when questioned or criticized about your faith, know that God forgives. Read 2 Timothy 2:13 and 1 John 1:9. Thank God for being a covenant-keeping God who is faithful to us and forgives us in that faithfulness. Write your thoughts, prayer, or poem below.
Review John 9:4-5 and read John 9:35-41.
21. How does the story of the blind man relate to Jesus as the Light of the World?
22. When Jesus learned what the leaders had done to the man, what did He do (9:35)? What does this show you about Jesus?
23. How did the man respond when Jesus revealed Himself to him?
24. Jesus used the contrast of sight and blindness to teach about spiritual truth (9:39-41). What was He saying here?
25. Sharing question: Think about Jesus’ comment that the religious leaders of the Jews were actually blind but believed they had sight. We saw in the story that their pre-conceived ideas made them blind to the acts of God. Can that be true of us as “religious” people? How?
26. Responding to God: Go before God and ask Him if you are blind to Jesus or to His works around you. If He shows you anything, confess that lack of faith. Thank Him for His forgiveness. OR draw a picture of gaining sight on the day when you recognized Jesus as the great I Am.
Our story illustrates the fact that even we believers can grow blind when they turn away from the truth and the church; however, God is faithful to bring us back, as He was here.
I grew up in a suburban town, in a Bible-believing church, in a Christian family, and became a believer at 13. I loved the Lord, and everything else in my life was secondary to that focus. At one point I felt like I disappointed God and could not bear to approach His throne. I sought council but never really owned the real problem. I decided that the God I had grown up learning about was bigger than the God that seemed legalistic and maybe just a little too Southern. While I studied the Bible each week, I was still young, and most of what I believed was shaped by what people told me, not what I had experienced for myself. So for the next 10 years my trek took me through a series of “approaches” to God.
Now they all acknowledged Jesus Christ as God but always added something not quite right in the tale. In every group I participated there were other believers from Christian traditions. That made it all OK, right? This trek took me to San Antonio, New Mexico, California, and back to Texas. When I return to Dallas my guru was based out of Los Angeles. I met weekly with a group of friends that embraced the teachings of the same man. I was responsible for putting this man on cable TV in the metroplex.
One December I went to Los Angeles for a special training and Christmas Eve seminar. That night for the first time I heard this man use the Bible for examples. While I was not Bible scholar I knew enough that what I was hearing was NOT in the Bible. And moreover, most of the thousands of people in the room accepted what he said. I felt a big clunk in my heart. You can say a lot of things that I might accept but you don’t mess with the Bible. I flew back to Texas Christmas morning with a new challenge in my heart. God you are going to have to show me what you want me to do. Some of the decisions were very easy. Giving up my responsibilities with the organization, throwing away all of my books and tapes, not attending weekly seminars were easier than giving up relationships that I’d spent 5 years building.
I always felt like God was with me protecting me from harm. The road back took me to lay courses at DTS. There I focused on learning to study the Bible for myself and let God speak to me through His word and prayer.
I know while I was on my trek around faith, my parents were on their knees. Their prayers were answered.
12 See D.A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991), 333.
13 Burge, 220.
14 Carson, 337.
15 See NET Bible note on John 5:2)
I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus in John 10:9-11 (NET)
We are at the halfway point in our study. We have seen snapshots of Jesus as the Word, the Lamb, the Giver of Living Water, the Bread of life, and the Light of the World. This week we see two snapshots of Jesus in the same passage. In our modern world, one is more understandable to us than the other because we deal with doors daily, but few of us have sheep!
Think about the doors in your life and to what they give you access. Where do they allow you to go? If you refuse to go through those doors, what will be inaccessible to you? Keep these thoughts in mind as we consider this week’s lesson.
Read John 10:1-6.
There is some debate among scholars as to the timing of John 10:1-21. Some place it with the previous events at the Feast of Tabernacles in September-October. Others say it goes with the statement in 10:22 and the Feast of Dedication (Hanakkuk). Still others say it could have occurred anywhere between the two, sometime between October and December.16 Review what happened at the Feast of Tabernacles in Chapter 9 if you have forgotten. Even if John 10 all occurs at Hanakkuk, the timing is still fairly short, and you will see that the people are still talking about the sign that Jesus did in John 9.
Diamonds in the Word: Read in several resources about the timing of John 10.
1. It seems that Jesus’ comments in vv. 1-5 were directed at His rightful authority to lead the sheep. He was claiming that He had the right to go in and out of the door because He was the shepherd of Israel, represented by the sheepfold. In light of the end of chapter 9, who was trying to keep Him out?
2. We see in v. 11 that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. What do you learn about His relationship with His sheep from 10:1-5?
It is hard for us to grasp all that Jesus was saying when we have no experience in the world of sheep and shepherds, especially in that culture. Burge gives us this important background: “The Middle Eastern shepherd is well known for having a personal devotion to his sheep. He talks to them and sings to them… just as Arab shepherds today can separate personal sheep from larger flocks by using peculiar calls, so Jesus knows his own sheep, they can recognize his voice, and he leads them (10:4).”17
3. What assurance does it give you to know that the shepherd promises to lead His sheep? How does that make you feel? When you face a difficult decision, how can you practice trusting His guidance?
4. Sharing question: What practical steps do you use to assure yourself that the voice leading you is that of the Good Shepherd? How would you suggest that a new believer grow to recognize His voice?
5. Responding to God: Thank Jesus that He desires to lead you as your Shepherd. Use these verses to write out your prayer or poem.
Review John 10:1-6 and read John 10:7-10.
Note the I Am statement in v. 7. Your Precious Word from God covers both of these statements in this context. Work on memorizing these verses today, and chart themJ
6. In v. 7 Jesus used the picture of the door differently than He did in vv. 1-3. Now He becomes the door for the sheep. What did He promise to the sheep that use that Door (v.9)?
Burge says, “The image here is a flock of sheep in a threatening desert. Food and water are scarce. Predators are everywhere, and they know the sheep are vulnerable. Jesus’ image is that of well-fed sheep whose shepherd knows how to lead them to pasture and water daily, and who at night gives them safe rest in the sturdy walls of the sheepfold. These are sheep who flourish and are content, thanks to the skill of the shepherd.”18
7. Sharing question: As you read this description of the shepherd’s care for the sheep, what feelings does it evoke in you? Why?
Diamonds in the Word: Read about sheep and shepherds of that day in your Bible resources.
Read John 10:11-13.
8. Contrast the care of the shepherd with that of the hired hand.
9. Sharing question: Look back over your life. How has the Shepherd cared for you? What one situation of provision, protection, or guidance can you share with your group?
10. Responding to God: Use Psalm 23 as the basis of a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ care for you as one of His sheep.
Review John 10:1-13.
11. Read these Old Testament verses, and write down how they relate to 10:1-13.
a. Gen. 49:24
b. Ps. 23:1
c. Ps. 78:52-53
d. Ps. 80:1
e. Is. 40:10-11
12. Sharing question: Although the verses in the previous question deal with God shepherding the nation of Israel, they give us insight into the way that Jesus shepherds us. Which verse is most meaningful to you? Why?
13. (Review the end of John 9 to get the context of Jesus’ words in John 10:1-13.) In light of what we have seen about those among whom Jesus taught and ministered, what group would you identify as hired hands? Why?
14. God considered the leaders that He placed over His people to be shepherds over His people. Read Ezekiel 34:2-10. Write down the characteristics of those whom God denounced at the time of the exile to Babylon to whom this passage is addressed.
Diamonds in the Word: Go to your commentaries or online resource and read background information about Ezekiel 34.
15. Sharing question: How can we apply this today? How do we recognize the shepherds that we are to follow? Have you ever been in a situation when you realized that someone trying to lead the church was more like the shepherds in the previous question than like Jesus?
16. Responding to God: If you are a leader in any capacity in your church, commit to follow the example of Jesus as you shepherd the flock of God. If you are one of the sheep, as most of us are, pray for the shepherd(s) of your church. Write your prayer below.
Read John 10:14-21.
17. What is the chief characteristic of the Good Shepherd? (Compare v. 11 with v. 15.)
18. What did Jesus teach in this passage about His death and resurrection?
19. How do Jesus’ words about His death and resurrection (10:11, 14-15, 17-18) make you feel? Why?
Diamonds in the Word: Read about John 10:18 (ONLY this verse) in your commentaries.
20. Again, the result of Jesus’ words was division. What was the argument (10:19-21)?
21. Sharing question: If you are not of Jewish origin, at some point you were outside of the flock (10:16). What is Jesus’ desire for His flock (v.16)? How do you think the flock in general is doing with that? Why?
22. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem thanking Jesus for willingly giving His life for you!
Read John 10:22-42.
23. What is the contrast between the characteristics of Jesus’ sheep and others (10:26-29)?
24. Why did the leaders try to stone Jesus (10:29-33)?
Personally, I have a hard time following Jesus’ argument in 10:34-38, especially His quote of Psalm 82:6. Carson explains it this way: “As Jesus uses the text, the general line of his argument is clear. This Scripture proves that the word ‘god’ is legitimately used to refer to others than God himself. If there are others whom God (the author of Scripture) can address as ‘god’ and ‘sons of the Most High’ (i.e. sons of God), on what biblical basis should anyone object when Jesus says, ‘I am God’s Son?’”19
Diamonds in the Word: Read about this passage in your resources.
25. How did they respond when Jesus followed this argument by saying, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”? What did Jesus do as a result (10:39-42)?
26. Sharing question: What is said in John 1:11-12 is seen in John 10:39-42—two groups of people and two responses to Jesus. Review those verses. What one person are you praying for to receive or believe in Jesus? What are you praying for yourself as you interact with that person, i.e. open doors for you to share your faith, good conversations about spiritual things, building a stronger friendship, loving that person in specific ways, or maybe opportunities to pray for her? You may want your prayer request for your group this week to be that prayer for you. If so, prepare your prayer card now so you don’t forget.
27. Responding to God: Take time to pray for that person and specifically for your part in showing her God’s love. Write your prayer or thoughts below.
Our first story reveals the care of the Shepherd for His sheep, even behind the scenes. Then, we have two stories where women relate how they heard the voice of the shepherd guiding them in specific situations.
There are times in our lives when we are acutely aware of God’s presence in our lives, guiding, caring for and protecting us. There are of course other times when God is actively caring and protecting us but we are unaware of just how vulnerable we really are. One time God “pulled back the curtain” and allowed me to see how He had cared for and protected me during a particularly vulnerable time. I was humbled by His constant protection of me during this serious situation. Since then I am aware that the LORD is constantly with me even though I may not recognize it at the time.
In the Fall of 1980 I was four months pregnant with our second son. One morning I was in a minor one car accident. My car tire ran off into an “unmarked ditch” which was created by a city repair crew. Everything seemed to be okay until a few days later. My husband and I were at my mother’s house about three hours from Dallas helping her with a garage sale. I began to get a sore throat and was experiencing neck pain. At first we thought my sudden illness was connected to the accident but within 24 hours it became apparent that my illness could be unrelated to the accident so we hastily returned to Dallas in order to be closer to my gynecologist. Within 36 hours of returning to Dallas I was admitted to Baylor Hospital. My symptoms included headaches, vomiting and neck and shoulder pain. My gynecologist called in an internist who suggested I might have meningitis. Well, needless to say my family was deeply concerned. I was so sick all I could pray was, “Lord, please take care of me and the baby.” The only encouraging remark was from my gynecologist who was confident that I did not have meningitis although he was unable to diagnose my illness.
A couple of mornings after being hospitalized my husband went down to the cafeteria to get breakfast. Being depressed and discouraged he prayed, “Lord, please give me some small sign that she is going to get better.” He left the cafeteria and returned to my room where he found me sitting up in bed drinking a cup of coffee! Incredible since less than an hour earlier I could not sit up in bed let alone drink anything.
Well, I did not have meningitis. I did have some kind of serious virus which ran its course. Yes, God took care of me and our unborn son during one of the darkest times in our lives. BUT unknown to me at the time He was caring and protecting us in ways that I would only learn about a couple of years later. It seems as though my gynecologist was trying to overcome a drug addiction. He had been in and out of rehabilitation. One day a colleague found him unconscious in the hospital. This Christian doctor took it upon himself to intervene before someone died—my doctor or one of his patients. My doctor was slowly recovering from his addiction at the time of my pregnancy and illness. The Lord was watching over me knew ways I knew and in ways I didn’t. The Scriptures are filled with examples of God’s watchful care over His people—caring for them, protecting them, and providing for them. I am thankful that God does not change. He is still caring for His people.
I had been out of the workforce for about two years, just being a mom. But when both of my kids went to school every day, I thought that I would like to find some freelance work. Now I had the time, and the extra money would really help. So, I said “Lord, I know that if I am going to work again, it is going to come from you. I have been out of the workplace for awhile and I just don’t have it in me to cold call on a lot of people.” So, I sent my resume to a friend, who sent it to a friend of hers, who sent it to a friend of hers. I received an email that the marketing director wanted to talk to me. When I met her, she needed me to write a direct mail piece to send to churches. I got the job and did not at all miss the fact that it only came from God. And what an exclamation point He made to make the writing about the church! He provided the work and cared for me in a way that I could feel His sweetness in such a direct answer to prayer.
My husband and I bought our house soon after we got married. It’s a comfortable home that we considered our “starter home.” We thought we’d be in it for five years, tops. We never imagined we would have children in it because we considered it too small for a family. My husband has a home office with a lot of computer equipment, which used up one of the spare bedrooms, and my family lives out of town so the other spare bedroom got a lot of use as a guest room. Well, it has now been 5 years, and we have added a baby to our family, so in our minds, we had outgrown this house.
This summer we noticed our neighbor’s house, which is similar to ours, sold very quickly and for a good price. We were encouraged by this and decided to meet with the realtor who sold it. He thought he could also sell our house pretty quickly. We left the meeting excited about selling our house and searching for our next home. Our dream home. The home where our children would grow up. The home where we would host family gatherings for years to come. We imagined the extra bedrooms, the study for my husband, the playroom for our son. Emotionally, we were ready to pull the trigger and put our house on the market. But we knew that first we would need to make sure we were ready to afford our next home.
So we sat down to run the numbers and figure out exactly how much we could afford, but first, we prayed. (What a novel idea!) We asked for God’s wisdom and for us to have clarity about what to do. As we looked over our finances we realized we could afford our next house, but we would pretty much deplete our savings in doing so. We still were excited about the idea, but as the day went on, we both came to realize that it would not be the wise thing to do. Instead, we decided to wait and reevaluate our savings to make sure we were saving as much as possible so we could afford our “dream home” a little later down the line.
Without seeking God’s will first, I’m sure we probably would have moved and realized too late that we were putting ourselves down the road to financial trouble. Through this, God has taught me 1) to trust Him with everything, and 2) to be happy with all He has blessed us with. I no longer look at our home as a “starter home” that is too small for a family, but instead I just look at it as our home that God has richly blessed us with. It completely fits our needs, and I know we are truly lucky to have it. I still struggle with jealousy when I see my friends move to their bigger and better houses, but it gives me peace knowing that we truly searched for God’s will for us, so I know we are where we need to be. And when the time is right, He will bless us with our dream home, whether here on earth or in heaven.
16 Carson, 379-380.
17 Burge, 289.
18 Burge, 290.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.”
John 11:25-26a (NET)
I am sure that we all have experienced the death of someone we know. Some of us have lost someone very near to us. In time we will all face the death of someone close to us unless we go first. Sometimes death comes unexpectedly, but often it comes after a long illness. However it happens, it is hard. As we study the story of Lazarus this week, consider how you would have felt to be his sisters and friends, including Jesus. This isn’t simply a story in a book, but it is the true-life story of real people who dealt with death and grief, just as you and I do.
Review John 10:39-42 and read John 11:1-5.
1. Why was Jesus across the Jordan? What was happening there?
Diamonds in the Word: Read about the story of Mary’s anointing, to which John referred in John 11:2 in order to establish the identity of this family. It is found in Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Jn. 12:1-11. (A fourth account of Jesus being anointed is in Luke 7:36-50, but this is not the same story, as a detailed reading of it will show.)
2. What crisis occurred in Bethany and what did Mary and Martha do about it? What does their response to the situation reveal about them?
3. Sharing question: What is your usual first reaction to disturbing news or situations? Is it prayer? Is it to call a husband, friend, or neighbor? Is it worry? What does your first reaction reveal about you?
Read John 11:6-7.
4. What did Jesus do when He heard the news about Lazarus? What seems surprising about it in light of v. 5?
5. Sharing question: Share the story of a time when God’s answer to your prayer was delayed. How did you respond? What happened in the end? What did you learn about God and about yourself?
6. Responding to God: Ask God to help you face trials with prayer and belief that He is working even when you cannot see it or when the answer does not match your request. Write down your prayer or your thoughts.
Review John 11:1-7 and read John 11:8-16.
7. What was the disciples’ concern about returning to Judea? (You may want to review the story in Jn. 10:22-39.)
8. Considering their concerns and considering what Jesus said about light in John 9:4-5, how do you understand what Jesus meant by His response in 11:9-10? What did Jesus reveal about God’s purposes in this situation (11:4, 15)?
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Bible resources or online about John 11:9-10 only.
9. As we have seen throughout John, there is misunderstanding of Jesus’ meaning in v. 11. How did the disciples understand him (11:12-13)? What did he really mean (11:14)?
10. It is a shame that Thomas is remembered for only one event, his reaction to the resurrection (later in John). What is praiseworthy about his reaction here concerning their return to Judea?
11. Sharing question: How does it make you feel to know that Jesus’ words can be confusing and that we aren’t smart enough to always understand the mind of God?
12. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem confessing your inability to be right about all the things of God. Ask for His Spirit to lead you to truth and to remind you that no person can totally understand God.
Review John 11:1-16 and read John 11:17-27. If you wonder why you need to reread, remember that you need to keep the entire story in context. You may even see something that you missed in your previous reading of it!
13. What was the situation in Bethany when Jesus arrived?
Burge gives us this insight: “There was a well-known Jewish belief (attested from about A.D. 200) that the soul of a dead person remained in the vicinity of the body ‘hoping to re-enter it’ for three days, but once decomposition set in, the soul departed.”20
14. In light of this, compare this resurrection to the other two times that Jesus brought people back from the dead:
a. Mk. 5:22-43
b. Lk. 7:11-17
15. What did Martha first say to Jesus when He showed up (11:21-22)?
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Greek resources or online to find out the meaning and usage of the word Martha used when she called Jesus “Lord” in 11:21.21 Martha was likely using the definition commonly used in that day.
Although we may not grasp it initially, Martha’s words were not a criticism but rather a statement of faith.
16. In Jn. 11:25-26 Jesus used another I Am statement. How would you explain it to a new believer or a seeker? What is He claiming for Himself?
Martha misunderstood Jesus’ statement that her brother would live again. Don’t you just love Martha? Although she didn’t grasp everything about Jesus, she knew that He was the Messiah, the Son of God! It reminds me of the blind man who was not afraid to speak about what had happened to him although he didn’t yet even know who Jesus was (9:25).
17. Sharing question: Sometimes I think we feel that we have to know everything and have all of our theological ducks in a row in order to share with others about Jesus. Express the fears that you have when you think about sharing what Jesus has done for you. You may want to take those fears and pray for faith to replace them as your prayer request for your small group this week.
18. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage to share what He has done for you and the humility to accept that you do not know it all!
Review John 11:17-27, and read John 11:28-37.
19. Compare Mary’s reaction and words when she saw Jesus (11:32-33) to Martha’s (11:21-27).
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the traditions for burial and mourning in the culture of Jesus’ day.
In both John 11:33 and 38, the text describes Jesus as “intensely moved” (NET). The NIV translates it “deeply moved”. Carson says, “As applied to human beings, it invariably suggests anger, outrage or emotional indignation… his inward reaction was anger or outrage or indignation.”22
20. Jesus’ tears are related to this emotion. He was obviously not crying over the fact that Lazarus was gone because He was about to raise him. What was happening around Jesus that may have caused Him to feel anger or indignation, and weep?
21. Sharing question: When the day comes that you face the loss of someone you love, how might it help you to see that Jesus did not suggest that grief was wrong for believers, that He did not minimize their suffering?
Read John 11:38-44.
22. Summarize the story.
23. Sharing question: What verse or phrase in this section of the story most strikes you? Why?
24. Responding to God: Thank God that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and all that means as we face death. Write your prayer below.
Read John 11:45-54.
25. What was the sign that Jesus performed? How does it relate to the purpose of the book of John in Jn. 20:30-31? (Be sure you have entered this sign on your chart!) How does this sign relate to the Prologue in Jn. 1:1-18? What two reactions did those who observed Jesus do this sign have?
26. What were the concerns of the council or Sanhedrin upon hearing the report of Lazarus’ resurrection (11:47-48)? How did they decide to deal with the problem?
Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the High Priest Caiaphas and about this body called the Sanhedrin or Council. What insights do you glean?
27. How did the High Priest Caiaphas unknowingly predict Jesus’ death on the cross for the eternal salvation of His people? Explain his meaning and the underlying prophecy.
The plot to kill Jesus resulted in His moving out of the area of Jerusalem, to a place usually understood as 12-15 miles from Jerusalem until “His time had come.”
28. Sharing question: How do you attune yourself to God’s timing so that you move when He calls you to move, as Jesus did in waiting to go to the site of Lazarus’ illness and as Jesus did when He waited to return to Jerusalem until Passover, as we will see next week?
29. Responding to God: Ask God for the faith to trust Him when loved ones die, and thank Him for the freedom to grieve that death. If you have believed that Christians are not to grieve, ask God to change your mind and show you how to grieve as a believer.
I am so grateful for the women who have shared the stories of losing a loved one. Their examples help us see how to grieve and trust God at the same time.
I lost my Mother in 1992 after a 9 month battle with lung cancer.
I had just moved from Dallas to Durham, NC for grad school when she was diagnosed in September. It was a very difficult time as this was one of my biggest fears in life up to that point - - not only losing someone in my family “too early”, but specifically from cancer. Facing this all alone in a new town - with my parents in Florida, my sister and one of my brothers back in Dallas, and my other brother in Cincinnati - was rough.
I had many, many days of tears as I thought about what my Mother was going through with radiation, the fear of cancer, and the sadness of potentially not being around to see her grandchildren grow up. I was sad for myself too, thinking about how much I would miss her if she died. At the same time though, I remember having an amazing sense of peace—an assurance that kept me from total despair.
Fortunately, I knew my Mom was a believer and that she would be with God no matter what happened (and that He was walking with her as she faced this scary situation). I kept remembering my Mom’s words to me when we lost my Grandmother (her Mother). When I remarked that I was really sad for my Grandmother (and all that she would miss here on earth), my Mom quickly replied that we should never be sad for the people who have left if they had put their faith/trust in Jesus, because they are in heaven. They are much better off there … but that it is very sad for the people left behind who will miss them.
I also knew that God would be with me regardless of the outcome. I would always have Him to turn to and lean on for support.
I prayed daily for a miraculous healing for my Mother, but also for God’s will in the situation and that if it was his will to take her, that he would do so quickly and spare her from suffering. I definitely felt supported by God as I was dealing with this seemingly “all alone” in a new town.
I’ll admit that once my Mother died, I was angry at God for awhile for not answering my prayer as I wanted. Because I was a Christian, I thought I should not really be angry and should accept God’s will more readily, so I stifled my true feelings. I distanced myself from God. Later I realized that it was OK to express that anger directly to God because He already knew it! I was certainly not fooling him! I also realized that God did answer my prayer. . just my “second option” that she not suffer long. That has been reinforced again even recently when a hospice nurse in my Community Group commented that lung cancer is particularly cruel because patients usually remain mentally alert until the very end, and it is a slow, painful death. My Mom was spared from that and I am very thankful that my prayer was answered.
Although I miss my Mom very much, I smile whenever I think of her “hanging out” in heaven. “Amazing Grace” was her favorite hymn and I smile each time I sing the last verse “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise … .” because I realize that although it seems like she’s been gone a very long time, it’s just a blink of the eye in the context of eternity and I will get to “hang out” with her when I am called home too.
In January 2005 my grandmother (Meme) passed away. This was definitely the hardest loss I have experienced. After my parents divorce when I was 13, I lived with my dad and his mother (Meme) took a big role in helping with me while I was still at home. She was definitely a second mom and couldn’t have modeled a woman who loved the Lord any better than she did. I can honestly say that I’m certain her prayers kept me from making a lot of wrong choices. I cannot even imagine what my life would have looked like without her.
One of the biggest answered prayers for me was having her at my wedding. I had prayed for years that the Lord would allow her to live long enough to be there for that special day. She said a beautiful prayer at our wedding and I will treasure it forever.
Little did I know that she would be taken from us just a few days before my first anniversary and we would actually bury her on our 1st anniversary? In spite of the incredible grieving that I experienced and still do from time to time I have always carried a peace in my heart because I knew that for her life was truly beginning. She was in no more pain and had reached her ultimate goal, living in eternity with her Savior. We all knew that she would rather be with Jesus than anywhere. A scripture that someone had sent me during the days that followed truly opened my eyes to this and I would read it over and over when I was overwhelmed with how much I missed her. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9). I was certain of one thing and that was her love for the Lord and it was such an encouragement and peaceful feeling to think about her experiencing her eternal treasures.
Growing up I never knew my grandfather because he passed away when my mom was 30 and I was only a baby. I often wondered as I grew older what it must have been like to lose her Dad at a relatively young age, and I couldn’t imagine ever going through that. As I neared my 30’s, it happened that my very own father was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In early 2007, his health had declined to the point that my mother and father were about to make adjustments in their home to aid in his daily living needs. In God’s mercy, the Lord took him home with an unexpected massive heart attack unrelated to the ALS that February, still independent, still at home. Here I was 33, and my Dad had just died, my Dad, not somebody else’s.
As much as I knew my father would eventually die (ALS eventually debilitates them so), I don’t think I was really ever ready to say goodbye, to have to let go. The reality of death is such a strange thing in our day to day life activities. It seems so final. It hurts so deep. But therein lies the difference, for a Christ follower, it is not final. And over and over again in the days to come after the Lord had taken my Dad home, I was comforted by the fact that Christ has conquered death. In fact, in the transfiguration we see that Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah, two prophets who had long died from two very different time periods ages ago, and yet the three of them were having a conversation. It comforted me to know that I will recognize my Dad in heaven, and we will be able to talk again. It was this hope and peace that walked me through those days, as I saw the timing of the Lord come together. We can not choose how long our loved ones have with us, but we can encourage them to choose where they will be after they die. Only through Jesus Christ, can we together have that assurance.
My paternal grandmother, Jahel, always reminded me of the Bible verse about the mustard seed in Matthew 17:19-20, in which Jesus told his disciples that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. She was a small person, but her faith was enormous and she derived a great deal of strength from God. I grew up close to her and much of what I know about Jesus was learned from her. She taught me to evangelize in the streets of my home town in Mexico. Her purse was always full of tracts to pass out to people. She always put God before anything else and had her priorities straight: God, family, and then everything else. She was not afraid to stand up for God and always focused on the truth. She would praise God in everything she did, singing hymns while cooking, moving conversation towards God, and volunteering at her church.
My grandmother died in 1993 at the age of 82. I knew she was sick, but by the time I got to my home town, she had passed away and the funeral was about to start. I never knew the full impact she had on people until the funeral. I saw grown men crying because their Bible teacher was gone. I was surprised that in Mexico, a male-dominant society, men would be so attached to my grandmother, who ministered to them. I had heard of people who could feel joy in grief, but I didn’t understand it until that moment. When I saw her body, I knew that her soul was with the Lord and that even though I would miss her, the fact that she was with Jesus and had left such a wonderful legacy filled me with joy. At that moment, I thanked God for the wonderful role model and gift He gave me in my grandmother. I decided that I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and my grandmother. Weeks later, while I was in the grieving process, I was reminded constantly by God that she was in His presence, which gave me peace. This experience helped me when my mother died earlier this year. I pray that everyone would have this joy, knowing that their loved ones are in the presence of the Lord. It motivates me to tell others about Jesus so that they may have this assurance of everlasting life. It is still hard to think of the fact that my mother and grandmothers are not with me, but knowing they are with the Lord makes it much easier to bear.
20 Burge, 315.
21 You can go to bible.org and look up any verse, click on that verse and get the translation in several versions. At the bottom of that is the verse with the Strong’s numbers for the Greek word. Click that to go to the various meanings. Consider all of the definitions as possibilities.
22 Carson, 415.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 (NET)
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?
3. Compare Jesus’ words in John 12:27-28a with those in Mark 14:36 (look at the context).
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?
14. Jesus quoted Ps. 41:9. Read it in more than one translation, and copy your favorite below.27 How would such a situation make you feel? Why?
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)
24 Note #20 in NET Bible on John 12:42.
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.”
28 Note # 23 in NET Bible on John 13:19.
29 Carson, 471.
30 Carson, 497.
“I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. . . . Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
Jesus in John 15:1, 4 (NET)
I am the last person to question about anything that grows. I have no green thumb and am totally dependent on my husband for keeping plants alive—inside or out! Although horticulture is foreign to me, it would not have been to those who heard Jesus in the Jewish culture of that day. He often used everyday images to show people eternal truths, calling Himself bread, a light, a door, and a shepherd, and now a vine.
Before we get into this snapshot of Jesus, let’s review the context. Scan back from John 15 until you remember where Jesus was, when this was, and to whom He was speaking.
Diamonds in the Word: Instead of simply scanning for the context, read from John 13:18-15:27.
Read John 15:1-4, which includes the final I Am statement and your memory verses.
The vine picture was a familiar one to the Jews; it was used in the Old Testament as an image for the Jewish nation. During the Maccabean period they even adopted it as their national symbol.
1. Let’s look at this picture in the Old Testament because Jesus’ disciples would have known these passages and interpreted Jesus’ words with them in mind. Write down what it says about the vine and the message for God’s people:
a. Psalm 80:7-8, Psalm 80:14-17 (To whom does v. 17 refer?)
b. Isaiah 5:1-7
c. Jeremiah 2:21
d. Hosea 10:1-2
The use of the vine image in the Old Testament emphasizes that Israel’s unfaithfulness to God meant that the nation did not bear the fruit that God intended. In the same way in which Jesus had already represented Himself as superseding many of the Old Testament pictures (the temple, the Jewish feasts, Moses, etc.), He now declared that He was the true Vine, replacing fruitless Israel.
2. If you had been a good religious Jew and heard Jesus make this claim, what do you think you would have thought and felt about it?
3. Think back through Jesus’ previous I Am statements. How does this one compare with the others? In other words, what is He saying that is similar and what is different? What common threads do you see?
4. Sharing question: Which I Am statement is most meaningful to you personally? Why?
5. Responding to God: Draw a picture of a vine that has many branches bearing much fruit. (You can do it!) Ask God to produce fruit in your life.
Read John 15:1-8, which is not a parable (story to teach one main truth). It is more of an extended metaphor with many elements that express truths in picture form.
6. To assure your grasp of the details, fill in the right column of this chart.
Element in the metaphor
What it represents
Vine (15:1, 5)
Vinedresser or gardener (15:1)
7. What does the branch need to do in order to bear much fruit (15:4-5, 7-8)?
Diamonds in the Word: Read about vines and grapes online or in resources that you have. Consider which information applies to Jesus’ metaphor and which don’t.
8. Sharing question: How do you practically make sure that you are staying attached to Jesus? (We are not talking about staying attached for salvation but so that Jesus’ life is affecting your life in such a way that you are productive.)
9. Responding to God: Ask God if you are bearing much fruit or little fruit. Draw a picture of yourself in the Vine as a branch bearing much fruit.
Review John 15:1-8.
10. What work does God do to the various branches (15:2)?
“In each case the assumption is that fruit-bearing is the test of life-giving attachment to the vine. . . [It] is a by-product” of the connection.31
11. Read Hebrews 12:5-13; how does it explain what it means to prune a branch?
12. Read Eze. 15:1-8. What do you learn about the usefulness of branches on a vine that do not produce fruit? How does this apply to Jn. 15:6?
Many have taken the phrase “in me” in John 15:6 to say that believers can lose faith and their salvation. Burge suggests that this presses a metaphor beyond its purpose. He describes the essential message this way: “The principle is simple: Jesus (and the vine) are the source of life; to fail to have him is to fail to have life. To refuse to ‘remain in Jesus” (15:6a) is to refuse the gift of life he offers.”32
13. What person involved in this final night of Jesus’ life appears connected to Jesus but will prove that he is not really connected to the life of the Vine by his actions? Why would Jesus need to explain that situation to the eleven who are with Him?
Diamonds in the Word: Read about these verses in commentaries or on a reliable online resource.
14. Sharing question: Do you know someone who appeared attached to the Vine for a short time but who eventually disavowed the faith and never bore real fruit? How would you explain that situation by the teaching in this metaphor?
15. Responding to God: Write a prayer that God will produce much fruit through your life.
Review John 15:1-8 and read John 15:9-17.
16. What is the relationship between loving Jesus and obeying Him (15:9-10)?
17. Read Jesus’ message to the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-7. For what did Jesus criticize them? How did He tell them to fix the problem (2:5)?
18. Sharing question: Has your love for Jesus lost any of its fervor? How can you practically apply Rev. 2:5 so that you return to your first love? Share with your group your plan.
19. What is the prayer promise that leads to much fruit (15:7-8)?
Diamonds in the Word: Look for other prayer promises in the New Testament. Use your concordance and look for words like “ask” or “pray”. Or use a topical Bible for help.
20. Responding to God: Pray a kingdom prayer (see p.99) that is true to God’s words and to Jesus’ character and which will lead to the production of fruit. Write it below.
Read John 15:18-16:4, 33.
21. List the things that Jesus says about His relationship to the world.
22. What did Jesus tell His disciples to expect from the world? Why?
23. Why did Jesus say He was telling them such hard things (16:1, 4)?
Diamonds in the Word: Read John 16:5-33, which we are skipping. Pay particular attention to Jesus’ teaching concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.
24. Sharing question: How does it help you to know in advance that you will not be accepted as part of the world? Share with your group a situation where it was clear that it was your faith that caused you to be on the outside of someone’s life.
25. Responding to God: Pray for the world, knowing that God loves those caught up in it (Jn. 3:16).
I pray that we all learn to prioritize time with God so that we stay vitally connected to the Vine and bear much fruit. Bob Ann shares that it’s okay to work out that time into our schedules; when we spend time with God is not as important as the fact that we do it!
Because I accepted Christ so late in life, I was eager to spend time in the Word. I began going to Bible studies and working with a wonderful lady in our church who encouraged me in spiritual disciplines. I began reading the Bible from cover to cover. I found that if I missed a day or week it took me forever to catch up, so I began making it a priority out of self defense. Soon I began to look on it as a time of joy and spending time with the Lord rather than a task to be done. As a new Christian I had my quiet time while the girls were napping or at school; now it’s first thing in the morning with a cup of great coffee with a great Lord. I even find myself looking forward to waking up early, and disappointed when I wake up after 6:00.
31 Burge, 418.
32 Burge, 427-428.
“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.”
John 17:20-21 (NET)
If you were about to die, what would you pray for those who would be left behind after you were gone? What would be on your heart for them? In John 17, we get to hear the heart of Jesus as He prayed for those He was about to leave behind at the end of His earthly ministry. Put yourself with the disciples as they listen to His intimate conversation with His Father; consider what you learn about His heart for His people, including you. Think about His desires for you and for His entire church.
Our context is still the section of John that focuses on Jesus’ ministry to His disciples on the evening before His crucifixion. They had at this point left the upper room where they shared in the Passover meal. Preceding His arrest, Jesus prayed for them, and that prayer is our focus this week.
Read John 17:1-26 to get a sense of the entire prayer.
1. What would you consider the theme of this prayer (the most repeated emphasis)? What most strikes you about this prayer? What is most meaningful to you? Why?
Diamonds in the Word: Some scholars point out that departing prayers were common in the ancient world. We see a similar prayer by Moses in Deut. 32-33. Read it and consider what elements it has which are similar to those in Jesus’ prayer.
Focus now on John 17:1-5.
Jesus said once again that the time or hour had come. The NET Bible says this: “It appears best to understand the ‘hour’ as a period of time starting at the end of Jesus’ public ministry and extending through the passion week, ending with Jesus’ return to the Father through death, resurrection, and exaltation. The ‘hour’ begins as soon as the first events occur which begin the process that leads to Jesus’ death.”33
2. For whom did Jesus pray in this first section of His prayer? What did He specifically request of God (17:1, 5)?
Burge says, “The Greek word [glory] used here (doxazo) means to venerate, bring homage or praise . . . For Jesus the cross is not a place of shame, but a place of honor.”
3. Sharing question: It seems ironic that Jesus referred to the process of His passion as glorification. What people may see as the humility of defeat was in actuality His greatest victory. What feelings does that evoke in you?
4. Sharing question: How had Jesus already glorified God (17:4)? How well have you brought glory to God in that same way? Rate yourself on a scale of 1-4. What can you do to improve your rating?
5. Write down Jesus’ description of eternal life (17:3). How does it differ from the way most people seem to talk or think about eternal life?
6. Responding to God: Ask God to give you the grace to truly experience your eternal life today! Talk to Him about your desire to intimately know the Triune God. Write your thoughts below.
Review John 17:1-26. Today we are going to focus on John 17:6-19.
7. For whom was Jesus praying in this section of His prayer? What did He specifically ask God to do for them (17:11, 15, 17)? What was their relationship to the world and why did Jesus pray as He did for them?
Some translations use the phrase “kept safe” in these verses; others say “kept from”. One of the meanings of the Greek word is guard, and that is why many translators use the phrase kept safe.
8. What did it mean to be kept safe by God’s name? Bruce says, “The name of God in the OT denotes not only his character . . . but also his power.”34 Read these cross-references about the power of His name and write down your insights:
a. Ps. 20:1 (If your translation doesn’t use the word “name”, look it up in another one.)
b. Ps. 54:1
c. Prov. 18:10
Diamonds in the Word: Consider what you know about the history of the early church from Acts or the epistles. The apostles were not always “safe” from harm; in fact, most of them were martyred. How would you explain this prayer, then?
In John 17:17 Jesus asked the Father to sanctify them, or make them holy. Burge says, “To be holy, then, is not in the first instance a description of perfection (though this is included). It refers to a life that is so aligned with God that it reflects God’s passions completely (for good, against evil). Such a person can be considered ‘sanctified,’ holy, attached to God’s purposes and presence.”35
9. By what means did Jesus pray that they would be sanctified or made holy (17:17)? What insights does Rom.12:1-2 give you into defining what it means to be set apart unto God?
10. Sharing question: How well are you using the means that God has provided for you (17:17) to be aligned with His purposes and holy lifestyle in this world? What one thing can you practically do to be sure that you are allowing God to use it to make you holy?
11. Responding to God: Consider Jesus’ petitions for protection from the world and for consecration for God’s purposes and presence in the midst of that world. Write a prayer for yourself below based on today’s verses. If necessary, confess your sin of prioritizing other things over God’s purposes and His word.
Reread John 17:1-24, focusing on vv. 20-23. This includes your Precious Word from God to memorize this week.
12. At this point of His prayer, Jesus expanded the group for whom He interceded. For whom did He pray in this section? What was His specific request (17:21)?
13. What did Jesus say would be the result of that specific request being answered (17:21, 23)? What makes someone part of the group that is able to be united this way? (What do you see from comparing the two groups in 17:8, 20?)
14. Read these verses and write down how they relate to Jesus’ prayer in these verses:
d. 1 John 4:1-6
e. 1 Cor: 5:9-13
Diamonds in the Word: What other principles would be involved in having oneness or not being able to do so? What verses can you find to support your thinking?
15. Sharing question: Some of you have experienced major problems in a local church—perhaps even a church split. Without gossiping or sharing names or people or churches, what did you learn about unity, its foundation, or the witness of unity? OR if you have never been part of a church that was split in some way, what responses about such situations have you heard from friends, etc. who are not Christ-followers?
16. Responding to God: Pray for your church. Pray according to Jesus’ prayer in 17:21-23. Write your prayer below. Consider writing a note to your pastor or other church leaders letting them know that you have prayed this for the leadership and those who attend there.
Review John 17:1-26. Note 17:24-26 in particular to answer these questions. This seems to continue the subjects of His prayers from v. 20.
17. What did Jesus pray for them specifically here? Why did He pray this?
18. How did Jesus describe His relationship with the Father in these verses?
19. Compare what Jesus said about love in John 17:23, 26 with these verses. Write down your insights:
a. 1 John 3:16-18
b. 1 John 4:7-10
c. 1 John 4:16
Diamonds in the Word: Use a concordance or Bible software to find all references to love in John’s gospel. Write down your thoughts.
20. Sharing question: Focus on the love that Jesus showed for you. Think of one specific person who needs the love of God this week (either a Christian or not). How can you show the same kind of sacrificial and practical love that Jesus showed you for that specific person this week? Share your plans or the outcome with your small group.
21. Responding to God: Write a prayer for that person, asking God to use you to show her/him the love of Jesus. Write out your prayer below, or draw a picture of yourself as God’s vehicle of love.
Review John 17:1-26.
We have looked at Jesus’ prayer of intercession this week. Some have called it His high-priestly prayer. Others have said it’s more of a prayer of consecration for Himself as God’s sacrifice and for His followers for God’s purposes. Others have suggested that it should be called the Lord’s Prayer because this one actually was a prayer of intercession.
Diamonds in the Word: Compare this prayer with the prayer of Matt. 6:9-13. Which would you title “The Lord’s Prayer” and why? Feel free to read in your resources on John 17.
The prayer of John 17 is an example of Jesus praying as our intercessor. He continues that ministry to us today from heaven as our great High Priest.
22. What do you learn about Jesus’ present-day intercession for us from these verses?
a. Heb. 7:24-25
b. Heb. 2:18
23. Read Lk. 22:31-34, another example of Jesus interceding for His own. Write down your thoughts.
24. How does Jesus’ prayer in John 17 relate to the kingdom prayers in the back of your workbook?
25. Sharing question: What comfort does it give you to know that Jesus lives to make intercession for you? Why?
26. Responding to God: Draw a picture that represents Jesus as your Intercessor. Go to Him with a prayer of either protection from the evil one or a prayer of consecration through His word. Write Jesus’ words of intercession from John 17 concerning that on the picture.
Janie shares her story of recognizing that Jesus intercedes on behalf of His children according to the will of God.
I think the blood running down her face threw me off spiritually. Everything up to then had been going great at our family reunion in the country. Kids were all getting along, and they were at the age when you can let them go a bit—my daughter was about eleven years old.
They had all been horseback riding together—all the cousins. They had been getting along great, as were the adults! But then one of the kids came running into the kitchen where it was my turn to fix dinner, and said to me, “Barbara’s head hurts.” I thought he meant that she had a headache. I said, “I bet she’s too hot, so tell her to come into the kitchen and cool off.” But he just looked at me and said, “She can’t.” Then one of the older kids ran in and gave the whole picture, “Barbara has been kicked in the head by a horse!” I ran outside and all I remember was blood everywhere.
We immediately put her in the Suburban (others followed in a caravan). I could see her skull. She couldn’t open her left eye very well because the forehead skin was broken and so the eyebrow sagged over her eye. But the big question was—was her brain injured? Arriving at the hospital, Barb became hysterical when they showed her the shot she was about to get for pain. I was crying but really rather mentally thought I was doing okay. All the doctors took one look at me and put me in the hall. I was all alone and sank down to my knees against the wall. What should I pray? Is this God’s will that my daughter be injured? What if she was mentally challenged for the rest of her life? I tried to pray, but somehow, couldn’t get the words out. All I had were questions. Is it okay to pray for a healthy daughter? I had prayed for her as a baby. With so many of my prayers, I had put my family on the sacrificial altar to God many times, praying that He knew what was best for them and He knew what the future held; most importantly, He loved them even more than I did. But many times I had dragged them off that spiritual altar, and tried my best to raise them, only to find myself (when things were messed up) putting them back on the altar again. This was one of those times.
Was God punishing me? Did I do something wrong? I would ask for forgiveness if I knew what it was. I remembered that the Bible says that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray. I remembered that Jesus Christ was my Intercessor. I asked them to go before the Father for me because I didn’t know what to say. How could I, a forgiven sinner, think during times like this?
Finally, a strange peace came over me, and I knew that no matter what happened, God loved my daughter and me, and He would be there for us no matter the outcome on this earth. I knew that one day she would be totally healed in heaven, and that for now I had to rely on Him. Somehow, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I thanked God for that peace, got up, and went into the waiting room with my family. I was so thankful they were there; I was so thankful that the hospital was a good one; I was so thankful for the years I had had with my daughter.
Later, the doctor came in and told me that she was fine, and that she probably had a concussion but that was all. She had had many, many stitches and would probably need to see a plastic surgeon later since the scar would leave a big horseshoe imprint on her forehead. I needed to watch her and get back to him if anything changed. God was so good to heal her, but even if He hadn’t, I was ready to do His will and love my daughter no matter what through His power and love for me. I also knew that no matter what, even when I don’t know what or how to pray, I have an Intercessor for me before my Father in heaven.
33 Note #27 in NET Bible on John 17:1.
34 Bruce, 332.
35 Ibid., 467.
“Then Pilate said, ‘So you are a king!’ Jesus replied, ‘You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world—to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’”
John 18:37 (NET)
Throughout the Old Testament God foretold through His prophets that a king in the line of King David was coming. He would be a great king, a powerful warrior who would bring back the greatness and the glory of the Jewish nation, bringing peace in his wake. The Jews of Jesus’ day were anticipating such a king; they did not expect their king to die! Jesus’ true identity was basically hidden except from those with eyes to see.
We have been reading John’s account of the evening preceding Jesus’ crucifixion, a more detailed version of Jesus’ words that evening than those given by the other gospel writers. At the end of last week’s study, Jesus had just finished praying for His own. We pick up the story as He approaches the Mount of Olives, where the Garden of Gethsemane is located.
Keep in mind that Jesus is the King. If possible read the entire account of Jesus’ arrest, trials, and crucifixion in one sitting in John 18:1-19:42. If you are short of time today, read the “Cliff Note” version: John 18:1-8, 12-14, 19-24, 29-40; 19:1-16.
1. In John 18:5-8 the soldiers found Jesus in the garden. When they said that they wanted Jesus of Nazareth, His answer was, “I Am.” The “he” in v. 5 was added by the translators. His answer was another I Am statement. When He gave this answer, something strange happened to the soldiers. What involuntarily reaction did they have? How do you explain this?
A major theme throughout John 18 and 19 is that of Jesus as King. Burge notes this:
From the wounded man in the garden (Malchus, meaning ‘my king’) to Jesus’ sustained discussion with Pilate, the word “king” occurs over a dozen times. Even on the cross, Pilate insists that Jesus be labeled “King of the Jews” instead of the compromising “This Man Said I am King of the Jews” (cf. 19:21). The remarkable thing from John’s perspective is that all of this is going on while the characters on his stage do not know it is going on. In a manner similar to the misunderstanding accompanying the signs and discourses, the divine revelation at work in the world in Christ cannot be perceived by the natural eye.36
2. Write down all mentions of "king” that you can find through 19:16. In light of the quote above, write down any thoughts that you have about them.
3. John presents Jesus, not as a victim, but as the one in control of the situation throughout His passion. Look at Jn. 18:4 and at the surrounding verses. How is Jesus depicted in control in the garden? What about in his trials before Annas (Jn. 18:19-23) and Pilate (Jn. 19:6-11)?
4. Responding to God: Praise Jesus once again as the great I Am, the God who delivered His people from slavery in Egypt and who was about to deliver them from their sins. Write a prayer or poem below.
Scan John 18:1 - 19:16, which you read yesterday. Read John 19:17-30.
5. Write a newspaper article and headlines about Jesus’ crucifixion as described by John in 19:16b-30. Be sure it includes the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” information.
6. Sharing question: Write out the thoughts and feelings you had as you read John’s account of Jesus’ passion to share with your small group.
7. Why did the Jewish rulers dislike Pilate’s inscription noting the charges against Jesus?
8. How does John 19:30 relate to John 10:15, 17-18?
9. Read Isaiah 53:3-12. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ crucifixion, Isaiah predicted His death. What does his picture of Jesus’ suffering add to what you have already seen in John? What was the purpose of Jesus’ death (Is. 53:5-6, 10-12)?
Diamonds in the Word: Read the account of the passion in at least one of the other three gospels and note any differences in emphasis.
10. Responding to God: Take some time to sing a song of praise to Jesus for His death on your behalf or a song extolling Him as King. (Ideas in footnote.37)
If you have time, read John 19:31 – 20:31. If not, just read John 20:1-31.
11. Now this is a great headline and news story! As a journalist, do an “interview” with Mary Magdalene, Thomas, or Peter. Write it out below. If you don’t like that, draw a cartoon-type series of shots at the tomb! (Although the term “sign” isn’t used in the text, this is the greatest of all the signs! Put it on your chart.)
12. How did those who saw Jesus respond to His resurrection (Mary Magdalene, ten disciples, Thomas)?
13. Explain the importance of the resurrection according to 1 Cor. 15:1-19, as if you were explaining it to someone seeking after truth.
14. Sharing question: The truths that bind Christians together include belief in the Triune God, the full deity of Jesus, His humanity, His death for our sins, His resurrection, and His ultimate return. How does it feel to be part of a history of faith that extends back nearly two thousand years? Write a poem or draw a picture depicting the faith of our “fathers”.
15. Responding to God: Thank God for preserving the faith handed down from the apostles, such as John. Thank Him that they had such strong belief after the resurrection of Jesus that they were willing to die for Him. Write your prayer below.
Diamonds in the Word: Read John 21, the final chapter of the book. Feel free to read your commentaries on this chapter.
Today we will complete our study of Jesus as King; tomorrow we’ll take some time to remember what God has done in our lives through the study of John.
We have seen that John emphasizes the snapshot of Jesus as King throughout His passion narrative. Today we want to look at some other scriptural pictures of our King.
16. Read these Old Testament prophecies of the coming King and compare them with the New Testament fulfillment:
a. 2 Sam. 7:8, 16 and Matt. 1:6, 16-17
b. Micah 5:2 and Matt. 2:1-6
c. Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:26-33
d. Zech. 9:9 and John 12:12-15
e. Isaiah 9:6-7 and Rev. 19:11-16
17. Responding to God: If Jesus is the ultimate King, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He should rule all things. How much rule are you allowing Him to have in your life? Ask God to show you one area where you are ruling your own life. Perhaps it is your spending habits; maybe it is your sex life; it could be your thought life or what you read or watch; perhaps it is how you spend your time or leisure; or it could be your desire to hold onto a bad attitude. Write a prayer of confession, knowing that God promises to forgive, but He does ask you to turn from the sin.
18. Sharing question: Share what God showed you in the previous question with your small group if you are willing. Write your prayer request based on your desire to give Jesus authority in that area of your life, that His kingdom would truly come!
Tomorrow we change topics a bit; before we do, let’s go ahead and read our story.
This story is based on the truth that our King is concerned with eternity; therefore, our loyalty to His kingdom requires us to set our hearts on what is eternal and important rather than the material of the here and now. Bob Ann shares how she needs such a change of perspective every December!
Each Christmas I get in a dither that can spoil my Christmas and cause those near and dear to me to withdraw from me. In the midst of my dithers God reminds me that there is more to life and Christmas than my agenda. I need this attitude adjustment each year. Most of the time I don’t even think to pray for a change of heart until I have offended someone. Each year in my One Year Bible I read at Christmas time in I John 2 (because Christmas comes at the end of the year and I John is at the end of the New Testament) “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on the in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity” (The Message). This helps me get my thoughts in the right perspective.
I hope you enjoy reviewing what God has done through the study of John today. God calls on His people to declare His praises publicly. Choose at least one answer from today’s lesson to share with your group, and mark it so that you remember to share. Consider what you might share with a larger group as well.
19. Sharing question: Review the table of contents (page 3) to remember the various snapshots of Jesus revealed in John’s gospel. Which one was most meaningful to you? Why?
20. Sharing question: Review the memory verses. Which one has the most significance in your life? Why?
21. Sharing question: What one thing has God changed in your heart or life through this study?
22. Sharing question: How has God used your small group to encourage and challenge you during this study? Think of one specific example to share with them as an encouragement to them. Or write a note to your leader or to another member of your group, thanking her for her influence in your life.
23. Sharing question: How has your love for Jesus grown through this study?
24. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem to Him expressing your thanks for all of these things.
I pray that God has used the snapshots of Jesus revealed in the book of John to draw you closer to the King! Thank you for your faithfulness to your time with God, knowing that it is time not only well-spent, but time that is an investment in what is eternal!
What was the Sign?
How did it point to Jesus’ power & divinity?
Help focus your prayers to the bigger issues of the kingdom, knowing the coming of the kingdom is the will of God for you—“Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Study the prayers of the New Testament and see how they involved kingdom issues: character-building in those who suffered, the glory of God in the midst of persecution, and the knowledge of Jesus in the world. Ask God for the grace to see His will as greater and better than your own. These prayers will help you submit your will to His.
Mt. 6:33-34: That I might seek God’s kingdom first in my life. (If there are monetary or physical needs involved, this is a condition necessary for God’s promise to supply to kick in.)
Jas. 1:2-4, 12: That God would use this difficulty to produce endurance, completion, and blessing in my life.
Jas. 1:17-18; 4:3: That I would trust that God gives good gifts and realize that His gifts are better than those I desire.
Eph. 1:17-21: That God would give me wisdom and the revelation of Him in the midst of this time.
Eph. 4:1-3: That I would walk worthy and show forth these qualities to others with whom I am having difficulty. (Look at the list of qualities)
Col. 1:9-12: That God would fill me with the knowledge of His will that I may walk worthy.
Col. 3:1-4: That God will give me the grace to set my mind on the things above rather than the circumstances.
Rom. 8:28-29: That I will trust that God is at work in the midst of these difficulties for my good, not for my destruction; that God will use this time to mold me more into the image of Jesus.
36 Burge, 511-512.
37Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?; Amazing Love; Crown Him King of Kings; Hallelujah, What a Savior!; I Will Sing of My Redeemer; Jesus Paid it All; Lamb of God; O Sacred Head Now Wounded; The Old Rugged Cross; There is a Redeemer; We Will Glorify the King of Kings.
Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983.
Burge, Gary. The NIV Application Commentary: John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.
Carson, D.A. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991.
NET Bible: New English Translation. Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., 1996-2003.
Series Leader's Guide
Series Student Workbook
*Note: although not all lessons have audio/handout/ppt files these are all the resources available for this study.