Tuesday, June 19, 2018

John 12:27-50: A Final Appeal (Discussion Questions)

John 12:27-50: A Final Appeal
preached June 12, 2018

Discussion Questions

1) What do you think of the term "people of faith," as it is used by media outlets? Is it helpful? Why or why not?

2) The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines faith in Jesus as "a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the gospel." What stands out to you in this definition? How does it help us grasp what Jesus means in this passage by His call for us to "believe in Him?"

3) What is the difference between having faith in our faith and having faith in Jesus?

4) What evidence do we have in this passage that God must open our eyes to believe? Put another way, what are the crowds NOT able to see?

5) Bertrand Russell famous said that he would have to say to God, on Judgment Day, "I'm sorry but you haven't given us enough evidence." How is the response of the crowd similar to this comment? What does that say about the nature of unbelief?

6) How does this passage challenge us to live by faith in Jesus? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fit for a King :: John 12:12-26 :: June 10, 2018

John 12:26-26 -- Discussion Questions

1) Jesus displays Himself as a King by accepting the praises of the people outside Jerusalem. What is the significance of the palms? And the songs? Why is it so incredible that Jesus does not shut down this parade?

2) At the same time, Jesus corrects the peoples' misunderstandings about His Kingship. Discuss what the following decisions say about Jesus' Kingship:

  • Jesus' decision to ride a donkey
  • Jesus' reception of the Greek Gentiles 
  • Jesus' discussion of His death (24)
3) Jesus spells out how our lives should reflect the sort of King we serve, instructing us in verse 25 to live a life of self-denial. What's the difference between hating yourself and humbling yourself? Between self-loathing and self-denial? How do we live this out in our daily lives? Give some specific examples.

4) Jesus also promises that He bestows true honor to those who follow Him: verse 26. Compare and contrast the honor that we try to "grasp" with the honor that can only be "given." Why is the Father's honor so much better? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

John 12:1-11 :: Worth It All :: Discussion Questions

1. Consider each person mentioned as attending this party: Martha, Lazarus, Judas, and Mary. Who do you identify with? Why?

2. What is your prized possession? How much is it worth to you? Can you sympathize with Judas, who rebuked Mary for spending her prized possession on Jesus?

3. Name some of the things that made Mary undignified at the party: what did she do that broke cultural barriers and protocols? Speculate on why did it (the text only gives us clues but no direct answers to that question).

4. Judas says that the perfume was worth 1 years wage -- that's beaucoup bucks! Are there times you are faced with a similar decision about how to invest your money for the kingdom? How does Mary's example help you make that decision?

5. Should Christians care about the poor? Does Jesus contradict or confirm your answer when he insists that "the poor will always be with you?"

6. Ryan said that before we can answer the question, "What is Jesus worth to you?" we must answer the question, "What are you worth to Him?" How does Mary help us answer that second question? Why does that answer help us answer the first? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

John 10: Discussion Questions (5/13/18)

John 10: Discussion Questions (5/13/18)

Begin by re-reading John 10. Then read Psalm 23. What similarities do you see between the two expressions of God as our Shepherd? What differences?

1) In verse 3, Jesus insists that a good shepherd knows his sheep 'by name.' How does this comfort or encourage you today -- knowing that Jesus knows you by name?

2) Jesus says in verse 12 that He protects us from harm: what harm is He talking about? What 'wolves' does He protect us from? How?

3) Jesus is encouraging us to continue to run to Him for protection. One way to do that is to follow the example of Martin Luther, who once said, "So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: 'I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!'” In what way is this line of thinking 'running to Jesus for protection?" Protection from what? What are some ways we try to protect ourselves? 

4) In verse 16, Jesus declares that He has "other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also." Who is He talking about? Why does that matter? (Romans 11:25-36 might be a helpful cross-reference). 

5) As you close in prayer, share with each other if there are particular matters you need the Lord to shepherd you through. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

John 9: Staying Awake

John 9 Discussion Questions
May 6, 2018

Thanks for discussing (or simply meditating on) the sermon.

1) Start by reading John 9.

  • If you want to view a wonderful dramatic reading of John 8 and 9, see this one by Bruce Kuhn (by the way, I was a 20-year college student in the audience at Urbana '93 and I still remember seeing this for the first time): https://vimeo.com/98074734.
  • What words or phrases impressed you when you read or heard this passage again? 
2) Ryan said that only Jesus can wake us up to the most important things in life by opening our eyes so that we can see. When was the first time you "saw" Jesus? How did that happen? What difference did that make in your life?

3) What is the significance of verse 1: "Jesus saw a man..." What does that suggest about how we ought to see one another? What are the challenges to seeing others like Jesus?

4) John Newton is partially responsible for making verse 25 famous as shorthand for every one of our testimonies. What makes it such a wonderful way to describe what Jesus does for each of us? Is there someone you need to share your testimony with in the same way: clearly and courageously? Who is it? If you have time, pray for that person or those persons right now -- that God would open their spiritual eyes to Jesus. 

5) What lesson do we learn about Jesus from verse 1 and verse 35? Is that comforting to you today? Why?

6) Spend some time thanking God for opening your eyes, mouth, and heart. And ask Him to help you see and share Jesus more faithfully, according to His grace. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

John 8:31-59: True Freedom

True Freedom
John 8:31-59
April 29, 2018

1. In his book, Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah argues that freedom is the most deeply held, most resonant American value -- but it is a freedom that can be defined as "leave me alone!" Do you agree with Bellah? Are there ways that common misconception of freedom shapes our own understanding of true freedom?

2. In 8:31-32, Jesus insists that true freedom is only possible for those who make Him their Master. Why was this so offensive to the crowds? Why is it difficult to accept as well?

3. In 8:34-36, Jesus tells us that He sets us free from the slavery of sin. How is sin a form of slavery? What does it mean that Jesus, the Son of God, has freed us from our sin?

4. In what ways do the Jews in the crowd insult Jesus?

5. What has Jesus saved us for? Why is this such an essential ingredient of true freedom?

6. Are you 'hearing the words of God' (v. 47)? Are you giving them your full attention? What about when those words clash with your desires, and your dreams, and even your expectations? Like when God’s words about generosity challenge your selfish spending habits? And when God’s words about envy shine a spotlight on your jealously over our friend’s success? And when God’s words about sex condemn your lust or His words about marriage interrogate your relationship with a non-Christian?

7. Why were the Jews so infuriated by what Jesus says in verse 58? What is Jesus saying with these words? How should we respond? 

8. What is one take-away for you from this passage? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

John 5:19-29: Honor the Son

John 5:19-29  Honor the Son” (courtesy Jeff Klinger)

1.     Review from last week:  Why were the Jews “upset” after Jesus healed the man who was lying by the pool of Bethesda?
2.     What part of Jesus’ teaching particularly impressed Leo Tolstoy?  What action did Tolstoy take to honor Jesus’ teaching?  What evidence did Ryan give that made him think that Tolstoy honored Jesus’ teaching but did not honor Jesus, the Person?
3.     Is it possible that you as an evangelical Reformed Christian live by a coherent world view and moral framework to live and raise your children but do not honor Jesus, the Person?  What can you do about it?
4.     In what two ways do we see Jesus joining and enjoying his relationship with the Father?
5.     Ryan used his imagination to flesh out how Jesus might have reminisced about growing up with his “earthly father” Joseph.  Where did they work and what might have that been like?
6.     Jesus love for the Father drew him into the family business, Kingdom business.  What ultimately did that mean for Jesus?
7.     Where in the first chapter of John does it say that you become part of God’s family?
8.     Trivia.  Hopkins says that Christ plays in _________ (how many places)?
9.     From this passage Ryan said that Jesus receives two things from his role from the Father:  what are they?
      The Jews of Jesus’ day were correct in their understanding that there would be a final judgment, but they had one important thing wrong! What was it?
      What claim does Jesus make about himself in John 5: 21, 25 -26?

      What title from Daniel 7:9 does Jesus use for himself when confronting the Jews?  What can be understood from that title?

      Jesus will be the judge. You will receive life or judgment.  Is there a third option?

      What two kinds of people will come out of the tombs when they hear Jesus’ voice? Verse 29