Tuesday, October 9, 2018

John 19:28-30: It Is Finished

1. As you read these verses, what stands out to you?

2. Jesus says, "I thirst" in verse 28. What are the implications of that statement? Regarding his humanity? His determination to do His Father's will?

3. All of us live with regret because we fail to do everything God has commanded us to do. How do Jesus' words, "It is finished" comfort us in our regret?

4. Charles Hodge said of Jesus' words, "It is finished": “This is why the believer, when arrayed in this righteousness, need fear neither death nor hell. This is the reason why Paul challenges the universe to lay anything to the charge of God's elect.” Discuss this statement. 

5. Ryan mentioned that hyssop (v. 29) is often used in the Old Testament to symbolize cleansing. See Psalm 51:7 and Exodus 12:22. What significance, then, does the hyssop branch have here in the Gospel of John? 

6. What clues does John give us in these verses that, on the cross, Jesus conquered His enemies and won a great victory? Why is that important for us to remember? How does that inform how we live our lives? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

John 19:1-16 :: The Trouble with Being Switzerland

1. Why do we insist on keeping our options open? In relationships? In religious convictions?

2. List the ways Pilate tried to keep his options open when it came to Jesus? Why didn't it work? If Pilate believed Jesus was innocent (see 18:38, 19:4, 19:6), why didn't he release Him?

3. Pilate invites us to "Behold the man!" What were his intentions with this statement? What hidden significance might John see in it (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-26)?

4. Look up the painting "What is Truth?" by Nikolai (https://www.wikiart.org/en/nikolai-ge/what-is-truth-christ-and-pilate) and discuss how the artist interprets Jesus' silence. In other words, what is Jesus saying with His silence in verse 9? How does it relate to Isaiah 53:7ff?

5. Was Jesus truly a threat to the Roman Empire (v. 12)? How? Is He a threat to the authorities of our own day? How? How does your answer inform your Christian life? 

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.