Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discussion Questions -- 3 John: Truth and Love

1. John is writing to a friend, Gaius, who is stuck in the middle of a church conflict led by Diotrephes, who doesn't respect John's authority. When you have found yourself stuck in similar situations, what has encouraged you the most? How does John encourage Gauis? [Hint: see verses 2 and 3]

2. Why are truth AND love both important to be a good encourager? 

3. Max DePree who said that  “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.” How do we see John doing this? What are some practical ways you can become a better encourager in the same way?

4. In verse 9, John tells us that Diotrephes 'likes to put himself first.' Why is this such a destructive attitude? 

5. John Stott wrote about Diotrephes that "self-love vitiates all relationships." Do you agree? Why or why not? How can we overcome self-love to build each other up?

6. What is John's strategy for confronting Diotrephes? What do you notice him doing? 

7. John certainly remembered Jesus saying things like: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In what ways do you hear these teachings echoed in John's own thoughts in verse 11? Are the specific situations right now that you need to apply that same teaching? 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

John 21:15-25: Restoring Peter

John 21:15-25
Nov. 11, 2018

1. The context of Jesus' conversation with Peter is a meal (see verse 12 and 15). What is the significance of Jesus eating with Peter? How might this perspective inform our own meals with one another?

2. What is the significance of Jesus asking Peter (essentially) the same question three times, as well as charging him three times?

3. We often plan extensively for the future. What are the pros and cons of planning for the future? How does Jesus' command in verse 19 help us plan faithfully?

4. Jesus demonstrates that He pursues us relentlessly to restore us, not to reject us or lecture us. Why is this sometimes difficult for us to accept? What are the implications for our relationships with others? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

John 21:1-14. A Touch of Wildness. 11/4/18 Discussion Questions

1. In 1940, Evelyn Underhill advised C.S. Lewis, "Perhaps what it all comes to us this, that I feel your concept of God would be improved by just a touch of wildness." Do you think this is true of all of us? Why or why not?

2. Read Luke 5:1-10 and compare that account with this one. What is the same? What is different? Why might Jesus have echoed that original call at this moment in His disciples' lives?

3. What caused Peter to jump in the water? How does that challenge our own response to Jesus?

4. What might be some reasons the disciples are questioning Jesus' identity now?

5. What did you learn about Jesus in this passage? What did you learn about following Jesus? What is one practical take-away from your discussion? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Peace of the Resurrection (John 20:19-31) 10/28/18

Discussion Questions
Peace of the Resurrection
John 20:19-31
10/28/18

1. What does verse 19 tell you about the disciples' state of mind that first Easter evening? Are there fears, anxieties and worries that you are presently struggling with yourself? To put it another way, are there circumstances in your life that have you longing for peace?

2. It is significant that Jesus declares, "Peace be to you" three times in this passage and, in every case, delivers that message in the flesh -- the resurrected flesh, as it were. What are the reasons Jesus insisted on the disciples inspecting Jesus's Body? [Some possible answers: (1) to verify it was really Him (2) to demonstrate the resurrection really happened (not just in their heads) and (3) to display the fruits of His shared victory (over sin and death).

3. Perhaps Jesus picks an odd time to commission His disciples (verse 21-22). But what does His commissioning say about our own purpose in life? How does understanding ourselves as Spirit-sent followers of Jesus make a difference in how we approach our daily schedules?

4. If your group is interested in watching the Forrest Gump opening scene, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7voy1vit6Y. What questions do you think the director is raising with this opening sequence with the feather on the wind? How does Jesus answer that question in verses 21-23?

5. Thomas' interaction with Jesus often focuses on Thomas' doubts. But we could also focus on Jesus' kindness and grace to take up Thomas' questions and answer them definitively. How does this whole passage (24-31) encourage you with your own doubts and questions about Jesus? 

Friday, October 26, 2018

John 20:1-18: In the Garden: The Sequel

1. What are the ways that Jesus’s followers respond when they find that Jesus is not in the tomb?

2. The first one at the empty tomb is Mary Magdalene? What is so significant about her being the first witness to the empty tomb and the resurrection?

3. Mary, Peter, & John all bring their curiosity, their fear, their confusion, maybe even their doubt to the tomb, and they investigate, they look into the empty tomb. They examine the evidence, they take everything into the tomb to confront the linen cloths, the face cloth, the emptiness of the tomb. What fears, confusions, doubts do you wrestle with? Have you brought those doubts to the empty tomb and to the resurrected Jesus?

4. The disciples returned home, but Mary stood weeping at the tomb. She brings her disappointment, her hopelessness, her tears to the tomb as well. Frederick Buechner says this about tears:

“You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.

They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.”

Mary brings her tears to the tomb. What disappointments, dashed hopes, and tears plague you? Have you kept them to yourself or brought those things to the empty tomb and to the resurrected Lord?

5. What causes Mary to finally recognize Jesus? What does this tell us about who Jesus is and who Mary is in light of John 10:1-18?

6. Finally, Jesus gives marching orders at the empty tomb, a miniature great commission in 20:17b, and Mary obeys. What are the elements of Jesus’s marching orders to Mary? How are those marching orders the same for you as a follower of Christ? How are they different?

7. Remembering that the creation story and the fall take place in the context of a garden, what is John hinting at as he points out that Jesus is resurrected in a garden. On what day of the week is Jesus resurrected?

John 19:31-42: Death, Truth, and the Meaning of it All

1.The scriptures are clear that Jesus came in the flesh (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-4) and that he died a real death. What makes his real death certain to the soldiers and all who were there? (vv. 32-34)

2. That Jesus suffered and died a real human death is something that John (“He who saw it”in verse 35) wants to make sure that we know. What comfort do you find in knowing that Jesus died a real death?

3. John not only wants us to know that these things actually happened, but he also wants us to know the significance of why they happened. He says that “these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled.” How do the two passages he quotes—the first one from Exodus 12:46/Numbers 9:12/Psalm 34:20, and the second one—from Zechariah 12:10, including the section up through Zechariah 13:1) shed light on the significance of the death of Jesus? What is John saying the crucifixion of Jesus means? (vv. 35-37)

4. Joseph and Nicodemus both exhibit fear and are somewhat secretive about identifying with Jesus (for Nicodemus see also John 3:1ff, and John 7:50). Is it a challenge for you to publicly identify with Jesus? If so, what makes it challenging? Have you also been fearful to identify with Jesus? In what ways are your fears similar to Joseph & Nicodemus’s fears, and in what ways are they quite different from your fears? (vv. 38-39)

5. Nicodemus brings spices - myrrh and aloes - to anoint the body of Jesus for burial. Myrrh reminds us of one of the gift brought to Jesus when he was a baby, a gift from the magi that was fit for a king. Likewise the amount of myrrh and aloes (75 lbs) was suggestive of the kingly character of Jesus. Look at the following three references to myrrh and aloes: Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song 4:14. Is there any other possible hint about the significance of anointing the body of Jesus with myrrh and aloes?

6. Is there anything significant about the fact that the tomb of Jesus is in a garden? (vv 41-42)

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?