John 11.38-44 – August 20, 2020

John 11:38–44

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  
(John 11:38–44 , NIV)

We often like to think of John 11.35 as our “favorite” verse, simply because it is so easy to remember. The real favorite of the stories should be these. “You will see the glory of God.” Is there anything better?

Thought Questions:

In our world, death is seen as the absolute, final act. In what ways might this not be the case?

How do you think you would have reacted to see Lazarus come out of the tomb?

What does the fact that Jesus has power over death tell you about his power and perhaps even more importantly in our story, his love for others?

John 14.27 – August 17, 2020

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:27 , NIV)

“I like this because it reassures that in the midst of everything crazy going on in my life God will give me peace.”

Thought Questions:

What does it mean to have peace in your life? How would a life of peace compare to your life in its current state?

Why do unknowns cause us to fear or to be troubled?

In what ways has God given you peace in the midst of your crazy life?

John 14.1-31 – August 10, 2020

John 14:1–31

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. 

“Come now; let us leave.”  (John 14.1-4, 28-31 , NIV)

“Comfort during many seasons of life. The promise that He fulfilled in us. His words, Our comfort.”

Thought Questions:

When you think about the troubles of this world, how does Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for us in heaven bring you peace?

What reasons do we have to be glad to Jesus returned to the Father before coming to bring us to him?

How does Jesus’ obedience to do what God has commanded him spur you to also do good and obey God?

John 11.25-26 – August 5, 2020

John 11:25–26

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  (John 11:25–26 , NIV)

Death may be the thing most of us fear most, yet in Jesus, those who believe do not die.

Thought Questions:

What does it mean for Jesus to be the resurrection and the life?

How does focusing our minds on the fact that Jesus is the resurrection (versus the resurrection being just some theological truth) change our perspective, or perhaps make our own resurrection more real?

What better news is there than those who believe will never die? How might really understanding this change our priorities as we live in this world?

John 14.25-27 – July 25, 2020

John 14:25–27

“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:25–27 , NIV)

So what things in the world around you today cause you to think: What a great sense of peace we live in?

Thought Questions:

How does the Holy Spirit help us understand better God’s working in the world, regardless of how troublesome or peaceful that time may be?

In what ways has Christ brought you peace, even peace that flies in the face of what appears by most to be troublesome times?

Do you find it difficult or easy to trust Christ’s words to not be afraid? Why do you think this is the case?

John 6.16-24 – June 4, 2020

John 6:16–24

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
 (John 6:16–24, NIV)

So just how afraid would you be if you saw someone approaching your boat out on the lake in the midst of a storm?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus did not initially join his disciples for their trip across the lake to Capernaum?

Does just telling someone not to be afraid prevent them from being afraid? Why or why not? What needs to be a component of that person’s statement to really prevent fear in others?

Why do you think John includes this statement about the crowds going to search for Jesus? In what ways does it change our perspective of him?

John 5.1-15 – June 3, 2020

John 5:1–15

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. 
(John 5:1–15, NIV)

“Do you want to get well?” It seems like such an obvious question, but I wonder if at times, the answer we have gets too caught up in the way we assume that answer HAS to come into being. What would it be like to trust Jesus at his word?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus asked this man if he wanted to get well? And how do you see this man’s answer illuminating the reason for Jesus’ question?

Jesus, as he is prone to do, breaks the rules of the Jewish leaders and heals on the Sabbath. Why do you think Jesus did this, even though he himself was an obedient Jew? In what ways do we have our own rules about following God that prevent us from actually following Him?

Do you think this man stopped sinning, as he was instructed? Why or why not? Have you stopped sinning?

John 13.34-35 – May 7, 2020

John 13:34–35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35, NIV)

Ever wonder where Paul got the idea of the importance of love, which he writes about in 1 Corinthians 13?

Thought Questions:

Would “Love one another” be considered a new command today? Why or why not?

Jesus says that when we understand the love he has for us, it changes the way we love others. In what ways have you seen this to be the case? Is it far to say if you do not love, you do not know Jesus’ love?

Why do Christians find it so easy to use almost anything except love to identify themselves as such? How can love more in order to identify ourselves more successfully as followers of Jesus?

John 6.35-40 – April 17, 2020

John 6:35–40

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35–40, NIV)

What is it that you value or long for? What drives your ambition or is your motivation to live the way you do? What is the bread that you seek to fill the emptiness you have?

Thought Questions:

What does Jesus say is the key to receiving the bread of life he offers?

Why is belief in Jesus more difficult at times than relying on our own strength or power to accomplish our life’s goals/desires?

In what ways do you focus and increase your belief in Jesus as you seek to have eternal life?

John 6.1-15 – April 9, 2020

John 6:1–15

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
 (John 6:1–15, NIV)

Five loaves and 2 small fish? We might call it a snack — Jesus makes it a miraculous meal.

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus chose to test Philip and why do you think he used this meal to do so?

How do you think Jesus’ disciples looked at him after he had done this miraculous feeding of such a large crowd?

We know how the crowds reacted: they wanted to make him their king. Why do we so often focus on the things we get or having our physical desires fulfilled before we are willing to look to Jesus as our redeemer and spiritual savior?