Part 1: Jesus, the Living Word of God
The Master & Five Who Followed
It was a great day in our
history when a man first walked on the moon. But the Bible declares that a far
greater event took place two thousand years ago. God walked on the earth in the
person of Jesus Christ. John opens his Gospel with a beautiful hymn of
exaltation to Christ. It is one of the most profound passages in all the Bible.
It is written in simple, straightforward language, yet in studying the depths of
its meaning, it is a passage where we never reach bottom. It is an ocean-sized
truth, and we have to be content to paddle around in shallow water.
1. What do you hope will happen in your life as a result of studying the Gospel
2. Read John 1:1-18. Why do you think John calls Jesus the Word (see vv. 1, 14)?
3. In verses 1-3 what facts does John declare to be true of the Word?
Why are these facts significant for understanding who Jesus is?
4. What do the symbols of life (v. 4) and light (v. 5) tell us about Jesus and
why he came to earth?
How has Jesus brought these qualities into your life?
5. John contrasts Jesus’ rejection by the majority with his reception by a few
(vv. 9-13). What facts about Jesus should have brought the majority to receive
him (vv. 9-11)?
6. How would you explain to someone both the meaning and results of receiving
Jesus (vv. 12-13)?
7. According to verses 14-18, what specific aspects of God’s character are
revealed to us through Jesus?
8. Read John 1:19-34. According to these verses, what steps did John take to
guarantee that people would not look at him but at Christ?
9. How would you summarize John’s testimony concerning Jesus?
10. Read John 1:35-51. In these verses we are introduced to five men: Andrew,
Simon, Philip, Nathanael and one unnamed disciple (John). How did each man
respond to the testimony he heard about Jesus?
Which of these responses have you encountered as you have shared your faith in
11. John records more than a dozen names or descriptions of Jesus in this
chapter. What are some of these?
12. Which of the names of Jesus has the most significance to you personally?
Wine & a Whip
After I had given a
presentation in an 8th grade Religion class, a skeptical student asked: “What
proof do you have that Jesus really was who he claimed to be?” People have been
asking that question for two thousand years! For John the convincing proof of
Jesus’ deity was found in his words and deeds. No one but God could say the
things Jesus said, and no one but God could do the things Jesus did.
In chapter two, John pulls two events from the early ministry of Jesus that
demonstrate his power and authority. We are shown a miraculous sign as Jesus
exercises his creative power to turn water into wine. We are also shown a
prophetic sign as Jesus cleanses God’s temple in Jerusalem. Both signs
demonstrate that Jesus was the fullness of God clothed in humanity.
1. What initially convinced you that Jesus was more than a man?
2. Read John 2:1-11. When the groom’s parents ran out of wine for their guests,
Jesus’ mother asked him to help (v. 3). What do you think Mary expected Jesus to
do? (Remember, according to verse 11 Jesus had not yet performed any miracles.)
3. What did Jesus mean by his reply to Mary in verse 4?
4. In your opinion, why did Jesus command that the servants fill the pots with
water (v. 7)? (Obviously, Jesus could have simply created wine in the empty
5. If you had been a wedding guest, what do you imagine your reaction would have
been to this miracle?
How did Jesus’ disciples respond (v. 11)?
6. According to verse 11, the purpose of Jesus’ miracle was not to save the
groom from embarrassment but to display Christ’s glory. What aspects of Christ’s
glory does this miracle reveal to you?
7. Read John 2:12-25. How does John’s picture of Jesus in verses 15-16 fit with
today’s popular concept of him?
8. What is the significance of Jesus’ claim that the temple is “my Father’s
house” (v. 16)?
9. Only the Messiah had the authority to cleanse the temple. The people
recognized that and asked Jesus for a miraculous sign to confirm his identity
(v. 18). To what “sign” did Jesus point them (vv. 19-22)?
Why do you think that particular sign was so significant in Jesus’ mind?
10. Why didn’t the disciples immediately grasp what Jesus was talking about when
he said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (vv. 19,
11. If people were believing in Jesus because of the miraculous signs, why
didn’t Jesus “entrust himself to them” (vv. 23-25)?
12. What do we learn from this passage about Jesus’ concern for his Father’s
13. In what practical ways can you demonstrate the same concern toward the holy
character of God?
We were "reborn" when we
received the Sacrament of Baptism. Through the centuries, in so many languages,
cultures, peoples and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one
faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in
the conviction that all people have only one God and Father. St. Irenaeus of
Lyons, a witness of this faith, declared: "Indeed, the Church, though
scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having
received the faith from the apostles and their disciples... guards [this
preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly
believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and
hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth."
The most beautiful explanation of the new birth is found here in John 3. It’s a
passage that children can understand and one that the greatest saints of God
have never fully grasped. It’s a message not so much to be analyzed and
dissected as it is to be received with joy.
1. What are some of the positive images associated with birth?
2. Read John 3:1-21. What is your impression of Nicodemus?
3. Why do you think he comes to see Jesus at night?
Why does he come to see Jesus at all?
4. Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus (v. 3) seems to have nothing to do with Nicodemus’s
statement (v. 2). Why do you think Jesus brings up the subject of the new birth?
5. Why do you suppose Nicodemus responds to Jesus’ explanation with such
amazement (v. 9)?
6. Why is Jesus likewise amazed at Nicodemus’s ignorance (vv. 10-12)?
7. How does the story of Moses lifting up the snake in the desert (vv. 14-15;
see Num 21:4-9) illustrate our need and Christ’s offer?
8. What impresses you about God’s supreme act of love (vv. 16-17)?
9. How and why does our response to God’s Son determine our destiny (vv. 18-21)?
10. This passage emphasizes the importance of our personal response to Jesus
Christ. How would you describe your response?
11. Read John 3:22-36. In your opinion, what motivated John’s disciples to raise
the issue of Jesus’ ministry?
12. How would you summarize John’s view of the character and ministry of Jesus?
13. How did John demonstrate by his attitude and actions that Jesus was superior
14. What is one way you can demonstrate Christ’s superiority in your life?
Soul & Body—Saving & Healing
I love humanity; it’s people I
can’t stand!” Those well-known words from a member of the “Peanuts” gang still
make us chuckle. But our smiles hide the fact that we sometimes feel exactly
like that. John says very little about Jesus’ contact with the multitudes. But
long sections of the Gospel are devoted to conversations Jesus had with
individuals. Jesus was open, warm and vitally interested in people.
In John 4 we see Jesus reach out first to a woman, then to his disciples, and
finally to a grieving father. Watching Jesus give himself to people with love
and compassion will help us care for those God puts in our paths.
1. When have you been able to turn an ordinary conversation into a discussion
2. Read John 4:1-26. Why do you think Jesus “had to go through Samaria” on his
way to Galilee (v. 4)? (Jews normally went around Samaria to avoid contact with
the hated Samaritans.)
3. What is surprising about Jesus’ question to the Samaritan woman (vv. 8-9)?
What present-day situations might arouse the same racial, religious and sexual
4. How does Jesus’ offer of “living water” contrast with what the woman thinks
he means (vv. 10-15)?
What does this offer of “living water” mean in your life and experience?
5. Why do you think Jesus brings up the woman’s long list of past marriages and
her present adulterous relationship (vv. 16-18)?
6. Why does the woman suddenly change the subject and begin talking about the
controversy over the proper place of worship (vv. 19-20)?
7. How does Jesus handle her question about this Samaritan-Jewish controversy
8. What principles can you draw from Jesus’ conversation with the woman to help
you in discussing the gospel with non-Christians?
9. Read John 4:27-42. From your reading of this passage, do you think the
Samaritan woman genuinely believed? What do you see in the passage that supports
10. How is the disciples’ confusion about food (vv. 31-33) similar to the
woman’s confusion about living water?
11. After his encounter with the Samaritan woman, what specific lessons does
Jesus apply to his disciples and to us (vv. 34-38)?
12. Read John 4:43-54. How does the royal official’s attitude toward Jesus
differ from the response Jesus had already anticipated (see v. 44)?
13. What does this “second miraculous sign” Jesus performed (v. 54) reveal about
14. What has Jesus taught you in this chapter about meeting the specific needs
of those around you?
Deity on Trial
In my high-school years, I was
hooked on television lawyer programs "Perry Mason" was my favourite. Those
intrepid men and women always found the missing piece of evidence that would
rescue the innocent and convict the guilty. I’ve learned since high-school days
that sometimes judges and juries are wrong. Men and women may hear all the
testimony and still make a wrong decision.
In John chapter five Jesus is on trial. It is not a formal trial in a courtroom,
but all the elements of a trial appear in the story. A group of people are
forced to make a decision about Jesus in their hearts. They hear all the
evidence but make a disastrously wrong decision. Judgments are still made for
and against Jesus. Whenever he is presented as Savior and Lord, people decide in
their hearts to believe his claims or to turn and walk away.
1. What are some reasons why people reject Jesus Christ?
2. Read John 5:1-15. Based on the scene and conversation around the pool, how
would you describe the feelings and attitudes of the invalid?
3. How do you think the man felt after his healing?
4. The seventh commandment said: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”
(see Ex 20:8-11). In their zeal to apply this command, what were the Jews
failing to see (Jn 5:9-15)?
5. When have you been more concerned about a religious activity than the reality
behind it? Explain.
6. Read John 5:16-30. Jesus explains that the work of creation ended on the
seventh day, but not the work of compassion (vv. 16-18). Why does his
explanation make the Jews even more determined to kill him?
7. What insights do verses 19-23 give us into (a) the Father’s devotion to the
Son and (b) the Son’s dependence on the Father?
8. According to Jesus, why is our response to him a matter of eternal life or
death (vv. 24-30)?
9. Read John 5:31-47. What “witnesses” does Jesus call forward to testify on his
How does their testimony validate his claims?
10. What counter-accusations does Jesus make against those who are attacking
Why would each one be a severe blow to the religious piety of these Jewish
11. How can we avoid the kind of religion that is outwardly pious but inwardly
12. According to this chapter, what really influences our verdict for or against
Jesus, the Bread of Life
Do you realize that during your
lifetime you will probably spend over thirty-five thousand hours eating? That’s
the equivalent of eight years of non-stop meals, twelve hours a day! The
problem, of course, is that even after a big meal we get hungry again. At best,
food only satisfies us for a few hours.
Yet in this chapter, Jesus offers us food that satisfies our hunger forever. You
can’t buy it in a grocery store. It is found only in Jesus himself.
1. How do you usually respond to an “impossible” situation—a problem in your
life that doesn’t seem to have a solution?
2. Read John 6:1-15. How would you characterize Philip’s and Andrew’s response
to the problem of feeding this enormous crowd (vv. 5-9)?
3. If Jesus knew what he was going to do (v. 6), why do you think he asked these
two disciples for advice?
4. How do you think the disciples felt as they gathered up the pieces left over
5. What insights does this passage give you into how Christ may be at work in
the difficult situations in your life?
6. Read John 6:16-42. Imagine that you are one of the disciples, rowing the boat
in dark, rough waters (vv. 16-21). How would your concept of Jesus have been
altered by seeing him walk on water?
7. The next day the people were hungry again, so they came seeking Jesus (vv.
22-25). How does he try to redirect their thinking (vv. 26-33)?
8. How does Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life (v. 35) relate to his
miraculous feeding of the five thousand (vv. 1-13)?
9. Based on the remarks of some in the crowd (vv. 41-42), do you think they
finally understood what Jesus was saying? Explain.
10. Read John 6:43-59. When Jesus said, “This bread is my flesh,” the crowd
could think only of cannibalism (v. 52). What do you think it means to eat
Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood (vv. 53-59)?
Is this something we do once for all time, or is it an ongoing process? Explain.
11. Read John 6:60-71. In these verses Jesus turns away from the crowd and
focuses on his disciples. How would you describe their responses to his “hard
Which response best describes your present attitude toward Jesus? Explain.
12. Jesus has contrasted the two appetites found in every person—the appetite
for food that perishes and the appetite for food that endures. In what ways has
Jesus satisfied the spiritual hunger in your heart?
Confusion over Christ
Several years ago I had a
series of conversations with a young man about Jesus Christ and why faith in Him
is so important. At first, the young man was interested. He was open to listen
to God’s Word and to consider Christ’s claims. As time went on, however, he
became more and more hostile to Christ. Finally, he told me that he didn’t want
to pursue his investigation any further. He had decided to reject Christ and his
offer of salvation.
That is precisely the pattern that John traces in his Gospel. In the early
chapters, men and women responded to Jesus with belief. Then some of those who
were following him turned away. Now open warfare breaks out between Jesus and
his enemies—and yet, some still seek the truth. This chapter will help you
respond positively to the wide variety of attitudes toward Jesus today.
1. Have you ever had to work with someone who disliked or even hated you? What
was it like to face that person every day? (Or what do you think it would be
2. Read John 7:1-13. The first blast of hostility against Jesus comes from his
own family. How would you characterize the statements made by Jesus’ brothers?
3. Why do you think Jesus waits to go to Jerusalem until after his brothers have
left (v. 10)?
4. What counsel would you give a believer who faces spiritual opposition from
his or her family?
5. Read John 7:14-52. When Jesus makes his presence in Jerusalem known, people
begin to challenge the origin (and, therefore, the authority) of his teaching.
According to Jesus, how can we verify the truth of his teaching (vv. 16-18)?
6. What other opinions or questions do people have about Jesus in verses 20-36?
How does Jesus respond to each one?
7. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, large vats of water were poured
out on the pavement of the temple court as a reminder of God’s provision of
water in the wilderness. With that custom in mind, how would you explain the
significance of Jesus’ remarks in verses 37-39?
To what extent has Christ been a continual source of spiritual refreshment for
you? Why or why not?
8. Throughout the chapter John gives us a sampling of various reactions to
Jesus. Identify some of the reactions of various people and explain why you
think they reacted the way they did.
9. Which of the opinions you have identified in this chapter are still expressed
today, and in what way?
10. Based on Jesus’ example, what should our response be to such reactions?
Caught in Adultery
Nothing is more humiliating
than being caught in an act of disobedience! Whether it’s a child with his hand
in the cookie jar or an adult driving over the speed limit, we all know the
sinking feeling of being caught. In John 8, a woman is caught in the most
awkward of situations—in the very act of adultery. The way Jesus responds to her
may surprise you.
1. Think of a time when you hurt someone and that person was willing to forgive
you. How did it feel to be forgiven?
2. Read John 7:53—8:11. What do we know about the character and motives of those
who bring this woman to Jesus?
3. How do you think the woman feels when the men make her “stand before the
group” and publicly expose her sin?
4. How do you feel when someone exposes a sin in your life—either privately or
5. While it is obvious that the woman is guilty, what elements of injustice can
you find in this situation?
6. In your opinion, what was Jesus writing in the dirt?
7. The Pharisees and teachers were often very self-righteous. Why do you think
they went away rather than stoning the woman (vv. 7-9)?
8. Why are we tempted to condemn other people’s sins rather than our own?
9. How would you describe Jesus’ attitude toward the woman (vv. 10-11)?
10. Do you think Jesus was condoning the woman’s sin by not condemning her?
11. If you were the woman, how would you feel as you left Jesus’ presence?
12. What can we learn from this passage about Christ’s attitude toward us—even
when we feel awful about ourselves?
What does it teach us about forgiving and accepting others?
Jesus, the Light of the World
Jesus never spoke in public
without creating controversy. In fact, he was constantly in trouble! Rather than
retreating behind the safety of a pulpit, Jesus spoke in settings where people
were bold enough to talk back. In this portion of John’s story, Jesus makes a
series of claims about himself. Each claim is met by a challenge from his
enemies. Each challenge is then answered and the answer leads to the next claim.
Throughout this interchange, Jesus shows us how to speak the truth in the face
of hostility. He also reveals some amazing things about himself.
1. Have you ever tried to talk about Christ with a family member or co-worker
who was hostile to your message? How did you feel at the time?
How did you try to penetrate that person’s spiritual barriers?
2. Read John 8:12-30. Jesus’ first claim is: “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of
life.” What does it mean to walk in darkness (v. 12)?
How has following Jesus brought light into your life?
3. The Pharisees challenge the validity of Jesus’ claim (v. 13; see Deut 19:15).
How does Jesus answer their challenge (vv. 14-18)?
4. Jesus’ reference to his Father leads to his second claim—that he came from
God. How does this claim heighten the tension between Jesus and the Jews (vv.
5. It seems as if Jesus is deliberately provoking the Jews by what he says. Why
do you think he is being so blunt?
6. Read John 8:31-59. Jesus makes another startling claim in verses 31-32: “If
you hold to my teaching. . . then you will know the truth, and the truth will
set you free.” Why does holding to Jesus’ teaching lead to true knowledge and
7. Those who had believed interrupted to say that they were already free. What
analysis does Jesus give of their “freedom” (vv. 34-36)?
8. Jesus’ opponents also claim to have both Abraham and God as their father.
According to Jesus, how does their conduct contradict their claim (vv. 39-47)?
9. Why is our conduct the truest test of our beliefs?
10. What is it about Jesus’ statements that make his enemies want to stone him
11. Summarize the various attacks voiced against Jesus in this chapter and
explain how Jesus’ example will help you face spiritually hostile people.
12. In what ways does your lifestyle validate (or invalidate) your claim to be a
follower of Christ?
A Blind Man Sees the Light
Our sight is a wonderful gift
from God. We marvel at the fiery colours of a sunset, the rich pastels of spring
and the delicate beauty of a flower. How tragic it must be to never see the
light of day.
Yet there is a far greater tragedy than physical blindness. In this passage
Jesus meets a man who has been blind from birth. The man illustrates that those
who are blind often see clearly, while those with sight see nothing at all.
1. If you could have any of the powers that Jesus had to do good, which would
you choose and why?
2. Read John 9:1-12. Based on the question the disciples ask Jesus (v. 2), how
do they view the relation between sickness and sin?
What is Jesus’ view of the same issue?
3. In your opinion, which of these views is more widely held among Christians
4. In verse 5 Jesus claims to be the light of the world. In what sense does the
physical healing of the blind man confirm his spiritual claim?
5. Why do you think Jesus goes through the process of making mud and instructing
the man to go wash, instead of simply healing him instantly?
6. Read John 9:13-41. On what grounds do the Pharisees object to this miracle
(vv. 16, 22, 24, 29)?
7. Still skeptical, the Jews send for the man’s parents (v. 18). How would you
describe the parents’ attitude and response (vv. 19-23)?
8. How do the Pharisees react when the genuineness of the miracle becomes
undeniable (vv. 28-34)?
9. When might Christians today exhibit the Pharisees’ attitude to a marvelous
work of God’s grace or power?
10. How would you describe the various emotions this man must have had as he
moved from being healed by Jesus through the questioning and final rejection by
11. What is Jesus’ purpose in seeking out the healed man the second time (vv.
12. Throughout this chapter, how have the Pharisees exhibited the kind of
stubborn spiritual blindness Jesus describes in verses 39-41?
13. What principles in this chapter could help us improve our spiritual
The Shepherd & His Sheep
Jesus was a master at using
simple, everyday objects or events to illustrate profound spiritual truths. The
farmer scattering seed, the vine sustaining the branches, and sparrows falling
to the earth all took on a new dimension in Jesus’ eyes. In John 10, Jesus uses
the scene of a shepherd enclosing his sheep in a sheepfold to give us one of the
most moving pictures of our salvation and security in Christ found anywhere in
the Bible. If you’ve ever doubted the love of Christ, Jesus will give you a
healthy dose of assurance in this chapter.
1. What usually prompts you to have doubts about your salvation or your walk
with Christ—your own sin? feelings of unworthiness? personal failures? Explain.
2. Read John 10:1-21. Jesus uses the picture of the sheepfold as a “figure of
speech” (v. 6). What spiritual truths is Jesus trying to convey (vv. 1-5)?
3. What does Jesus mean when he describes himself as “the gate for the sheep”
4. In verses 11-15 Jesus talks about the shepherd’s care for his sheep. What can
you learn from those verses about Jesus’ care and relationship with you?
5. What does Jesus reveal about the future of his flock (v. 16)?
In what ways do you feel a part of “one flock” under “one shepherd”?
6. Why do you think Jesus stresses that he lays down his life of his own accord
7. Read John 10:22-42. According to Jesus, how are the Jews in this passage
different from his sheep (vv. 22-27)?
8. Jesus calls his followers sheep. What impressions (positive and negative)
does the picture of sheep bring to your mind?
9. How do you respond to promises and assurances Jesus gives his sheep in verses
10. When Jesus claims that he and the Father are one, the Jews pick up stones to
stone him (vv. 30-33). Do you think his defense is a denial of his deity (vv.
11. Which promise from Jesus in this chapter is most encouraging to you?
How can that promise help you with your answer to question 1?
Resurrection & Life
Ever since God judged Adam and Eve, death has plagued humanity. It separates us
from those we love and looms over our own lives like a menacing spirit. In this
chapter Jesus reaches out to a family struggling with the pain of death. He
shows us why we need never fear death again.
1. Think back to the death of a family member or friend. Did that death cause
you to question God’s love? Explain.
2. Read John 11:1-44. How can we resolve the seeming conflict between Jesus’
love for Lazarus and his deliberate delay in helping him (vv. 4-5)?
3. How can those verses help us when we feel abandoned by God in a time of great
4. What additional insight into God’s purposes can we gain from Jesus’ statement
in verse 15?
5. What elements of doubt and faith do you see in Martha’s statements to Jesus
How does Jesus stretch Martha’s faith in this brief encounter?
6. Jesus declares to Martha that “he who believes in me will live, even though
he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (vv. 25-26). What
kind of “life” and “death” is Jesus referring to in each case?
How should Christ’s statement radically alter our views of life and death?
7. Why do you think John emphasizes that Jesus was deeply moved by Mary’s grief
and the anguish of those with her (vv. 28-38)?
8. Based on this passage, how would you respond to those who believe that grief
is incompatible with real faith?
9. Read John 11:45-57. How would you explain the fact that the people who see
the same miracle respond in two totally different ways?
10. What does this account reveal about the value of miracles for bringing
people to faith in Christ?
11. In what ways will this chapter change the way you respond to personal
difficulty or the apparent delay of God?
The King’s Last Acts
If you have ever felt rejected
or misunderstood, you know how Jesus felt as his public ministry came to an end.
The hostility against him had risen to a fever pitch. His gentle compassion and
abundant miracles were met with oppression and violence. Jesus knew what none of
his friends knew—that he was about to die. In spite of the fleeting attempts of
the crowd to make him King, Jesus chose the way of the cross.
1. If you knew for sure that you had only one week to live, what would you do
with that week?
2. Read John 12:1-11. What motivates Mary to pour expensive perfume on Jesus’
3. Judas objects to Mary’s extravagance. What motives and wrong thinking lie
behind his objection (vv. 4-8)?
4. In what ways should we be extravagant in our devotion to Jesus?
5. Read John 12:12-36. What do the shouts of the crowd tell us about their
expectations of Jesus (vv. 12-19)?
6. How do Christ’s statements about his mission clash with the crowd’s
expectations (vv. 23-28)?
7. Jesus often used apparent contradictions to drive home a truth. How would you
explain verse 25 in terms that apply to your life (see also vv. 26-28)?
8. Jesus makes it clear that he is about to die. According to verses 23-33, what
will Jesus’ death accomplish (note vv. 23-24, 28, 31-32)?
Which of these results is most encouraging to you? Explain.
9. Read John 12:37-50. When we stubbornly refuse to believe, what happens to our
spiritual senses, and why (vv. 37-41)?
10. Although some of the leaders “believe” in Jesus (vv. 42-43), how are they
like the man who loves his life and loses it (see v. 25)?
11. Jesus’ last public message to his people is recorded in verses 44-50. What
indications do you find that he is still reaching out in love and grace to those
who have rejected him?
How can you apply the example of Jesus to people who reject you or your
testimony about Christ?
12. In your own life are you more interested in earthly acclaim and glory or are
you willing to lose your life for Christ’s sake? Examine your direction and life
goals in the light of Jesus’ commitment to do the will of the Father.
Part 2: Jesus, the Living Way to God John 13—21
The Son as a Slave
There were two things on Jesus’
heart the night before his crucifixion—his Father and his disciples. In John
13—17, we have the privilege of listening to his conversations with them both.
However, before Jesus can instruct his disciples about his death, he has to act
out a lesson in servitude. Jesus also shows us the spirit he expects in those
who follow him. Greatness in Christ’s eyes does not come from having many
servants but from being the servant of many.
1. Have you ever been asked to do a demeaning, lowly job? What thoughts went
through your mind at that time?
2. Read John 13:1-17. According to John, what did Jesus know about himself (vv.
In light of that knowledge, what is remarkable about what Jesus did next (vv.
4. Footwashing was normally done by servants or slaves. Why do you think Jesus
washed his disciples’ feet instead of simply talking to them about love?
5. What tasks at home, at work or in church would be equivalent to foot-washing?
6. How do you think Jesus felt as he washed Judas’s feet?
How do you think Judas felt?
7. Was Peter simply being humble when he refused to allow Jesus to serve him
(vv. 6-8)? Explain.
8. What spiritual truth was Jesus trying to communicate to Peter (and to us) in
9. Like Peter, do you ever feel awkward or uncomfortable when others try to
serve you? Explain.
10. After he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, how did Jesus explain the
significance of his actions (vv. 12-17)?
11. Based on Jesus’ words in verse 17, how would you describe the relationship
between knowledge, action and joy in the Christian life?
12. What has this chapter revealed to you about your attitude toward serving?
13. In what specific ways can you model the humility of Jesus toward those with
whom you live o
The Betrayer & the Boaster
There are some people we just
don’t like to be around! They aren’t necessarily our enemies. They simply have
the uncanny ability to irritate us. If we had been one of Jesus’ disciples, we
would probably have found it difficult to be around Peter. He was blunt and, at
times, arrogant. On the other hand, we might have regarded Judas with trust and
respect. The only one who saw deeply enough to discern the true character of
these men was Jesus.
1. Has someone in your life ever hurt you deeply? What was your response to him
2. Read John 13:18-30. Jesus takes this opportunity to predict his betrayal. How
would his prediction dispel any doubts the disciples might have and strengthen
their faith (v. 19)?
3. Evidently, the disciples did not know who would betray Jesus (v. 22). What
does this tell us about how Jesus had treated Judas?
4. How would you have treated Judas if you knew he would eventually betray you?
5. How do the disciples interpret Jesus’ instruction to Judas in verse 27 (vv.
6. Can we apply Jesus’ example to the way we should treat our “betrayers,” or
was this a unique situation that really doesn’t apply today? Explain.
7. Read John 13:31-38. What was “new” about Jesus’ command in verse 34?
8. John later wrote: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down
his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn
3:16). In what practical ways can we exhibit this sacrificial love?
9. Why does that kind of love convince all of humanity that we are Jesus’
disciples (v. 35)?
10. Do you think Peter’s declaration in verse 37 comes from pride or from
11. Three people stand out in this passage—Jesus, Judas and Peter. What one
character quality of each—good or evil—impresses you the most?
What can you do to avoid the failures and to follow after the strengths of each
Comfort for a Troubled Heart
A mother came into the Faculty
room, she just blurted out "my Heather is dead!" I didn't know what to say, I
just got up and hugged her. Heather was a former student of mine who had joined
the army and was just 18, she did not show up for duty on a Monday and her
friends went in to see why and found her dead. I wondered what I could say to
bring comfort to this heartbroken mother. Jesus faced that challenge too. In
this chapter he comforts eleven disciples who feel like their world is coming
1. Think of a friend who is going through a personal crisis. If you were with
that person now, how would you try to help him or her?
2. Read John 14:1-13. What had Jesus said in chapter 13 to cause his disciples
to have “troubled” hearts (v. 1)?
3. In your opinion, how would the promises Jesus makes in verses 1-4 bring
comfort to his disciples?
4. After being with Jesus for over three years, what have both Thomas and
Phillip failed to realize about him (vv. 5-14)?
5. In light of verses 5-14, why is it crucial for our focus to be on Jesus
6. Read John 14:15-31. Another source of comfort for these troubled disciples
would be the Holy Spirit. What does the title Counselor tell us about the
7. According to Jesus, how will the Spirit bring comfort and help to his
followers (vv. 15-27)?
8. In what specific ways has the Spirit brought comfort or help in your life?
9. What is the relationship between our love and obedience to Jesus and his love
and presence in our lives (vv. 15-24)?
How is this different from legalism—earning Christ’s love and presence through
our good works?
10. How does the peace Christ offers differ from that which the world offers
11. We began this study by thinking about friends who are going through times of
trouble or pain. What help has this chapter given you for ministering to them?
12. How can Jesus’ words help you in a personal crisis or when you have a
The Secret of Remaining
The final weekend before
Christmas is not the time to visit a shopping mall. If you are fortunate enough
to find a parking spot, the press of people inside makes shopping almost
impossible. One mother was giving final instructions to her young son before
plunging into the crowd: “Stay close to me and hold my hand all the time. We
won’t get separated if we hold on to each other.”
As Jesus prepared his disciples to face life without his visible presence, he
impressed on them the importance of staying close to him spiritually. He said,
“Remain in me.” If you’ve ever longed to understand the secret of spiritual
growth, you will find it in Jesus’ words to us in John 15.
1. Have you ever felt far from Christ since becoming a Christian? What
circumstances made you feel that way?
2. Read John 15:1-11. Jesus’ instruction to his disciples in this passage
revolve around three symbols—the vine, the gardener and the branches. What is
Jesus trying to communicate by calling himself the true vine?
3. What is the significance of calling his disciples branches?
4. Instead of commanding us to bear fruit, why is Jesus’ only command “Remain in
me” (v. 4)?
5. What does it mean to remain in Christ?
6. The fruit produced by the remaining branch is often viewed as a reference to
new converts. But branches produce grapes, not other branches. What other
possible meanings are there for fruit?
7. The Father’s ministry as the gardener is to “cut off every branch . . . that
bears no fruit” (v. 2). What do you think that means?
8. The Father prunes fruitful branches to make them more fruitful (v. 2). In
what ways have you experienced the Father’s “pruning”?
What were the results?
9. What spiritual benefits result from remaining in Christ (vv. 7-11)?
10. There are three categories of branches described in this passage—those
bearing no fruit, those bearing some fruit, and those bearing much fruit. In
which category would you place yourself and why?
11. If you are not bearing much fruit, what is Jesus’ counsel to you in these
The Cost of Friendship
While on earth, Jesus did not
surround himself with a group of students or even a group of followers. He
placed himself in the company of friends. To admit that we need friends is a
sign of maturity, not immaturity. Close relationships are Christlike! In this
passage Jesus shows us what friendship with him is really like. There’s both
comfort and cost.
1. In your opinion, what are some of the most important qualities in a
2. Read John 15:12-17. Jesus’ command in verse 12 is, “Love each other as I have
loved you.” In what specific ways did Jesus demonstrate his love?
In what practical ways can we, like Christ, lay down our lives for our friends?
3. What are the requirements and benefits of friendship with Christ (vv. 14-17)?
4. Is being a friend of Jesus the same as being a believer in Jesus? Explain.
5. Read John 15:18-25. If love is to characterize our relationship with other
believers, hate will characterize our relationship with the world. What reasons
does Jesus give for the world’s hatred?
6. Give one or two specific examples of how you have experienced the world’s
hatred as a Christian.
How did you respond to the hostility at the time?
7. What does Jesus mean when he says that without his coming, his words and his
miracles, the world “would not be guilty of sin” (vv. 22-25)?
8. Read John 15:26—16:4. In what specific ways will the Counselor and the
disciples themselves continue the ministry begun by Jesus (vv. 26-27)?
9. What kind of treatment can the disciples expect from those who do not know
10. What kinds of persecution are most probable for us in our society? Explain.
11. If we as Christians are not persecuted in some way, what might that imply
about our spiritual commitme
Secrets of the Spirit
A friend of mine Sister
Angelica died many years ago . She knew for almost a year that, unless the Lord
intervened, the cancer in her body would kill her. That year gave her time of
wonderful interaction with her friends and family. We had the opportunity to
express our love for her, and the dying woman had the privilege of passing on
her godly wisdom, which I treasure every day.
In John 16 Jesus knows that he will die in less than twenty-four hours. When his
disciples are faced with that reality, they become troubled (14:1), afraid
(14:27) and filled with grief (16:6). Jesus responds to each of their concerns
by talking about the coming Holy Spirit.
1. What would you want to tell your family or closest friends if you knew that
you had only a short time to live?
2. Read John 16:5-15. Jesus said that it was for the disciples’ good that he go
away and that the Counselor come. Why was the Spirit’s presence more profitable
to the disciples than Jesus’ presence?
3. In what ways is it more profitable today to have the Holy Spirit actively
present than to have Jesus here on earth? Explain.
4. What did Jesus say the Spirit’s ministry would be toward the world (vv.
5. How does the Spirit do the same work in the hearts of unbelievers today?
6. “The prince of this world” mentioned in verse 11 is Satan. In what way does
Satan “now stand condemned”?
7. Why is it important for the Holy Spirit to convince the world that their
“prince” is already condemned?
8. What can we infer from verses 8-11 about our part in evangelism?
9. The Spirit’s ministry is one of communication. What specific things did Jesus
say the Spirit would communicate to the disciples?
10. In what ways does the Spirit guide us into all truth and bring glory to
Jesus Christ today?
A Dying Leader’s Last Command
Those who believe in Christ are
not shielded from life’s deepest problems. We must still face sorrow, rejection
and heartache. We see our loved ones die. We sometimes feel alone and unloved.
We see our marriages fail or our children go their own way rather than God’s
way. Jesus gives us some very practical help in these verses for facing life’s
crises. He doesn’t answer all our questions, but he gives us what we need to
1. How do you tend to react in the midst of a personal crisis?
2. Read John 16:16-24. It is obvious that the disciples are confused and
concerned about Jesus’ statements (vv. 16-18). Why do you think they are
3. Jesus answers their questions, not by giving them an explanation but by
making them a promise (vv. 19-22). What was the promise?
Why would it bring them joy in the midst of their grief and confusion?
4. How can this incident help us when our questions to the Lord seemingly go
5. What new promise regarding prayer does Jesus give his disciples (vv. 23-24)?
How would this promise make their joy complete?
6. What connection can you make for your own life between problems, prayer and
7. Read John 16:25-33. How would Jesus’ assurance of the Father’s love help the
disciples in the days just ahead of them?
8. In verse 32 Jesus predicts that his disciples will abandon him. How do you
think that failure affected their feelings of self-worth?
How does failure affect you?
9. How would Jesus’ promise of peace and victory (v. 33) sustain them through
10. Which of the promises in this chapter have made the deepest impression on
11. How can these promises strengthen your heart during the trials and
discouragements of the future?
The Master’s Final Prayer
The approach of death has a way
of bringing our priorities into focus. People who know death is imminent also
know what is really important in life and who they really care about. In Jesus’
final prayer with his disciples, he prays for himself, for them and for you!
Every believer is on Jesus’ mind as he faces the greatest trial of his life—the
1. What specific people would you want around you in a crisis, and why?
2. Read John 17:1-5. Jesus makes only one request for himself—that the Father
would glorify him, so that he might glorify the Father. In what way would each
one glorify the other?
Why do you think that was so important to Jesus?
3. To what extent is God’s glory foremost in your mind on a daily basis?
4. How is Jesus’ definition of eternal life (v. 3) different from merely living
In what ways do you actively seek to know the Father and the Son better?
5. Read John 17:6-19. According to these verses, what specific ministries did
Jesus have toward his disciples?
6. Twice Jesus asked the Father to protect his disciples from the evil one (vv.
11, 15). Why would that protection have been so important in Jesus’ mind as he
faced the cross?
7. Jesus also asked the Father to sanctify his disciples through his word (v.
17). How can we allow God’s Word to have that kind of effect on our lives?
8. Read John 17:20-26. Jesus prayed that those who believe in him would be one,
“so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (vv. 21, 23)? Why is our
unity a powerful argument for the reality of Jesus?
9. In what practical ways can we demonstrate our oneness with other believers?
10. Jesus obviously prayed this prayer out loud to bring comfort and assurance
to his disciples. In what particular ways do Jesus’ words encourage or assure
11. How do the concerns that were on Jesus’ heart as he faced death match up
with the concerns that would be on your heart if you were facing death?
How would you account for the difference?
“Jesus, You’re under Arrest!”
Most of us would hate the
thought of being arrested and brought to trial. If we were guilty of a crime,
being arrested would be humiliating. But if we were innocent, it would be
devastating. Yet in what should have been a demeaning experience for Jesus, we
see again his majesty and glory. Jesus uses an experience of attack, betrayal
and abandonment to demonstrate his confident trust in the Father. His calm
assurance will help us face life’s hurts and injustices with the same trust in
the same Father.
1. How would you respond if a group of people falsely accused you of a crime and
even called the police to have you arrested?
2. Read John 18:1-14. Why would Jesus go to a place where Judas knew he might be
found (vv. 1-3)?
3. When the soldiers say they are seeking Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus replies “I am
he” (lit. “I am”; v. 5). How would you explain the reaction of the soldiers (v.
4. If you had been one of Jesus’ disciples, what feelings would you have had
when the soldiers arrived at the garden?
5. Based on Peter’s reaction (v. 10), what were his feelings?
6. What insight do Peter’s action and Jesus’ rebuke (v. 11) give you about our
attempts at times to “help God out” in our own strength and wisdom?
7. Read John 18:15-27. Think back to the deepest sin of your life. How does a
look at your own sin change your attitude toward Peter’s denial of Jesus?
8. What contrasts do you see between Jesus’ and Peter’s response to this crisis?
What factors made the difference in each man’s response?
9. When your faith or commitment to Christ is challenged, which of the two men
are you most like? Explain.
10. What can we learn from Peter’s failure about being ready to stand against
the world’s challenges?
11. What specific events in this passage display (a) Jesus’ courage, (b) his
power and (c) his obedience to the Father?
Which attitude of Jesus in this section impresses you most?
12. How will this study change the way you will face a time of testing in your
Pilate on Trial
“Christ Killers!” The words
made my stomach tighten. Someone had spray-painted the words and a series of
swastikas on the Jewish synagogue . Anti-Semitism had raised its ugly head
The New Testament does blame the Jewish leaders for condemning Jesus to die. But
they weren’t acting alone. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, also condemned
Jesus to die. He did so even though he knew that Jesus was innocent. There is a
sense, too, in which we killed Jesus. He died for our sins and in our place. The
most amazing answer to the question of who killed Jesus is that no one did!
Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of my own choice.”
1. To what extent are you tempted to compromise your Christian faith or witness
because of peer pressure?
2. Read John 18:28-38. How do the Jewish leaders reveal their hypocrisy by
refusing to enter Pilate’s (a Gentile) home (v. 28)?
3. A Roman trial included four basic elements: the accusation, the interrogation
(search for evidence), the defense and the verdict. What events or statements
from the text are included in each?
(a) The accusation:
(b) The interrogation:
(c) The defense:
(d) The verdict:
4. How would you describe Jesus’ “kingdom” based on his response to Pilate (v.
5. Read John 18:39—19:16. Pilate obviously was trying to release Jesus. What
specific attempts did he make?
How does it make you feel when you read the record of injustice done toward
6. What can you conclude about Pilate’s character after reading this passage?
What kind of man was he?
7. The Jews’ true charge against Jesus comes out in verse 7—“He claimed to be
the Son of God.” Why do you think Pilate reacted to that statement as he did
8. Why didn’t Jesus say more to Pilate (vv. 9-11)? Shouldn’t he have defended
himself more vigorously?
9. What parallels can you draw between the crowd’s threats toward Pilate (v. 12)
and the world’s attempts to detour Christians from fully following Christ?
10. The message of the Gospel is that Jesus took upon himself the condemnation
that we deserve. In what specific ways do you see Christ’s grace demonstrated in
his trial before Pilate?
How can you respond appropriately to Christ’s grace to you?
Obedient to Death
There is nothing pleasant or
attractive about an execution. When we hear of terrorists beheading innocent
hostages, it makes us sick. It left a knot in my stomach for days.
In Jesus’ day execution was designed to be public and painful. The account of
the crucifixion is not easy to read. You may be tempted to think that Jesus’
death was a cruel mistake. It wasn’t. Jesus’ life was not taken from him; he
laid it down willingly. It was part of his plan—a plan that included you and me.
His cross was in a very real sense our cross.
1. When you think about death, what feelings and thoughts come to mind?
2. Read John 19:17-27. Crucifixion was obviously a brutal and tortuous form of
execution. Why do you think John leaves so much of the agonizing detail out of
3. Three groups were involved in Jesus’ death—the soldiers, the Jewish leaders
and Pilate. How would you characterize each one’s attitude toward Jesus?
In what ways do their attitudes toward Jesus parallel those of men and women
4. How do you think Mary, Jesus’ mother, felt as she stood by the cross?
5. How is Jesus’ tender care for her evident even while he is dying (vv. 26-27)?
6. Read John 19:28-42. What was the significance of Jesus’ cry, “It is finished”
(v. 30; see Jn 17:4)?
7. What evidence does John give that Jesus really died?
8. Why was it so important for John to establish the certainty of Jesus’ death?
9. What feelings and thoughts would have gone through your mind if you had
helped prepare Jesus for burial?
10. Where were Jesus’ disciples during his crucifixion and burial (see Jn
Why do you think they were so conspicuously absent?
11. Under the same circumstances, do you think you would have been more like
Joseph and Nicodemus or Jesus’ disciples? Explain.
12. When it comes to public identification with Jesus, how is it possible to
respond in the same ways today?
13. What aspect of Jesus’ death has made the deepest impression on you, and why?
The Son Is Up!
I heard a story once about a
hospital incident. An orderly was told to take a body to the morgue. Simply out
of habit, the orderly felt the man’s wrist for a pulse. When he realized his
mistake, the orderly quickly dropped the arm, but not before his sensitive
fingers told him something his mind struggled to believe. There was a pulse! The
doctors were called, and the man revived.
That story may or may not be true. But I know of one account of a man coming
back to life that is true. The man lived for years after the event. In fact, he
is still alive, as we will see in this passage.
1. How would you react if a friend told you he had seen someone raised from the
2. Read John 20:1-31. John records three witnesses to the empty tomb: Mary
Magdalene, Peter and “the other disciple” (John himself). What important details
do we learn from each one (vv. 1-9)?
3. Why is it important to prove the tomb was empty?
4. John also records three appearances of the risen Christ: to Mary, to his
disciples and to Thomas. Why do you think Mary doesn’t immediately recognize
Jesus (vv. 10-15)?
After she does recognize him, what impresses you most about their encounter (vv.
5. When Jesus appears to his disciples, what specific gifts and promises does he
give them (vv. 19-23)?
What do you think is the significance of each gift or promise?
6. Finally, Jesus appears to Thomas (vv. 24-29). How does Thomas’s attitude—both
before and after Jesus appears to him—add credibility to the resurrection?
7. How does Thomas’s exclamation “My Lord and my God” (v. 28) provide a fitting
climax to John’s Gospel?
8. What can we learn from Jesus’ encounter with Thomas about dealing with people
who have doubts about Christianity?
9. Is believing that Jesus rose from the dead as important as believing that he
died on the cross for our sins? Explain.
10. John tells us why he has written his Gospel in verses 30-31. Of all the
“miraculous signs” John has included, which have been most convincing to you?
A Walk with a Resurrected Man
Most of us find it easier to
forgive than to forget. We may be ready to forgive someone who has hurt us
deeply, but we have a hard time trusting that person again. Peter failed Jesus
miserably. He promised to give up his life if necessary to protect Jesus but
denied him a few hours later. Peter knew Jesus had forgiven him. But would Jesus
still trust him? Could Jesus still use him to bring glory to God? Will Christ
still use us after we’ve failed?
1. Describe how you feel when someone you have hurt refuses to forgive you.
2. Read John 21:1-14 What was the significance of Peter’s decision to return to
fishing (vv. 1-3)?
3. What was Jesus trying to show the disciples by allowing them to catch such a
large number of fish (vv. 4-6; see Lk 5:4-11)?
4. When Peter hears that “It is the Lord” (vv. 7-8) he jumps into the water and
begins swimming ahead of the boat. What does this reveal about Peter and his
relationship with Jesus?
How would you have responded if you had denied the Lord only a few days earlier?
5. Read John 21:15-25. What subtle differences do you notice in Jesus’ three
questions and Peter’s responses (vv. 15-17)?
What do you think is the significance of those differences?
6. What can we learn from this passage about the steps involved in restoring a
Christian who has sinned?
7. Why do you think Jesus chose this particular time to predict the kind of
death Peter would die (vv. 18-19)?
8. How does it help to know that you can still serve and glorify God no matter
what your past failures have been?
9. What does Jesus’ rebuke to Peter (v. 22) reveal about the danger of comparing
ourselves with other Christians?
10. As you have studied through John’s Gospel, what aspect of Jesus’ character
or ministry has impressed you most?
11. What responses have you made in your heart and life as a result of that
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