Monday, February 12, 2007

Just Looking Study 1 (John 20:30-31, John 1:1-18)

From A Cracking Good Weekend with "Just Looking" Studies

Q: How can anyone know God?

Introduction
Read John 20:30-31
1. Why did John, the author of John's Gospel, write his book?
  • To convince people that Jesus was the Christ, God's Son and that by believing in Jesus we can have everlasting life
  • (Note: "Christ" means the messiah, the anointed one, the one predicted by the OT prophets and for whom faithful Jews are waiting)
2. What did the author John record for us to convince us of who Jesus is? How should this influence the way we read John's Gospel?
  • Miraculous signs
  • [Q: What are signs for? They point us to something. So in this case, the miracles aren't circus acts for our pleasure or so that we ooh and aah at the performer but they are signs to point us to something, someone - Jesus.]
  • This means that we will have to pay attention to the signs recorded because these signs will help to point us to who Jesus is.
  • In the Just Looking series, we will be examining some of these miraculous signs recorded for us. When we look at them, we must remember what they are there for.
3. Do you think that this is an objective account of Jesus' life? Why or why not?
  • No, of course not! Don't have to be politically-correct about it. Don't shy!
  • John himself says that his account of Jesus is not exhaustive as he has not included all the miraculous signs performed by Jesus.
  • And he also states his aim: he writes to convince us of who Jesus is.
  • But this does not mean that we should discount the book entirely. After all, all history/biographies, even the newspapers, are written with some kind of bias. Just because someone is biased doesn't mean that what he records is necessarily false. What we need to do is to examine what is written and to see for ourselves if the evidence is convincing.
[Context
John 1:1-18 is known as "The Prologue" to John's Gospel. It acts like an overture that introduces many of the key themes that will be raised and developed throughout the rest of the gospel.

Aim:
  1. To teach that Jesus - God's Word to man - became a man to reveal God fully to all mankind.
  2. We need to pay attention to Jesus because no one has ever seen God but Jesus, who came from the Father's side.

  3. *the aim is not to introduce Christian vocabulary like some Christian language class, but to introduce the good news, the real world, God's worldview and the concepts of who Jesus is and what he has come to do. So there will be much that will not be understood from this passage. No worries. Just like as Christians we grow deeper and deeper in our understanding of even the basics of salvation, so knowledge and understanding is necessarily progressive. Just ensure you keep the aims as the main points.
    *don't brush off questions, but don't let them disrupt the flow of the study. Write them down on a piece of paper and answer them at your leisure over a cuppa after the study.
Ice-breaker: (write down the different answers on a piece of paper)
  1. Do you believe there is a God? What do you believe about God?
  2. What is God like and how do you know? Where do you get your beliefs from?]
Read John 1:1-18
1. Look at vv1-4. What do we learn about the "Word"?
There with God in the beginning
• Was with God
• Was God
• Made everything
• Had life within himself

2. Look at v14. Who do you think the "Word" is and why?
• Jesus...because the Word took on human flesh and lived with human beings
• Jesus...because we know that he was supposed to have come from God the Father
• Note: If it is still not clear that the Word is Jesus, then compare John 1:15 with John 1:29-30. John the Baptist points Jesus out very clearly in these verses.

3. Now replace "Word" and "him" with "Jesus" and re-read v1-4. What then is John the author claiming about Jesus?
• There with God in the beginning
• Was with God
• Was God
• Made everything
• Had life within himself

4. Let's try to understand why Jesus is called the "Word". What do we use words for and what purpose do they serve?
• We use words to talk and communicate our thoughts/ideas to other people.
• Sometimes, our words can even reveal a little about who we are and what we're like.

5. Why then do you think Jesus is called the "Word"?
• Jesus is God's Word to us. He reveals God to us and shows us what God is like and what He thinks
• Jesus is God's communicative tool to mankind

6. Looking at vv4-9, what other words or ideas are associated with Jesus and what do they imply about Jesus and what he offers?
  • He is the light (as opposed to the darkness) - Light often has good connotations while darkness is associated with ignorance and evil.
  • [Q: How is this light described?] Jesus is called the TRUE LIGHT - This implies that all other religions (other "lights") are false.
  • [Q: If Jesus is the light, who can take advantage of his light?] Jesus is the TRUE LIGHT that gives light to EVERY MAN - So what Jesus offers is open to everyone
[Note: Can just put aside John the Baptist for now. If you really need to explain who John the Baptist is at this juncture, don't spend too much time. The three crucial things to point out about John the Baptist are:
  • He is different to John, the author of the Gospel.
  • He's purely human but appointed by God.
  • His role is to go before Jesus be a witness to Jesus, testifying to who Jesus is.]
7. Look at vv10-13. What two different reactions to Jesus are mentioned and what do we learn about the consequences of each reaction?
Response: Rejection (vv10-11)
Result:
[• in darkness]
• consequences unknown for now
• does not become a child of God

Response: Believe in Jesus (vv12-13)
Result:
[• in light]
• given the right to become a child of God

8. According to v12, what is the ONLY WAY to become a child of God?
Through believing in Jesus, receiving him. This connotes accepting him and being in some kind of relationship with him.

[Q: Why would you want to bother being in relationship with him? Well, what do we know about Jesus so far? He is the Word - God's communicative tool to us. He is also the Light - he illumines the darkness.

We are always eager to go and see people who can do something well. Play the piano, sing, juggle, swing 100 metres in the air, sports. We are always eager to have a listen to self-promoting gurus who promise to make your life better in some way.

But Jesus is more than that...]
9. Look at v18, what are we told about God and Jesus? Has anyone seen God?
• God - No one has ever seen God
• Jesus - Only Jesus (Note: "God the One and Only" is a term used for Jesus in v14) has seen God; Jesus is at God the Father's side; Jesus has made God known

10. How does this fact that Jesus is the only one to have seen God and makes God known add to what we said earlier about why Jesus is called the "Word"?
• Because only Jesus has seen God.
• Therefore Jesus is God's communicative tool because only Jesus is qualified to reveal God to us.

Why then is it important to pay attention to Jesus?
• If I told you that God wanted to tell you something, wouldn't you want to listen? Especially if you weren't a hoodwinking me?
• If God is so great etc, why would he want to talk to me unless it was really important?

Summary and Application
1. What have we learnt about the following: (write on a big piece of paper in a table format)
God
• God was there in the beginning with Jesus
• No one has ever seen God, except Jesus

Jesus
• There with God in the beginning
• Was with God
• Was God
• Made everything
• Had life within himself
• He's the True Light that gives light to all men
• He became a man to reveal God to us
• The only person to have seen God
• You can become a child of God if you believe in Jesus

Us
• Made by God/Jesus
[• can choose to be in darkness or in the light]
• can only become a child of God if we accept, believe in Jesus

2. "I like to think of God ..." is a common statement we hear. If we want to know what God is like, where should we look?
• We should look to the person and words of Jesus because only he has seen God and therefore only he is qualified to tell us anything about God

3. How has what you've learnt today challenged your view of God?
(Compare with initial answers to the ice-breaker questions. The key point of contrast is that God EXISTS and can ONLY be known through Jesus. This is because only Jesus has seen God and only Jesus reveals God to us when he became a man.)

Most religions know God by thinking about him intellectually, or feeling him experientially. But if God is really God, the greatest being in the universe, we cannot ever use our human faculties to understand him. Instead, he must reveal himself to us, through a trustworthy communicative tool, in a way that we, finite beings, can understand.

4. Jesus claims to fully reveal God to us. What difficulties have you got in understanding or accepting this? What holds you back from believing this for yourself?

Onward to
Just Looking Study 2 (John 3:1-21)
Just Looking Study 3 (John 4:1-30) - from-a-Christian-family version
Just Looking Study 4 (John 5:1-29)
Just Looking Study 5 (John 11:1-57)
Just Looking Study 6 (John 18:28-19:16a)
Just Looking Study 7 (John 19:16b-42)
Just Looking Study 8 (John 20)

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1 Comments:

At February 14, 2007 2:32 am , Anonymous sue said...

Your site has been extremely helpful to me. I have used it for my Sunday school classes. May the Lord continue to bless your site.

 

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