Gospel Reading Guide – January 2-9, 2012

How do I use this guide?

John 6:1-14

The Old Testament is full of events and images that are given their full meaning in the life and ministry of Jesus. The story of God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt (memorialized by the Passover Feast) and God feeding Israel daily with manna (daily bread) in the wilderness loom large in John chapter 6.

Why does Jesus put the responsibility of feeding the crowd on Philip and the other disciples?

The people exclaim that Jesus must be “the Prophet who is come into the world.” This is an allusion to the words of Moses:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15)

When Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 people his popularity soars not only because hungry people were fed, but also because the people saw Jesus as a second Moses. Moses had led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. It was in the desert that God fed the people through Moses with manna, bread from heaven. With Jesus also performing a miracle feeding, the people began to wonder if Jesus was the prophet that Moses spoke of. If Moses led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, maybe Jesus will lead them out of Roman oppression. But Jesus has something else in mind and in the end many of his disciples desert him.

John 6:15-27

The disciples get into their boats to sail back to Capernaum which served as Jesus’ base of operations for His ministry in Galilee. Why do you think Jesus sent his disciples into the storm without him? What is he trying to teach them about themselves? What does Jesus’ walking on the water teach the disciples about Himself?

Once in Capernaum, Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. What troubles Jesus about the motives of his followers? ’Bread that spoils’ is an allusion to the manna God fed Israel in the wilderness (see Exodus 16) and the bread Jesus provided when he fed the 5000. What is the food that endures to eternal life? The title ‘Son of Man’ comes from Daniel 7:13-14 and is a title that points to Jesus’ divinity and power.

John 9:1-12, 35-38

Birth defects such as blindness were largely regarded as punishment for sin in Jesus’ day (notice the question that Jesus’ disciples ask). What does Jesus say is the reason for this man’s blindness? In what way does this miracle demonstrate what it means for Jesus to be the ‘light of the world’?

In John 9:1-12 we know that the blind man has been healed physically. How do we know in verse s 35-38 that his spiritual eyes have been opened as well?

‘Son of Man’ is one of the titles of the Messiah which comes from Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus used this title often to assert his divinity.

John 11:17-27, 38-44

Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after the death of his friend Lazarus. By all appearances He has come too late to save his friend.

What does Martha already believe about the resurrection of the dead and about Jesus even before Lazarus is brought back to life?

What does Jesus say is his purpose in raising Lazarus from the dead (see verse 42)?

Compare this to John chapter 9 and the man born blind. The blind man’s healing revealed Christ to be the “light of the world”. The raising of Lazarus from the dead reveals Jesus to be the ________________________ and the ______________.

John 16:23b-30

This passage marks a milestone in the development of the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. Early in his ministry, Jesus taught in parables, stories, whose meanings were often obscured from his followers. Now Jesus, on the last night with His disciples before His death, speaks plainly to His disciples.

Up until this point, Jesus prayed on behalf of His disciples to the Father. What will the disciples be invited to do now that Jesus is leaving? Why does God the Father love the disciples of Jesus and invite them to approach Him directly in prayer? Where did Jesus come from and where is He going?

What do the disciples finally realize about Jesus?

Matthew 12:14-21

What causes the Pharisees to plot to kill Jesus? Jesus had just healed a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. Why was this a big deal? The Pharisees’ power and popularity with the people was rooted in their perceived devotion to the Jewish Law. What the people could not see was that the Pharisee’s strict adherence to the Law was not motivated by love for God and love for their neighbor, but by a lust for power. Jesus uses this healing to expose their hypocrisy. Work was forbidden on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, by the Jewish Law. The Pharisees taught that healing was work and therefore was illegal on the Sabbath. But Jesus’ healing points out the absurdity of their position. How can an act of love for your neighbor be against the Law of God? Shamed, the Pharisees do not repent and submit to Jesus. Instead they plot to get rid of him.

Why does Jesus warn those whom he had healed not to tell who he was? How does Isaiah’s prophesy shed light on the type of Messiah Jesus was to be? Would he come in violence or in peace?

How does Isaiah describe the Messiah? How does Isaiah’s description contrast with the powerful military conqueror the people in Jesus’ day were expecting?

John 1:1-7, 19-20, 29-34

John is writing to the Greeks so it is not surprising that he uses a word to describe Jesus that was familiar to them, “logos” (word). “Logos” was a philosophical term that meant “divine reason that gave order and structure to the world.”

For the Greeks logos (Word) was an abstract principle,
For John, logos (Word) was _______________________.

What does this Word do (verses 3-5)?

What other image does John use to describe Jesus (verses 5)? What is John’s (John the Baptist, not the author of this book) relationship to the Word? What did John freely confess?

How does John the Baptist use to describe Jesus in verse 29? In the Old Testament it was often a lamb that was sacrificed for the sins of the people. How is the coming of Jesus the fulfillment of John’s mission? What does John see in Jesus? Who is Jesus and what will he do?

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