Weekly Studies
Week 1: John 1

Prayer before Reading

God,

Open my heart and mind to your presence. Speak to me and let me have ears to hear. Give me the eyes to see how I can make a difference through what I learn. Let this time be fruitful in helping me to become the person I was created to be.

Amen


John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 They said to him then, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Beth-sa’ida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathan’a-el, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathan’a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathan’a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathan’a-el said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathan’a-el answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”


Reflection

The first chapter of John reminds us of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Take a moment and read the first chapter of Genesis. When you read Genesis, take note of how many times that God spoke. For example: in the third verse, “And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Verse five: “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.”

There are at least fifteen times that the first chapter of Genesis points out God speaking as a part of creating the earth. It shows the very words of God have such power as to bring things into existence. God spoke, and things were created. The author of John evokes the creation story of Genesis in the first chapter of John. In Genesis, you have the spoken word of God bringing all things into being; in John you have the Word who was with God in the beginning and through whom all things were made. The Word is Christ; Jesus is the literal and figurative message of God.

Often, we think of Jesus and His redemptive power but the Gospel of John points out the creative power of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Jesus, they are a “new creation”. When we accept the mercy and grace that is offered to us from the Creator of the Universe, we’re not simply forgiven, we are created anew.


Study Questions

What is a part of your life that needs the “newness” that God wants us to experience?

How can God use you to bring new life to someone you know?


Closing Prayer

Living Word,

Thank you for your message of love to the world. Let me carry that message in my heart and speak it through my words and actions. Help me to remember that I am a new creation, “the old has passed away” and I do not have to be held captive by my past. Today – let me live anew.

Amen.

Week 2: John 2

Prayer before Reading

Word of God,

Speak to me today. I want to live a life that has joy and meaning. Help me to see examples in the way Christ lived on earth and apply those same values to the way I live. Open my mind to you.

Amen.


John 2
1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. 3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So, they took it. 9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Caper’na-um, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days. 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.  22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; 24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them, 25 because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.


Reflection

The second chapter of John begins with a very famous story from the life of Christ. Jesus was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee when the wine ran out. Weddings in the Ancient Near East were community events would typically last for seven days. It is fascinating to see that Jesus not only attended the wedding, but also that He would provide more wine for the celebration. The Gospel of John lists the miracle of wine as the first miracle Jesus performed. Of all the miracles, this one seems to be the most unlikely candidate for the first miracle. Why was this miracle recorded at all?

The author of John is showing Jesus as human and divine. On a very basic level, the story shows that Jesus attended a wedding reception. We don’t usually think about Jesus going to parties, but here we see that celebrations were a part of His life. We need to make time to celebrate with others in their important moments of life. We need to show that people are important to us and the best way to do this is to rejoice with them in their happiness and grieve with them in their loss. But the story also reveals the divine nature of Christ. Mary went to Jesus on behalf of the bridal party. It would have been embarrassing for them to not have enough wine for their guests and so she thought about their feelings and asked her Son for help. When the wine ran out, He provided. Once again, the author of John is showing the creation power of Jesus.


Study Questions

Who do you know that needs help?

Do you spend time in your prayers talking about others?

Being part of someone’s special moments in life shows that their lives matter to you. Think back on the past year – what weddings, funerals, birthday parties did you attend?


Closing Prayer

Gracious Lord,

Help me to look for opportunities where I can show people how important they are to me and to you. In the busyness of life, remind me to make time for the special moments. Thank you for being there for all of my moments in life and loving me.

Amen.

Week 3: John 3

Prayer before Reading

Dear God,

Prepare me to hear your word. Help me to set aside all other thoughts for the next few minutes and focus on you. Speak to me that I might truly understand.

Amen.


John 3

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode’mus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicode’mus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicode’mus said to him, “How can this be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. 22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing at Ae’non near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been put in prison. 25 Now a discussion arose between John’s disciples and a Jew over purifying. 26 And they came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony; 33 he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit; 35 the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.

Reflection

John 3:16 is one of the most familiar Bible verses. People hold up signs with “John 3:16” at sporting events all the time or quote it in discussions about salvation. It’s a beautiful passage of how much God loved the world. Unfortunately, it is sometimes misunderstood to focus on who can be saved or how. People have a natural desire to feel secure about eternity and so they find scriptures that speak to what they need to do or say to make it happen. They focus on John 3:16 and feel that the emphasis of that passage is on believing in Christ so that they could achieve eternal life. But here is the most important thing– is you want assurance, if you want eternal life… you can never achieve it. Only God can give eternal life. And if we want the assurance of how much God loves us, it won’t be found in what we do, but rather, what God does. Assurance and eternal life are found in the first part of John 3:16 and in the following verse.

“For God so loved the world… For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”


Study Questions

Do you believe that God loves you?

When you think about eternal life, is your confidence based on doing the right thing or the love of God?

If someone asked you how they could find eternal life, what would you tell them?


Closing Prayer

Loving God,

You are all that we need. Help us to put our trust in your love rather than anything we’ve done or not done. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Remind me to live as someone who is confident in your love so that I can fully share that same love with others.

In the name of your Son,

Amen.