You and I use words to share information, to describe things, and to express our thoughts and feelings. You might use your words to tell a friend all about your day. You could use your words to ask your parents for something you want or need. Words also help us let people know we are confused, sad, or scared. Sometimes we use our words in kind ways and sometimes we use them in ways that hurt others. Our words can make someone’s day or make someone feel ashamed. Words are powerful. God’s words are different from our words. Our words can be careless and useless, but God’s words are always intentional and useful. God’s word has the power to create something from nothing, to bring life to our hearts and to make amazing things happen! God’s words are never empty, and they never fail. God’s words are also full of perfect wisdom and truth. All of these truths are found in Jesus, the Word. Jesus came not just to speak words, but to be the Word. Jesus was everything God wanted to say to the world in a person! That’s why John says that Jesus is the Word.
God, thank you for sending Jesus to speak truth to our hearts. Thank you for your love that never quits and never gives up. Help me to believe your truth and to receive your love. And help me to share this love with others. Help me to speak words of life into the people around me today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In this passage, we meet another John. This is not the John who wrote this book. This is John the Baptist – he was Jesus’ cousin. John the Baptist had a very specific job. John went before Jesus to tell everyone that Jesus was coming – he prepared the way for Jesus. John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That’s a pretty weird nickname. What does it mean?
When John called Jesus “the Lamb of God,” his listeners would have known what it meant. In the Old Testament (which is the first half of the Bible), God’s people needed a way to be forgiven of their sins. Maybe you’re wondering, “What is sin?” Sin is loving anything more than Jesus – and they sinned a lot. And so do we!
Jesus is and forever will be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The agreement was broken between the creator and his creation. We denied the creator, and because God is just, a sacrifice had to be made to cover our mistake. God knew no human on planet earth could live a perfect life and be the perfect sacrifice. God also desired a personal relationship with his creation and knew the only way for that to happen was to send his son, the perfect pure “lamb” to cover our mistakes. Because of His undeserved death we get to have an undeserved relationship with an incredibly loving Father!
God, thank you for sending Jesus, the perfect sacrifice. Thank you that Jesus lived the life I could not live, died the death I could not die – and did both in my place. Thank you that your Son, Jesus lives now forever and that because of that I have the hope of eternal life with you. Help me to trust in what Jesus did so that I can love Him more than anything else in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In this passage Jesus is finding and calling on the men who will follow him and be his Disciples. A disciple is a follower or student of a teacher or leader. In this case the disciples are personal followers of Jesus. These disciples would become Jesus’ closest friends during the next three years of his ministry. They are the people he does life with, his best friends, and the people who witness his miracles and ministry firsthand. We have written accounts of Jesus’ life today because of the friends he did life with.
It starts with Andrew following Jesus. He overhears John the Baptist call Jesus “the Lamb of God.” Andrew had to have great faith that this was true because not only did he immediately follow Jesus, he went and told his brother, Simon, that they had “found the Messiah.” The word messiah or Christ means, savior and deliverer. The Jewish people were desperately waiting for a messiah that would lead them to victory over their enemies. We will find out later that Jesus, the Messiah, did not just come to fight for the Jewish people, but to build relationship with all of us.
The next day, Jesus invites Philip to follow him. Like Andrew, Philip has to share this good news with someone. He finds and tells Nathanael, but Nathanael isn’t convinced. Instead of getting upset with Nathanael, Philip doesn’t pick a fight or try to convince him; he just invites him to “come and see for yourself.” He knew that an encounter with Jesus and building a friendship with Jesus was enough to convince Nathanael to follow. The same can happen with you and your friends: Invite them to come, to get to know Him, believe in Him, and follow Him.
God, thank you for coming down to earth to build a relationship with us. Thank you for being worth following. Help us in our faith journey to follow you with excitement, inviting other’s to come with us and see that you are the savior and our friend. Help us be faithful friends just as you are a faithful friend to us.
In this story, Jesus and His friends are at a wedding celebration. Everyone is having a great time until they discover a big problem: they’ve run out of wine. Imagine inviting your friends and family over for a cookout and then running out of soda while everyone is still eating. What would you do? You would probably just run to the closest grocery store to get some more or offer people water from your sink. But neither of those were acceptable, or even an option in Jesus’ time.
Taking good care of your guests was a major deal in this culture and running out of drink at a party would have been very embarrassing for the hosts. But thankfully for them, Jesus was at their wedding. And He performed a miracle—His first one! He turned the water into wine. Jesus made sure the party could continue.
There are three important things we can learn from this story:
God, thank you for your kindness. It is your kindness that leads us to trust you and love you and serve you. Help me to experience your kindness in a way that makes my heart more kind toward others, especially to those who are hard to love. Help me to trust more in your power and your kindness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In this story, Jesus visits the temple in Jerusalem during a Jewish holiday called Passover. The temple was a place where the Jews gathered to worship God. During a feast like Passover, Jewish people and non-Jewish (Gentile) believers traveled from far away to worship at the temple. One of the ways they worshipped at the feasts was with animal sacrifices. Once arriving, these travelers would exchange their foreign currency for local currency with the money changers in order to buy animals from the temple merchants; this was a lot easier than bringing an ox, sheep or dove on a long trip! So, why did Jesus get angry at the money changers and merchants? Weren’t they being helpful?
Jesus was angry because his Father’s house was meant to be a place for all nations to come and worship. The money changers were exchanging the money at a dishonest rate and the merchants were charging an unfair price for the animals. They had also filled up the outer area of the temple (known as the court of Gentiles) with their businesses; there wasn’t enough space for the Gentiles to gather. So, the money changers and merchants were getting rich by taking advantage of these visitors’ desire to worship God while making it difficult for them to do so. When Jesus saw this, he knew he had a responsibility to say and do something. Jesus became angry because he was consumed with “passion for God’s house.” That means he loved and cared about the things his Father loved and cared about. Jesus wasn’t angry for selfish reasons. He was angry for the right reasons.
Why was Jesus angry? What does it teach us about God and what He cares about?
How is Jesus’ anger different than our anger?
What is something in this world that it is right to be angry about?
God, thank you that you care about all kinds of people. Thank you that you want everyone to be able to know you, love you and worship you. Help me to never be an obstacle to someone knowing your love and truth. Give me strength to stand up for the right things and the wisdom to know when and how to do so. Thank you that Jesus got angry about the right things, but never angry about the wrong things. Thank you that he did that as an example, but also as my substitute. In Jesus’ name, amen.
In this story, Jesus is talking late into the night with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a religious leader who wanted to learn more about Jesus. He believed that Jesus was a miracle worker sent by God to teach the people, but he didn’t know the real reason God sent the gift of Jesus. In John 3:16, the most well-known verse in the Bible, we learn the reason behind the gift God sent to us – JESUS – and the result of the best gift ever.
The reason God sent Jesus into this world is because He loves the world. He loves all the people in the world. That includes you, your friends, your family, and even those you don’t get along with too well. God’s heart is for you and he wants your heart to be full of joy and peace and hope.
God wants us to let His light shine in our hearts and to get rid of any dark thing. When His light overtakes all the dark things then we can have His joy, peace, love and hope!
The result of the gift of Jesus is that “everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” – forever life – life not just here on earth but life in heaven with Him too. There are two important things to notice about this incredible promise:
1) “Believe in him” means more than just “head knowledge”. Believe means to trust in Jesus (who He is and what He did) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It means to build your life, and center your heart on God. 2) “Perish” doesn’t mean natural death; this is about spiritual death – it means separation from God forever. Those who trust in God will live forever with God because
of the new life of the Spirit within them. This is why Christians are sometimes called “born again.” (You can read more about that in the first 15 verses of this chapter.)
· What is the best gift you’ve received recently? What did you love about it?
· How would you summarize John 3:16 in your own words?
· How is “head” belief different from “heart” belief?
· What hope do we have for beyond this life?
Thank you for the gift of Jesus! I had no way to earn eternal life on my own. I did
not deserve eternal life on my own. But you sent Jesus to live the life I should have
lived and to die the death I should have died. Jesus, thank you for giving your life
FOR me and giving your life TO me! I believe in you. Help me to believe in you more deeply and more consistently. God, thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen
In this story, we find Jesus in a surprising conversation with a Samaritan woman. It’s surprising because Jesus was a Jew and this woman was a Samaritan. The Jewish people and the Samaritans shared an ugly history of racism, hate, and violence toward each other. A Jewish person would never approach a Samaritan, especially a woman, looking for help or a conversation. But Jesus loves the lost. Jesus reached out to this woman. Jesus loves all people regardless of gender, race, who they are, or what they’ve done! He enjoys surprising us with his love.
The woman’s response to Jesus reveals her confusion: “Why are you talking to me? And why are you asking me to do something for you?” Jesus continues to surprise her by talking about a water that will satisfy her thirst forever. She is talking about natural water, but Jesus is talking about supernatural water—living water. Jesus is the living water! The water Jesus gives us can’t be compared to anything else. The truth is, nothing can fill us up and quench our thirst like His water!
(Consider having a bottle of water with you.) When I am thirsty, I drink water and it quenches my thirst. You and I need water to live. Water gives us strength and satisfaction. But there is a problem—we always get thirsty again. Jesus came to satisfy the thirst of our souls once and for all. We are “thirsty” for meaning and purpose. We are “thirsty” for acceptance and love. And we need someone greater than an Old Testament hero like Jacob to satisfy our dry souls. Jacob was an example of what to do and what not to do. But Jesus wasn’t just our example, he was our substitute. He lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died so that your soul can find
salvation and satisfaction in a relationship with God. Jesus is the living water that gives us eternal life!
· What is your favorite drink? What is your least favorite drink?
· What does it mean that Jesus is the living water?
· What are some ways that people try to satisfy the thirst in their souls?
· What did Jesus do and how does that give us eternal life?
God, Thank you for sending Jesus, the living water, to satisfy my thirsty soul. Forgive me when I turn to other things or other people to find that satisfaction. Help me to see and believe that only you can truly satisfy. I want to know Jesus and experience his goodness. I believe that he is everything that my heart and soul are searching for. Thank you that your Spirit will help me know and experience this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In this story, Jesus heals a man who had been sick for 38 years; he was lame, or paralyzed. The man is hanging out by this specific pool because people believed that an angel would come and stir its water, giving the pool healing power for those who would get in first. This seems a little out there. Plus, this man had no way to get into the water. What hope for healing did he have? Jesus is the living water. This sick man didn’t need the water in the pool. He needed the living water from Jesus! Jesus gives the man three commands, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” and the man is healed. For the first time in 38 years, he is healthy and strong! This is kind of a strange story, but the strangest thing is what happens next.
The Jewish religious leaders get angry that this healed man was carrying his mat around. They’re upset because he was breaking one of their rules about working on the Sabbath. There was no rule in the Old Testament stopping a simple activity like carrying around your bedroll, but the religious leaders had made hundreds of extra rules. Jesus came to challenge (and even break!) some of those rules because he knew (and wanted them to know!) that salvation wasn’t found in keeping the rules. Trying to keep all those rules to earn God’s love wouldn’t work for them, and it won’t work for you and me. We need to place all our trust and hope in who Jesus is and what Jesus did! In this story, Jesus was working for the good of one sick man. With his life and death, Jesus worked for the good of all people. That’s THE good news!
· What is your least favorite rule at school or at home? Why?
· What do you find most interesting about this story?
· Why did Jesus come to challenge the rules?
· Why can’t keeping the rules give us salvation?
Thank you for sending Jesus to show us that we can’t keep all the rules. Keep my heart from trusting in my ability to keep the rules. Help me to obey your commands out of joy and not just because they are on a check list. Give me the grace to love listening to and following you. Jesus, thank you for keeping the rules perfectly in my place and for taking the punishment for all my rule breaking mistakes and my selfish rule keeping efforts. I trust in your work, not mine! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Right before this part of John, Jesus healed a man who had been sick and unable to move for 38 years. The religious leaders were convinced that Jesus had broken one of their rules in healing the man and instructing him to carry his mat on the Sabbath. Now, we read Jesus’ response to those angry men. His response definitely did not calm the leaders—it actually made them angrier! They were angry that Jesus called God his Father, implying that he was equal with God. They thought this statement was a terrible sin called blasphemy. They didn’t realize or believe Jesus was God’s son.
The Jewish leaders knew exactly who Jesus was claiming to be here and it’s the reason they ended up killing Jesus. Nice men and good teachers don’t get murdered by the established governmental powers. Only threats to their power could put Jesus in danger of death from them. The religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat—not just because of his popularity and influence, but because He
repeatedly claimed to be equal with God the Father. Jesus claims were radical, but his life backed them up, and his influence is still seen all over the world.
Jesus goes on to explain his relationship with God the Father, and we learn three important truths:
1) Jesus always obeyed the Father. Jesus did nothing on his own, he completely and joyfully surrendered his will and what he wanted to do to the Father. He did this perfectly to take our place. He knew we wouldn’t always obey. He also did this as our example, showing us how to surrender and to do what God wants us to do.
2) Jesus and the Father love and know each other. Jesus and his Father perfectly love each other. This amazing relationship of love and trust is one that we get to join in on and experience! Later in the gospel of John, Jesus prays that we would all be one just as he and the Father are one. (John 17)
3) Jesus and the Father work together. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) have the same heart and mind. Together they share and carry out the plan to rescue humanity and restore creation. We should be so grateful for that plan!
· What qualities do you think make a good father? (or mother/grandfather/grandmother)
· What is one thing you learned today about Jesus and the Father?
· How did Jesus obey the Father?
· Why should we be grateful that the Trinity works together?
Thank you for being a good Father. You are a good Father to Jesus your son and you are a good Father to me. Thank you that I can become your child because I believe in Jesus—who he is and what he has done. Thank you that I am not your enemy, but I am your son or daughter. Thank you for welcoming me into your
home and into your family. Help me to live out my new identity as your child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(I don’t know if we want to include this or not)
(Consider having a lunch bag out or maybe a roll)
Jesus was becoming very popular. People were excitedly spreading the news of the miracles and healings he was performing. In this story, a very large crowd gathered on a hill to be a prt of the ministry and hear the teachings from Jesus, but there was problem. It was time to eat, there wasn’t any food around, and there were thousands of hungry people. This passage says there were five thousand men in the crowd. If you include the women and children, there could have been anywhere from ten to twenty thousand people there! Philip knew that it would take eight months wages to buy enough food for this crowd. Today, that could be between $50-$75,000!
A young boy in the crowd had his lunch with him, but Andrew pointed out, “What good is that with this huge crowd?” Sometimes it can seem like God is limited by what we have to offer, but in this story we learn that if we will trust God with the little we have, He can do amazing things! Jesus gives thanks, breaks the bread, and the disciples pass out the food. Not only is there enough for everyone, there are leftovers!
Let’s look at verse 6 for a minute. (“He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do”). Jesus teaches us two important things about God. On one hand, he already knows his plans and purposes. On the other hand, God wants us to participate and to understand both his heart and his mind. Why was Jesus testing Philip? He wanted Philip to think beyond the natural to the supernatural. He wanted Philip to believe that there was nothing impossible for God. He was about to learn that Jesus was even more amazing than he had previously thought or experienced. And that is still true for you and me! Jesus is way better than you think!
Later in this chapter, Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Jesus knew that about a year later, he would climb a different hill (Calvary) where his body would be broken (crucified) and “given away.” In this story, the bread satisfied the physical hunger of the people, but Jesus came to satisfy the spiritual hunger of all people. Jesus, the Bread of Life, was broken so we could be made whole. The sacrificial love of Jesus seen at the cross sustains and satisfies our hearts and our lives.
· What is your favorite thing to eat when you are hungry?
· What were the series of events that led to the crowd being fed?
· What does it mean that Jesus is the bread of life?
· How is Jesus more satisfying than the other things people look to?
God, thank you that you can take my little and do so much with it! Help me to not look down on myself because I think I don’t have much to offer. Instead help me to keep my eyes on you and what you can do as I obey and trust you. Thank you that Jesus came to satisfy my heart with his life and his love. Thank you that he was broken so I could be made whole. Thank you that brokenness—both Jesus’ and mine—is not wasted, but can be used for your purposes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.