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Unusual Questions Personal Reflection Guide: Unusual Gospel for Unusual People - Studies from the Book of John
     

Unusual Questions Personal Reflection Guide: Unusual Gospel for Unusual People - Studies from the Book of John

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by Adam Thomas
 

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In the Gospel According to John, people ask Jesus some unusual questions. Much of the first half of the gospel is structured around Jesus conversing with individuals or groups of people. Their questions, along with their discussions with Jesus surrounding the questions, make up the jumping off point for this study. Their questions help us explore what it means to ask

Overview

In the Gospel According to John, people ask Jesus some unusual questions. Much of the first half of the gospel is structured around Jesus conversing with individuals or groups of people. Their questions, along with their discussions with Jesus surrounding the questions, make up the jumping off point for this study. Their questions help us explore what it means to ask our own.

Each session begins with an opening prayer, followed by the text of the day being read aloud. The group will enjoy a 5-7-minute video where Adam shares his thought on the Scripture and its "unusual" focus. The group will discuss the readings for the day then close with prayer.

The new and exciting aspect of this particular Bible study series is the blending of traditional weekly Sunday school with modern, daily-delivered digital content, which will keep readers connected with the material throughout the week. Between the daily communication and the group gatherings, participants will immerse themselves in the Good News.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426785115
Publisher:
Abingdon Press
Publication date:
04/15/2014
Series:
Unusual Gospel for Unusual People
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
48
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Unusual Questions Personal Reflection Guide


By Adam Thomas

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-8511-5



CHAPTER 1

Session 1

"How is it possible for an adult to be born?" Questions Lead to Openness and Humility

John 3:1-10

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him."

Jesus answered, "I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it's not possible to see God's kingdom."

Nicodemus asked, "How is it possible for an adult to be born? It's impossible to enter the mother's womb for a second time and be born, isn't it?"

Jesus answered, "I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don't be surprised that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' God's Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. It's the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Nicodemus said, "How are these things possible?"

Jesus answered, "You are a teacher of Israel and you don't know these things?


DOODLE OR WRITE ABOUT YOUR RESPONSES TO THE BIBLE READING.

What words or phrases shimmer for you?

What inspires you?

What challenges you?

What makes you curious?


QUESTIONS LEAD TO OPENNESS AND HUMILITY

DOODLE RESPONSES TO THE FOLLOWING WORDS:

Openness

Humility

... AND TO THESE WORDS:

Expert

Answers


Questions

Jesus answered, "I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it's not possible to see God's kingdom." Nicodemus asked, "How is it possible for an adult to be born? It's impossible to enter the mother's womb for a second time and be born, isn't it?" (John 3:3-4).


MORE THAN ONE MEANING!

Born anew

Born from above

Jesus helped Nicodemus move to openness and humility.


REFLECT AND RESPOND

What unusual questions do you want to ask Jesus?

How have you experienced a deepening of openness and humility when you've asked questions?

Where do you see yourself in the experience of Nicodemus, Jesus' conversation partner?

The words born anew/born from above and wind/spirit are intentionally ambiguous. Which do you gravitate to and why?

What were you sure of that turned out to be so much more interesting and multi- faceted when you began questioning it?

Where do you feel the wind of God's Spirit blowing in your life?


IMAGINE yourself as the following characters.

Respond to the questions as you think they might respond.


NICODEMUS

What was going through your mind on your way to see Jesus?

while he was talking?

when you left?

How do you imagine your life will be different now that you've met and conversed with Jesus?


Jesus

What was different about Nicodemus when he left than when he arrived?


PRAY THIS PRAYER ...

Gracious God, we confess that we do not have all the answers, nor do we have all the questions. But we rejoice that you grant us enough humility to ask the questions on our hearts, and that, in the action of asking, you open up new spaces within us for your Word to fill. Thank you for the opportunity to study your Word, share the wonder of your movement in this gathering, and be that movement as we depart into the world; all this we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who invites each of us to discover more and more about his love each day. Amen.


OR WRITE YOUR PERSONAL PRAYER ...

CHAPTER 2

Session 2

"Where would you get this living water?" Questions Signal Desire for Deeper Relationship

John 4:4-29


DIALOGUE:

Narrator: Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her,

Jesus: "Give me some water to drink."

Narrator: His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food. The Samaritan woman asked,

Woman: "Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?"

Narrator: (Jews and Samaritans didn't associate with each other.)

Jesus: "If you recognized God's gift and who is saying to you, 'Give me some water to drink,' you would be asking him and he would give you living water."

Woman: "Sir, you don't have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock."

Jesus: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life."

Woman: "Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!"

Jesus: "Go, get your husband, and come back here."

Woman: "I don't have a husband."

Jesus: "You are right to say, 'I don't have a husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn't your husband. You've spoken the truth."

Woman: "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem."

Jesus: "Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You and your people worship what you don't know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth."

Woman: "I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us."

Jesus: "I Am—the one who speaks with you."

Narrator: Just then, Jesus' disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?" The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people,

Woman: "Come and see a man who has told me everything I've done! Could this man be the Christ?"


DOODLE OR WRITE ABOUT YOUR RESPONSES TO THE BIBLE READING.

What words or phrases shimmer for you?

What inspires you?

What challenges you?

What makes you curious?

WELLS = ANCIENT EQUIVALENT OF MATCH.COM

ISAAC + REBEKAH (Genesis 24)

JACOB + RACHEL (Genesis 29)

MOSES + ZIPPORAH (Exodus 2:15-21)


DESIRE FOR DEEPER RELATIONSHIP

LIVING WATER?

Woman => Literal meaning

Jesus => Figurative meaning

How does water speak to you literally and figuratively?

"I Am—the one who speaks with you" (John 4:26).

GIFT OF DIVINE IDENTITY

GIFT OF DEEP ABIDING RELATIONSHIP

GIFT OF JESUS HIMSELF

WILLINGNESS

understanding

Understanding is not a prerequisite for faith or relationship with God. All we need is willingness ...


REFLECT AND RESPOND

What does the phrase "living water" suggest to you?

How have you experienced the "gift" of God in the person of Jesus Christ?

Describe a time when you latched onto a literal meaning when your conversation partner was speaking figuratively. What did you think or how did you feel?

What do you think Jesus means when he says "eternal life"?

Jesus offers each of us the gift of deep and abiding relationship. How have you responded to this offer?

How do you respond to the notion that we need willingness rather than understanding to be followers of Jesus Christ?

IMAGINE yourself as the following characters.

Respond to the questions as you think they might respond.


SAMARITAN WOMAN

Why were you at the well at midday? Where were you coming from? What concerns were on your mind as you went about your chores?

How did you feel while you were talking with Jesus? Frustrated? enlightened? confused? overjoyed?

How do you feel now that Jesus has left town?


JESUS

What prompted you to talk to the woman?

What did you see in her that prompted you to share your divine identity with her?


PRAY THIS PRAYER ...

Gracious God, you are too big for our minds to grasp and yet you offer us glimpses of your glory. Grant us the grace to deepen our relationships with you even when we do not understand the vastness of your power and your love. Thank you for the opportunity to study your Word, share the wonder of your movement in this gathering, and be that movement as we depart into the world; all this we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who invites each of us to drink of his living water. Amen.


OR WRITE YOUR PERSONAL PRAYER ...

CHAPTER 3

Session 3

"How can you say that you have seen Abraham?" Questions and Answers, but Not Necessarily in That Order

John 8:52-58

The Jewish opposition said to Jesus, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham and the prophets died, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never die.' Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died and the prophets died, so who do you make yourself out to be?"

Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is meaningless. My Father, who you say is your God, is the one who glorifies me. You don't know him, but I do. If I said I didn't know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him, and I keep his word. Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see my day. He saw it and was happy."

"You aren't even 50 years old!" the Jewish opposition replied. "How can you say that you have seen Abraham?"

"I assure you," Jesus replied, "before Abraham was, I Am."

DOODLE OR WRITE ABOUT YOUR RESPONSES TO THE BIBLE READING.

What words or phrases shimmer for you?

What inspires you?

What challenges you?

What makes you curious?

"BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM."

We live in a linear, sequential world.

TIME AND ETERNITY

HUMAN AND DIVINE

GOD LIVES

OUTSIDE

WITHIN

THROUGHOUT

Goes is always and eternally showering answers upon us.


REFLECT AND RESPOND

Try to describe a time when you may have glimpsed eternity. It would have been when you lost all track of time immersed in something. Perhaps you stumbled into an encounter with God, which happened in an indefinite moment. (Description of this may be difficult, but give it a shot just the same.)

What is your reaction to Jesus saying, "Before Abraham was, I am"?

When have you asked a question of God and not received an answer right away? How did you feel? Did you receive an answer some time later? If so, how was the question answered for you?

When have you recovered something you knew as a child, which turned out to be the answer to a question you had as an adult?

What are some of the "eternal answers" that God is always showering upon us? How have you interacted with them?


IMAGINE yourself as the following characters.

Respond to the questions as you think they might respond.


A MEMBER OF THE JEWISH OPPOSITION

What exactly made you try to stone Jesus at the end of your conversation?

What do you think is going to happen to Jesus in the long run?


JESUS

How did you feel when your opponents started looking around for stones?

What do you think they are going to do next?


PRAY THIS PRAYER ...

Gracious God, your very presence is the best answer to so many of our questions. Grant us the patience and creativity to discern how you may be answering our questions in ways we would never expect. Thank you for the opportunity to study your Word, share the wonder of your movement in this gathering, and be that movement as we depart into the world; all this we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who invites each of us to join him in eternity, where question and answer dissolve into the eternal "yes" of your presence. Amen.


OR WRITE YOUR PERSONAL PRAYER ...

CHAPTER 4

Session 4

"What is truth?" Questions That Lead to Truth, Not Fact

John 18:28-38

The Jewish leaders led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's palace. It was early in the morning. So that they could eat the Passover, the Jewish leaders wouldn't enter the palace; entering the palace would have made them ritually impure.

So Pilate went out to them and asked, "What charge do you bring against this man?"

They answered, "If he had done nothing wrong, we wouldn't have handed him over to you."

Pilate responded, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your Law." The Jewish leaders replied, "The Law doesn't allow us to kill anyone." (This was so that Jesus' word might be fulfilled when he indicated how he was going to die.)

Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?"

Pilate responded, "I'm not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?"

Jesus replied, "My kingdom doesn't originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn't have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn't from here."

"So you are a king?" Pilate said.

Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked.


DOODLE OR WRITE ABOUT YOUR RESPONSES TO THE BIBLE READING.

What words or phrases shimmer for you?

What inspires you?

What challenges you?

What makes you curious?


"WHAT IS TRUTH?"

TRUTH has not changed, but our relationship to it has.

TRUTH

FACT

TRUTH is the grand, mysterious framework upon which fact is hung. Truth can be revealed, but not measured.

TRUTH is neither a collection of facts nor a set of easy, provable answers.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

God makes the truth known through participatory experiences.

EXPERIENCING TRUTH

Openness and humility

Deeper relationship

Patience in questioning

TRUTH -> WALKING THE WAY AND LIVING THE LIFE AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST


REFLECT AND RESPOND

How do you define fact? How do you define truth?


Respond to this statement: "There is only so much we humans can prove with any amount of certainty, so if we chose to live our lives simply by the provable, we would miss out on most of what makes living beautiful and worthwhile."

What can we prove?

What makes living beautiful and worthwhile?


Describe an experience in which God revealed the truth to you.


How do you think Pilate says the question, "What is truth?" Is he sarcastic, angry, sincere, or showing some other emotion?


Describe an experience of discovering truth through a time when:

you became more open and humble

your relationship with Jesus deepened


you were patient in the face of questions


IMAGINE yourself as the following characters. Respond to the questions as you think they might respond.


PILATE

What did you make of this man standing before you? What were your first impressions?

What were you interrupted from doing when he was brought to your door?

After Jesus died, did you have any regrets that you didn't do more to save him? If so, what did you regret? If not, why?


JESUS

Were you afraid to die?

What thoughts went through your mind as the judgment was passed?


PRAY THIS PRAYER ...

Gracious God, you are the source and foundation of all truth. Grant us the grace to live into your truth through our questions, our service, and our love. Thank you for the opportunity to study your Word, share the wonder of your movement in this gathering, and be that movement as we depart into the world; all this we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who invites us to follow him, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.


OR WRITE YOUR PERSONAL PRAYER ...


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Unusual Questions Personal Reflection Guide by Adam Thomas. Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Adam Thomas was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2008 at the age of 25, making him one of the first priests from the millennial generation. His unique voice in the faith community emanates from a combination of his youth, honesty, humor, and tech-savvy nature. Adam is a nerd and a gamer and a preacher and a follower of Christ. He serves God as the pastor of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Mystic, CT, writes the blog Where the Wind, and lives a hectic but beautiful life with his wife Leah and their one-year-old twins. His Abingdon Press resources include Unusual Gospel for Unusual People Series, Coverage: Who is Jesus, Letters from Ruby, and Digital Disciple.

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