John Leader Guide: The Gospel of Light and Life

John Leader Guide: The Gospel of Light and Life

by Adam Hamilton

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Overview

John Leader Guide: The Gospel of Light and Life by Adam Hamilton

The Gospel of John is the most deeply spiritual of the four gospels. It includes some of the loftiest and most loved verses in all the Bible: “And the Word became flesh…,” “For God so loved the world…,” “You who are without sin cast the first stone…,” “I am the resurrection and the life…,” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The writing is filled with rich images and profound truths, but John notes that his aim in writing the gospel is that his readers will not only believe in Jesus Christ, but that they “may have life in his name.”

Join Adam Hamilton and experience a season of spiritual growth and life-changing renewal while exploring the major themes of John while reading the entire Gospel of John.

The Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the bible study program including session plans and discussion questions, as well as multiple format options. This guide centers around the book, the videos, and Scripture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501805363
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 12/15/2015
Series: John Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 573,361
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton’s congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013 and was appointed to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of Creed, Half Truths, The Call, The Journey, The Way, 24 Hours That Changed the World, John, Revival, Not a Silent Night, Enough, When Christians Get It Wrong, and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about Adam Hamilton at AdamHamilton.org.

Read an Excerpt

John The Gospel of Light and Life

Leader Guide


By Adam Hamilton, Clara Welch

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2015 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-0537-0



CHAPTER 1

THE WORD MADE FLESH


Planning the Session


Session Goals


Through conversation, activities, and reflection, participants will:

• Identify what makes the Gospel of John unique in comparison with the Synoptic Gospels

• Explore the meaning of Logos or "the Word" in John's Gospel

• Understand the significance of the Incarnation

• Consider our various experiences of "darkness"

• Recognize how Jesus Christ is the light that overcomes the darkness

• Discover some ways in which Jesus Christ offers us life

• Discern what it means to put our trust in Jesus Christ

• Celebrate how Jesus Christ is our light and life


Biblical Foundation

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness doesn't extinguish the light. (John 1:1-5)

The Word became flesh and made his home among us. (John 1:14)

No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, has made God known. (John 1:18)


Before the Session

• Set up a table in the room with name tags, markers, Bibles, and extra copies of John: The Gospel of Light and Life.

• On a large sheet of paper, whiteboard, or chalkboard write the heading: "John: The Gospel of Light and Life."

• On another large sheet of paper, whiteboard, or chalkboard make two columns, one titled "Synoptics" and one titled "John."

• Have markers or chalk available for recording participant responses.

• On a large sheet of paper, write the focus questions for passages from John as stated in Hamilton's book and display them in the room for each session during the study.

* What is said in this passage about Jesus?

* In this passage, how does Jesus bring life to me?

* What response do these verses require of me?

• For the Word Made Flesh activity, bring a Bible commentary, a Bible dictionary, and a concordance. Make sure these include a listing for Logos, "the Word," or "the Word of God." Write the instructions as included in the session plan on a large sheet of paper, whiteboard, or chalkboard, or print the instructions on papers to distribute to the group members.

• If you plan to do the Hymn Study activity, collect hymnals that include the hymn "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus."

• Have paper and pencils available in case any participants need them for the journaling activity at the end of the session.

• Cut printer paper into strips or collect three-by-five cards for the Closing Activity: Create a Litany of Celebration.

Remember that there are more activities than most groups will have time to complete. As leader, you'll want to go over the session in advance and select or adapt the activities you think will work best for your group in the time allotted.


Getting Started

Opening Activities

Greet participants as they arrive. Invite them to make a name tag and to pick up a Bible or copy of John: The Gospel of Light and Life if they did not bring one.

Introduce yourself. You may want to share why you are excited about teaching this Bible study.

If you sense that the participants in your group do not know each other well, allow time for them to introduce themselves and share something about their relationship with the church — for example, the name of a Sunday school class or small group to which they belong, a mission project they support, or which worship service they attend. Extend a special welcome to anyone who does not regularly attend your church, and invite them to worship at your church if they do not have a church home.


Housekeeping

• Share any necessary information about your meeting space and parking.

• Let participants know you will be faithful to the time and encourage everyone to arrive on time.

• Encourage participants to read the upcoming chapter each week and do any "homework" that may be suggested.

• Encourage participants to purchase a notebook or journal for the study. Explain that the notebook or journal may be used to record questions and insights they have as they read the chapter each week. There will be time for reflection and journaling at the end of each session. Explain that what they write in the journal will be confidential, but they will have opportunities to share from their journals.

• Ask participants to covenant together that they will respect a policy of confidentiality within the group.


Lenten Discipline

Share the idea of reading the entire Gospel of John during this season as a Lenten discipline. Note that the text of John's Gospel, divided into six manageable parts, is included in the study book to encourage this discipline.

Read the first sentence of the introduction to the book: "John is unique among the Gospels."

Draw attention to the heading on the paper or board: "John: The Gospel of Light and Life." Invite participants to share

• a word or phrase that describes the Gospel of John for them.

• a word or phrase that describes a personal feeling or impression of the Gospel of John.

Write the words and phrases on the paper or board. Place check marks after words and phrases that are suggested by more than one person.


Opening Prayer

Holy God of light and life, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for Jesus' follower who so long ago wrote the words of this Gospel so that we might know Jesus Christ and live in relationship with him. Bless our time together as we study this Gospel. Open our hearts so that we may be receptive to your word. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


Learning Together


Video Study and Discussion


Adam Hamilton makes introductory remarks about the Gospel of John and invites us to consider the question "What does Jesus mean?" In other words, does Jesus' life change anything for you?

After viewing the video, invite the group to discuss these questions:

• Who may have written the Gospel of John?

• Has your understanding of who Jesus is, and your relationship with Jesus, changed since you first learned about Jesus?

• What are some differences between the Gospel of John and the three Synoptic Gospels?

• What stories and texts in the three Synoptic Gospels can you recall that teach what it means to follow Jesus?

• In the Gospel of John, what does Jesus call us to do?

• What is Adam's challenge for us this week? ("Bear the light of Christ into this dark world.") What are some ways we can meet that challenge?


Bible and Book Study and Discussion

Introduction

Review Hamilton's opening sentence, "John is unique among the Gospels." Remind the group that the other three Gospels are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. Explain that synoptic means "to see together" in Greek.

Invite participants to use information from the Introduction to note differences between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. Record the responses in the appropriate column on the paper or board. Ask:

• Who wrote the Gospel of John?

• When was the Gospel of John written?

• What is the central question addressed in this Gospel?


Call attention to the three questions you have displayed in the room. Invite participants to keep these in mind as they read the Gospel of John. Read the closing paragraph of the introduction.


The Word Made Flesh

Invite a volunteer to read John 1:1-3. Ask:

• What is the premise of the Gospel of John, as introduced in the prologue? ("Jesus embodies God's Word.")

• What is the Greek term that John uses for "the Word"? (Logos)

• What does "the Word" or Logos mean as it is used in John's Gospel? (Suggestions from the study book include "logic and logical" and also "God's heart, God's reasoning, God's mind, God's purposes, God's character, God's desire to communicate and create.")


Divide the group into three smaller groups. Give one group a Bible commentary, one group a Bible dictionary, and one group a concordance. Call attention to the activity instructions displayed in the room, or distribute the written instructions to each group.

• Bible commentary: Look up John 1:1-18. Note additional insights regarding the meaning of the Greek word Logos.

• Bible dictionary: Look up "the Word" and note various ways the term is used in the Bible. (Be sure the Bible dictionary you selected includes information on "the Word." Some do not.)

• Concordance: Look up Scripture passages that reference "the Word of God." Identify verses that use "the Word" in the same context as John's Gospel and verses that use "the Word" in a different context.

Afterward, allow time for each of the smaller groups to share its findings with the large group.

Read John 1:14. Note Hamilton's statement: "The premise of the Bible is that the God who created the universe wants to be known by human beings."

Using information from the book, briefly define the doctrine of the Incarnation. Ask: Why is the doctrine of the Incarnation important for our Christian faith? (This may be a free discussion, as participants share personal understandings, experiences, and questions.)


Light Shining in the Darkness

Invite a volunteer to read John 1:3-5. Note that Hamilton describes "darkness" in several ways: spiritual blindness, failure to understand what it means to be human, despair, hopelessness, evil. Ask:

• How do you describe darkness?

• How have you experienced darkness?

• Where is there darkness in our church, our community, and around the world?

• What does John say about light in the prologue?

• How does Jesus bring light into your life?

• How can we "knock holes in the darkness" and be the light of Christ for others, both as individuals and as the church?


In Him Was Life

Read John 20:31, and note that in this verse John gives a reason for writing this Gospel.

Invite participants to recite John 3:16. Martin Luther called this the "Gospel in miniature." Discuss:

• What does "eternal life" mean in John's Gospel? (Hamilton makes the point that eternal life does not only mean life after death. It also means the experience of new life in Christ during our earthly lives.)

• How have you experienced the reality that eternal life begins now in our life on earth?


Invite a volunteer to read John 5:24. Ask:

• How have you "passed from death into life" in your life here on earth?

• What does it mean to have new life in Christ?


Read the quotation from Russell D. Moore and invite participants to respond. Ask:

• What is the difference between inviting Christ into your life and accepting Christ's invitation into his life?


In Jesus' Arms

Note: As you lead this discussion about trust, be mindful that not everyone is at the same place in their Christian faith. Some participants in your group may have learned to trust God through a variety of challenging circumstances. Other participants may feel as though their trust is shaky or tentative or that God let them down at some point. Even the strongest Christians sometimes falter in the darkness. You may want to share the story of Peter, who walked on the water toward Jesus. When he lost focus on Jesus, "he became frightened." He called out, "Lord, rescue me!" (Matthew 14:30). The text says, "Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him" (Matthew 14:31). God loves us even when our trust is fragile. God is trustworthy even when we have doubts.

Share Hamilton's invitation at the end of this section for us to trust: "I'd like to invite you to trust in Christ ... who offers light and life to all who believe." Discuss:

• In what ways have you put your trust in Jesus Christ?

• Are there areas of your life where you do not trust in Christ? If there are, what holds you back?

• When you find yourself in darkness, what does it mean to trust Jesus to be your light and life? (You may want to refer back to examples of darkness previously shared to guide this discussion.)


Hymn Study and Discussion

Distribute hymnals that include the hymn "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." Read or sing the words together. Invite participants to share phrases in the hymn that speak to them. Ask:

• How does this phrase speak to you or describe your experience of trusting Jesus?


Before you close the discussion, call attention to the last phrase if it has not been mentioned: "O for grace to trust him more!" Note that this phrase reminds us we are all growing in our faith.


Wrapping Up

Closing Activities

John's Gospel Speaks to Us

Pose two questions for participants to think about, given what they have read and learned so far.

• Specifically, what do I want to explore or work on this week?

• What questions do I still have about the prologue to John's Gospel and the topics we discussed?

• Allow time for participants to reflect and journal on these questions. Distribute paper and a pencil to anyone who needs them for journaling. Invite anyone who would like to, to share responses, new insights, and questions they have as a result of this session together.


Create a Litany of Celebration

Explain that the word gospel as used in this study has two meanings: (1) the good tidings or good news of Jesus Christ, and (2) the books that tell the story of Jesus Christ: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (when capitalized).

John's prologue announces the good tidings that Jesus is both our light and our life. Ask participants to read John 1:1-14 silently or invite a volunteer to read these verses aloud.

Distribute strips of paper or three-by-five cards and invite participants to work individually or in pairs to write one or more sentences for a litany. The sentence may begin with either, "I celebrate ..." or "Thank you. ..." Note that the group response for the litany will be "Thank you, God, for light and life."

After participants have had the opportunity to write sentences for the litany, collect the papers or cards. Invite the class to enter into a time of worship. Read each sentence separately with a voice of celebration and invite participants to offer praise to God by responding after each sentence with the words "Thank you, God, for light and life."

Remind participants to engage in the Lenten discipline of reading a portion of John's Gospel each week.


Closing Prayer

Invite participants to say the prayer at the end of Chapter 1 in the study book aloud together.

Jesus, I trust in you, that you are God's Word in the flesh. I trust that you are the light of the world. Illuminate my darkness. Help me to walk in your light and to love and follow you all of my days. In your holy name. Amen.

CHAPTER 2

THE MIRACULOUS SIGNS OF JESUS


Planning the Session


Session Goals


Through conversation, activities, and reflection, participants will:

• Explore the meaning in John's story of Jesus changing water into wine.

• Explore the meaning in John's story of Jesus healing the blind beggar.

• Affirm belief and trust in Christ, recognizing that each believer grows in trust throughout the journey of faith.

• Consider what Christ calls us to do.

• Examine suffering from the perspective that God can use our suffering to reveal God's glory.

• Reflect on our own spiritual blindness and recognize our need for healing.


Biblical Foundation

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "They don't have any wine." Jesus replied, "Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn't come yet." His mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

(John 2:1-5)

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who was blind from birth. Jesus' disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned so that he was born blind, this man or his parents?" Jesus answered, "Neither he nor his parents. This happened so that God's mighty works might be displayed in him." (John 9:1-3)


Before the Session

• Write the heading "Water into Wine" on a board or large sheet of paper.

• Write the heading "Healing the Blind Beggar" on another board or large sheet of paper.

• Have markers or chalk and a board or paper available to record participant's responses during the session.

• You may want to locate a print or online image of Vincent van Gogh's painting The Starry Night and display it in the room.

• Collect hymnals that contain the hymn "Amazing Grace" or have a recording available. Another idea is to invite a singer in your group to be prepared to sing "Amazing Grace" as a solo at the end of the session. Invite this person several days in advance.

Remember that there are more activities than most groups will have time to complete. As leader, you'll want to go over the session in advance and select or adapt the activities you think will work best for your group in the time allotted.


Getting Started


Opening Activities


Greet participants as they arrive. Review any instructions from Session 1 that you feel need to be repeated. Remind participants of the importance of confidentiality.

Draw attention to the heading "Water into Wine" on the board or paper. Invite participants to call out the first words, phrases, or questions that come to mind when they think of the story about Jesus changing the water into wine. Record the responses randomly on the board or paper, without comment. Responses may include: wedding, miracle, best for last.

Then draw attention to the board or paper with the heading "Healing the Blind Beggar." Again, invite participants to call out the first words, phrases, or questions that come to mind when they think of this story and record the responses randomly on the paper, without comment. Responses may include: who sinned? accusing bystanders, mud, new life.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from John The Gospel of Light and Life by Adam Hamilton, Clara Welch. Copyright © 2015 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.

Table of Contents

Contents

To the Leader,
1. The Word Made Flesh,
2. The Miraculous Signs of Jesus,
3. The "I AM" Sayings of Jesus,
4. The Farewell Discourse,
5. The Arrest, Trial, and Crucifixion of the King,
6. Eternal Life,

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