Welcome to Week One! Thank you for joining us for our summer study. As we gather in our homes, work places, vacation spots, and parks, picture for a moment all of us coming together and sitting in an auditorium. All of us arrive from different locations, different places in life, different joys and pains. But together, we arrive. And together we are set to witness the opening of the most dramatic and heroic story of all time. I’m so thankful to be sitting with you, and I cannot wait to see how God will present Himself to us during these eight weeks to show us, as only He can, the powerful and life-giving message of His Son, Jesus.
This Week’s Reading: John, Chapters 1-3
The Gospel of John doesn’t begin with a Christmas scene or genealogy. John raises the curtain on his Gospel with one of the most compelling declarations of any apostle: that Jesus Christ is “the Word”. The implications of that statement would not have been lost on Jew or Greek at the time. Greeks would have thought of the perceived forces that sustained the universe. Jews would have remembered God speaking the universe into existence with his word, and that God’s word personified divine wisdom. A statement declaring Jesus as “the Word” identified Him as always existing with God, the agent of creation, and the embodiment of all wisdom. John declared that this Word became flesh and lived among us as humans. He claimed that what God is, the Word is. The Word is Jesus Christ. What a way to start!
As we begin with our first week, let me give you a quick overview of our lessons, which will have four key components:
- The Week’s Reading – two to three chapters to read throughout the week
- What Did Jesus Say? – specific verses and truths spoken by Jesus
- What Is Jesus Saying to Us? – how these truths impact us
- The Challenge – an opportunity to go deeper in your walk with the Lord
We good? Fabulous. Let’s go.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY?
1. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” John 1:38
The very first words of Jesus recorded in the book of John were not an instruction or sermon. The first recorded words were actually a question. John the Baptist was proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah. One day, some of John’s disciples, which included Andrew (Peter’s brother), were calling out to Jesus as he passed by. Jesus turned to them and asked a very poignant question: “What do you want?” Does this sound familiar? Jesus asked the same question to the blind men in Mark 10:51: “What do you want me to do for you?” Really? Is it not obvious? Does He not know all things?
In his book The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson has this to say about Jesus’ question:
“Isn’t it obvious what they want? They’re blind. Yet Jesus forced them to define exactly what they wanted from Him. Jesus made them verbalize their desire. He made them spell it out, but it wasn’t because Jesus didn’t know what they wanted; He wanted to make sure they knew what they wanted.”
Of course Jesus knew what Andrew wanted. He wanted Andrew to articulate what he wanted. Jesus is all about the relationship, and here, just as in the passage of Mark, He wanted to hear Andrew’s heart.
2. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).” John 1:42
I love this verse. First, though, I want to back up and look at verse 41. Andrew, who we saw in verse 38, has now realized that this is the Messiah. After he had spent the day with Jesus, it says in verse 41 that “the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’,” and he then brought him to Jesus. Picture the urgency of Andrew, intent on finding his brother. Andrew tracked down his brother to bring him to Jesus. Imagine Peter, following Andrew, probably full of questions of who it was he was about to see.
Then imagine Jesus. Verse 42 begins by saying that…
Jesus looked at him.
Let that soak in for a minute. Jesus looked at Peter, and knew everything. Jesus knew exactly what the next three years would hold. From fishing, to walking on water, to Peter’s tragic denial, to Jesus restoring him and commissioning him to feed His sheep. As Jesus looked at him for the very first time, Jesus knew his name, but changed it. Jesus had a new life in store for Peter. A new name, a new identity and destiny. What a powerful verse.
3. Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” John 3:3
Very early in this Gospel, John spells out the need for salvation. He recounts the story of Jesus speaking with Nicodemus, a Pharisee. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, possibly to avoid the scrutiny of the other Jewish rulers, and began a conversation of inquiry. Nicodemus was very curious about the signs Jesus was performing, and like so many in his day, wondering who He was.
Our culture has mocked the term “born again”. Yet, Jesus very clearly says in verse 3 that in order to see the kingdom of God, or heaven, this is required. He says in verse 6 that His Spirit is the only thing that can give life. Verse 15 states “that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life “. Jesus then speaks one of the most quoted verses in scripture, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”
WHAT IS JESUS SAYING TO US?
1. What do you want? Hear Him asking you this question. I believe Jesus asks us this because He genuinely wants an answer. What is your heart for this study? For the season of life you’re in right now? For your relationships? Pour out your heart to Him. Speak candidly, honestly. Do you believe that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with you, that He wants to hear from you? Trust Him with your heart.
2. He knows you. Jesus looked at Peter and knew everything, past, present and future. He knew all the times Peter would leap before he looked, and speak before he thought. Yet, Jesus loved Peter and gave him a new identify, a new life. Jesus looks at you, and feels the same exact way. He knows everything. Your past, present and future. Yet He loves you, will not leave you, and will be with you always. He has given you a new identity, and a new life in Him. Rest in the truth of that promise.
3. The need for salvation is real. Let this do two things in your heart. One, may it give you the deepest of gratitude that God has provided a way of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Two, may it spur us on to tell other of this truth. Begin to pray for those around you who do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. You may be the only person on the planet praying for them.
This week, I am going to challenge you to get a Journal. Some sort of blank book for you to begin to write down what God is speaking to your heart. Because this is only an eight week study, there is no possible way for us to look at everything Jesus said. However, as you spend time in His Word, there will be verses that jump out at you. Write them down. Record what God is speaking to you this summer. Then watch and see how God uses His Word to transform your life.
Lord Jesus, this summer I want to know You. I pray Your Words would come alive in my heart and in my life. I praise You for the gift of Your salvation. Give me boldness as I believe in You and as I share Your truth with those I know. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Written by Julie Thomas, Women’s Ministry Director, Foothills Community Church.
“I am so thankful to be a part of a church and community of women who are real and genuinely seeking the Lord. As a pastor’s wife, I’m beyond grateful to be serving in ministry alongside my man. We have four fabulous kids, adopted and biological, (or as we like to say, “take out and delivery”). I love all things Colorado, coffee with good friends, and Sunday nights filled with football, nachos and a houseful of people.”