The Gathering House
Stones John 8 1 11
Sunday March 22, 2020 we did our first truly on line serves. Like so many other churches responding to the COVID19 virus. We closed our doors for the safety of our friends, neighbors and congregation members. We continued to work our way through the book of John. This sermon from John 8:1-11 was shared by Joshua Schulz a member of the Gathering House Preaching Team.
Living Water John 7:14-53 Annetta Bacon The main emphasis of Annetta’s message was on verses 37-39. Last week’s reflection / discussion posting included several questions for John 7:14-31. Read John 7:37-43 (If anyone thirsts) Now, before addressing those verses, look up and read these verses: • Isaiah 44:3 • John 4:10-14 - What does the water signify in these verses? What does God want to do for us? - What does Jesus say in John 7:39 about the water he promises? How does this fit in with what we just read in Isaiah 44 and John 4? Also read: • Jeremiah 2:13 - What is the purpose of a cistern? Would you need a cistern if you lived near a river? What do the cisterns and the living water represent in this parable-saying? - If our relationship with God is like living, flowing streams of water, what would be some ways we build cisterns for ourselves today? Why might people settle for these cisterns when the living water is freely available? - Annetta talked about how people can become so accustomed to religion and rituals that they don’t realize they are missing out on a relationship with God. What advice would you give to someone who says they have tried religion, but found it to be unsatisfying? Annetta provided a card for people to request prayer. It had check boxes for these needs and feelings: • I want to recognize ways to let the living water God has put in me flow out to others (see John 7:38). • I want to look for opportunities to be refilled with new, clean water. • I feel empty, and would like to be filled with the Living water God has promised. • I need prayer to be refreshed. • I need to put way my broken cistern and rely on God to fill me again. - Do you another prayer need you would like to add to the ones on this list? - In your opinion, what should we do if we feel dry and empty, and need the filling and refreshing God offers us in Christ? Is the answer the same for someone finding faith in Jesus for the first time, as for someone who has known Jesus for a long time but feels weary in the journey? Explain. Homework (Philippians 4:5-7) Chris Wright encouraged us with these words at the close of the service. Make this your prayer, or at least say these words aloud several times a day this week as you recognize God’s presence and peace: Read verses 6 and 7, but start with that last sentence in verse 5: The Lord is at hand. - - - - - - - - - - - - Dan Stephenson
John 6:41-70 Offense This is a long and sometimes difficult passage. Many of its themes and phrases connect back to the previous section (verses 32-40) as Jesus continued his “bread of life” discourse. Read John 6:41-50. (The bread which comes down from heaven) - In verses 41-42, what were the Jewish authorities complaining about? In your experience, do people today similarly have difficulty reconciling the identity of Jesus the son of man (who was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth) and Jesus the son of God (who came down from the Father and ascended again to heaven)? Why does it matter to you that both are true? Note: The “grumbling” or complaining of the people in verses 41, 43, and 61 helps us see the connection between this passage and God’s provision of manna in the wilderness. Even though God provided both food and drink, the people still grumbled against Moses and God (see Exodus 16:2,7). - What does verse 44 say about the Father’s involvement when people come to Jesus? As you look back on your own experience of becoming a follower of Jesus, can you identify any feelings or circumstances that you can now recognize as God drawing you to himself? If so, share your answer with a friend. - In verses 45-46, what was so significant about the prophet’s promise? What do you think Jesus meant in the second half of verse 45? What did he mean in verse 46? - In these verses, Jesus calls himself both the bread of life and the bread which came down from heaven. How does verse 33 tie these two together? Read John 6:51-58. (Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood) Note: Clearly, these verses have some connection to the sacrament of communion, which some refer to as the eucharist or the Lord’s Supper. But these verses must also have a spiritual interpretation; otherwise verse 53 would teach that communion is the means of salvation. We must read them in light of verses 40 and 47, where eternal life is linked to belief/faith. - How would you explain these words about eating flesh and drinking blood to someone who is new to the teaching of Jesus? How does it help to understand them in the context of the system of temple sacrifices practiced by the Jews? - What promises did Jesus give in these verses to those who receive what he offers? Read John 6:59-70. (A hard saying; who can understand it?) Note: Verse 62 is a question that Jesus left unanswered. We may assume the crowd understood the unspoken answer to be: “Would you then believe?” - How should we understand Jesus’ words in verse 63 that “the flesh profits nothing”? Jesus has already said that the Father draws people to him. And in verse 39, Jesus promised that of all the Father has given him, he would lose nothing. What (if any) responsibility would you say we have in taking hold of the salvation Jesus offers? - In verses 66-69, Jesus asked the twelve disciples whether they wanted to leave, as many others had done. Do you think they were considering leaving? From Peter’s answer, why did they stay? What did Peter understand about Jesus’ identity? - Can you imagine circumstances that would make you feel like walking away from it all? Would you make the same choice Peter did? Explain. - - - - - - - - - - - Dan Stephenson
John 6:22-40 Bread Apparently, the crowd REALLY enjoyed the loaves-and-fishes meal (verses 4-14), and hoped to persuade Jesus to make it a regular event. One commentator observed that the crowd “missed the sign of the bread, seeing only the bread in the sign.” This section of John’s Gospel story of Jesus is framed by four questions or statements from the crowd, and four statements Jesus gave in response. Read John 6:22-27. (“When did you come here?”) - How is it that the people were confused about how and when Jesus returned to Capernaum from the other side of the sea? (Recall last week’s message, verses 15-21.) - In Jesus’ response (verses 26-27), did he answer their question? Explain. - What do you think it means that God the Father has “set his seal” on Jesus? (see John 1:32-34). - How should we understand Jesus’ words in verse 27, that we should “not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you”? Is he saying we shouldn’t work to put food on the table? What do you think the “food” is that endures to eternal life? Explain. Read John 6:28-29. (“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”) - Their question here is natural. Jesus had just told them to work (or labor) for the sort of food that endures to eternal life. What kind of answer do you think they expected? - Do you think we should understand the words “the work of God” in verse 29 as “the work God wants from us,” or “the work God does in us,” or both? Explain. - What does Jesus say God wants us to do? Why do you think many people reject or dismiss this answer? What else do they suppose God expects from us? What would you say to them in response? Read John 6:30-33. (“What sign will You perform, that we may see it and believe You?”) - How should we understand this question from the crowd? What signs had they seen already? Had those signs led them to believe in Jesus? What were they demanding here? - What did Jesus tell them God wants to provide for them? How is that better than the manna-bread God provided the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4-24)? Read John 6:34-40. (“Lord, give us this bread always.”) - Do you understand the peoples’ request in verse 34 as sincere, or are they just asking for another meal? Do you think verse 36 answers this question? Explain. - In verse 35, what two promises did Jesus make? Do you think we should understand “comes to me” and “believes in me” as two separate things, or as two ways of saying the same thing? Explain. - What difference will it make if we understand coming to Jesus and believing in him not as a one-time decision we may have made long ago, but rather a daily choice we make to put his interests above our own? - What two promises do we find in verse 37? In verses 38-40, Jesus makes three statements concerning the will of God. What are they? How do these words give comfort to those who truly seek for God? Here and Now - Pastor Rob began his message by describing a consumer-culture church model that catered to peoples’ felt needs. What changes when we shift our mind-set from “What can God do for me” to - If someone were to ask you, “What does God want from me?” how would you answer? - How does this help us answer the question, why do we gather every week for our church service? What do we get out of it? What does God get out of it? - Why should we offer up our worship to God, even when we’ve had a rough week, and don’t even feel like worshiping him at that moment? How can it help us when we worship anyway in times like this? - - - - - - - - Dan Stephenson
Message of February 2, 2020 John 6:1-15 Meal Apart from the resurrection, the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle that is reported in all four Gospels. It can be also found in - Matthew 14:13-21 - Mark 6:32-44 - Luke 9:10-17 Pastor Rob’s message brought in some details from Mark’s account. In three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and John), the feeding of the 5,000 is followed immediately by the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. The emphasis for this week’s message is the miracle itself, and what Jesus is able to accomplish through what we have to offer him. Later in this chapter (verses 26 on), Jesus disclosed some deeper truths related to the feeding miracle. We will hold off for now on those. Read John 6:1-9. - Why were all these people following Jesus? - From Mark’s account, why Jesus and the disciples had crossed the Sea of Galilee to come to this remote place? How was this working out for them? - The hour was late, and the people were hungry. Why do you suppose the disciples were thinking when Jesus asked them to come up with a plan to feed the crowd? - Philip and Andrew both responded to Jesus. Compare their observations. Do you think they were optimistic about reaching the goal of feeding the crowd? - What insight does John give us in verse 6? Read John 6:10-15. - We have hear the story before, so it may not have the same impact as hearing it for the first time. How did the people who saw it in person respond? - Do you think it is significant that Jesus was concerned with the leftovers (verse 12). Explain. Here and Now - Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar and favorite verse for many. To catch the significance of this verse in context, read Jeremiah 29:4-14. What is the key command (in verse 7)? Pastor Rob told us about a study that showed three foundational problems in our community (domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, and teen suicide). Asking us to address these issues feels as overwhelming as when Jesus asked his disciples to feed the crowd with no resources to speak of. - Andrew provided the material for the miracle when he reported that one boy had five (small) loaves and a couple of little fish in his lunch. So, what do you have? If you take a personal inventory, what experiences, resources, talents, or interests would you list? Rob related his experience at the downtown church: They had a kitchen, a gym, and a big TV. And they used those for five years to minister to their community. - What could you do with the things on your own personal inventory? Do you have any dreams or ideas for meeting needs in our community? Do you have any doubts about what God could accomplish if ten or twenty of us pooled our energy and talents? Are you willing to ask God to help you see what you ought to do? - - - - - - - - - - - - Dan Stephenson
Message of January 26, 2020 John 5:16-23 Father Read John 5:16-18. - How are Jesus’ words in verse 17 an answer to the Jewish authorities that he was breaking the Sabbath? - When you were younger, were there rules or standards of conduct set by Christians or churches, that today seem trivial or even wrong? - Think about your own views on what is right and what is wrong. Would you say your views are based more on what God has said in the Bible, or on the opinions or pressure from other people? - Pastor Rob said that “legalism blinds people to what God says.” What do you think he meant by this? What would you say is the antidote or cure for legalism? - Looking at verse 17, what are some of the ways God the Father has been working all along, even on Sabbath days? - Jesus’ words escalated the conflict with the authorities. What did they find offensive in his answer? - In the view of the authorities, Jesus was “making himself equal with God.” Why were they so passionate on this point? Why might readers today overlook that in our reading of verse 17? How would you explain the gravity of this exchange to someone hearing it for the first time? - If you asked people today whether Jesus is equal with God, what kinds of answers would you expect to hear? Do you think it is important for Christians to see Jesus as equal with God? Explain. Note: A key question for us is whether Jesus embraced or rejected the authorities’ charge that he was making himself equal with God. In verses 19-23, Jesus addressed this question head-on. Read John 5:19-23. - What did Jesus say in verse 19 about his relationship with the Father? - Do you think Jesus meant that he was trying his best to imitate the Father? How does it change things if we read this as a statement of their equality (The Son is just like the Father, so the Son does just what the Father does)? - What did Jesus say in verse 20 about the Father and the Son? What are some of the “greater works” they would later see him do? - Pastor Rob talked about a popular view of the judgment, where the Father is our adversary, but Jesus steps in as our advocate. How will it adjust our view of salvation and judgment if we realize that the Father loves the Son, and the two are very much on the same page in their attitudes and actions toward us? - Verse 19 might sound like Jesus can’t do anything on his own, until he gets the go-ahead from the Father. But in verses 21-22, it sounds like Jesus has freedom to act on his own in matters of life and judgment. What are we to make of this? Is it OK if we don’t fully understand? Explain. - How does verse 23 bolster the argument for Jesus’ equality with the Father? - If you asked people today what they think of verse 23, what answers would you expect? What does that verse mean to you? What would you say to someone who said it sounded offensive to God? - What difference does it make for you, personally, if you accept that Jesus is exactly who John tells us he is? What do you think it means in verse 23 that we should “honor the Son?” - - - - - - - - - - - Dan Stephenson