Hey discussion leaders! Below is a sermon follow up from Pastor Rich’s message from this last Sunday. As usual, feel free to follow or make adjustments as you see fit. I tried to provide answers to the below questions in parentheses, but I intentionally tried to be brief. Don’t just read the answer to your group, but use it in your own studies as you look into God’s word this week to lead your people.
Teaching Goal: Genuine faith trusts in Jesus and obeys his word because of who he is and how he saves, not because of the things he can give us.
Application Goal: To believe in Jesus even when he doesn’t provide the exact sign/miracle/blessing/gift that we desire from him because we perceive his glory.
Thought Provoking Question: Irony is a major theme in this text. Irony is “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.” What are some things you’ve discovered in your Christian walk about God or yourself that you didn’t expect?
Read John 4:39-54
What stands out to you from this text and why?
Look at the Text: John 4:39-45
What are some of the comparisons you see John making in John 4:39-45?
- (Ironically, the Samaritan’s believed, the Galileans were going to reject Jesus, no honor in his hometown).
- (The Samaritan’s believed because of they heard Jesus (John 4:42), but the Galileans were looking for a sign (John 4:48).)
What do you think the significance of this comparison is?
- (The Samaritans were “outsiders” and the Galileans “insiders,” but it was the outsiders who believed, see John 1:11-12).
- (One is a faith that depends on the word of Jesus; the other seeks proof through signs.)
- Why would this be significant?
Did the fact that Jesus knew that he wouldn’t be honored in Galilee keep him from going there and serving? Why do you think he still went?
- Are there places in your life where it’s difficult to serve because you don’t think you’ll be appreciated? What are those places?
- Are there people in your life that you’re afraid to talk to about Jesus specifically because you fear rejection? Who are they?
- What encouragement can we take from Jesus’ example here?
Look at the Text: John 4:46-50
Put yourself in the shoes of the official who has a sick son who is sick “to the point of death.” What are some of the emotions you’d be experiencing as you approach this miracle worker that you’ve heard so much about?
Ironically, Jesus responds very harshly to the man. Why do you think Jesus responds like this?
It’s good to note that the “you” in John 4:48 is plural (like “y’all”), how does this change the way we read what Jesus is saying in John 4:48?
- What does this response say about the people in Galilee?
- (They desire to see signs; they want to put Jesus to the test).
How does the man respond?
- (He persists in asking)
- What does this tell you about him?
Ironically, Jesus responds by giving what he asked and performing a great miracle across a large distance. What is the man’s response to Jesus’ words in John 4:50?
- “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way”
- What does this say about the man’s faith?
- How does this differ from the “faith” of the people in John 4:45 who saw Jesus’ previous signs?
- (Namely, he believes the word of Jesus and not just the signs. This is a good place to discuss why it’s important to take God at his word.)
Look at the Text: John 4:51-54
Once again, put yourself into the shoes of the man as he returns home the next day. What are some of the emotions you’re experiencing as you approach your home and as your servants run out to you?
It’s tempting to focus in on the miracle that Jesus performs in this text simply because it is miraculous and wonderful. As Christians, we ought to believe that God can perform signs like this (see Mark 9:23, where the father of another son says to Jesus, “If you can, please help my boy” and Jesus responds with “’If you can’?—all things are possible for one who believes”). So we ought to believe that he can do things like this even today.
- However, what are some of the dangers of focusing only on the miraculous healing?
The text ends by saying “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee” (John 4:54). Compare this to how John ended describing Jesus’ first miracle in John 2:11 “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.”
According to John 2:11, what is the purpose of these signs?
- (To display the glory of Jesus)
What are the “sign-seekers” of Jesus’ day missing here?
- (There are likely other answers, but they don’t see the glory of Jesus, otherwise they would truly believe. See John 1:14)
- Cross reference with 2 Corinthians 4:4
What seems to be at the core of the sort of faith Jesus is looking for?
- (A perception of his glory and faith in his word)
Finish the study by asking your group how the man with the sick son perceived the glory of Jesus (saw his grace, mercy, compassion, faithful to his word, etc.). And then ask them how can perceiving the glory of Jesus help them out in the trials of their lives (the examples Rich used were wanting a house, a spouse, wanting healing, wanting money, security, etc.).
Close in prayer by asking God to reveal more of the glory of Christ to your group so that they can respond in true faith.