Happy Easter !
This last chapter in John stands apart as a separate section. The final sign included by John (the miraculous catch of fish) points forwards to the ‘feeding’ of Jesus’ followers which the apostles are being commissioned to carry out.
Read: John 21:1-25
The disciples have been told that Jesus is returning to his Father (20:17). How might they be feeling?
Do you ever feel distant from Jesus? Have you ever felt ‘hungry’ to know him better?
The teaching of verses 15-24 help us to understand the miracle. How is Jesus showing that he will ‘feed’ his disciples, and how are they to ‘feed’ others?
Have a look back to John 10:11-18. Who are the sheep, and how are they ultimately cared for?
How, then, will we make sure we are being spiritually well-fed this Easter? How can we get more involved in feeding his sheep?
Pray: For those moving away from Trinity over the next year, that they would find churches where they are well fed and given the opportunity to feed others. Pray, too, that whatever your work, family and friendship commitments, you would seek out and feed on God’s word in the coming term.
The resurrection of Jesus ends this section of John’s gospel which has been showing us how Jesus’ death has achieved life for all those who believe (compare 11:25).
Read: John 20:1-31
What convinces you from today’s passage that Jesus has risen physically from the grave?
Why is it such a serious thing today when people claiming to be Christians and church leaders, deny this?
What do Jesus’ words to Mary and the disciples in verses 10-23 tell us about why Jesus came and what his mission is?
(He says ‘don’t hold on to me’ not as a rebuke, but a reminder to Mary that he will be returning to Father as he promised).
In what way is Thomas like us? What can we learn from him to reassure us now that Jesus has gone to heaven?
How might this passage help us if we are feeling distant from Jesus, or looking for extra confirmation that he is real?
Pray: Give thanks that we have the eye-witness accounts of the apostles, commissioned by Jesus, and pray that their message would strengthen church leaders to be bold this Easter.
This section of John’s gospel, bracketed by the raising of Lazarus (ch.11) and the raising of Jesus (ch.20) is going to show us why Jesus died: to bring life (see 20:31).
Read: John 19:1-42
From 18:38, how do people respond to Jesus, despite the fact that he has been declared innocent three times?
How do people demonstrate today that they are unprepared to listen to the truth about Jesus, often irrationally?
How do Pilate’s words and the words of the teachers of the law condemn them… and us?
From verses 17-37, how do we see that Jesus is dying to fulfil God’s eternal plan of rescue? (Maybe look up some of Old Testament passages in the footnotes like Psalm 22, and see how they add to that idea).
How would you answer someone who said that the death of Jesus was a tragic end to a promising life?
Pray: For some of your friends who might be able to go to church this Easter and hear about Jesus’ death. Pray (like it says in verse 35) that they also might believe.
This is the second feeding miracle in Matthew’s gospel. The first took place in a Jewish region. This one takes place in a Gentile region and reveals that He is the Son of God for the Gentiles too.
Read: Matthew 15:29-39
How does Jesus respond to these Gentiles (those that should be enemies of the covenant)? And how do they respond to Him?
How do you respond to criminals, the mentally ill or free-riders?
What do the disciples still fail to understand about Jesus?
Read: Exodus 2:25 and 16:14-21 (notice the compassion, the desert, the bread, the leftovers)
What is Jesus revealing about himself and what he will ultimately do for the Gentiles?
[In the prophets God promised a second Exodus experience, when he would rescue his people and put his Messiah over them. If you have time read Ezekiel 34:11-16 and 20-24.]
Stop to think how amazing it is that the God who promised to save the Jews is willing and able to save you (most likely) a Gentile. How should you respond to those that you think will never become Christians? How does Jesus respond to such people?
Pray: Praise God that we have been included and salvation is for the Gentiles as well. Pray that we would speak the gospel to every kind of person without distinction and have confidence that Jesus is both willing and able to save.
Jesus now moves from a Jewish region into a Gentile (non Jew) one and in contrast to the pride and lack of faith in the Jewish region (amongst the Pharisees) Jesus finds humble faith.
Read: Matthew 15:21-28
What does this Gentile woman believe about Jesus and about herself?
(Son of David = the long awaited Jewish Messiah/king who would save and reign for ever)
How does Jesus treat her? What is he declaring about his ministry and her rights?
(Children = Jews (those with whom God has made particular covenant promises) and dogs = Gentiles (those of us who have not had those benefits of being part of God’s household))
When do we feel as if we have a right to something or that God owes us something?
What does the woman’s response tell us about her attitude towards Jesus? How do we know from the passage that this is the right attitude towards God?
How would you have responded? How do you respond to God when something does not go your way again?
Pray: That we would be as humble as this woman and not pretend that we have any rights or that he owes us anything. Praise God that he is so gracious to us.
Jesus carries on exposing our pride/sin and declares that it is something that comes from within us rather than being something we can blame on others or our situation.
Read: Matthew 15:10-20
What do the Pharisees think makes somebody unclean? (vs1-2 and vs10-11)
(unclean = to be sinful and not able to enter God’s presence)
What about our society where do people think evil thoughts and actions come from?
Why should the disciples not follow the Pharisees teaching? Why shouldn’t we follow our society’s teaching?
So where do evil thoughts and actions come from?
Where is the source of the problem then? Do you do any of those things mentioned in the list in v.19? So where is the source of your problem?
Pray: that we would humbly admit our failure and our own guilt. Pray that we would not blame others for our actions but rather seek help for our heart problem.
In this section Jesus starts to reveal the major stumbling block to faith in Him, that of our pride: our desire to rule and declare the rules.
Read: Matthew 15:1-9
Who made the rules that the Pharisees are measuring Jesus’s disciples against?
When do we make our traditions or our cultural norms into rules, that we can look down on others for breaking?
Jesus exposes their error, what is it?
What does this error reveal about their hearts and their worship of God?
When do we put our rules (traditions/culture) above God’s word? In church life, in the use of our money, in the way we spend our time or run our family life…?
Pray: For forgiveness for our rebellion against God and his word. Pray for a heart that is devoted to God and teaching that is faithful to his word