SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying Hebrews 7:23-25; John 17:15-24; Hebrews 4:15; and Romans 8:27. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.
Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.
Focus on the Main Point. Because Jesus is praying for us, we know we can trust Him and surrender our lives to Him.
How do you know if someone cares about you? What types of actions let you know you are cared for?
What is the most compassionate thing another person has ever done for you? How was your relationship strengthened as a result?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples that the world would be able to recognize them by their love for one another (John 13:34). The whole of Christian life is lived out in love for God and others. The first Christian community that formed was known for caring for one another, sharing possessions, breaking bread, and praying together (Acts 2:42-47). These believers gained the attention of their neighbors because of their tangible love for one another. One of the many ways we know Jesus loves us and wants His best for us is because He prays for us. If you are a follower of Christ, then He is praying to God for you at this very moment. Because of this, we can trust Him and surrender our lives to His lordship.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ HEBREWS 7:23-25.
What was the role of the priest in the old covenant? What were the priests charged to do for the people of God?
In what ways is Jesus like and unlike the priest in the old covenant? What makes Jesus an entirely different kind of priest?
What is Jesus able to do for those who draw near to Him? According to verse 25, why is He able to do that?
Define the word intercession. What does it mean that Jesus lives to make intercession?
Jesus was a better priest than any priest in the Old Testament; the author of Hebrews made this perfectly clear. A priest was charged with representing the people before God and representing God to the people. Every priest called from among men is flawed, sinful, and temporary. Jesus was an entirely different priest who was perfect and permanent. He alone represents His people before God in prayer at all times.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ JOHN 17:15-24.
Who was Jesus praying for in these verses? What specific requests did Jesus make?
At this point in the Book of John, what was Jesus preparing to do? Why was it significant that He stopped to pray?
If you look through John 17, Jesus used the words “they” and “them” many times. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed for those who believed and would believe in Him, including you. In Jesus’ last moments as a free man, He chose to stop and pray to the Father for you. Jesus’ prayer covered many aspects of the Christian life: forgiveness, protection from the devil, sanctification, unity, and future glorification. Because Jesus always prays for you, you can know He is asking the very same things from the Father even now.
What hope and confidence does it give you to know Jesus prayed these things for you? Which resonates with you most?
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ HEBREWS 4:15 AND ROMANS 8:27.
What effect does Jesus’ humanity have on His ability to effectively pray for you? Why did Jesus have to be fully human in order to fulfill His role as our “great high priest”?
What does praying with the mind of God ensure us Jesus is able to do? How can you be sure you are praying the will of God?
Read Romans 8:34. Where is Jesus right now? What does this mean for the believer?
Because Jesus is a great high priest and was fully human, He prays with unmatched compassion. Jesus not only knows you personally but also knows the struggles and hardships of being human. He knows your strengths and weaknesses, and He has perfect communion with the Spirit of God. Every prayer Jesus offers for you is within the will of God, so His prayers for you are completely effective.
Do you regularly consider that Jesus is praying for you? How might dwelling on that promise change the way you live?
God always answers Jesus’ prayers for you. What comfort does this give you when you feel God is not answering a specific prayer?
How might knowing that Jesus is praying for you help you share the gospel with lost friends?
Consider reading through John 17 as a group and praying together the prayers Jesus prayed.
Thank Jesus for always praying for you. Ask God to let that truth sink deep into your heart and soul and transform you. Praise Jesus for the effectiveness and compassion of His prayer for you. Ask that as you go about life this week you would be struck by the precious reality that Jesus loves and prays for you all the time.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- How can you align your prayers with God’s will?
- Memorize Hebrews 7:25.
7:23. Throughout Israel’s history, there were “many priests” from the Levitical line who served God. That priesthood began when the Lord God instructed Moses at Mount Sinai to set apart Aaron (Moses’ brother) and his four sons to serve as priests (see Ex. 28:1). Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi (see Ex. 2:1-2,10; 4:14; 6:16-20). By the time the Israelites were ready to leave Mount Sinai for the promised land, the number of Levites between ages 30 to 50 who were qualified to serve in and transport the tabernacle numbered 8,580 (see Num. 4:46-49).
7:24. Jesus’ priestly ministry is superior to the Levitical priesthood in that Jesus has a permanent priesthood. He will remain in this ministry forever, because He in fact lives forever and ever. He is our Eternal High Priest.
While there were many priests under the old covenant, there is only one Great High Priest. All of the priests under the old covenant eventually died. One after another, year after year, more and more priests ministered imperfectly, yet in obedience to the Lord. They offered the daily sacrifices, replenished the holy bread, and sacrificed countless animals as a way to show that sin brings death. The ministry of the Old Testament priests never ended. Their never-ending ministry showed there was a need for something greater, something final, that would provide full and final atonement for the sins of God’s people.
Because Jesus is eternal, His priesthood and ministry are eternal. Therefore, there never needs to be another one! The many Levitical priests all died, while Christ lives forever. He continues forever, and holds His priesthood permanently, which is exactly what God promised on oath in Psalm 110:4 (see Heb. 7:20-21).
7:25. Jesus saves. Believers know and love this truth. We have trusted in Him for our salvation. But do you understand that salvation cannot be revoked? That it cannot be lost? This truth is helpful to emphasize at this point, given the warning that the writer of Hebrews gave in 6:4-6. Some believers live with a certain fear that they might not be able sustain their salvation. And the truth is, they can’t! But salvation’s permanence isn’t up to us as believers. It’s up to God. Jesus’ permanent priesthood therefore guarantees that genuine believers will never lose their salvation.
17:15-17. How is it possible to be “in the world” and yet not of the world? These verses answer that question. Whatever the biblical doctrine of separation might mean, it certainly does not mean isolation. Jesus prayed not for removal from the world but for an awareness of its evils so they could be avoided. The danger is not the general presence of evil but the evil one. The New Testament indicates that the world is in the ultimate control of the prince of the power of the air who does battle against the living God by affecting the lives of his people. The antidote is sanctification.
17:18-19. From the very first days of Christianity, true believers have practiced separation by infiltration. The Father sent the Son into the world and now the Son was sending the believers into the world. Here the Lord introduced the word sanctify in different verb forms. In effect, he said,“Lead these disciples to an act of dedication as I have dedicated myself to your work. Then as they live their lives for you, Father, they will ultimately enjoy the fixed and final dedication you bestow upon them.” 17:20–21. If we had any doubt that this prayer applies to believers today, it is erased by verse 20. The heart of this final paragraph of the chapter focuses on unity—the ultimate demonstration of God’s work through his people in the world. We learn here that body unity is patterned after divine unity. The absolute oneness of the Father and the Son will now be spiritually transferred to believers for a specific purpose—spiritual unity. The union of the church is not patterned after some earthly organization or any well-meaning intentions of humanity. God joins our spirits through the Holy Spirit because Jesus’ blood is “thicker than water” and thicker than human bonds.
17:22. Christian unity is facilitated by glory, first given to Christ and then in turn to the disciples. Glory (doxa) in this context is not an absolute attribute of God but a relative possession that can be reassigned
to believers. Some interpreters see heaven here, but there would be no point in such a futuristic view with respect to the mission statement of verse 23: “to let the world know that you sent me.” Peter wrote that the divine nature was already in us as a result of regeneration, so we already have a measure of the glory of Jesus himself.
17:23. We also learn in this passage that body unity is a witness to the world. Like a set of matched mixing bowls, we are the smaller one that fits into Christ who fits into the Father. Mixing bowls may provide too mundane a metaphor here, but Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches in chapter 15 is affirmed by this prayer of chapter 17. The unity of believers calls forth a recognition of God’s hand by observers in the world even while the church is on earth. Just a few hours before this prayer, Jesus told the disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (13:35).
17:24. Furthermore, body unity will be complete only in heaven. If the disciples listened to this prayer, they may have remembered Jesus’ teaching from chapter 14 as he promised them they would eventually arrive at the place where he was going. He wanted them to see him there. They had seen him scorned and hated on earth. Soon they would see him killed and buried. But they had never seen the splendor of heaven and his role as the Son of the Father.
4:15. How can we hold fast to our faith? Has God done anything to make this possible? This verse answers these questions. The writer of Hebrews had already declared the ability of Jesus to help the tempted (2:18). He now states negatively what he had earlier stated positively. Why would he change from a positive statement to a negative statement?
He may have tried to deal with some people who felt that Jesus Christ was too remote from human need. He stated three facts about Christ which would help readers know that Christ was no stranger in helping struggling human beings. Our sinless Savior provided for us a perfect redemption. His victorious experience with temptation provides sympathy, encouragement, and victory for us in our temptation.
In our weakness we have the help of the Spirit. Jesus is our intercessor in heaven (Heb 7:25), and the Spirit is our intercessor on earth within our hearts. We are limited and ignorant, but the Spirit uses unspoken groanings to communicate our needs. This is not “speaking in tongues or languages” (Gk glossolalia). It is instead wordless. Our heavenly Father knows what is happening in our lives and within the deep recesses of our personalities (1Sam 16:7; Pr 15:11; Jer 17:10). The Spirit’s requests are always according to the will of God and are always answered.