Spend the week studying John 5:1-23. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Because Jesus is God, He has supernatural power and compassion to do something about my greatest needs.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
This week your group will discuss the third sign in John’s Gospel and how it reveals Jesus’ identity and power. This week’s story is another episode where Jesus miraculously heals someone. However, this time Jesus’ actions cause quite the controversy with the religious leaders of the day. Let’s read this story and what we can learn about living the supernatural life.
What’s something new about Jesus you’ve learned from the first two discussions? How has that changed your view of Him?
What’s your opinion of modern-day faith healing? Why do you think many in our culture are skeptical towards it?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
Jesus sees needs
Back in Jesus’ day, people would gather together at certain pools in Jerusalem. People had heard that when the water gets mixed up in these special pools, it would heal them. So many who were ill or disabled would go there in hopes of being healed. One man, who had been an invalid for over thirty years, sat by the pool every day, hoping to be taken in. But, year after year, no one helped him into the pool and nothing changed.
Imagine for a moment what that must have been like. Crowds of people pass you by. With each passing day, your hope of healing fades. This man was completely hopeless. Then one day, finally, someone from the crowd came to him and asked, “Do you want to be healed?” That someone was Jesus, and He saw this man when no one else took the time to even look at Him. Jesus knew this man was in need. He saw that the man had given up. So Jesus offered to help.
Read John 5:1-23 as a group. What stands out to you in the story? Why?
Jesus addresses needs
Did the man want to be healed? Of course he did. But there was no one there to help him. No one cared. And that’s what he told Jesus. Instead of Jesus carrying the man into the pool, He simply said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately, the man stood up and walked for the first time in more than thirty years.
Imagine yourself in the lame man’s situation. What would be going through your mind?
Working on the Sabbath
Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath. No big deal, right? Well, to the religious leaders it was a big deal, because their tradition said it was unlawful to work on the Sabbath. So they berated the man for simply picking up his mat and walking away (which, in their view, was “work”). And they persecuted Jesus for what He did to this man. But Jesus had a simple response for these accusations: He works, because His Father is also working, Sabbath or not. This infuriated the religious leaders even more. Now He was making Himself equal with God! That was blasphemy to them. Again, Jesus responded by pointing to the Father and His special relationship with Him.
How does Jesus explain His relationship to the Father in the story?
What do you want more of in your relationship with the Father? Is there anything holding you back? If so, what?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
What does this story reveal about Jesus? It reveals that Jesus is God. Because He is God, He has power and compassion beyond comparison. No one cares like Jesus; He reaches out to others, even if they don’t reach out to Him.
Power and compassion
Jesus’ compassion moved Him to help this man who had lost hope that his life would be any differ- ent. Then He met Jesus, and that changed everything. Have you ever felt like the lame man from the story? That no one cared and nobody helped you? This story shows us that God does see our needs. Jesus responds to our needs with compassion. Jesus can heal, because He is God. That means He has the power to heal. Not only that, but He promises to be with us in our needs. We see that in how Jesus engaged the man from the story. The man couldn’t get to the pool, but Jesus could get to him.
What words or images come to your mind when you think of ‘compassion’?
Recall a time when God (or someone) saw and addressed a need in your life? What did you learn?
Sharing good news
One of the hallmarks of Christians is how we love others and meet their needs. Whether the need is physical, emotional or spiritual, God calls us to reach out and “get to” people like Jesus does. Maybe someone you know needs to feel God’s compassion through you. Their burden is breaking them. Their hope is fading fast. What if Jesus is calling you to share the good news of His healing with them?
What’s one thing your group could do to meet the needs of those in your community?
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
It’s all about being
Living the spiritual life is about being. You need to believe, be open and be watchful. It starts with belief. You can’t have the supernatural life without belief. It’s the bedrock. Belief says, “I trust what the Bible says about Jesus. That He is God and having a relationship with Him gives me the best life possible – the supernatural life.” Maybe you can trust Jesus with big things like salvation. What about smaller things? Do you believe God works through them as well?
The supernatural life is also about being open. Are you open to how God is working in your life? What if God doesn’t address a need the way you think He should? What if you don’t get the scholarship? What if He doesn’t heal your cancer? What if your sister never becomes a believer, even after years of plead- ing with God for her? God’s work goes deep. Remember that God works deeper and sees greater needs than we can. His ultimate goal is your spiritual formation and character. And He will use different means to accomplish this goal. Maybe there’s sin in your heart God wants to root out or something He wants you to surrender to Him.
Finally, living the spiritual life means being watchful. Jesus was always alert and watchful, looking for where His Father was at work. Even though He had all authority and power, Jesus never thought or acted contrary to what the Father desired. It may seem strange that Jesus, who had all authority, put Himself under His Father’s authority. However, this is the model He gave us for living the supernatural life – surrendering to God’s way and timing. In other words, we move and speak as we see the Father moving and speaking, both in and around us.
Which of the three be’s (believe, be open, and be watchful) is most difficult for you to live out? Why?
What’s the biggest change you would need to make to fully surrender to God’s way and timing in your life?
Silently reflect on areas where you see God’s healing in your life, family, relationships, etc. Then, as a group, give praise and thanks to God for His good work. Ask God to reveal people that need to hear the good news of Jesus’ healing right now. Pray for God to reveal what the supernatural life could look like in your life.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and consider on how God addressed deeper needs in Paul’s life.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
Controversy over the Sabbath.
The exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders really wasn’t a debate. Jesus wasn’t interested in debating the finer points of Jewish ritual and tradition (there’s nothing in the Old Testament Law that prohibited Jesus from healing a man on the Sabbath). Jesus is more concerned with whether these leaders understand who He is. Jesus makes Himself clear: He is God’s Son and He lives to serve and obey the Father. Elsewhere in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus claims to be Lord over the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5). To see other encounters between Jesus and the religious leaders over the Sabbath, go to: Mark 2:23–3:6; Luke 13:10–17; 14:1–6.
Why doesn’t God do something?
Some may ask, “If Jesus had the power to heal, why didn’t He heal everyone at the pool that day?” Remarkably, Jesus answers that question in the story. Jesus healed the lame man, because He was following the Father’s lead. The truth is, sometimes God waits to heal or addresses other needs in our lives. Like Jesus said, the Father is always working, and sometimes He’s addressing a deeper need than the one we’re concerned with. God is always working to build your faith, develop your character and root out sin in your life. In the end, God’s purposes are to make you more like His Son (cf. Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). It’s a process of healing but also pruning (see John 15:1-17).