STUDY | Spend the week studying John 13:31-38. 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 | 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 | When I receive the Spirit's help, He transforms and empowers me.
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.
IN OVER YOUR HEAD
Have you ever tried to tackle a problem or do something on your own only to realize you’re in way over your head? With confidence you think, How hard could it be? But then failed attempts frustrate you. Sometimes you’re stubborn and keep at it, which only makes things worse. Other times, however, you admit, “Gosh, I can’t do this on my own. I need help.”
We often need help in life. Sometimes that means help learning how to manage your time, the best way to invest your money and save for retirement or fix the lawnmower. We can ask friends or watch videos online from experts and life-hackers. But what about your spiritual life? How do you get help in that area?
This week Jesus reveals to His disciples that He will send them another Helper—the Holy Spirit. He would be a Comforter, Counselor and Advocate for them. Well, Jesus did send the Helper, and today, He lives inside all believers. This week your group will discuss the next powerful word in this series—receive—and what it means to receive the Spirit’s help.
Q: Recall a time when you tried to do something and realized you needed help.
Q: Why is it sometimes difficult to receive help from others?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
LOVE THAT OBEYS
Jesus continues with the theme of love while speaking with His disciples. “If you love me, then you will obey me.” Then Jesus makes a promise: “And I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, the Spirit of truth. The world doesn’t receive Him, but you know Him because He will make His home in you.”
Then Jesus comforts His disciples. “I’m not going to leave you as orphans. I am about to leave you all. But, because I live, you also will live. It will all make sense in time. Trust me. For now, you have my commandments. If you love me, then you’ll obey them. That’s how you show your love for me and for the Father.”
Read: John 14:15–31. Split into pairs and retell the story in your own words.
Q: What connection is Jesus making between love and obedience here? Where do you see that connection in your life?
TEACH AND REMIND
Jesus continues to explain more about this mysterious Helper. “The Helper is the Holy Spirit. The Father will send Him to you. He will teach you and remind you about all that you’ve learned from me. I don’t want you to be afraid or troubled by what’s going to happen to me or to you. I give you my peace, which is real peace, and that’s enough for any circumstance you’re about to face.”
Then Jesus directs His disciples’ attention to God’s plan. “The Father gave me a mission to complete. I’m telling you this now, so that later you’ll remember and believe. The ruler of this world is coming for me, but I’m not afraid. I will obey the Father so that the world may know how deep the Father’s love is.”
Q: How were you taught to understand the Holy Spirit? How is that similar or different than what Jesus says?
Q: How does Jesus encourage His disciples at the end of the passage? How does it encourage you?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
The Bible tells us that the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to transform and empower God’s people. The Spirit was active at creation and in the events of the Old Testament. Today He continues His work to:
• Draw people to Jesus.
• Convict them of sin.
• Bring men and women to repent of sin and believe the gospel.
But the Spirit’s work doesn’t stop at salvation. The Spirit continues His work in believers. Jesus explains specific ways the Spirit helps us.
Jesus calls the Spirit “the Helper.” The Greek word he uses is parakletos, which can be translated as “counselor.” Today in our culture, we associate the word “counselor” with someone like a therapist. But that’s not really what Jesus has in mind here. The Spirit is more like a legal counselor for believers. He’s your Advocate. He gives you the facts of a case, He defends you and acts as your representative to others.
Jesus calls this Helper or Advocate “the Spirit of truth.” The Spirit works by revealing God’s truth to you and applying it to your life. Life is often mysterious and confusing. We are sinful and forgetful. We need someone to help us remember who God is, what He has already done for us and what He will do for us in the future. The Spirit lovingly puts you into the light of God’s truth. Only there can your heart be changed to love and obey God more.
Q: What are some practical ways to guard yourself from forgetting God’s character and His work in your life?
Q: Think of a problem you’re facing now. Pray and ask the Spirit to reveal God’s truth in this situation.
FREE FROM WORRY AND ANXIETY
Let’s not forget Jesus’ purpose here to comfort His disciples. He knows they are troubled by all that He’s saying. After all, Jesus is speaking plainly about what’s going to happen to them and it sounds troubling. But Jesus explains how the Spirit will free them from being worried and anxious in those times.
Jesus’ love is:
Indwell believers. Through Jesus, the Spirit makes His home in believers. You’re never alone because you always have the Spirit with you.
Remind them of Jesus’ teaching. The Spirit opens your heart to understand what Jesus taught and know how to apply it in life. The Spirit will always point you to Jesus and His person and work.
Give them real peace. The world can’t give the kind of peace that Jesus can. This is a peace that knows your sins are forgiven and you will never be condemned for them. This is a peace that rests in the truth that Jesus is King of kings, and He reigns in your heart and over His creation.
Encourage them with hope. Jesus reminds His disciples that the ultimate victory is His. It may look like sin is getting the victory in your life. You may struggle and often fail. But there is hope. Jesus won the victory over sin and evil at the cross, and the Spirit is working in you to overcome sin and evil in your life.
Jesus’ comfort to His disciples is our comfort today as believers. The Spirit lives in you to point you to Jesus and His new way of living and give you real peace and hope in any circumstance.
Q: Share about a time when the Spirit comforted you.
Q: Where in your life do you need the Spirit to give you hope and encouragement?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
THE HEART OF OBEDIENCE
Jesus isn’t calling for obedience that comes from a sense of obligation or coercion. Often, that kind of obedience is typically based on guilt or feeling threatened. The kind of obedience Jesus is talking about comes from a heart that has been transformed by the Spirit. It’s a heart that has been changed to find joy and delight in obedience. Why? Because obedience brings us closer to the Father’s heart. Receiving the Spirit’s help allows you to experience what God wants to give you through His Spirit.
Q: Think of a metaphor or word picture that illustrates love in obedience.
Q: How would you live differently if your default position in life was to receive what the Spirit says?
Thank God the Father for His master plan. Praise God for seeing that you needed help and He sent His Son Jesus to overcome your biggest problem—sin. Thank Jesus for sending the Spirit to be your Helper, Advocate, and Comforter at all times.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
• Read Romans 8:26–30 and reflect on how the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
The Spirit’s Indwelling “God was ‘with’ believers under the old covenant, not least by dwelling among them in the temple, sometimes appearing in a pillar of cloud or fire, and coming upon individuals by his Spirit. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Spirit will come upon believers and permanently indwell them (v. 23; 7:39).” We have something no believer in the Old Testament ever had—the Spirit of God living inside us.
Trust the Father “The Holy Spirit teaches us by strengthening our faith to trust the Father. We have no competence in ourselves for Christian living, parenting, teaching, or leading. Second Corinthians 3 could not be clearer: ‘Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (2 Cor. 3:4–6).”
1. Andrew Paterson, Opening Up John’s Gospel, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2010), 123–124.
2. Ibid., 124–126.
3. D. A. Carson, “The Gospels and Acts,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2184.
4. Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 270.