We’re studying John 14:1-14 for Sunday, July 26. This is the opening of Jesus’s “farewell discourse” in the gospel of John. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions the text raises for me:
In verse 1, Jesus says “Believe in God, believe also in me.” What do we think he means by “believe” in this context? [For instance: he might mean something like “trust us,” the way someone we know might say “Trust me, everything’s going to be OK.” Or he might mean something more detailed and specific.]
Does “believe” here mean the same thing as “believe” later on, in verse 11? Does it seem different for us to “believe Jesus” than it does to “believe in” Jesus? How?
[More personal:] Is one of those “believes” harder for us? Which? Why?
What are our impressions of verses 2-3?
[More personal:] Would we say we have a relationship with these verses? What’s that relationship like? How has it developed? Do we want to talk about that?
Can we relate to Thomas in verse 5? Or do we think we know where Jesus is going? How do we know?
In this context, what do we think John 14:6 means? What have we heard it means? Has our understanding of that verse and its meaning changed over time? How? Why?
[More abstract, maybe:] What do we think it means for a person to be a way? For a person to be truth? For a person to be life?
[Here’s what I’m thinking: it seems to me that this language is so familiar to us Christians, and has become so conventional, that we Christians often repeat it without having any real sense of what we mean by it, or what it means for us, concretely. I think one way to get past that, or to challenge it, is to try to specify what it would mean just linguistically – “well, if a person is a way, it means …” Then we can examine whether that does, in fact, describe what we think and feel about Jesus.]
[More political, or theological, or denominational, possibly:] Do we think Jesus is talking about “salvation” here? Why? Do we think what Jesus is saying is related to “salvation” in some way? How?
In verse 9, Jesus says that “whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” What do we think this means? What do we NOT think this means? Why?
What does it mean to “see” Jesus? Can people who are living today, for instance, “see” Jesus? How, do we think? What kind of seeing are we talking about?
In verse 10 and verse 11, Jesus says “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” Can we say what we think this means?
Can we think of anything we ourselves could say this about? [For instance, could we ever say something like “I am in my family, and my family is in me”?] Does that affect our impression of what Jesus is saying here?
In verses 10 and 12, Jesus talks about works. In verse 12, he says “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do …” Which works is Jesus talking about here, do we think?
[More personal:] Does this statement have any implications for us? What are they?