Who Is Jesus: Week 1 Discussion Guide

Core Group Discussion Guide
Series: Who is Jesus?
Week one: Jesus is the bread of life

Contributing Writers: The Gathering Curriculum Writing & Praxis Teams

Opening prayer
Jesus, you have been in this world since the very beginning, and you created us. Thank you for bringing us here at this moment. Thank you for this time together and for your presence. Please be with us in this conversation and open our hearts and our minds as we discuss who you are. In your name we pray. Amen. 

Ice breaker
Ask a question.
In this ice breaker everyone in the group will write down a question that they would like to ask other people in the group. These can be a variety of questions such as “where is the most interesting place you have been?” “What is your biggest passion?” etc. All the questions are then popped into a hat before being pulled out and answered one by one. 
(For larger groups, consider setting a time limit for this activity)

Circle back
Last week we were encouraged to reflect on the Lenten daily devotionals. This season offers us a focused time for activities which draw us closer to God, such as prayer, service, fasting, repentance, giving, etc. Your CoreGroup can be a great place to share your thoughts on the devotion each day...maybe via an email forward or group text chat. Share with the group: This week did any particular daily reflection especially resonate or challenge you? Have you felt God moving in your heart yet this season? If so...how so? If not...what might help your heart be more open and/or motivated?

Scripture: Read aloud or silently.
In the Gospel of John there are seven  “I am “ Statements:
  1. "I am the bread of life"     (John 6:35-48)
  2. "I am the light of the world"     (John 8:12; 9:5)
  3. "I am the door"     (John 10:9)
  4. "I am the good shepherd"    (John 10:11-14)
  5. "I am the resurrection and the life"    (John 11:25)
  6. "I am the way, the truth and the life"     (John 14:6)
  7. "I am the true vine"     (John 15:1-5)

John 6:26-27
Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. “Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”

John 6:40
40 This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time."

Why do we study the gospels? The answer is simple:  they are as direct as it gets when it comes to showing us Jesus’ life and teachings. But they offer more than a simple recitation of what happened in that time period.  The gospels tell us the story of Jesus while also inviting us to participate in that story by incorporating Jesus’ teachings into our own lives.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called “Synoptic Gospels” because they can be
“seen together” (syn-optic) and displayed in three parallel columns. The three
gospels contain many of the same stories and sayings, often related in the same
relative sequence. John, however, is different.  It covers some of the same events but takes the argument in a different direction (stay tuned).

Essentially, the four gospels provide us four different accounts of the same story
based on the author’s individual experiences and with a different purpose or
audience in mind.

  1. Talk about the power of story, the gospels. We’re invited into Jesus’ story, what does the say about the character/quality of Jesus.
  2. Review the I am statements. Which of these statements were NOT familiar to you? Which were familiar as statements of Jesus? Be curious: are they are any patterns within your group?
  3. If you were to rewrite I am the Bread of Life, how would you describe the bread of life?  (example: I am nourishment for an empty spirit. I am filling your every need.) Then replace I am with Jesus is. Give the group time to go around and share. Talk about that experience. 

We were reminded in service this week that as the bread of life, Jesus fills us up permanently; when we experience Jesus, there is a lasting impact.
  1. Think about how you feel after church/core group each week? Compare that feeling to how you would feel during seasons of separation from church (like if you were on vacation, traveling, new to an area, or maybe even before you found church.)

  1. Now compare the lasting impact of Jesus to the short term, quick fixes, that we sometimes seek. Pastor Matt described this “we are sometimes trying to solve spiritual problems with temporary solutions.”

Throughout this sermon series as we seek to explore the question WHO IS JESUS, John's gospel helps us with 5 themes:
1) Rebirth - the concept of being "born again" of water and spirit
2) Jesus' identity -  Jesus is the one and only God. John 1:5 refers to light shining through the darkness. The identity of Jesus is based on who his followers are. Those in the light are his sheep & his followers, and those in the darkness do not have a relationship with Him.
3) Relationship - "The Word was with God," (v.1) clarifying the intimacy between God and Jesus and inviting us to share in its abundance.
4) Witness - Our calling as Christ's disciples to share Him with others.
5) Abundance - God's overflowing grace

Which of these themes astounds you the most?  Do you struggle [believing and/or implementing] any of them? Share more about the struggle.

Prayer Challenge: Praying before you eat is a Christian Tradition and is sometimes referred to as breaking bread. But it is often passed over, rushed through, or even forgotten about. This week, try to say a prayer every time you come in contact with food. Maybe its a simple prayer of thanksgiving for the sustenance (Jesus gives us what we need every day), maybe it’s a noticing of Jesus guiding you and showing up for you (Jesus fills us up permanently) or maybe it a prayer of appreciation for the past, present, and future Jesus has laid out for us (Jesus wants us to have a better life now and eternally.). 

Also, here’s a reminder to check out the Gathering’s daily Lenten Devotional. It’s actually written by a handful of people in the congregation who are wrestling with the same things we are each day. To sign up, simply click on this link to sign up. The daily devotion will arrive in your email inbox each morning during Lent. Although Lent is often considered a time for individual reflection, preparation, and prayer, your CoreGroup is also a great place to share your thoughts on the devotion each day. Over the next six weeks, check in with each other about the ways God is working in your heart during this season.

Closing Prayer
Jesus, we thank you for this discussion, for this group, and for our church. We pray that we are able to see and experience you as the bread of life in us and through us this week as we go forth in our weekly journeys. In your name we pray, Amen. 

In addition to our main discussion guide this sermon series the Praxis team will guide us through a deeper look at the book of John. 
Praxis Questions:  Notice and Name

So have you ever thought about the fact that Christianity is only a bit over 2,000 years old and yet the world is about 4.5 BILLION years old?!  That's a long time for God to be working in the world before Jesus shows up.  The first chapter of John gives us an idea of what God was up to for those 4.5 billion years. 

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
 in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him. (The Msg)

What was God up to?  How is God related to this "Word?"

Then later in the chapter John writes: 

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish. (The Msg)

Does the "Word" change from these first verses to verse 14?  What does this teach us about who God is? What does this teach us about who Jesus is? 

Some people are more comfortable referring to "God" and some are more comfortable referring to "Jesus."  Over the next week, notice how you distinguish God and Jesus and where you feel most connected and where you perhaps feel some resistance to our names for God.  

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