Ruth Hassall 11am 28th June 2013

St John’s Small Group Study Notes

From Ruth’s sermon on 28th April 2013

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Passage: John 13:31-38

Question:
What things in this passage initially catch your attention as you read it?

As we look at this passage it’s intriguing that it begins and ends with a betrayal from two very different characters. Judas who has been plotting in his heart for a while, and Peter whose heart is overflowing with love for Jesus. Yet both find themselves in the same place. However, their response after the events are hugely different. Judas is marked by remorse whereas Peter is marked by repentance.

Question:
What is the difference between the two?
Do you think there could have been a way back too for Judas?
The word ‘glorified’ and ‘glorify’ are found five times in verses 31-32. What is Jesus saying in these verses?
Why does Jesus call this familiar commandment a new commandment? Is it really new? If so, what makes it new?

Things were changing for the disciples. Up until then people would have known they were disciples of Jesus because they could see them following him around, and being identified with him. But very soon Jesus wouldn’t be with them anymore, so the mark of their discipleship would be the quality of love that they have for each other.

So, this command isn’t new in one sense, it had been around from the early days of the Old Testament, but its newness lies in its being the law of the new covenant that Jesus is about to establish through his death, which also brings with it new life in the Holy Spirit which will enable them to fulfil the law.

Question:
Why does Jesus say that love is the way to let others know that we are His disciples?
What model does he offer for the way in which we are to love each other?

Read 1 John 4:7-21
Question:
How has John been impacted by the statement that Jesus made in John 13?
What are some of the ways in which we can demonstrate this commandment in our lives together as a community of God’s people?
The reality is sometimes we find other Christians hard to get on with. How can we truly love them if we don’t find them easy to get along with?

Read again the excerpt that Ruth read out on Sunday. To put it in context, it’s the response of an author on reading a very damming review of both her book and her as a person.

I laid there thinking of how someone once took some of the broken pieces of my own story and misunderstood them and what they said of me, broke more of me, and I won’t lie, it cut to the quick, right there under the rib, razor sharp.

I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him as the only way, truth and light and the cross as my only hope and salvation and the word of God as a pure word, a sure word, the only inerrant, infallible word. I believe it is only people who are fallible and interpretations that are errant and studying the word of God is about having the word of God study us. Sometimes instead of shooting someone a clarifying question – we shoot arrows. I thought my heart might bleed to death.

I laid awake at night and it hurt to inhale.

And I groped around that thought and I repented and prayed I wouldn’t forget: Christians need to be most careful with words if we are the most Christ-ful.

And what a heart knows by heart, is what a heart knows, and mine pounded out in the dark, the memory of the sermon on the mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers – for they will be called children of God” If I didn’t live peace – whose child would I be then?

I got up out of bed. My fingers trembled but wasn’t his command to love one another anyway, and I tapped out an email to that person whose words had bled me open. I sent an invitation to dinner. Not a rebuttal, not an explanation, not a defense. I invited their whole family to come over and sit across the table. Instead of having a break down, or breaking fellowship – I asked if we could break bread.

Acknowledging our own brokenness is what makes high walls between people crumble. Brokenness breaks us from our need to be right and breaks us open to our need to extend the grace and love we have been given.
And when I saw their responding email, I closed my eyes and I prayed hard and I was shaking scared when I opened their words because you don’t know when a fence might be built or torn down.

I read the words there on my screen:
“I want to send you an apology – something happened inside of me when I saw your name in my inbox. I had neglected to remind myself that you are a real person and, not only that but a sister in Christ.”

And I put my hand on the screen and laid my head down on the table and I cried.

Insider and outsider kind of thinking – all these walls, all these barriers, all this pain. While I was yet sinning directly against him, Christ reached out wide to me and directly took the nail and literally drained himself for me.

And laying there in the dark, thinking about how one fence had been torn down by love, and how I could tear down another fence and love someone different to me, he can give you eyes to see.

This is Christ in the weeks before calvary, Christ crushed on the cross and what did he do but live the law of love?

God loves while we sin, God holds out his hand to the disobedient, and love is what makes God the most potent of all. Love is the most radically subversive activism of all, the only thing that ever changed any one.

Question:
What strikes you about this?
Spend some time praying for the specific needs of the group, and others that you have connections with.

1st May 2013 Posted in: Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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