Related Verses: John 10:1-5; 16; Luke 9:2; Rev 14:6,7; Luke 19:1-10; Acts 26:11-27; Rev 3:20
The lesson this week is under the title, “Jesus Bade them, Follow Me.” This title, in a very brief way, points to the ultimate goal or purpose for the time Jesus spent on earth, and, in fact, for the whole of his efforts in behalf of humans. Scripturally speaking, humans are in a real predicament. We are damaged enough by sin that we cannot arrive in paradise by our own merits. It is for this reason that we are invited to follow Jesus, to emulate him, to allow him and the Holy Spirit to work in us for the purposes of transforming us. John 10:1-5 is listed as a key text for this week. The passage is interesting because it uses the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep, how the sheep follow the shepherd.
The sheep/shepherd relationship is one that we are not so familiar with anymore, but it is one that was quite familiar to people in the days of Jesus. Of particular interest is verse 5 that reads, “But they [the sheep] will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (NIV).
- Without being trite, express the connections you see between the sheep being familiar with the shepherd’s voice and believer’s being familiar with the “voice” of Jesus.
- What makes us reluctant to follow the voice of an unfamiliar person? On what grounds is our reluctance justified?
- Given the fact that Jesus is not with us in the form of a person, how can a believer come to know his voice? Put another way, what is this “voice” thing?
In Mark 1:17, Jesus invited the disciples to follow him. He then gave a reason for his invitation, and “I will make you fishers of men.” Here the purpose of Jesus calling people to follow him is expanded to include those who accept his invitation. Just as he called them to follow him, he anticipates that those who respond will, in turn, make invitations to others.
- We now live in a society that is increasingly hostile toward people who have clear and strong beliefs. Christianity is certainly a religion with strong beliefs. In view of this, how do you think you can attract unbelievers to the Christian faith?
- What do you think might draw people to the Christian faith and, in particular, to the church where you worship?
- When last did you tell to someone else the story of your religious journey? In times past, this was known as “sharing your testimony.” What kind of story would you be able to tell at the present moment? What makes testimonies so powerful and inviting?
Revelation 3:20 and Deuteronomy 4:29 are verses that speak about seeking the Lord and doing so with all our hearts. In other words, Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts and we are to respond by letting him in. Or, to use another metaphor, we will find God when se seek for him with great diligence. In view of this, several questions come to mind:
- Talk about the dynamic of a door that has a handle only on the inside. If someone knocks at such a door, how do they get in?
- Why do you think that God does not “force” himself upon humans but rather invites them to let him in?
- What does “seeking the Lord with all our hearts” look like? How would you know if someone were doing that?
- What would hinder a person going on such a quest?