Opening Questions and Prayer
When was a time you were embarrassed to be associated with a person, group of people, or a thing? (didn’t want to be seen with your mom in high school, didn’t want people to see your collection of Cabbage Patch Dolls, etc.)
Why do people feel ashamed to let others know about certain people they associate with or things they like?
Why might some people not want to be identified as a follower of Jesus?
Spend some time praying for God to guide your time together. Ask Him for boldness as you live your life for Him.
Read John 3:1-8
(All Scripture is from the NLT unless otherwise stated)
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
What were some reasons Nicodemus, a Pharisee, would not want to want to be associated with Jesus?
What is Nicodemus’ perception of Jesus, despite what his colleagues might feel?
How is Jesus calling Nicodemus to enter into a deeper relationship with Him?
What type of relationship does Jesus want to have with you?
What are some things that could hold you back from fully surrendering your life to Jesus?
Read John 3:9-17
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
What were some things Nicodemus didn’t understand about how God loved him?
When it comes to those who don’t yet follow Jesus, what don’t they understand about God’s love for them?
How can you tell someone about God’s love for them without being judgmental towards them?
Who do you need to tell about Jesus’ love this week?
What barriers might keep you from doing this?
Who can help you share Jesus’ love with someone?
Read John 3:18-21
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
How was Jesus telling Nicodemus to live his life if Nicodemus was truly going to follow Jesus?
Why do people love the darkness more than light?
What did it take for you to step out of the darkness into the light?
Why might people who follow Jesus hide that from others?
How is God calling you to be the light of Jesus into the darkness around you?
What is one practical step you can take this week to live like Jesus?
Read John 7:37-52
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
What were the different reactions to Jesus’ teaching?
How did the Pharisees mock the guards that praised Jesus and His teaching?
How did Nicodemus stand up for Jesus?
Why did this anger the Pharisees?
What are some ways people respond when they hear the Gospel?
If you were to talk about Jesus to co-workers or family members who didn’t believe in Jesus, what might their response be?
What might be some reasons people give for not telling others about Jesus?
What are some things that keep you from sharing Jesus with others?
What is one conversation you can have this week to share Jesus with someone?
Read John 19:38-39
This takes place immediately after Jesus’ crucifixion.
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.
Why was it dangerous to be associated with Jesus after His crucifixion?
What made Nicodemus bold enough to be seen as a supporter of Jesus?
Throughout the passages in today’s study, how has Nicodemus changed in how he views being a follower of Jesus?
How is God calling you to be bold in your love of Jesus?
How can you tell others about Jesus without being obnoxious or judgmental?
What’s one way you can share the love of Jesus with someone this week?
20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
Closing thoughts and prayer
We can easily share what we watched on Netflix, a book we are reading, a funny story we heard, or any other number of small talk conversations with people around us. But sometimes there is a nudge from the Holy Spirit to pray with someone, share a verse, talk about how Jesus helped you with the problem they are facing, and we push it off to the side because we don’t want to be “that person”. The religious freak, the Jesus lover, the judgmental one, and any other number of labels are things we are scared of. So we just sit back, laugh at the inappropriate jokes, join in the gossip, and blend in. It was the same for Nicodemus, but Jesus called him to live in the light, not stick to the shadows. Be bold in your life in Christ. That doesn’t mean be weird, put others down, or cast judgement on those outside of the Kingdom of God. It does mean that you love like Jesus loved.
Ask the Lord for boldness in living as a follower of Him. Repent for the times that you hid the fact that you were one of His followers. Pray for the person on your right that they would have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with someone this week. Pray for boldness, tact, and wisdom in the conversation they will have.
End your time praying for the leaders in our church and country.