Opening Questions and Prayer
What was something you were reluctant to get on board with, but now you can’t imagine life without it? (smart phones, internet, following Jesus, marriage, parenting, etc.)
Why are some people reluctant to believe in and follow Jesus?
Ask the Lord to guide your time together and to teach you.
Read John 3:1-2 NLT
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.”
Why did Nicodemus visit Jesus at night?
What does Nicodeums’ greeting tell us about where his faith was?
What are some reasons you believe Jesus is who the Bible says He is?
What are some doubts that you had, or currently have, about your faith?
Read John 3:3-8
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.”
Why does Jesus lead with the “born again” statement?
What does it mean to be born again?
Why might this be hard for people to understand?
How does Jesus draw us into His love for us?
Read John 3:9-15
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.
What was Nicodemus struggling with?
When you don’t understand something about spiritual matters, how do you find the answers?
What are some reasons people give for not believing in Jesus?
How can you help them in their faith journey this week?
If you are struggling with doubts, who can you talk to this week?
Read John 3:16-21
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.
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 were these statements counter-cultural to what the Pharisees believed?
What would Nicodemus struggle with when Jesus said these things?
What are some barriers people have to believing that God really does love them?
Why would people love the darkness more than light?
What’s one way you can show people the light of Christ this week?
Read John 7:45-52
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 do the Pharisees believe about Jesus?
Why does Nicodemus’ question upset his fellow Pharisees?
In what way does Nicodemus’ question show faith, however small, in Jesus?
When is it hardest for you to take a stand for your faith in Jesus?
Is there an area of your life (i.e. school, home, work, friends) where you have a hard time standing up for your faith?
What would it look like to stand up for your faith in that area?
Read John 19:38-42
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. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
The amount of supplies Nicodemus brought would have been the same amount used for a kingly burial. What had changed Nicodemus’ mind?
Why does it take some people a long time to believe in Jesus, and others believe right away?
Did it take you a long or short time to come to faith in Christ?
What was the process like for you?
What can you do this week to take a step forward in your faith?
What can you do this week to help someone else take a step forward in their faith?
John 3:17-18 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
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.
Closing thoughts and Prayer
Everyone has a different faith journey. Some believe right away, and others take awhile. Our job as followers of Jesus is to help people, wherever they are in their journey, to take a step forward. When we try to force it and make it about our timing instead of God’s, we can do more harm than good. This week, listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life about who to talk to and how you can also take a step deeper in your own faith.
Pray that you would take those opportunities this week to have bold conversations within your circles of influence. Pray that those you talk to would have soft hearts to hear God’s Word. End your time praying for one specific person that God has laid on your heart to pray for.