For the leader: Before you begin, pick and choose from the questions below. Ask yourself: “Which of these questions will get conversation going and fit our group best?” You won’t have time to do them all.

High/Low: Many people in your group may have been traveling this past week. Take this opportunity to hear a little about their time away (or just their regular schedule), by asking for a “High” and a “Low” of the week. Asking people to focus on one or two things creates enough space for everyone to share without stories taking the majority of your time. It’s also worth noting that if someone feels like this week wasn’t high or low, they can just share a “Medium” 🙂 . The point of this time is to connect!

Note: It may be helpful to do a quick recap of the “Why” of the book of John. Remind your group that the acts of Jesus recorded in this book are more than just miracles–they are signs to point us to the bigger story of Jesus–so that we would believe in Him! 

Sign #1: Turning water to wine at the wedding feast.
Sign #2: Healing the nobleman’s son.
Sign #3: Healing on the Sabbath.

Just outside of Jerusalem, Jesus performed a miracle that changed a man’s life forever. For 38 years, this man was unable to walk. But when Jesus said, “Get up,” the man was healed. However, it’s what Jesus said next that made this miracle a clear sign of who Jesus really was.

Start Talking

  • Think about the “younger you.” Was there a law or rule that you found silly and unhelpful?
  • What is one law or cultural expectation that you wish was different?
  • Have you ever encountered a time where a law or rule got in the way of helping people?
  • Furthermore, have you ever seen or experienced compassion being withheld for the sake of a law?

What About You?

  • Is there a time you can remember that someone went against the rules or the norm so that you could benefit? How did this make you feel?
  • Is it easier for you to prioritize rules/beliefs  or people? How do you manage the tension of loving people who believe differently than you?

Look It Up

  • Read John 5:1–21, where the apostle John recounts the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man.
    • What are some details about this story that would lead a reader to believe that this actually happened?
    • Before healing him, Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to get well?” Why do you think Jesus asked him that?
    • How have you seen this statement to be true, “Sometimes getting well is harder than staying sick?”
    •  Is there an area of your life where you need to decide “to get well”? What has prevented you from doing this thus far?
    • In verse 9, notice how quickly the author (John) pivots from the miraculous healing to the fact that this happened on the Sabbath. What does this say about the main reason John captured this story?
    • Verses 16–18 lay the groundwork for why religious leaders were at odds with Jesus. What do their comments tell you about their religious priorities?
  • Read John 5:39–40. Describe how the religious leaders may have felt hearing this.
  • The Pharisees are so focused on the man breaking the law, that they miss the opportunity to celebrate his healing. How do you think we might make the same mistake in our modern culture?
  • It doesn’t seem that the Pharisees were trying to be unkind, but rather just obedient. They had taken personal convictions and morals and equated them with the law, and then imposed them on others. Have you experienced someone else imposing their conviction or moral on you as if it were law? How did this affect your relationship with them? How did this affect your thoughts toward God?
  • How does today’s conversation reinforce what John said in John 3:16?

What Now?

  • Give an example of how your past version of Christianity got in the way of loving people God loves. Is your current version getting in the way?
  • Is there a step you can take to make a particular person a bigger priority than a potentially flawed belief or tradition? Can this group help?
  • How can we continue to prioritize people over our views?

Final Thought

When your version of religion gets in the way of love, you have the wrong version. The person beside you must take priority over the potentially flawed religious view you have.

Helpful Resources

The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus by Beth Moore (Book)
John: 90 Days with the Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore (Bible Study)
Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case by Frank Turek (Book)

The Language of God by Francis Collins (Book)
The Question of God: Interview with Francis Collins (Interview Transcript)