Welcome to the first week of Reason to Believe. This Easter weekend, Senior Pastor Jeff Manion took us to the resurrection account in the Gospel of John. In John 20, we find Mary Magdalene discovering the empty tomb. Jesus reveals himself to Mary in the garden, followed by appearances to the disciples.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
Updates. What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20-30 minutes checking in with each other.
Care. Prayer is an important element of caring for one another. While we often share prayer requests for specific events or people, praying for one another can be more than that. How can the group pray for your personal growth as you seek to follow Jesus and become more like him?
Share Part of Your Story. Easter signals the arrival of spring. The season of new life represents Jesus’ victory of life over death. Have one or two people briefly share how Jesus called their name, rescued them and brought them to life.
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Have someone read John 20 aloud. What do you notice in these verses?
Mary and the Tomb.
Mary went to the tomb on Sunday morning to say a better goodbye to Jesus. What emotions do you think Mary experienced while walking to the tomb on Sunday morning? When Mary arrived at the tomb, it was clear something was not right. The stone was removed and out of place. What conclusion does Mary jump to? What is her fear here?
Mary rushes back to tell Peter and John. They race to the tomb and find it empty with the strips of linen still there and the cloth lying in its place. John says he believes. Why do you think John believed?
Jesus Calls Her Name.
While John sees the empty tomb and believes, Mary remains inconsolable. She first encounters two angels, then someone she thinks is the gardener. Mary asks the angels and the gardener where they have “put him.” All it takes is for Jesus to say “Mary.” She cries “Teacher” and latches onto him. What drastic change of emotion do you think she experienced?
John’s gospel presents pictures of Jesus one-on-one with people. He is a God who knows and calls people by name. Jesus describes himself in John 10.1-5. Have someone read this passage. What kind of relationship does Jesus have with his “sheep”? One of the most famous passages in the Bible is John 3.16. Have your group read it together. Take a moment and have a few people replace the word “world” with their name. What is different about understanding Jesus knows our name, calls our name and died for “me” personally?
John 20.30-31 tells us why John wrote his gospel, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” In this chapter, we see not everyone came to believe in Jesus at the same time or even with the same evidence. Why is this important?
In this sermon series, we will look at reasons to believe Jesus is God. We often call this belief “faith.” Faith does not require checking your brains at the door but is grounded in strong evidence of the veracity of the gospel accounts. How is this different than how faith in God is sometimes presented?
How does a faith based on strong evidence help us when we go through times of doubt or difficulty?
Invest in Others
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Spend some time talking about how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Service. Healthy small groups serve together and encourage one another in individual service. Spring is not only known for rain, flowers and warmer temps, but for yard cleanup and spring cleaning. Does your group know of anyone who could really use help with something this spring? How would your group be able to step into that situation and bless that person?
Invest. In the weeks leading up to Easter, you were asked to consider who you might invite to a weekend service or talk with about your story. How can your group be praying for those relationships?