WELCOME to the third week of Reason to Believe. Throughout this six-week series, we are exploring six encounters Jesus has with people looking for God. This weekend, Pastor of Student Ministries Aaron Buer takes us to the encounter between Jesus and Nathanael. While Nathanael eventually becomes one of Jesus’ disciples, he is initially skeptical. Through this encounter, we learn something about searching and surrender.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20-30 minutes checking in with each other.
Creating a safe environment is an essential part of a healthy small group. We need a safe environment to discuss things we don’t understand or are skeptical about. What are some good rules for listening to allow people to share things they don’t understand or are skeptical about?
Share Part of Your Story.
This weekend we learned God searches for us. Share a part of your story when you sensed God was searching for you.
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Have someone read John 1.43-51 aloud. What do you notice in these verses?
Nathanael is skeptical about Jesus because Jesus isn’t from where important people come from. He’s from Nazareth, a backward village on the wrong side of the tracks. Nathanael was looking in the wrong place. What are some wrong places our culture looks to find meaning, value or purpose? Nathanael was dissatisfied with the world around him. Our longings, unfulfilled hopes, and problems sometimes lead us to go searching in the wrong places. When we search in the wrong places, we often miss the very thing we are searching for. How can looking in the wrong place cost us the very thing we are trying to find? Where are you searching in the wrong place? Just like Nathanael didn’t expect the answer to come from Nazareth, Jesus being the answer seems crazy for some people. Why might people be skeptical about Jesus being the only thing that helps life truly make sense? sermon discussion guide
Philip is the one who brings Nathanael to Jesus, despite Nathanael being skeptical. How can Philip be an encouragement to us as we encounter skeptical friends and family members?
When Nathanael goes to meet Jesus, his first question is profound, “How do you know me?”
When Nathanael goes to meet Jesus, his first question is profound, “How do you know me?” Jesus knows Nathanael because he loves him and wants a relationship with him. Nathanael has been searching, but Jesus has been searching for Nathanael. How does knowing God seeks out a relationship with us change our view about him? We desire to be known, understood and accepted. How does the desire to be known, understood and accepted point toward Jesus? Nathanael shows up a skeptic and in a moment of clarity, he believes. What helped bring Nathanael to belief?
The Surrender. People search for things like forgiveness, acceptance, purpose, love and hope. We search to find something, but Jesus is greater than just that something. While Jesus offers forgiveness, acceptance, purpose, love and hope, he ultimately offers a relationship. How is a relationship with Jesus the answer to what we long for and search for?
From their beginning, searches are designed to end. The end of our searching is not just finding Jesus, but surrendering to him. Nathanael doesn’t merely believe, he surrenders his life to Jesus and follows him. What is the difference between bringing Jesus into our plan and accepting Jesus’ plan? What has surrendering your life to Jesus looked like? What aspects of your life do you need to surrender today? Where do you find yourself in the Nathanael story? Are you searching for that thing you think will make life better? Are you encountering Jesus and realizing he has been searching for you? Are you surrendering your life to Jesus as the Holy Spirit works in your heart?
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.
Nathanael was skeptical, but Philip brought him to Jesus anyway. Share with your group someone you want to introduce to Jesus and would like the group to be praying about.
This weekend was the last in April. If your group hasn’t already started discussing your group rhythm for the summer, perhaps it is the right week to have that conversation. Summer is also a wonderful time to incorporate some informal group social events. These informal events are a great opportunity to intentionally invite friends who do not attend church or friends not currently in a group.