Welcome to the second week of Reason to Believe. Throughout this six-week series, we will explore six encounters that Jesus had with people looking for God. John’s gospel presents seven signs that Jesus is the Messiah. This weekend, Senior Teaching Pastor Jeff Manion unpacks Jesus’ first sign: turning water into wine at the wedding feast. This sign not only demonstrates Jesus’ miraculous power but directly points to who Jesus is.
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. Encouragement is an important component of caring for one another. How would you rate your small group in the area of encouragement? How can your group make encouragement a regular priority or be better?
Share Part of Your Story. This weekend we are focusing on the first sign in the gospel of John. Briefly, share about one of the first things that caused you to seriously consider Jesus.
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Have someone read John 2.1-11 aloud. What do you notice in these verses?
John’s gospel includes seven signs designed to point us to “believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.31). What is the difference between a sign and a piece of art? Jesus’ disciples have been following him for less than a week. So far, there are only about five signs. If you were planning Jesus’ ministry and wanted to orchestrate his first sign, what would you have him do for his first miracle?
How many people would you want to see it? Who does John say knows about Jesus’ miracle? What does it say about the disciples? How does this help us understand the role of a sign?
Mary approaches Jesus with a social disaster. A wedding was the social event for a village, often lasting a week. Running out of wine would bring shame to the families involved. In their culture, the shame would stain you for life. Why does Mary think Jesus can solve this problem? What does solving the problem do for the families involved?
The Jewish culture surrounding this story can be described as an honor/shame culture. Jesus’ miracle removed the potential for shame and restored the honor in their community. What role do you see shame and honor playing in our culture? How does it encourage you to know that Jesus cares about our shame?
Jesus’ response to his mother’s request seems a bit distant. He finishes by saying, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2.4). What is Jesus referring to here? How will Jesus ultimately deal with shame and bring joy to the world in the “hour” he is referring to?
An easy to miss detail is that the stone jars Jesus has filled are for ceremonial washing. The people were obsessed with ceremonial cleanliness. Have someone read Mark 7.1-15 aloud. What does Jesus say about ceremonial cleanliness here? What irony do you see in Jesus using the ceremonial cleaning water to make new wine? What is he implying?
In Jesus exchanging the water for wine, we see some exchanges for us to consider. Jesus offers to swap impending shame for joy. He offers to trade our uncleanliness for his cleanliness. In addition, he desires us to exchange our control of our lives for his authority and direction. These exchanges only happen when we admit we need it and ask for it. Share some stories of when you have experienced one or more of these exchanges. How did it happen?
Are there any exchanges you need to make?
When Jesus turns the water into wine, John records the water was taken to the master of the feast for his approval. This is no minor detail, as it points to Jesus’ role as the ultimate master of the feast. The writers of the Bible used the feast motif numerous times to present a picture of the life offered by the Messiah, such as in Isaiah 25.6. How does the picture of a joyous and peaceful feast affect the way you view heaven? How can the promise of a future peaceful and joyous feast help in challenging times of life?
Right now, we can experience a taste of the joy and peace we will one day experience in heaven. Where are you experiencing joy and peace in your life right now? How is this a taste of heaven? Where could you use a new measure of joy or peace?
When you typically think of Jesus, how do you fill in the blank: Jesus is _______. How does thinking of Jesus as the master of the feast change the way you think about him?
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. Have one or two people share a time they were blessed while serving.
Group Growth. Healthy small groups routinely ask “Who needs what we have?” Is there anyone in your social circles who could really use an invitation to your group? Spend some time talking about whether it makes sense to add someone to your group.