Studies on Questions Asked in John

There are many questions in John because of the debate about Jesus as God in the flesh. This reached a peak in chapter seven as shown on the graph below. Describing selected questions asked and / or answers given thereto is a great way to study through the Gospel.

The first descriptive study below is a sample study on Nathaniel's skeptical question using this method.

Nathanael's Skeptical Question

John 1:46 "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Nathanael's question about Jesus and Nazareth was short, blunt, and negative, but that does not mean that it was bad. The card layout below shows that his question had it's good and bad side. The right side shows that his superficial bias against Nazareth in the question was problematic, but the big problem was his ignorance of Jesus. So Philip wisely simply said, "Come and see."

Being skeptical is not necessarily bad. So the skeptical aspect of Nathanael's question is shown midway between the good and bad row. It was good that Nathanael was careful about Jesus' identity. (There had been false Messiahs who had deceived many.) Thankfully, Philip introduced him to the True Messiah. So Nathanael soon believed after his initial ignorance was removed. His question was an honest one as the Lord himself indirectly said (1:47). The "H" shape above stands for honesty.

Using Describe-It-Yourself cards to visually describe the questions and answer in John like above is an interesting way to explore and teach through the Gospel. There are over two thousand Describe-It-Yourself cards to choose from. So it is not difficult to find ones that are appropriate for the various questions and answers. There are also many "wild cards" with blank lines which can be filled in as needed. The "About Nazareth" card above is one of these.

Other Descriptive Studies in John

1.) A descriptive study on the Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan woman in chapter four and Nathanael in chapter one are alike in being fully known by the Lord. In other ways, however, they were quite different. How would you describe the woman at the well? This study makes use of the worksheet below to describe her. Note the directions at the bottom of the worksheet.

The sinful Samaritan woman was paradoxical because she was an outcast yet simultaneously defensive of her nationality. Basically she tried to use her collective identity as a Samaritan as a substitute for having genuine personal faith and spiritual life, but the Lord patiently answered her objections and led her to himself and the abundant life of purpose that comes with having the indwelling Holy Spirit. Like Nicodemus, she needed to be born again, though the terminology the Lord used with her was somewhat different.

The Samaritan woman helps show that evangelism is both personal and social. Her social barrier through her group identity had to be knocked down before her personal sinfulness and need could be exposed. Ultimately, all evangelism is personal evangelism, but social barriers need to be overcome as well. This is as true today as back then and individuals need to be shown that association with a group, religious or otherwise, does not give lasting joy and purpose like knowing the Lord and being known by him does.

2.) A descriptive study on Martha

Martha in Luke chapter 10 is described on the left side of the worksheet below and as she appears in John chapter 11 and 12:1-5 on the right. She seems quite different, even though it was the same person. How could this be? Her active, action-oriented personality shows through in both Gospels, but with important differences.

What is the basic difference? In line with John's theme, the nature of Martha's belief is stressed in John. She quickly went out to meet Jesus (John 11:20) because her faith prompted her to act. In Luke chapter ten, however, Martha was distracted by things and needs (Lk. 10:40). So her actions and words were not faith based. Other differences, such as Martha doing too much in Luke but not in John, followed naturally from the different starting points.

How is Martha's faith seen through her words in John? Her statements in 11:21-22 show that she was hoping the Lord might raise her brother from the dead. She knew that it could be done because she knew that God the Father always listened to his Son, Jesus. Yet, Martha was unsure what God's will was in the matter, since Lazarus had been allowed to die. So like Jesus' mother, Mary, in John 2:3, she did not directly ask for a miracle. This is also why Martha warned of there being a stench after four days (11:39). She did not know that Jesus and God the Father would raise Lazarus or not.

How did Martha help enable the anointing of Jesus (12:1-3)? The expensive oil that was used probably did not belong to Mary alone and Martha likely had some say in its use. Mary who always seemed to be the more expressive of the two did the anointing, but Martha was serving at the supper when it was done. The two sisters were somewhat different, but they were also much alike. This is seen more clearly in John than in Luke.

A UNIQUE COMMENTARY

In addition to the study on questions, there is a commentary on John. It is unique because the comments are provided through fictional characters who reflect various points of view. This was originally a 300+ page book, but it is now being abridged for easier distribution. See the sample studies linked below.

A diagram from the study on the nobleman in John chapter four Genuine faith usually has a background story as well as a point of decision.

Lake Biwa: the largest lake in Japan

© 2019 Jon F. Mahar, Hakusan City, Japan, Alexander, Maine, U.S.A.