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Small Group Notes
Small group notes for Sunday April 22.
There is rather a lot here so feel free to pick and choose! I have put in notes on v.1-21 but the Lectionary reading is actually only verses 11-18.
Welcome: What person, group or trend did you and your friends "follow" when you were a teenager? Why?
What experience, if any, have you had with sheep and shepherds?
Worship: either read Psalm 23 together or sing one of the songs based on it. For example The Lord's my Shepherd
Word: John 10:1-21 The Good Shepherd.
1. In order to understand the illustration that Jesus uses of the sheep and shepherd, we must put ourselves in the minds of those whom Jesus was addressing. Not only did the Jewish people know a lot about sheep and shepherds from everyday life, this image was also prominent in Old Testament Scripture. Read the following verses from the Old Testament and state the identity of the shepherd and the sheep as the people of Jesus' day would have understood it.
Who is the shepherd? Who are the sheep?
Psalm 80:1-2 -
Isaiah 40:9-11 -
Ezekiel 34:11-13 -
2. Not only was God the Shepherd of his people Israel, but he also gave the care of his people over to kings, prophets, priests. They, too, were to act as shepherds over God's flock. According to Ezekiel 34:1-10, how does God identify a bad shepherd and what will he do about it?
3. God made a promise to his people who had been subjected to bad shepherding. What, generally, was the promise from Ezekiel 34:11-16?
4. How, specifically, will God fulfill this promise according to Ezekiel 34:23-24 and Jeremiah 23:5-6?
5. Based on these Old Testament Scriptures, what are at least two things Jesus was inferring that the crowd would have understood when he declared, "I am the good shepherd"(10:11)?
With your small group, mention all of the connections you see between Ezekiel 34 and John 10:1-21.
6. If you were in the crowd when Jesus related this analogy of sheep and shepherd (10:1-15), what parts of the illustration would you probably have seen as positive? What parts could be seen as negative?
7. Jesus considers himself the good shepherd. Good carries the connotation of beautiful, useful, noble, wholesome, competent and morally good. List some specific ways Jesus wants you to benefit from the Good Shepherd's care using these verses:
10:3-4 –How do you recognize Jesus' voice when he speaks to you? How do you know an imposter's voice? What does it mean that Jesus calls you by name? Is that important to you? Why or why not? Are you following the Good Shepherd? Where do you struggle with wanting to follow your own path?
10:9-10 - What does Jesus mean when he says his sheep will be "saved" (10:9, 28)? Do you look to Jesus as your sole provider, security and caretaker (10:9)? What are some things that compete with your trusting him?
John 10:10 has been translated life to the full, living life to the full, having life more abundantly, life in all its fullness and far more life than before. Describe what you think Jesus means.To what degree is this quality of life a reality to you? What qualities in your life might convince an unbeliever that you possess the full life Jesus gives? How might you experience this abundant life to a greater degree?
10:14-15 –What are some examples of the way that Jesus knows you? How well do you know Jesus? How intimate (having a close, personal relationship) does Jesus expect to be with his sheep (10:15)? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your intimacy with Jesus? How do you feel about Jesus' desire for intimacy with you?
8. Why is it necessary for the Good Shepherd to lay down his life for his sheep (Isaiah 53:6)? What is the Shepherd's motivation (1 John 3:16)?
9. What claim is Jesus making when he says he has the authority to lay down his life and to take it up again (10:17-18)? Why does Jesus stress that he lays down his life voluntarily (10:18)?
10. Do you personally believe that Jesus is the "good" shepherd? How can a person say Jesus is a good shepherd when bad things happen to them?
11. Who are the other sheep not of this pen that Jesus speaks of in 10:16, who will also be brought into the flock? (Matthew 28:19, Romans 1:16 and Revelation 7:9-10 may help you in your answer.)
12. What do you think Jesus means when he says that there will be one flock and one shepherd (10:16)? Is this a reality now? What are the implications of Jesus' statement for you and other Christians who belong to other denominations and churches?
Respond to one of the following questions:
From what you see in this chapter, what does it really mean to follow Jesus?
What strikes you as being most significant about the shepherd's relationship to the sheep?
List the things which Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has done for you. Take time to thank and praise him.