It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
David C. Cook; New edition (July 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, for The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***
A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe’s commentaries and his world-renowned knowledge of God’s Word can now be enjoyed in a format that allows everyone to enjoy spending time getting to know the Savior. David C Cook plans to release additional volumes in the Wiersbe Bible Study Series over the next few years.
List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (July 1, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
God in the Flesh
Before you begin …
• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.
• Read John 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1–2 in Be Alive. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.
From the Commentary
Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s “Word” to reveal His heart and mind to us. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). A word is composed of letters, and Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:11), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. According to Hebrews 1:1–3, Jesus Christ is God’s last Word to mankind, for He is the climax of divine revelation.
—Be Alive, page 20
1. As you read John 1:1–2, what stands out to you about the description of
“the Word”? What does it mean that the Word was “with” God? That the
Word “was” God? How does this opening contrast with that of the other
three gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)? What does this tell us
about John, the writer of this gospel?
More to Consider: Why do you think John refers to Jesus as “the Son
of God” so many times in his gospel? (See John 1:34, 49; 3:18; 5:25;
10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31.)
2. Choose one verse or phrase from John 1—2 that stands out to you.
This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you
uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with
you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.
From the Commentary
Life is a key theme in John’s gospel; it is used thirty-six times. What are the essentials for human life? There are at least four: light (if the sun went out, everything would die), air, water, and food. Jesus is all of these! He is the Light of Life and the Light of the World (John 8:12). He is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). By His Holy Spirit, He gives us the “breath of life” (John 3:8; 20:22), as well as the Water of Life (John 4:10, 13–14; 7:37–39). Finally, Jesus is the Living Bread of Life that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff.). He not only has life and gives life, but He is life (John 14:6).
—Be Alive, page 22
3. As you go through the gospel of John, underline the references to “life.” Why do you think John’s gospel touches on this theme so frequently? How do the themes of “light” and “life” relate to one another in John 1?
From the Commentary
John the Baptist is one of the most important persons in the New Testament. He is mentioned at least eighty-nine times. John had the special privilege of introducing Jesus to the nation of Israel. He also had the difficult task of preparing the nation to receive its Messiah. He called them to repent of their sins and to prove that repentance by being baptized and then living changed lives. John summarized what John the Baptist had to say about Jesus Christ (John 1:15–18).
—Be Alive, page 24
4. What is significant about the gospel writer’s mention of John the Baptist (John 1:6–28)? Why would this have been important to the early believers?
From Today’s World
Although the skepticism of the modern age has diminished their impact, self-proclaimed modern “prophets” continue to speak about the end of the world (or other events) as if they have exclusive insight into “insider information” from a source they often claim is God Himself. Some gain a following as people clamor for wisdom about why the world is in its current state. Whether out of fear or frustration, they look to the so-called prophets for answers.
5. Why are people so fascinated (whether they agree or disagree) with modern prophets? Do you agree that people today are more skeptical about prophets and their reliability? Why or why not? How does today’s culture compare to the culture in which John the Baptist appeared? What does this suggest about the role of prophecy in modern Christianity?
From the Commentary
The people of Israel were familiar with lambs for the sacrifices. At Passover, each family had to have a lamb, and during the year, two lambs a day were sacrificed at the temple altar, plus all the other lambs brought for personal sacrifices. Those lambs were brought by people to people, but here is God’s Lamb, given by God to humankind! Those lambs could not take away sin, but the Lamb of God can take away sin. Those lambs were for Israel alone, but this Lamb would shed His blood for the whole world!
—Be Alive, pages 27–28
6. How might John’s Jewish followers have responded when he announced Jesus as the “Lamb of God”? Why is John the Baptist’s testimony important? How does John’s description of the “Spirit” compare to the coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts? What does this teach us about the Holy Spirit?
From the Commentary
“We have found the Messiah!” was the witness Andrew gave to Simon. Messiah is a Hebrew word that means “anointed,” and the Greek equivalent is “Christ.” To the Jews, it was the same as “Son of God” (see Matt. 26:63–64; Mark 14:61–62; Luke 22:67–70). In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed and thereby set apart for special service. Kings were especially called “God’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:11; Ps. 89:20); so, when the Jews spoke about their Messiah, they were thinking of the king who would come to deliver them and establish the kingdom. There was some confusion among the Jewish teachers as to what the Messiah would do. Some saw Him as a suffering sacrifice (as in Isa. 53), while others saw a splendid king (as in Isa. 9 and 11). Jesus had to explain even to His own followers that the cross had to come before the crown, that He must suffer before He could enter into His glory (Luke 24:13–35).
—Be Alive, page 29
7. Why were the Jews expecting the Messiah to appear as a king? What does this tell us about the culture and circumstance of the Jews at the time? How might the Jewish leaders have received the pronouncement of Jesus as the Messiah? There had been others who claimed messiahship prior to Jesus’ arrival. What argument does John make in chapter 1 to support the fact that Jesus is the One they’ve been waiting for?
From the Commentary
“The third day” means three days after the call of Nathanael (John 1:45–51). Since that was the fourth day
of the week recorded in John (John 1:19, 29, 35, 43), the wedding took place on “the seventh day” of this “new creation week.” Throughout his gospel, John makes it clear that Jesus was on a divine schedule, obeying the will of the Father. Jewish tradition required that virgins be married on a Wednesday, while widows were married on a Thursday. Being the “seventh day” of John’s special week, Jesus would be expected to rest, just as God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:1–3). But sin had interrupted God’s Sabbath rest, and it was necessary for both the Father and the Son to work (John 5:17; 9:4). In fact, John recorded two specific miracles that Jesus deliberately performed on Sabbath days (John 5; 9). At this wedding, we see Jesus in three different roles: the Guest, the Son, and the Host.
—Be Alive, pages 35–36
8. Read John 2:1–11. Why do you think the Scriptures record this as Jesus’ first miracle? What is the significance of turning water into wine? Of the timing of the miracle?
More to Consider: Moses’ first miracle was a plague—turning water into blood (Ex. 7:19ff.), which speaks of judgment. How does Jesus’ first miracle speak of grace?
From the Commentary
Jesus revealed His zeal for God first of all by cleansing the temple (John 2:13–17). The priests had established a lucrative business of exchanging foreign money for Jewish currency and also selling the animals needed for the sacrifices. No doubt, this “religious market” began as a convenience for the Jews who came long distances to worship in the temple, but in due time the “convenience” became a business, not a ministry. The tragedy is that this business was carried on in the court of the Gentiles in the temple, the place where the Jews should have been meeting the Gentiles and telling them about the one true God. Any Gentile searching for truth would not likely find it among the religious merchants in the temple.
—Be Alive, page 41
9. Why was Jesus so upset about the money changers? (See John 2:12–16.) What is significant about Jesus’ comment in verse 19? How does this foreshadowing help us to see God’s divine timetable for Jesus’ earthly work?
From the Commentary
While in Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus performed miracles that are not given in detail in any of the Gospels. It must have been these signs that especially attracted Nicodemus (John 3:2). Because of the miracles, many people professed to believe in Him, but Jesus did not accept their profession. No matter what the people themselves said or others said about them. He did not accept human testimony.
—Be Alive, page 44
10. Why didn’t Jesus accept human testimony? What does John mean when he writes, “He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (2:25)? What does this say about Jesus’ feelings toward those who followed Him because of His miracles?
Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of John 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.
Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press for people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.
11. How do you respond to the different descriptions of Jesus in John 1 (the Word, the Lamb, the Son of God)? In what ways does the father/son imagery connect with you? Why is it important for you to know Jesus was God’s Son and not just a prophet sent to preach good news?
12. In what ways do you see your own life as a “light” to those around you? How have others been light to you? What are some ways you’ve struggled to be a light to others? How can the picture of Jesus as the light inspire you to be a light to others?
13. What sort of “Messiah” do you think you’d be hoping for if you were among the Jewish people before and during Jesus’ time? In what ways might you have been pleasantly surprised by the way the Messiah arrived? In what ways might you have been disappointed? How do you see the Messiah’s role in your life today? In what ways is Jesus’ role like that of a king? Of a servant?
14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try). Do you want to know more about John’s description of Jesus as “the Word”? Do you want to better understand the Jews’ expectation about the Messiah? Be specific. Go back through John 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.
Real-Life Application Ideas: John the Baptist contrasts his method of baptism with Jesus’ in 1:26–34. How well do you know your church’s stance on water baptism? Learn what your church teaches on this
important topic. Consider what baptism has meant to you. Or, if you haven’t yet been baptized, consider talking with your pastor about being baptized.
15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.
Notes for Small Groups:
• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.
• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read and studied.
• Before you start the next lesson, read John 3—4. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters
3–4, “A Matter of Life and Death” and “The Bad Samaritan,” in Be Alive.