the gospel challenge

An 8-week adventure of discovery

It is great to have you be part of the Gospel Challenge! It is our hope that these next weeks will encourage you to read this gospel, to learn more about Jesus’ life and ministry and to respond to his invitation to draw closer to him.
Biblical Scholar N.T. Wright says this about the beloved Gospel of John:
It gives the appearance of being written by someone who was a very close friend of Jesus, and who spent the rest of his life mulling over, more and more deeply, what Jesus had done and said and achieved, praying it through from every angle, and helping others to understand it.  Countless people down the centuries have found that, through reading this gospel, the figure of Jesus becomes real for them, full of warmth and light and promise.

Week 1: John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1.  Watch the message
What did you hear?
What did you learn about God?
What did you learn about people?
Jot down a word, a phrase, or insight you want to remember throughout the week.
2. Read the passages at least one time during the week:
If you are familiar with John’s gospel already, consider reading from a translation you don’t normally use or even a paraphrase like the Message.  What new thoughts, insights or questions do you have after you read it again?  What would you like to share about this passage with your Gospel Challenge friend?

John 1:19-34

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[a] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”[b]
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptize with[c] water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John Testifies About Jesus
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”[d]

John 3:22-36

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[a]
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[b] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Practices to supplement your reading

Some things to think about:
1:27  If such a great man, a prophet like John the Baptist, felt inadequate even to be Christ’s slave, how much more should we lay aside our pride to serve him!  What areas of your life do you tend to be prideful about?  What is one thing you might do to release that pride and have more of a servant attitude?
John the Baptist was drawing large crowds and lots of attention, yet he was content for Jesus to take the higher place.  John demonstrates tremendous humility for us.  This is the basis of our service to God in whatever manner we serve him.  It is also an example for us to follow; something we don’t see very often with successful people.  When we are content to do what God wants us to do and let Jesus Christ be honored for it, God will do great things through us. 
Do you find it easy or challenging to be content to fulfill the purpose God has for you and let God or others get the honor?
Is there an attitude or behavior that needs to change so that Christ is honored in your service to Him?
3.  Explore a Practice
You are encouraged to explore different spiritual practices during this eight-week challenge.  Not all practices benefit everyone, but you are encouraged to use this time to experiment with something new or return to a practice maybe you haven’t done in a while.  You will be provided with a couple different options.  You are encouraged to try one each week.  Here are two to get you started:


Choose any verse from chapter 1 or 3:22-36 and commit it to memory.  Recite it over several times each day, place it where you will see it regularly – bathroom mirror, on your computer, as a note on your phone, etc.  Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to read it periodically throughout the day.  Whether or not you completely memorize this verse by the end of the week, what do you notice about focusing on a specific verse for several days?
Possible verses to memorize:John 1:1;1:29;1:30; 1:32; 1:34; 3:27; John 3:30; 3:35; 3:36


Read John 1:35-40 a couple times.  Imagine you are one of the two disciples who follow Jesus in this passage.  You’re curious, maybe even intrigued  by what John the Baptist has said about him.  Jesus turns to you and asks, “What do you want?” or “what are you seeking?” (don’t dismiss what pops in your head-first; consider it; talk to Jesus about it) What do you imagine the tone of Jesus’s voice to be?  What is the look on his face? In this current season of your life, how do you respond to Jesus’ question?  How would you answer Jesus?  How do you think Jesus would respond to what you said?  Spend a few minutes talking to Jesus, honestly, about what you are thinking and feeling and listen for his response to you.

Talk to a Friend

Take the initiative to call, Zoom, Facetime or talk with someone about the message and/or your reading of the passage from John this week.  Here are some optional questions/suggestions to get your conversation started:
  • Share a thought or insight from Sunday’s message.
  • What did you learn or notice about John the Baptist?
  • Which spiritual practice did you try?  Was it helpful?  If so how?
  • What do you hope to gain from this challenge?  How can you help, support, or encourage each other?

Join our Facebook Group

Join our facebook group to share your thoughts and insights through the week.  It is our hope and prayer over the next 8 weeks you will learn more about Jesus from the Gospel of John and experience him in fresh and new ways.
We'd love to hear from you - what is one thing you hope to gain from the Gospel Challenge?

May God give you understanding in the study of His Word, may he meet you in your times of prayer and may he be with you in your conversations with one another!
Have a wonderful week!