Main Idea: The Easter story is the best story ever, filled with The Good News of redemption, forgiveness, and love. But Easter didn’t solve our problems, it solved God’s problem.
Introduction: Religion seems restrictive; church can seem impersonal. You may not know how your story fits into His story, but what if your story has been leading up to this moment? How do you want your story to end?
Discussion Starter: In the final week of House to House, Zac asked if there was anyone we would want to invite to dinner. The Easter service began with a spiritual speculation of interviews or stories of the adulterer woman who was to be stoned, Lazarus after he was raised from the dead, Peter after his denial and proof of love for Jesus, and the man on the cross next to Jesus. Who in the Bible would you want to interview, and what kind of questions would you ask?
Primary Scriptures: Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:16-19, John 8:2-11, John 11:1-44, Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75, John 21:15-19, Luke 23:39-44
- Read Romans 5:8 and 1 John 4:16-19. We hear that God is Love. How can experiencing God’s love for us enable us to love Him, love other people, and love ourselves more?
- Let’s look at the three men and one woman in the Easter “interview.”
- Repentance: The woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:2-11) was not condemned by Jesus. Instead, He treated her with love and compassion, extending her mercy and forgiveness. He also called out her sin (just as He called out the sin of the men who wanted to stone her) and convicted her to sin no more. What is the difference between conviction and condemnation? Which is more prevalent in your life?
- Resurrection: Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha was resurrected (John 11:1-44). Jesus could have resurrected Lazarus immediately, without going to see him. Why did He wait four days? Jesus knew He could bring Lazarus back to life, yet we read in verse 35 He wept. Why do you think Jesus cried over Lazarus death? What did this interaction show the crowds who were there to mourn Lazarus?
- Restoration: Peter denied Jesus (Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75). Most of us would like to believe we would not deny that we knew Jesus. Why did Peter deny knowing Him? What was the point of Jesus telling Peter he would do it and what lessons did Peter learn that we can apply to ourselves?
- Redemption: the 2 thieves on the cross next to Jesus (Luke 23:39-44). One asked Him – are you not Christ? Save yourself and us. The other one asked if He was afraid of God. He then said he deserved to be on the cross, but Jesus did nothing wrong. He did not ask Jesus for forgiveness or redemption. He simply asked Him to remember him. We do not deserve His forgiveness, yet we ask for it. We do nothing to make Jesus love us, yet He does unconditionally. How can you help others learn this unearned love and forgiveness? What can you do every day to live and love others as Jesus did for the thief on the cross?
Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into twos or threes for this section.
Read John 21:15-19. The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the verb form of love agapao, which means to be fond of or love dearly. Agapao is love based on unconditional love. “I love you no matter if you love me or not.” This same form was used by Jesus when He said we should love our enemies. Peter answers Him with the verb form of love phileo, meaning to approve of or treat affectionately, denoting a sentimental person attachment to another person. Phileo is the mutual, reciprocal love. “I love you because you love me.” The third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, he switches to phileo. Used in this manner, Jesus is helping Peter understood what it would mean to truly love Him no matter what. In other words, “Do you even like me?” Last week (House to House) Pastor Zac asked what Jesus would say if He were sitting at the dinner table with you. Would He ask if you love Him? Which love verb form would He use? Discuss Jesus’ love for us and how it should convict us to love Him and love others.