THE BIG IDEA:
The Holy Spirit gives power to love people with the love that Christ has for us.
John 13:1-17; 34-35
We don’t love others because we hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness and try to love them in our own power.
Draw on the Spirit’s power to love even the most unlovable by faith.
Cats and dogs don’t mix. In the same way, there are some people that it is just plain hard to love. By our own power, we may only be able to love those that we like, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can even love the unlovable.
- What I want the group to know and understand: How to love others in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- What I want the group to experience: Love in the power of the Holy Spirit and hope to be able to love even the most difficult and those who have hurt us the most.
- How I want the group to respond: By identifying hard-to-love people and loving them by faith in the power of the Spirit.
It’s felt like a war zone in Pete’s house for the past several months. The whole family has been on edge because his parents just got divorced. There’s been enough yelling and ugliness to last a lifetime. Now Pete is left with constant traveling between his parents’ homes and anger and hurt toward both his parents for the part they played in breaking up their home. If Pete came to you for advice on how to love his parents, what would you tell him?
1. Read John 13:1-5. What is Jesus doing as this story begins?
Jesus and his followers are having supper together when Jesus begins to wash their feet. When it says in verse 1 that “Jesus knew his hour had come,” it means he knows he’s about to die on the cross for our sins.
2. In the first century, people wore sandals on dusty, dirty roads. The lowliest servants were in charge of washing people’s feet when they entered a house. Of all the ways to display love, why do you think Jesus chose to wash his followers’ feet?
Allow the group to discuss. Lowering yourself physically and figuratively to wash dirty, stinky feet takes great humility, which is a key part of love. It’s the same kind of love Philippians 2:5-11 describes of Christ when he laid aside his privileges and came to earth to live and die for us.
3. Judas is the disciple who betrayed Jesus and turned him over to his enemies to be killed. Judas was there, and Jesus even washed his feet. What does it say about Jesus’ love that he even washed Judas’ feet (see verse 2)?
It shows how far Jesus will go to show his love to people. Jesus loved people he had every reason to hate.
4. How would it feel to you to wash the feet of someone who had hurt you deeply?
Allow the group to discuss.
5. Read John 13:7-11. Why do you think Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet?
Allow the group to discuss. Jesus is the Son of God, so it didn’t seem right to Peter that he would do such a lowly thing.
6. Read John 13:12-17. What is Jesus saying to his followers?
He wants them to follow his example of humble love that even extends to those who would betray him.
7. How does Jesus washing his followers’ feet point to the ultimate love he showed when he died on the cross and washed away our sin?
Jesus washing his followers’ feet is a picture of the humble, sacrificial love he showed when he washed away the sins of people like us who have betrayed him and done him wrong.
8. Read John 13:34-35. How does Jesus’ command summarize this story and the love he showed when he died for us.
Jesus calls his followers to love each other with the same love Jesus has for us.
9. Read John 13:34-35 and Romans 5:5. What do these verses say about the way Jesus calls us to love and the power source for loving people with Jesus’ love?
Jesus calls us to love others as he loves us. The love of God poured out in our hearts through his Spirit is the power source for loving people with Jesus’ love.
10. Tell about a time in your life when this undeserved, overflowing love of God became real to you.
Allow the group to discuss.
11. Think about someone in your life who’s hard to love. What difference would it make for you to let Jesus love this person through you in the Spirit’s power instead of trying to love this person in your own power?
Allow the group to discuss. Take a few minutes to silently pray for the hard to love people in your life. If you have time, talk through the practical suggestions below.
Practical Suggestions to love those who are hard to love:
- Pray for them (Matt 5:44)
- Pray that God would help you want to love them (Mat 21:22)
- Recognize that God loves them and died for them
- Recognize that you are sinful too
- Act lovingly toward them (John 13:34)
- Read this short article and tell someone about it: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/transferable-concepts/love-by-faith.html
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.