THE BIG IDEA:
God is both loving and just, and Jesus (who is God) embodies both perfectly.
We don’t know who God is or we have a wrong view of him. If we don’t understand that he is loving, we won’t draw near to him. If we don’t understand he is just, we won’t see our need for a Savior.
Knowing who God is, that he is loving and just, draws us to want to be closer to him. We see our need for a Savior. We find comfort and security in knowing he is just and loving. As we understand who he really is, we begin to relate to him accurately.
The gavel represents the fact that God is a just God. Because he is just, he has to punish wrongdoing. The heart represents the fact that God is also LOVE. He always acts loving to his people.
- What I want the group to know and understand: That God is both loving and just and that Jesus, God’s Son, embodies both perfectly.
- What I want the group to experience: To trust and rest secure in God. To be drawn to God, because they can see him as he really is.
- How I want the group to respond: By desiring to trust him and know Him more. By believing that the God who is in power is good, loving, and just and we can trust Him. By telling others what God is like, according to what he has said about himself.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
We wrestle with how God can be both just and loving. If he is so loving, why doesn’t he just forgive our sin? But, because he is just, he can’t just do that. Someone has to pay for that sin. That is why Jesus’ sacrifice is such a big deal. It satisfies God’s justice, while, at the same time, revealing God’s great love.
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If you were to meet God face to face, what would you want to know about Him? What would you expect Him to be like?
In the passage we are about to read, the Pharisees (very religious Jewish group in Jesus’ day) are trying to find a way to trick Jesus into proving he does not follow God’s laws. In their minds, this would prove to everyone that Jesus was not from God and was not who he said he was—God.
Before beginning, have someone pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help everyone understand what they are reading.
1. Read John 8:1-11. Have someone explain the passage in their own words.
2. How did the Pharisees view this woman?
They saw her as a law breaker, adulterer, and sinner.
3. How did Jesus respond to the Pharisees’ accusations?
He paused to write in the dirt and redirected the Pharisees to look at their own sin and hypocrisy rather than looking at the woman’s sin.
4. How did Jesus respond to the woman?
He responded with love and forgiveness but also expressed justice by calling her to leave her life of sin.
5. Why did Jesus tell the woman to leave her life of sin?
Allow the group to discuss. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin because he is a righteous and holy God and wants our lives to line up with that righteousness and holiness.
6. How would you feel if you were the woman caught in adultery?
Allow the group to discuss. Some may express feeling exposed, guilty, angry, fearful.
7. If you were the woman, how would you have responded to the way Jesus handled the situation
Allow the group to discuss. Some may feel relieved, grateful.
READ TOGETHER: Love is putting someone else before your own interests. Justice means being honorable and fair. If God were all loving and not just, no one would have to be responsible for their sins. But if he was only just and not loving, he would have to punish all of us for our sins.
8. How have you experienced God’s love in your life? How about justice?
Allow the group to discuss. They may have experienced forgiveness from friends, parents, etc. They may have experienced discipline from parents, teachers, or even police. As a leader, think of a few ways you can answer this question yourself.
9. Which of these qualities do you tend to have a hard time believing about God?
Allow the group to discuss. For some their guilt and shame will make it difficult to believe that God is really loving. For others, they may be so unaware of the holiness of God that they can’t believe that God would ever punish anyone.
10. Why do you think it’s important for God to be both loving and just?
Allow the group to discuss. Ask: What if he was only just? What if he was only love? This is a very important question to wrestle with so let them wrestle with it as a group. This and the next question are the keys to this study so take time and help them really “get” the importance of both. It’s key for God to be both because both are at the core of who he is. If God were loving but not just, we wouldn’t be able to trust him to do what’s right by us and in the world. We wouldn’t want to draw near to him. If God were just but not loving, there would be no hope of a relationship with him because we fall so far short of his perfect standard and all he could do is punish us for that.
11. How does God display His love and justice through the death of Jesus?
Allow the group to discuss. Refer to John 3:16 to emphasize God’s love and Romans 3:25-26 to emphasize His justice. God loves us enough to send his Son into the world and let him die in our place. He shows his justice by letting Jesus bear the full weight of the penalty for our sin. His forgiveness lets us off the hook if we’ve trusted him, but it didn’t let Jesus off the hook. In Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, God’s justice is satisfied.
12. How could knowing that God is both loving and just change the way you live your life?
Allow the group to discuss. If God is just, we want to learn to fight for justice for those around us. Since God is loving, we want to learn to love those around us as well.
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.