broken vessels: how god uses imperfect...
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BROKEN VESSELS: HOW GOD USES IMPERFECT PEOPLE
Brokenness and pain.
Unfortunately, brokenness and pain are universal. It may have been from the pain of love that ended prematurely, the pain of abandonment and isolation, the pain of chronic illness or death, or the pain we bring on ourselves through our sin and failure. But we all know what pain feels like, and it feels like being broken.
Like clay jars, we are fragile. We can be easily brokenbut we do not have to remain broken vessels. We are never beyond the healing and redeeming power of God. In the face of failure, God responds with restoration. In spite of our shortcomings, God will work in and through us. In the midst of our circumstances, God will help us endure.
God doesnt stop there! He seeks to use us to speak into the lives of other broken vessels. He uses our experiences with His grace and power to comfort others. He desires to use us to help our neighbors and loved ones encounter the God who brings hope and restoration.
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7). We are broken vessels, but this great treasurethe good news of Jesus Christshines through our brokenness.
Daniel is Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com and LifeWay. He is co-author of Planting
Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply and blogs at Danielim.com. Daniel is a Teaching
Pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville. Married to Christina, they have three children.
9 8 S e S S i o n 1
A FRESH START
The PointWe fail; Jesus restores.
The Bible Meets LifeWhen we come to faith in Christ, we
realize there is nothing we can do to
earn a right relationship with God.
We fail, but Jesus gives us hope.
Now that we are Christians, we still
fail, but we sometimes chastise
ourselves for failing. The same grace we needed for salvation is the same grace
we need to live it out. The hope we have in Christ is grounded in grace, and we
need to experience that grace day by day.
The PassagesJohn 18:15-18,25-27; 21:15-19
The SettingThe initial events of the focal verses occurred on the night before Jesus
crucifixion, at the high priests residence in Jerusalem after Jesus arrest. The
latter events took place after Jesus resurrection (perhaps a couple weeks
later). After the Festivals of Passover and of Unleavened Bread, Jesus disciples
left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee. One morning on the shore of the Sea
of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), Jesus appeared to seven of His disciples while they
GET INTO THE STUDY
GUIDE: In the next six sessions
we will be discussing pain and
brokenness in life and how
God helps us deal with lifes
difficulties. Invite members to
turn to page3 in the Personal
Study Guide (PSG) and
review session titles.
LEADER PACK: Point to the
session titles on Item8:
DISCUSS: Draw attention to
the picture on PSG page 94
and ask Question #1: Whats
the biggest mess youve
Reinforce that even when lifes
a mess, there is hope. Read
The Point (PSG, p. 95): We
fail; Jesus restores.
15 Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple.
That disciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he
went with Jesus into the high priests courtyard.
16 But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the
other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out
and spoke to the girl who was the doorkeeper and brought
17 Then the servant girl who was the doorkeeper said to
Peter, You arent one of this mans disciples too, are you?
I am not, he said.
18 Now the servants and the officials had made a charcoal
fire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming
themselves, and Peter was standing with them, warming
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself.
They said to him, You arent one of his disciples too, are
you? He denied it and said, I am not.
26 One of the high priests servants, a relative of the man
whose ear Peter had cut off, said, Didnt I see you with him
in the garden?
27 Peter denied it again. Immediately a rooster crowed.
Even followers of Jesus still falter and fail.
Verse 15-16. On the night before Jesus crucifixion, events happened quickly in different locations in Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders questioned Jesus inside the high priests residence, and another scene unfolded out in the courtyard. Simon Peter and another disciple had followed those who had arrested Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The identity of this other disciple is unknown, but most scholars believe it was John, who rarely identified himself in his narratives.
STUDY THE BIBLEJohn 18:15-18,25-27 .
SUMMARIZE: Before reading
the passage, set the context by
summarizing the information
in The Setting on page 98.
READ: Read or ask a volunteer
to read John 18:15-18,25-27.
GUIDE: Refer group members
to The Bible Meets Life
(PSG, p. 95), to the authors
comments about hitting rock
bottom and standing at a
GUIDE: Refer group members
to PSG pages 96-97 to
establish Peters state of mind
after gaining entrance into the
high priests courtyard. Review
the events of the previous
hours leading up to his denials
of knowing Jesus.
S U G G E S T E D U S E | W E E K O F J U LY 23 9 9
10 0 S e S S i o n 1
We fail; Jesus restores.
The high priest knew this disciple. The high priest is not identified. John mentions that Jesus was brought before both Annas and Caiaphas on the night of His arrest (John18:12-14,19-24,28). Annas had previously been the high priest (and so still retained the title) and Caiaphas was the current high priest at that time. The word acquaintance could refer to a relative, a close friend, or a person who was not a stranger. John may have actually been a distant relative of the high priest. Whatever the case, his identity was such that he had access to a secure property. Thus he followed Jesus and the arresting party into the courtyard of the building. This other disciple, once inside the courtyard, spoke to the servant girl who was the doorkeeper and gained entry for Simon Peter.
1 Verse 17. The other disciple may have been known as a follower of Jesus. Perhaps the servant girl knew this. As Peter entered the courtyard, the doorkeeper may have been shocked and surprised that anyone who knew Jesus would have been there. So she asked, You arent one of this mans disciples too, are you? Some suggest the sentence structure of her question expected a negative response, so the meaning of the sentence was something like, Not you too? Peter responded: I am not. This was his first denial.
Verse 18. Jerusalem is on a mountain located at the edge of a desert. At night it can get cold and windy. This is particularly true in the month of Nisan (March-April) around the time of Passover. Thus the servants and officials had made a charcoal fire in the courtyard to ward off the chill and were warming themselves around the fire. (John will mention a charcoal fire again in 21:9). These officials were probably Levites, members of the temple police who kept order at the temple, protected the whole temple complex and protected the high priest and his family. Apparently it didnt bother Peter to be in the same part of the courtyard with these authorities, some of whom undoubtedly had arrested Jesus. In fact, Peter joined them around the fire as he attempted to warm himself.
Verse 25. While Jesus was being questioned (John18:19-24), Peter was about to face an interrogation of his own. First, some of those who were also huddled around the fire repeated the question Peter had heard earlier. Again the question expected a negative responseYou arent one of his disciples too, are you? Peter again denied it, maybe with a little more emphasis than before (see Matt.26:72).
SUMMARIZE: Use Bible
Commentary 1 on this page
and page 101 to highlight the
progression of Peters three
denials. Note that each denial
started with a question from
someone in the courtyard.
DISCUSS: Question #2
(PSG, p. 97): What emotions
would you have experienced
in Peters situation?
GUIDE: Refer group members
to PSG page 98 and highlight
the following statements:
Maybe were not so different from Peter.
We may not have overtly said, I dont know Jesus, but weve had moments when we tried to hide our relationship to Him.
We have denied Jesus.
In certain situations, we may feel afraid, try to blend in, or react with tired emotions. Regardless of the reason, our words or actions deny that we know Jesus.
Somewhere along the way, a rooster crows.
Verse 26. Perhaps before the echo of Peters words had subsided, another person joined in. This time the question was more personal and accusatory. John noted this questioner was a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off. Earlier that night in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter had cut off the ear of the high priests servant, whom John identified as Malchus (