You are on page 1of 17

Christmas Light

A Bible Study for Students on John 1:1-14

A Small Youth Group Bible Study Paul Kelly

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved.

Upon purchase, permission is granted for the reproduction and use of this Bible study within the church or organization for which it is purchased. All rights reserved. No copy of this Bible study or any part of it may be shared with, given to, sold to, or obtained by any church, institution, group, or individual other than for its intended use within the church or organization for which it was purchased. Unauthorized distribution of this Bible study is expressly forbidden.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

To obtain additional copies of this Bible study, please visit www.smallyouthgroup.com.

Contact information for Small Youth Group Call: 205.267.8378 Email: paul@smallyouthgroup.com Mail: P.O. Box 54976, Hurst, Texas 76054

Small Youth Group provides encouragement, training, and resources for youth leaders in small churches. For more information, visit our website at www.smallyouthgroup.com.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Small Youth Group Bible Study


Youth Ministry in a small church is different than youth ministry in a large church. While large churches have some decided advantages, advantages also exist for youth ministry in a small church. Among those are: Small churches are primarily relational, rather than driven by program. Small churches give students opportunities to be involved in the total life of the church, not just the youth ministry. Small churches give students the opportunity to know the entire youth group well. Older students can feel like older brothers and sisters and younger students like younger brothers and sisters.

Most Bible study materials are developed for larger youth ministries. While they are adaptable to the small church setting, this Bible study has been developed especially for the small church. How is this Bible study different? This Bible study is created so that it can be taught with two or three students. While you may have many more students than that, this Bible study is designed for the unique situation small church youth leaders often find themselves in: only two or three students show up on a given Sunday. This Bible study is created to involve students in leadership. Each lesson has a Student Leader step that is designed for an older student in your group to lead. Many small youth groups have all grades from 6th to 12th meeting in one class. Allowing older students to teach part of the lesson equips them for ministry and helps them to exercise a leadership role in the youth group. It gives them a sense of status in the youth group. If you have high school graduates that still attend your youth class, the Student Leader activity can be led by one of them. This Bible study assumes your Bible study is the primary time you have with your students. Larger churches may have youth meetings two or three times a week. That is overwhelming for many small churches. So, this Bible study is designed with the primary tasks of youth discipleship built into it. Various studies will help students understand the Bible, apply the Bible to their lives, develop skills they need for walking closely with Christ, and grow more passionate in their relationship with Christ. This Bible study assumes that you are probably a volunteer leader with no theological training and limited preparation time. We have attempted to provide you with solid Bible content in a way that you can use quickly. You may choose to supplement your study with the use of Bible commentaries, dictionaries, or online resources, but we have attempted to put the most important material at your fingertips.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

This Bible study assumes that you are a fellow learner with your students. While you are the leader for your students, the Bible will come alive for them most readily as you allow the Holy Spirit to permeate your life with the truths of each passage of Scripture.

Small church youth ministry at its best involves students in fun times, invests in the personal spiritual growth of students, and encourages them to put their faith into action through ministry. Small Youth Group Bible Study seeks to create a fun experience for students that deepens their faith and challenges them to get involved in ministry. In the Small Youth Group Bible Study volumes (coming soon), you will find suggestions to add a fun activity and a ministry project to your study.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Christmas Light
Christmas is full of excitement for most of us. Many teenagers start clicking through the Internet months before the holiday arrives, hoping to find the newest version video game machine wrapped under the tree on Christmas morning. While Christians opine the commercialism surrounding Christmas, that doesnt stop us from hitting the malls and discount stores to grab up things for our Christmas list. Yes, we tend to go overboard with the expense of Christmas. Yes, we can miss the point in all the decorations and cooking and travel. But, Christmas really is a time of celebration! A time of sparkling lights! Personally, I think parents should punt idea of spending hundreds of dollars for a new X-box machinebut lets celebrate! Jesus Christ is God who made his home here with us. He became one of us to buy our redemption. There is a time to fast; I think Christmas is the time to feast. There is a time to conserve; I think Christmas is a time for generosity. There is a time to be diligent about work; I think Christmas is a time to take a few holidays. This study is designed to be a celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ. It should be full of anticipation and excitement. By all means, bring gifts. Share food. Make it a celebration.

Biblical Background The Gospel of John John, one of the sons of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John. He was a close friend of Jesus, one of his Twelve Disciples, and a member of his inner circle. In his gospel account, John only identified himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved perhaps because of his hesitancy to place any emphasis on his own role in the story. Most scholars believe John wrote the gospel from Ephesus, an important port city in Asia Minor. According to Church tradition, John went to Ephesus after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem accompanied by Mary, the mother of Jesus. He led the church in Ephesus until he was exiled to the Isle of Patmos. Most scholars believe that the Gospel of John was written after the sack of Jerusalem around 70 A.D. and before Johns exile. It was probably written between 85 and 90 A.D. John addressed Old Testament prophesy and included references to Jewish tradition. However, John primarily wrote to people who came from Greek culture. Many Greeks and Hellenistic Jews (Jews who spoke Greek and assimilated into Greek culture) began to embrace Christ. John wrote to encourage their faith and to lead others to faith in Christ. To that end, John offered seven miracles that Christ did that proved he was God in flesh: Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

turning water into wine, healing the officials son, healing a man at the pool of Bethesda, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, healing a man born blind, and raising Lazarus from the dead. John also included several sermons of Jesus that were not included in the other gospels. In most of these messages, Jesus addressed his own natureGod the Son, God in flesh. John used simple language and simple images to present Christ to his readers. Young and inexperienced readers can understand the stories John told. But the truths presented by John are mysteries that have led scholars to years of study and thought. John presented his readers with a clear choice. Each of us must choose either faith or unbelief, either spiritual life or eternal deatheither light or darkness. Application to Students Most students love Christmas. It is a break from school, a chance to see family they may not see at other times of the year, and a chance to be showered with gifts. Many families have traditions that teenagers love being a part of. Favorite foods are a part of the fun for them as well. In all the celebration, however, students may lose the relevance of the coming of Christ. A big news story this year involved an atheist being granted permission to place a treatise denouncing all religion next to a nativity scene in the state capitol of Washington. Reporting on a survey, one news anchor announced that even professed atheists had railed against the posted sign, saying that they loved Christmas. They loved the festivities, but they missed the point. This year, as you teach your students about Christmas, help them to reclaim the mystery, the wonder, the amazing impossibility of God becoming flesh. Help them to celebrate Christ . . . in the traditions, the gifts, and the food.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Christmas Light
John 1:1-14 The Point: God came into the world in flesh in the person of Jesus to reconcile the world to God. Teaching Goal: Students will celebrate Christ as the true light of the world. Leader Bible Study Matthew and Luke both begin their gospel story with the human family lineage of Jesus. They emphasize the miraculous birth of Christ. Mark began his gospel with John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. John, however, reaches back to the beginning of history. Jesus did not begin at birth. Jesus is from the beginning. This may be a strange place to begin at Christmas, but this is one of the clearest teachings of the true meaning of Christmas: God became flesh and was the light of the world.

Gods Eternal Son John 1:1-3 The startling beginning of Johns gospel account parallels the beginning of GenesisIn the beginning . . . John probably intended the parallel. His gospel reaches back to creation and places Jesus Christ as already present with God. The Word is a fascinating way for John to describe Jesus. Gods Word had great meaning for Jews. It was the agent by which God spoke the world into existence. In fact, the Old Testament spoke of the Word of God in almost personal terms. For example, Psalm 107:20 says of God, He sent forth his word and healed them. (See also Is. 55:1011.) John presented Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the Jewish understanding of the Word of God. However, John wrote, at least in part, to a audience with Greek background. Word had significance in Greek thinking as well. In Stoic thought, the Word was the reason that permeated the universe and determined how everything was held together. In startling terms, John identified the Word, Jesus, as God. Through the ages, some have wanted to identify Jesus as having the spark of the divine in much the same way each person is created as a child of Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

God. That is clearly NOT what John is saying. He certainly could have made that point, but the Greek language John uses is clear. John was identifying Jesus, who he called the Word, as being in nature God. In saying this, John challenged Jewish thought and introduced one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith. Consider: Teenagers are developing the ability to do critical thinking. How can you help the students in your class wrestle with the idea of the nature of Christ (fully human and fully God) and, at the same time, affirm this as a deep mystery of the universe? John presents Jesus as active with God in creation. Jesus was the very agent of creation: Through him all things were made.

God Gives Light John 1:4-9 When John said that in Christ was life, he was affirming not only that Jesus possessed life but that he brought true life into the world. John then offered an image for Christ that would have been meaningful to both Jew and Greek: light. In the beginning, God created light. The Word of God is described as light. Light was an indication of scriptural truth for the Jew. For the Greek, however, light was also meaningful. Light was a picture of wisdom or of morality. Christmas is about light. The Old Testament prophets envisioned the coming of the Messiah as light entering into darkness. (For example, see Isaiah 9:2.) John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, took on the role of the forerunner of the coming Messiah. He testified that Jesus was the light. Light and darkness are not equal opposites. Greek philosophy accepted a dualism that saw light and darkness as opposing forces that were constantly at battle. A little light dispels the darkness. Darkness does not overcome light. Darkness can only exist in the absence of light. John presents the world as dark, lacking truth and wisdom. Into a dark and pain-ridden world, the light of Christ came. Pray: If your students are dwelling in darkness, their greatest need is light. Pray that Christ would illumine the lives of your students this Christmas season.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

God Came Near John 1:10-14 Since the fall of humanity in Adam, people have been blinded to God. When Jesus came the people he created world did their Creator. Consider: While Christ is not with us in flesh, he is at work in our world by his Spirit. How well do we recognize him today? Why are people still blind to Christ? When John said that Christ came to his own, he is probably referring to his chosen people, the Jews. God had spoken clearly to them over the course of centuries. He had given them the law, which should have helped them to see his character. He had given them the prophets who spoke of Gods heart. As strange as it seems, when God took on human flesh and came to the people he had related to for so long, they rejected him. Despite the failure of the people of God to recognize him in the person of Jesus Christ, everyone who welcomed himJew, Greek, man, woman, slave, or freewas give the right to become Gods children. By right, John meant that they had a claim as heirs to the Father. Children born of natural descent refers to natural birth and probably indicates the Jews who were born as people of God. Human birth, however, would not be enough to secure a person a claim as Gods heir; those who would be his children were those born of God. It may seem more natural to talk about the message of salvation at Easter than at Christmas, but Christmas was always about Gods work to save people from their sins. God took on human flesh. This was a shock to Greeks who believed that all flesh was evil. He lived (the phrase literally means that he pitched his tent) with us. God was present with the Jews in the tabernacle (the tent of meeting) in the Old Testament (Ex. 33:7). In Jesus his presence was clearer. Jesus revealed to us the full glory of God. God is radiant with glory. When Moses spoke with God, his face shown so brightly that the Hebrews could not bear to look at him. Jesus was the full revelation of the glory of God. That is Christmas. When people were lost in darkness, confused by the law, deaf to the call of God, Jesus came as God in flesh. He revealed God to us. And though we rejected him and put him to death, by his death he made a way for us to become children of God. Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Consider: Your students are probably celebrating at Christmas, but are they celebrating the stuff they will receive under the tree? Or are they celebrating Christ?

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

10

Christmas Light
John 1:1-14 The Point: God came into the world in flesh in the person of Jesus to reconcile the world to God. Teaching Goal: Students will celebrate Christ as the true light of the world. Preparation: Step 1: On separate pieces of card stock write: Albuquerque, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas. Bring a timer and a blindfold. Step 4: copies of the worksheet, pencils Step 5: Bring strands of cheap Christmas lights and tape or something to hang the lights with. Bring Christmas music and a music player. Bring food and drink. Bring a small gift for each student like a candy cane.

Lesson Plan Traveling at Christmas (10 minutes) In a sentence: Students arrange cities into various orders which becomes harder for one who is blindfolded.
1.

Ask students how many of them are traveling for Christmas. Then say: I am planning a trip to visit my loved ones. I have an aunt in Albuquerque, NM; a brother in Boston, MA; a cousin in Cleveland, OH; my dad in Dallas, TX. Tell them you need some help planning the trip to see all your loved ones. Enlist a volunteer. Show them the cards on which you have written the cities to which you will travel. Explain that you will tell the volunteer how to arrange the cities. Allow the rest of the class to help them. Once they have the order right, they will tell you your trip itinerary including the people you will visit. (For example, if you said, Plan the trip from east to west, they would put them in order and say: First you will see your brother in Boston, then your cousin in Cleveland, then your friend in Fayetteville, then Eddie in El Paso, then your dad in Denver, and finally your aunt in Albuquerque.) Tell them you will time them to see how quickly they can arrange your trip. Mix the cards up and allow other volunteers to arrange your trip. Give them a different way to order the cards (Possibilities: west to eastA, Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

11

D, C, B; north to southC, B, D, A; alphabetically by cityA, B, C, D; alphabetically by stateM, A, C, D; number of letters in the nameB and D, C, A; proximity to your location.) Keep track of the time it takes each student to complete the task. Finally, ask for one more volunteer. Tell her you want her to arrange your trip by the closest blood relation to you (the closest to you genetically; B, D, A, C). However, put a blindfold on her before she begins. Allow other students to help her as she attempts to complete the task. When she finishes, compare her time with the others. Say: Why did it take you longer to accomplish the task than it took other students? (She couldnt see.) Explain that she was in the dark and light obviously makes a big difference in being able to see what you are doing. Ask: How is Christmas like turning on the lights? (Jesus is the light of the world; he gives us light to live.)

Light to the World (10 minutes) In a sentence: Students will imagine what it was like for the disciples to see the glory of Jesus revealed.
2.

Ask students to open their Bibles to John 1. Tell them that this may seem like a funny passage to study at Christmas because John doesnt talk about mangers, angels, wise men, or a star in the sky. Explain: Johns description of Christmas is a little bit different, but he gives us a clear picture of the first Christmas light. Ask them to read along with you as you read verses 1-3. Explain that John used Word as a name for Jesus here. Ask them: Why do you think he chose that word? (Word meant a lot to the Jews. By Gods word, he spoke the world into existence. The Old Testament said that Gods word will accomplish the purpose for which he spoke it. For the Greeks word was used to describe the wisdom of the world that explained everything from the existence of the world to their moral behavior. Pretty good description of who Jesus was.) Read John 1:4-9 and ask students to count how many times the word light is used. Ask: Why do you think John used light to describe Jesus? (Light was used in the Greek world to indicate wisdom. For Jews, the word of God had been described as light. See Psalm 119.) Explain that at the time Jesus came, the Jewish people were occupied by Rome. The religious leaders focused on the tiniest implication of the law; the result was that religion made people feel worthless, not loved by God. Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

12

It was truly a time of darkness. Explain that Jesus brought something fresh: forgiveness of sins, the love of God, and freedom that comes from within. Ask a volunteer to read John 1:10-14. Explain that John the Baptist was like a herald sent to announce the coming of the kingdom of God. Ask students to define glory. (Students may struggle to define it. Help them to see that Gods glory is his goodness, his worth, and his holiness.) Ask students what it meant for Jesus to have the glory of God. (This statement equated him with God. He had the glory of God because he was God.) Help students to see that the coming of Christ was like a radiant light. The coming of Christ changed everything.

Darkness v. Light (10 minutes, Student Leadership) In a sentence: Students discuss what is dark in their world and how Jesus can bring light to that area.
3.

Distribute the worksheet. Ask students to brainstorm what is dark about their world. (Ideas might include suicide, violence, war, sexual permissiveness and perversion, selfishness, greed.) As students suggest ideas, ask them to list them on the worksheet. Ask them (as a group or in smaller groups of two or three) to write a statement opposite the statement they have about darkness that describes how Jesus brings light. (Next to suicide, they might write Jesus brings hope. Next to violence, they might write, Jesus brings peace and love. Next to war, they might write, Jesus gives wisdom and peace.) After you have discussed each of the ways Jesus brings light in darkness, ask: Since Jesus came to earth and does all of these things, why is there still darkness? As you discuss this, help students to see that the world is still fallen and still consumed by sin. However, when people turn to Jesus in faith, it is like the turn on a light. Explain: That is what we celebrate at Christmas: Jesus Christ brings light into the darkness for everyone who places his or her faith in him.

Celebrating Light (20 minutes) In a sentence: Students will consider the disciples walk down the mountain as they walk outside.
4.

Bring out the Christmas lights and tell students: Lets celebrate the light. Ask students to hang the Christmas lights around the room. Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

13

Suggest that they try to come up with a way to hang the lights that is a celebration of the light of Jesus. Encourage them to be creative. Create a party atmosphere as they work. Bring out food and drinks. Give each student a small gift, like a candy cane. Play some Christmas music. After they finish hanging the lights and everyone has gotten food and drink, ask them to pray a one sentence prayer: God, this week I am going to celebrate Christmas by . . .

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

14

Christmas Light
Student Leadership
This sheet is for the use of a student leader for developing part of the lesson. Personal Bible Study Read John 1:1-14 two or three times. Light and darkness are not equal opposites. Greek philosophy saw light and darkness as equal opposing forces that were constantly at battle. A little light dispels the darkness. Darkness does not overcome light. Darkness can only exist in the absence of light. John presents the world as dark, lacking truth and wisdom. Into a dark and pain-ridden world, the light of Christ came. The greatest need of people dwelling in darkness is light. Pray that Christ would illumine the lives of students this Christmas season. Teach Prepare to lead this learning activity when the lead teacher tells you to. Pray that God will use you to make a difference with the students in your group. Darkness v. Light (10 minutes, Student Leadership) Distribute the worksheet. Ask students to brainstorm what is dark about their world. (Ideas might include suicide, violence, war, sexual permissiveness and perversion, selfishness, greed.) As students come up with ideas, ask them to list them on the worksheet. Then, ask them (as a group in or smaller groups of two or three) to write a statement opposite the statement they have about darkness that describes how Jesus brings light. (Next to suicide, they might write Jesus brings hope. Next to violence, they might write, Jesus brings peace and love. Next to war, they might write, Jesus gives wisdom and peace.) After you have discussed each of the ways Jesus brings light in darkness, ask: Since Jesus came to earth and does all of these things, why is there still darkness? As you discuss this, help students to see that the world is still fallen and still consumed by sin. However, when people turn to Jesus in faith, it is like the turn on a light. Explain: That is what we celebrate at Christmas: Jesus Christ brings light into the darkness for everyone who places his or her faith in him.

Christmas Light
Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

15

Christmas Light
A STUDY OF JOHN 1:1-14
Memory Verse In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:4

LIgHT v. DArkNeSS
How is your world dark?

List ways is your world is dark. Then write how the light of Jesus addresses each area of darkness.

How does Jesus deal with our darkness?

Daily Bible reading for This Week: Monday: John 1:1-14 Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25 Wednesday: Matthew 2:1-12 Thursday: Matthew 2:13-18 Friday: Luke 1:26-38 Saturday: Luke 1:46-56 Sunday: Luke 2:1-20

CHriSTMaS LigHT Copyright 2008 by Paul Kelly. all rights reserved. Used by permission.