Witnesses to Jesus is a three-part series of studies exploring the meaning of "witness" in the Gospel of Luke and portions of Acts. The series is designed to strengthen believers as witnesses to Jesus.
This is the introduction for part 1, Luke 1-9. Click here to go to part 2. Click here for part 3. May God give your small group rich and rewarding insights as you study his Word together!
Picture a scientist going about some great work. He or she is searching for the cure for some horrible disease, or making some marvelous new discovery. First the scientist digs for facts, looking deeply, studying carefully, investigating every clue, relentlessly hunting for any and every fact that will make the discovery deeper, richer, and more accurate.
That is the approach these studies will take with the Gospel of Luke. In these studies we are going to look at Jesus through the eyes of those who actually witnessed him, and then told their story. That is what a witness is: a person who sees or experiences something, then tells others what he or she has seen. In these studies we are going to look at a wide and interesting variety of witnesses-witnesses who have experienced Jesus and share what they have seen. First we'll look deeply at what they say, and then we'll draw our own conclusions.
These studies will use the inductive method, a way of looking into the text for the facts, then pondering what they mean, and then considering what they mean for our situation today. And what could be more important! One of the most profound things in life is to think about God, our relationship with God, and the meaning of life and truth. That is what we will be investigating in these studies as we look at these witnesses of Jesus and what they have to say to us.
Luke is the author of this Gospel as well as the book of Acts. With these two books he actually wrote one fourth of the New Testament! Luke was the only Gentile New Testament writer and was a man of broad sympathies. He noticed and wrote about groups usually neglected by the cultures of his day: women, children, the sick, the poor, outcasts and foreigners. He points to Jesus' great interest in all kinds of people. Luke was also an educated man, a doctor and a historian. And, like the scientist described above, he was very careful with his facts, describing incidents with historical accuracy and using a rich vocabulary. His reporting is orderly and accurate.
The Gospel of Luke is a fascinating account of Jesus and those who witnessed his life. Luke does not present the facts about Jesus as a statistical report but as a story. He tells in an interesting, accurate and reliable way the story of Jesus and what that story means for us. May God give your small group rich and rewarding insights as you study his Word together!
Notes for the Discussion Leader
You can help your group get the most out of these studies by presenting some guidelines for effective discussion just before you get into the passage. Here are some you can mention:
- Approach the Bible as you would any good primary source: be open to learn.
- Let the text speak for itself rather than depending on something you've heard or read about it.
- Expect the text, rather than the leader, to answer questions that come up.
- Stay in the passage. On occasion, when background information is necessary, the study guide may refer the group to another passage. But that is the only time to go out of the passage. Don't go off on tangents into different passages.
- Stay on the point under discussion.
- Keep in mind that each person's part in the discussion helps the group to learn more. People who talk easily in discussion can provide for quieter people to contribute also. God can use what each one says to help the rest of us. And we can honor each other by listening to each other.
- Begin and end on time.
The second time the group meets, it may be helpful to run lightly over these guidelines again.
The questions in this guide are for your use in preparing and leading. (Note: helpful leader's notes are in italics throughout the guide.) Put the questions into your own words if you'd like, yet try to stay within the intent of each question.Become so familiar with the questions that you won't be looking down at your page all the time. Have your own written responses handy as you lead the study. Since the questions are based on the construction of the passage, they will lead the group to major teachings. Decide how much discussion time each group of questions is worth. This will help you pace the discussion.
Make sure that each study ends with one or two questions of application, even if that means watching the clock and leaving out a few of the suggested questions.
Note: It is easier for study and discussion if everyone has the same version of the Bible. The New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) are good and popular versions of the Bible and any one of them would be accurate and reliable to use together. The questions in these studies are based on the NRSV text.
Throughout the series of discussions, pray for the members of your group-that they'll be prepared and open for the study-discussion, and that God would speak powerfully to them as they dig into his Word together.
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this article provided this permission notice, and the copyright notice below are preserved on all copies. © 1995 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA. All rights reserved.
Many thanks to those who gave valuable feedback in the writing and editing of these studies: the Iowa staff team led by Lindsay Olesberg, Beth Krysl, Judy Johnson, Fred Neubert, Shelley Soceka, Glen Ewart, Nancy Fox, Suzy Gaeddert, Scott Eddlemon, Ann Beyerlein, Bob Wolniak, Paula Esealuka, John Seiders and Donna Snow. - Bob Grahmann