BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES:
FOLLOW ME: MEETING JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
AUGUST 2018- DECEMBER 2018
Participants responded to the following 3 questions:
1)How has the Bible Study, “Follow Me: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John” helped you to experience the joy of a
renewed friendship with Christ?
2) In what way(s) did this study help you to deepen your understanding of John’s Gospel? (things you learned that
you didn’t know before, understanding a chapter/verse differently from the way you had before this study, etc.)
3) Would you recommend Bible Study to others?
Larry: 1) It deepened my appreciation for Christ’s love for me and us by a close, detailed review of the way he has & continues to love us. 2) It underlined Christ’s deity. Reading John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the word…” took on new meaning. I never equated “the Word” to Christ. 3) Yes – each time I’ve participated in the Bible Study, I’ve learned more – understood more and got a fuller appreciation for the studied material.
Erin: 1) I learned the meaning of true “discipleship” and what Christ intended for His apostles and us. 2) A better understanding of each miracle Jesus performed and the meaning behind each one. I had read or heard them in scripture many times, but never truly understood them. 3) Absolutely! The friendship and fellowship make the Bible Study that much more meaningful. It is just a fantastic way to explore our faith even further.
Barbara: 1) Take-aways: *Our relationships with others are opportunities to reflect our love for God. *John took the humble stance before Jesus, that Jesus took before the Father giving us a model of humility and surrender. * The New Commandment – Love redefined: Love unconditionally…, Love with humility…Love inclusively, ...Stand in the current of a continuous flow of love in and out (receive & give) Barbara 2) I particularly loved the discussions of God’s forgiveness & healing, especially the idea of allowing His mercy to transform us. 3) Yes, the study has been inspirational in ways that can be incorporated into daily life…knowing that God meets us where we are, and only asks that we pay His love forward.
Margaret: 1) This was my first Bible Study group at St. Bernard. 2) There were some different ways of looking at some of the scripture verses. I like that! It was also good to learn some background. 3) Maybe – it depends on the topic. I did like skipping a week in between so I had time to do the homework.
Julie: 1) The Bible Study has helped me to understand Jesus’ actions while on earth – especially waiting two days to raise Lazarus from the dead. Also understanding why Jews disliked Samaritans & how important meeting the women at the well was for Jesus showing forgiveness. 2) The idea behind Jesus saying “Women” to this mother at the wedding feast at Cana for foreshadowing the miracles & events leading up to His crucifixion. 3) Yes – it was so informative both from a religious & historical viewpoint. The presentation was very easy to follow and made the study very interesting.
Catherine: 1) It brought me more understanding. I have not read the Bible, so I enjoyed and learned more details than whatever I have heard at church for decades (“resigned faith: John 6:66 eucharist. 3) Yes.
Sue: 1) John’s Gospel is full of examples of Jesus’ love for us. I can feel his love in his service, his suffering, and his death for me. My friendship and love of Jesus has grown by following him through the Gospel of John. 2) My understanding of Jesus’ command, “Love others as I have loved you.” has grown. I am now more aware of the power of the Holy Spirit as I love others as Jesus did. He will guide me to love others even when I feel they are unworthy of my love. The Holy Spirit will share some way for me to follow Jesus commandments. 3) Yes! For me, I feel a deeper relationship with Jesus from my experiences in Bible Study.
Brenda: 1) Making Sunday holier because I do the homework on Sunday. I would recommend Bible Study to others.
Peter: 1) It was not as in-depth as our 1st Bible Study of John. Never-the-less it was very enjoyable. 2) Good comparison of John vs the synoptic Gospels. 3) Yes – I always recommend more Bible Study.
Fran: 1) This study helped me have a far greater understanding of a Gospel that I always found harder to understand than the other synoptic Gospels. I was able to take the imagery and examine how it applied to my life. I found that there were several times when I felt the Gospel was speaking to me about current things in my life, which brought me closer to Christ. 2) The thing that had a powerful impact on me was Dr. Sri’s videos. They provided a very clear explanation of so many things I had misinterpreted. It made reading the Gospel of John far more powerful and relatable. 3) I would absolutely recommend the Bible Study to others! Loved the new format of having access to the videos from home!
Celinda: 1) Through the group interactions. 2) During a challenging time, I had the support of my group. 3) Yes
Lorraine: 1) I thought, “The Bible” can be overwhelming because it is the Word of God. But this particular Bible Study opened so many areas of dialogue, not just in our group, but I was able to share with some friends, not all Catholic, and they found it very interesting how the history played a role as well as the geographic location, and why they were both meaningful. 2) The marriage feast of Cana when Jesus addresses Mary as “Woman”, understanding that by Jesus performing this miracle the timeline begins moving toward the Cross - must have been heartbreaking for Mary, but she had faith & trust. 3) Yes – not until you experience the actual stories and the history involved are you actually in the Bible. Edward Sri made each session like a miniseries explaining and expressing the Word of God through John in a way so comfortable it makes the Bible enticing.
Anthony: 1) I felt an Epiphany understanding of John. I felt close to Christ the way John writes, 2) The consensus is that John is a more easily understandable and easily relatable. 3) Without a doubt this process is the most expedient & thorough way for novices to immerse themselves to understand the new & especially having the group to comment.
Sherry: 1) Studying the Bible always helps me to gain insight into that part of the Bible and this was no different. I am in friendship with Christ and feel much joy and love when I meet him in the Bible 2) I love the Gospel of John and this study made my personal relationship with Jesus all the more meaningful. 3) Yes, it has helped me grow in my faith and in fellowship with other parishioners
Linda: 1) I loved how each lesson pointed out two aspects of Jews to us, and delved into those in certain stories and signs (trust, Surrender, forgiveness, Mercy, self-giving love, etc.) These points really enriched my relationship with Jesus because they helped me encounter Him in a deeper, more personal way. 2) From the beginning of the study connections were made between OT and NT or various Gospels that I never thought of. ( ex. 1: OT verse in John “ In the beginning was the word” I saw a lot more - that Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises from the beginning.) (ex.2: OT verse “Love your neighbor as yourself”: This became elevated to “Love one another as I have Loved you” which Jews commanded: a much more powerful fulfilling command. 3) Yes definitely – to know God and have a close relationship with Him you must study His Holy Word. This study certainly helped me to get to know Jesus and God more intimately and to see the most overwhelming love He has for us. This is because I did this study.
Al: 1) Previous Bible study dealt mainly with the historic elements of the OT and NT, and the correlation between them, especially regarding the birth, life, and death of Jesus. This Bible Study actually dealt with our own interaction and life with Jesus. 2) It opened my eyes and heart to the fact that all of us in His church are actually disciples of Jesus. I see clearly now, how I can, and must, abide in Jesus, and accept His love for me through the Holy Spirit. I need to concentrate on humility, and pass on the forgiveness and mercy Jesus has given to all of us. I will try to carry on every day keeping Mary in my mind as the example of a perfect disciple. 3) Yes. Reading the Bible is important, but without studying the Bible, much is not completely or correctly understood. A necessary element of ”Reading the Bible” includes Bible Study classes.
Jean: 1) I will certainly understand John’s Gospel better when it’s read at Mass. I could never have made the connections (e.g. signs = miracles; Lazarus bound” = unbinding (refers to absolution at Confession), etc.) that Dr. Sri on the videos, and authors from years of studying this Gospel made. 2) It helped me to understand God’s love for us, and what he meant about how we should love one another. It also helped me to understand the role of the Holy Spirit and sanctifying Grace better 3) Yes – people interpret different passages in different ways and it’s good to know about others’ interpretations.
Anon. 1) Studying the Gospel of John with Dr. Sri and the group was like taking a Grand Tour through history – sitting with Jesus while he spoke, following Him in His travels, feeling the emotions of the Pharisees, Jews, and his following from the miracle at Cana to the end. Dr. Sri has a way of explaining Jesus’ words and actions that make it feel you’re hearing and understanding these stories for the first time. 2) I had never read the Gospel of John before. I think this was the best way to be introduced to it. Dr. Sri is a wonderful teacher (though he talks too fast). I learned so much from his explanations and the Group discussion. 3) For Sure!
Jean 1) I am getting to know Jesus in a more personal way, and his obedience, love and devotion to God and to us. 2) It was insightful the way Jesus encountered the various individuals: “Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well” was about the openness & readiness for God. “The Healing of the Official’s Son” was about faith and Trust. “The Paralyzed Man” was lack of trust. I learned what it takes to be a true disciple and the meaning of the words agape and philia. 3) Yes
Marie: 1) Connecting the dots of a lot of things I knew, but didn’t fully understand. 2) I had “the Gospel of John” book, and that really explained more fully what I was studying. 3) Absolutely.
Mary Ann 1) The book of John is filled with love, joy, and happiness. This was the best experience I have had in experiencing my relationship with Christ. As I continue to read my Bible daily, my life has become more joyful. I am looking forward to a brighter Christmas with family and friends. 2) The Gospel of John has always been by favorite. I is all about love, joy compassion and patience which I feel Jesus wants us to have in a world full of greed, envy, gossip, and sexuality, 3) Yes. It broadens your knowledge of the faith you already have and encourages you to want a deeper faith in allowing you to grow closer to the Holy Spirit so that you look forward to spending an eternity with God in heaven. The Bible classes at St. Bernard have been well organized and a great experience. Fr. Ellis and Fr. Rick are both excellent at preaching the word of Christ and demonstrating how to follow Him. The Bible classes at St. Bernard have been well organized and are a great experience. Fr. Rick and Fr. Ellis are both excellent at preaching the word of Christ and demonstrating how to follow him.
Anon. 1) It really got me thinking about the concept of “blind faith,” and how I can grow in this practice daily, which is sometimes easier said than done in this day and age. Really being able to dissect the unconditional love that Jesus has for us, and how we can live that way with others is something I will always try to keep at the top of my mind. 3) Yes! I think it’s a great way to dedicate time to my faith, especially in a time when life always seems hectic. This “forces” me to carve out time for my faith and God, and it’s always worth it. It’s a very welcome break from the “daily grind”! We love our group and learn so much from all of them. It is nice to get a different perspective on how other people handle situations and how they turn to and make time for God every day, and I have put some things into practice because of our group conversations.
Anon. 1) Revealed his humanity as well as being the Son of God. 2) Looking back at the O.T and its relevance to the NT gained better understanding of why the Father sent the Son and why, 3) Yes.
Lillie: 1) When listening and learning about aspects of the Bible, I find I pay more attention to prayer and God. 2) I was not well informed about culture, customs, or background of the Gospel. Dr. Sri was so well versed. He was also very passionate about his subject. 3) Yes – lot of good information and explanations. The facilitators were so well prepared and absolutely helpful. I liked the way everything was set up.
Rebecca: 1) I gained a deeper understanding f the scriptures. Bible Study helped me uncover the deeper meaning of each interaction that Jesus had with people, and how different the meaning was in relation to “person’ as a gentile, Pharisee, Sinner, etc. 2) How Lazarus rising from the dead was a prelude to Christ’s own death and resurrection; How when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well He broke all earthly/religious protocol - to speak with her - to offer forgiveness- to offer her quenching of spiritual thirst. 3) Yes, this was an excellent opportunity to learn and grow as a Christian, gaining a deeper understanding of scripture and obtaining knowledge of Biblical History. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know Jesus on a deeper and more intimate manner. Previously I felt isolated and separated but now I feel a profound sense of belonging, purpose and peace.
Dick: 1) It is a “down to earth” method of presenting truths that are very easy to compare to your own real-world experiences. 2) My answer to Question #3 applies here also. 3) Certainly.
Pat: 1) Follow Me has helped me to experience the joy of a renewed friendship with Christ by providing scriptural references from The Gospel of John containing wonderful examples of people with whom Jesus interacted. Both scriptural and Biblical History were explained. I could often visualize being part of the crowd as Jesus walked, talked, performed miracles, and explained His Father’s love and Mercy for all who would turn to Him and accept what He offers. 2) I learned that John the Baptist is a beautiful example of humility (understanding the truth about oneself) He never resented Jesus for losing his followers to Him. We were given 7 more reasons John exemplifies this trait. We learned the difference between the Greek words for love, agape (love unconditionally, totally) and philia ( poor human love )used by Jesus 3 times, when He asks Peter if he Loves Him., Every session provided examples like these which helped to deepen my friendship with Jesus and my understanding of John’s Gospel. And at each session, listening to Dr Sri describe a particular scriptural passage, I’d think to myself “Wow, I never looked at it that way, or I didn’t know the history behind that word or phrase. I plan to focus more often on specific words & phrases, and definitely ponder the meaning. 3) Absolutely – how can we explain our wonderful Catholic faith without learning as much as we can about its rich treasure of spirituality.
Anon. 1) I have come to see more clearly and deeply how much Christ loves me. I saw this in the stories of Jesus: Love forgiveness and mercy to the women & men He healed. 2) In John 5:1-15 Jesus heals a man who had been ill (-paralyzed) for 38 years. I have a better understanding of this story especially in the fact that the man showed no gratitude to Jesus. I had not realized this before. 3) Yes.
Brian 1) I liked the newer format where I could view the video in advance—it made it much easier to ‘follow Jesus’ through the Gospel of John as if I were there. 2) There are many complex biblical themes in John that the course explained in a more understandable way, especially relating to the Old Testament to see the continuity in the New Testament. 3) Yes, definitely. The group sharing was very good—everyone learned and appreciated everyone else’s comments on the scripture, which is how the Holy Spirit was working in the group.
Madeleine: 1) This Bible Study has helped me to see the inspired words of the Gospel of John in a new light Some things that weren’t really clear to me were explained by Dr. Sri in the video presentation Then the follow-up questions helped to cement the new understanding that I gained 2) I really saw the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in a new light and how Jesus’s treatment of her helped her to gain her “sight” and belief. 3) Yes, this is an excellent way to learn more about our faith. It helps with other people’s slant on the questions and answered to put things in in perspective.
Anon: 1) Session 3 “At the Well: Our Deepest Thirst” was one of my favorite chapters. Learning that no matter what I have done or not done, for I may have drifted away, If I ask for forgiveness, Jesus will always forgive me. 2) The Gospel of John is my favorite Gospel because John walked with Jesus. John had a front row seat to all of Jesus’s miracles and work 3) I would absolutely recommend Bible Study for others. We have all gone to Mass every week and heard the scripture over the many years. However, joining the Bible Study you dig so much deeper into learning about Jesus, the Bible, and the Mass. Bible Study helps you to grow as a Christian.
Marie: 1) I have experienced the many aspects of Jesus in this study: Teacher, Friend, Shepherd, Healer, His acts of Mercy and Love. All these aspects and more have brought me renewed joy in my relationship with Jesus. 2) I did not realize that the raising of Lazarus was witnessed by many people who in turn came to believe in Jesus and that this all happened just Passover. Also, it was the reason the Sanhedrin decided that Jesus must die, because they feared intervention by the Romans. 3) Yes. I have found Bible Study to be enriching for me. Scripture is so much more familiar to me.
Anon. 2) I have enjoyed all the subjects the Bible Study has presented. They deepened my understanding of the Bible.
We had interesting discussions in our group.
Becky: 1) I can only liken this to a human relationship; when someone loves me or I love them, the more time I spend with the person the more I’ve shared, or the more I learn about that person, the deeper the relationship becomes. So, I guess that’s the best way for me to express this. The joy comes from knowing Jesus more, by my love of Him and Him of Me, and sharing and experiencing my life with Him. I feel this is a very inadequate answer How can anyone adequately explain a relationship with God?! But it certainly is joyful! Renewed?... Not really, Deepened? Yes, More precious?... Yes. 2) It gave me a slightly different focus – All on Jesus which was nice. Regarding John – I tend to view this Gospel through the Eucharistic eyes, which certainly is Jesus! But I enjoyed the focus simply being on Him. 3) Yes. The information learned is great by making scripture applicable to life and enhancing my faith. Also, the fellowship in the discussion group is very nice. My faith grows when I verbalize my thoughts and when I hear the perspective of others. I also enjoy the openness and sharing of our journeys.
Anon: 1) Bible Study allowed me to spend more deliberate time pursuing a “relationship: More work to be done, but more motivation to do so, 2) I could not have grasped much of the meaning without the class, study format. 3) yes
Judy: 1) For me, the “takeaways” that were listed at the end of each video section really summed up what I got out of each chapter of John. I learned so much, but those summations are really what influenced me the most and have stayed with me. I now see Christ as someone who loves me no matter what, who has chosen me, and should I turn away from Christ, I know that he is still there…waiting…always waiting for me to return to him where he will offer me his mercy through forgiveness and healing. p. 19 “Jesus wants you to follow him as his disciple.” I learned what it means to be a "true disciple” of Christ: to imitate the master. “May every person I come in contact with look up and not see me, but Jesus radiating through me.” For myself, what could be better than this? This was my biggest takeaway which I will continuously strive for. p. 29 “God alone can satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts. No matter how far we have wandered from him, Jesus goes out of his way to meet us with mercy.” p. 41 “We are called to believe in Christ and to entrust ourselves to him. Will you believe in Christ’s words even when you do not understand them?” I have found that when I put all my trust in Jesus, I do not have to understand, I just have to have “faith” that he will always do what is in my best interests. It also reminds me of the Bible Study on Mary when she told the wine stewards to “Do whatever he tells you.” And they did exactly as he told them - even though they did not understand why they were doing it. And Mary didn’t understand many of the things that were said to her, but she entrusted herself to God and didn’t question, but “pondered.” p. 65 “The Law of Self-giving: When we give of ourselves to others, we find true happiness.” We will find ourselves to the extent that we give of ourselves. I have found that when I do something for someone and it comes from my heart, there is no greater feeling in the world. 2. Every chapter, every verse(!) in the Gospel of John seems to have deeper meaning than what is on the surface. And that is exactly why I enjoy these Bible studies. Without these classes, I would be missing the underlying meaning of the Word. 3. Yes, absolutely. Because E V E R Y O N E should have the opportunity to learn more about their faith and live a happier, more fulfilling, joy-filled life!!!
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Mary Frances Berstene