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Related Bible reading(s): John 12.20-33

Bible study on John 12.20-33

This study can be used by a small family/ household group, or by an online group, or – sometimes with a little adaptation - by an individual.

See our Guidelines for a weekly Bible study

Begin with an opening prayer

Lord of all,
we thank you for giving your all
to include us in your love.
Help us to follow your example,
and to take up our cross and follow you.
Make us ready to receive and welcome all who come to us,
so that they too ‘may see Jesus’.


Read the passage

Consider different ways to read the text. For example, hearing it in more than one version of the Bible.

In an online group, you could share parts between those present, or use/adapt this week’s Share the Word suggestion: Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to Share the Word and scroll down to find the Gospel reading.


Explore and respond to the text

Start by reading the Bible notes below. You may want to read them more than once, or pause after each paragraph to reflect on what you have read.


Bible notes

Among the first disciples called by Jesus were Andrew, who brought his brother Simon Peter with him, and Philip, who brought Nathanael (1.35-51). When Jesus asked Philip about bread for 5,000 people, Andrew replied that there was a boy with loaves and fish (6.5-9). This companionship emerges again as Philip consults Andrew about the Greeks, perhaps Gentile God-fearers such as Cornelius, Lydia and Titius Justus in Acts (10.1-2; 16.14; 18.7), who ask to see Jesus. Philip and Andrew tell Jesus about them, and what Jesus says about the significance of his death anticipates the mission to the Gentiles, the means by which he ‘will draw all people to myself’. As a seed ‘dies’ to bear fruit, as renouncing worldly ambition is realising lasting virtues, so Jesus’ dying and rising are as one in the single hour of his being lifted up, on the cross and in glory. In Jesus’ faithfulness to death, the Father’s love of humanity and the Son’s love of God shine together most brightly, making visible ‘the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth’ (1.14). This hour, of his being lifted up to draw all people to himself, is an anticipation of the mission of Jesus’ followers to bring many to believe (17.20-24). Their task includes their reflection on the Scriptures, their remembering Jesus, and their worship of the risen Christ (see 2.22; 12.16; 20.8-9). Indeed, this leads to the writing of the Gospel ‘so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name’ (20.31).

See also:

Hardwired for story

Arnold Browne discusses
Lent storytelling with
Joel Denno.



Spend a few moments thinking about what stands out for you from the Bible reading. This idea may help.

The Greeks in Jerusalem for the Passover are attracted by Jewish monotheism and morality but resistant to conversion and circumcision. Jesus interests them, but they must look forward to when his death and resurrection will enable everyone to do his Father’s work. Jews and Greeks will be equally welcome, no longer separated by a Temple with inner and outer courts. We know from Hebrews that it took courage for Christians, certainly Jews and probably Gentiles who found much to admire there, to let go of that Temple. Those of us who worship in churches are delighted to welcome others to share our ways. But the inner courts of our churches seem rather empty, and even those who admire Jesus’ life and respect his teaching seem content to remain in the outer courts of the world.


Questions for reflection

You may wish to use these questions and the picture to help you think about or discuss issues of sharing.


  • What does this image suggest to you?
  • If you are to welcome others, what are you carrying that may need to be put down?
  • How might you make others feel more welcome?

A simple worship activity

A reflection on love and growth.

Ask everyone to put their prepared seed in front of them (e.g. on the floor, or on the bookshelf of the pew/seat). Alternatively, ask people to sit in large circles with the beans in front of them.

Invite people to spend a few moments quietly thinking about how the bean must ‘die’ (split open, and shrivel up) in order for new growth to come. Then invite everyone to join in this responsorial prayer:

Lord, you have sown the seed of your love in our hearts.
May we welcome and nurture your love.
Calm our fears and make our prejudices fade away and die.
May we welcome and nurture your love.
Help us to open our hearts and our arms to others.
May we welcome and nurture your love.
Loving Lord, keep us in your love.
May we welcome and nurture your love, now and for ever.

Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to more activities in Explore and respond 



Adapt to your local context.

Lord God, in covenants old and new
you have held your arms open to your people.
In the arms of a baby in a manger, waving in delight at strangers from near and far,
you embraced all humanity.
On the cross, you held your arms open to the world.

God incarnate, God crucified and risen,
we praise you for all you have sacrificed to welcome us.
Help us to give up our pettiness, our selfishness,
in order to embrace others in the welcome that comes from you.


Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to find more prayers, including up-to-date intercessions in The week in focus.


A prayer to end the Bible study

Welcoming God,
thank you for the welcome that Jesus offers out of his great love for all people.
Help us to follow his example.
Teach us to consider the needs of others even when this means we must lay something down.
Bless us as we meet with others, day by day; give us a spirit of welcome and friendship.
As you welcome us, help us to welcome those to whom you send us.


Go with God 24/7

Encourage everyone to put their faith into action.

Look for opportunities to welcome others, seeking them out rather than waiting for them to seek you. For example, instead of putting food in a collecting box, take it to the food bank in person and offer words of thanks and encouragement. 


Encourage everyone to explore their faith this week with the ROOTS at home resource.

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