You brave soul. Good for you! We can tackle this beautiful book together. How?
For each chapter, there’s a corresponding schedule, a plan to keep us on track. Sermons are linked for easy online access, or you can print the whole thing out if you enjoy manually checking off calendar squares as much as I do. As we wade deeper in, I’ll post chapter summaries of favorite quotes, questions, resources, and aha moments. Get acquainted with the landing page; it will be your best friend.
Here’s the checklist we’ll be working through in exploring John’s gospel and an explanation for each:
__ Scripture writing
Scripture writing is less about gaining information and more about familiarizing yourself with the text and practicing truth. A pen in my hand creates a kind of muscle memory, and transcribing the Bible onto a fresh sheet of paper does something more than simply gliding my eyes along the words could. My go-to method for this step is to copy the passage using first the ESV and then The Message (though if you prefer a different translation or only one rather than two, that’s completely fine).
Studying includes reading the notes at the bottom of your study Bible and following the cross-references throughout the passage. Using the inductive approach of observation (the basic research questions of who’s writing, why he’s writing, to whom, when, and where), interpretation (the author’s intended meaning for the original audience), and application (God’s invitation to change what we are to do/be/believe as a result of the text) gives a great foundation for the rest of the steps.
Commentaries are phenomenal resources by people with much bigger brains than mine. They’ve put incredible amounts of energy into studying culture, history, and original language. I personally love the perspectives of Puritan Matthew Henry (available free online here) and Gospel Coalition founder D.A. Carson. If you prefer another commentary, feel free to swap it out on the days I’ve marked “Matthew Henry” or “D.A. Carson.”
Because Scripture is central to kingdom life, pastors have been teaching through its specific books since the early church. Despite his drama a few years ago, Mark Driscoll is my favorite preacher. I appreciate his huge amount of excitement and careful treatment of the Word. And John MacArthur is a legend, so it would be heinous to not include him. Again, it’s okay if you’d rather absorb another pastor’s sermons on these days. As long as you’re listening to solid exegetical teaching, you’re fine.
Journaling gets the passage out of theory and into your own junk. While I enjoy the Community Bible Reading Journal, any spiral notebook would do. Break each page into the ACTS formula: how does the passage inspire you to adore God? to confess your sin? to thank Jesus for His redemptive work? to give supplication, asking for the Spirit’s unique work in you? How could you process this text so that it assimilates into your day-to-day being?
Meditating on the Word brings us to a close. We’ve dug deep. Now it’s time to let Scripture dig deeply into us. Chewing on a single verse over an extended time allows it to wiggle past the comfort zone and settle in for the long term. For a more in-depth look at how to meditate, read this post. As with all of the other aspects, you can switch what I’m choosing to meditate on for a verse that is more meaningful to you.
A few closing notes: I’ve left Sundays open for rest or catch-up, whichever your soul needs more during any given week. The choice to study alone before referencing commentaries or sermons was deliberate—it allows for more expansive personal growth. Finally, this is just my preferred way of Scripture immersion (and honestly, it’s the most intense I’ve ever tried). It might not float your boat. There are tons of approaches to Bible study (see 15 here and 15 others here), so you can substitute any or all of my ideas with whatever works best for you. The important thing is that you get into the Word so that it can get into you.
I’d also highly recommend reading all the way through before starting. It’s nice to get a big-picture view here at the beginning. To really get the most out of your experience, pack some snacks and take the whole book in at one go in a scenic location. Plan for about two hours. Tally ho!