Post Author: Tim Chilvers

Tim Chilvers is the Senior Pastor at Riverside Church.
September 19, 2021
Jesus | S1: The Real Jesus

Teaching Series Introduction:

One man changed history more than any other. Our calendar is based on his life. Our symbols of hope are based on his death… but do we really know who he is?

Session 1: The Real Jesus

TITLE: Session 1: The Real Jesus
BY: Tim Chilvers
DATE: 19 Sep 2021

Jesus has changed history. Whether we like it or not. And yet, today, still people question whether he really existed or not.

Luke Chapter 1, verse 1 – Something happened…
Luke Chapter 1, verse 2 – People saw it…
Luke Chapter 1, verse 3 – What do you make of it…
Luke Chapter 1, verse 4 – What do you rely on…?

These resources will be used within the various groups in-person on a Sunday morning. This means that if you are unable to attend one of our Sunday Gatherings, you can still study and follow along with the same material at a time that is best for you. However you study, we encourage you to engage with your group as much as possible. If you would like to know about how you can get connected with our children’s or youth groups please contact us, we would love to hear from you.


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Study Questions

There are three different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are exploring God’s word within your Life Group, in other group settings, or simply using them on your own.


These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others in your group):

  1. What did you make of the talk? Was there anything that particular connected or resonated with you? Why?

  2. Was there anything in the talk that you disagreed with/struggled with or weren’t sure about?

  3. What changes might you make as a result of the talk?


These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:

  1. What do you think the average person in our society thinks of Jesus? What do you think that is?

  2. Read Luke 1:1-4.  These opening words of Luke’s gospel tell us lots of important information. What strikes you?

  3. What is Luke’s approach as he writes? What is important about this?

  4. No one really knows who Theophilus was, but he was clearly important (‘most excellent Theophilus’) and probably a Greek citizen, due to his name. What might this have to show us about the Jesus that is deceived in Luke’s gospel?

  5. “I didn’t become a Christian because I could argue myself into it. I became a Christian because I knew, suddenly, that it was true….The story I had heard a thousand times turned out to be a story I had never heard at all.” (‘The Cross and the Machine’ by Paul Kingsnorth) How easy do you find it to get sidetracked by the ‘trappings’ of Christianity and forget the simple truth at the heart of the gospel? What aspects about Jesus might you need to rediscover?

  6. In verse 4, Luke writes that he he wants Theophilus to ‘know the certainty of the things you have been taught’. During the pandemic, there have been a number of things in life that we have presumed were ‘certain’, but now have discovered that they weren’t trustworthy. Can you name some? And how does the certainty about Jesus give you hope as we come out of the pandemic?

  7.   Take some time to pray, asking that you would catch a glimpse of just how incredible Jesus is. 


These are questions to help you go a little deeper, by exploring the wider biblical context. 

  1. Some people in our society think that Jesus is just a ‘legend’ or that we can’t know too much about him. How would you answer that?

  2. Read Luke 1:1-4. Why do you think Luke describes the manner in which he writes? What is so important about ‘showing his workings’ for us as we read it?

  3. In v2, Luke describes the eyewitnesses as ‘servants of the word‘. He is not trying to make a clever point, but simply trying to remind us that the earliest followers of Jesus devoted their lives to – and in many cases were willing to die for –  spreading the message about Jesus. Why do you think this snippet of information is so important? What does it tell Theophilus, and us, about the revolutionary nature of what Luke is talking about? 

  4. Read Luke 24:25-27. In this passage Jesus has just revealed himself after his resurrection, and he then explains how the Old Testament is all about him. If you add this to Luke 1:1-4, what picture do we build about Jesus? Why do you think that so many people today, then, choose to simply ignore Jesus?

  5. Read Acts 1:1-3. In a sense, the book of Luke and Acts go together as one long account of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ongoing impact. Regardless of whether someone would call themselves a Christian, one thing is clear –  something incredible happened that cannot be ignored. It was something that people saw with their own eyes; that people were willing to die for in spite of huge pressure not to; that changed history to the point that, even 2 millennia later, the very fabric of our calendar and moral systems are defined by it; and that has given billions of people  hope in every culture through history. What truths about Jesus do you hope to rediscover?

  6. The comedian Lee Mack, on the radio show Desert Island Discs, once said this about the Bible: “I’m glad you get the Bible, because I would read the Bible. I think it’s quite odd that people like myself, in their forties, quite happy to dismiss the Bible, but I’ve never read it. I always think that if an alien came down and you were the only person they met, and they said, ‘What’s life about? What’s earth about? Tell us everything,’ and you said, ‘Well, there’s a book here that purports to tell you everything. Some people believe it to be true; some people do not believe it to be true.’ ‘Wow, what’s it like?’ and you go, ‘I don’t know, I’ve never read it.’ It would be an odd thing wouldn’t it? So, at the very least, read it.” When was the last time you read through a whole gospel? 

  7. Take some time to pray, asking God to help you be transfixed and transformed by the one who is described in Luke’s gospel as the cause of ‘great joy for everyone’ (2:10). 

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Riverside is a church made up of people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences all with one thing in common, our discovery of God and his amazing love. 

We are on a journey together to ‘help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers’. 

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