The book of Mark is the shortest gospel in the Bible. Mark is straight to the point and wants his audience to know the utter truth about Jesus and who He is. The very first words in Mark describe His intent, which is to portray the “gospel (or good news) of Jesus, the Son of God.”
Mark then describes the mission of the last prophet, John the Baptist, which was to prepare the way for the Savior by preaching a baptism of repentance. This would have been controversial to the Jews, who were the clean people of God and needed no washing, like the Gentiles, who needed a washing to enter the community of God. John shows us that the preaching of his baptism was symbolic of the internal work of the Holy Spirit, who accompanies the Baptism of Jesus (ie, regeneration).
Mark then portrays the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was tempted by Satan, and we know according to the other gospels, that he passed! After Jesus’ temptation, John was arrested and Jesus begins His public ministry of proclaiming the gospel, which is the only power to save!
Why is repentance and the forgiveness of sins a necessary response for salvation? How does the symbolic act of Baptism display this inward occurrence? (See also, Romans 6:1-4)
What is the difference between the baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus (See verse 8)? How does this speak to the internal work of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus overcame the temptation that was placed upon him by Satan. In other words, he didn’t sin when He was temped as we are. Are you able to overcome all the temptation that you face? Why is it good news that
Jesus never failed when He was faced with temptation?
What did Jesus mean by, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand”?
Is repentance a daily part of your life? Is preaching the gospel to yourself a daily part of your life? Why or why not?
In the last two thirds of Mark chapter 1, we see five different events that describe some of Jesus’ early Galilean ministry. These stories focus on Jesus’ authoritative teaching as well as Jesus’ authority over disease and the demonic realm. We start with John the Baptist in custody, and Jesus deciding to call upon men to become His disciples rather than continuing His ministry alone. Jesus, traveling along the bank of the Sea of Galilee, comes across two pairs of brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew, and then James and John. He charges them to follow Him, and they immediately take on the role of His disciples.
Jesus and His followers moved into Capernaum, where Jesus made His way straight to the synagogue to preach on the Sabbath. His holy presence and proclamation of truth caused a conflict with a demon-possessed man, who Jesus promptly freed from the demon’s hold. Next, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and many others late into the night. Rising early the next morning, Jesus retreats to a solitary place to pray and rejuvenate until He is interrupted by the disciples, to whom He then straightens up a misunderstanding about His purpose on Earth. Finally, Jesus is approached by a leper, a man bound by the Law of Moses to live a solitary life. Jesus feels compassion and heals the man, telling him to keep quiet about it and be reintegrated into society in the manner outlined in Leviticus, but the man disobeys and speaks freely about his healing, causing Jesus to have to move His ministry into more isolated communities.
What is the significance of the disciples immediately leaving their jobs as fisherman to follow Jesus? How was this act unusual for a Rabbi and his followers?
Why would Jesus not permit any demons to speak other than the first one who called Him by name? Why do you think He would allow the first demon to speak?
Why did Jesus touch the leper when He could have healed him with just a word. Read Leviticus 5:3. How is Jesus still perfect after breaking the Law of Moses by touching the leper? Was that a sin?
If Jesus is the Messiah, why would He not want the leper to tell people about Him? What was the issue with what the leper went around “preaching?”(See John 6:15; 7:3-6, Mark 10:43-45)
What are some examples of how do we, as Christians, impose our own opinions with good intentions onto Jesus’ commands, negatively affecting the ministry?
What is the relationship between the miracles Jesus did and the preaching He did? Was one more important the other? Why?
Continuing along in our study of the Lords ministry through the Gospel of Mark, we now reach a
portion of scripture where Jesus turns the entire framework of the Pharisees upside down. Jesus
is confronted by the religious leaders as to why John’s disciples, and the disciples of the
Pharisees fast, but His do not? (vv.18). Jesus uses the metaphor of the bridegroom and his guests
to explain why His disciples do not fast. The Pharisees, knowing God’s law on fasting would
have understood the meaning. It is in this same metaphor that we see the for the first time in
Mark, an insinuation that Christ will be put to death (vv.20). Christ’s point in all of this is that He
did not come to patch up an old structure. This was not a condemning of God’s law, but a rebuke
of the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees.
The desire of the religious leaders of the day was to place a heavier burden upon the people that
God did not intend for them to carry. At the same time, they wanted to puff themselves up to
show how “holy” they were. God’s law was given to show that we need a savior. Jesus is our
savior. He fulfilled God’s righteous requirement that we could not. His burden is easy, and His
yoke is light. Our Christians walk is not based upon the traditions of men, but upon the
foundation of Christ.
What does Jesus mean when He uses the metaphor of the Bridegroom?
Why would His disciples fast after the bridegroom was taken away from them?
John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner to proclaim the coming Messiah. Why were
John’s disciples not Jesus’ disciples?
The Jewish leaders multiplied God’s law by adding their own to it. Where God left
people free, they put them in chains. What does it mean that the Sabbath was “made for
Jesus did not come to abolish the law of God, but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17). Discuss in your
group how the law of God looks today, and functions within the lives of believers.
Jesus now continues his interaction with the religious Pharisees. This time over healing on the sabbath. The Pharisees had added to God’s law so they could outwardly conform to the requirements they had set forth, while missing the intention of God’s law and His heart for His people. Jesus unashamedly points out their flaw and the evil intentions of their hard hearts. We also see the response of the Pharisees, who have now had their hearts exposed. Their response is utter hatred towards Jesus.
Jesus knows their intentions to kill him. Thus he pulls away, but the crowds find him! His popularity has grown (Mark 1:28) and people from all over have heard about Jesus and have traveled miles to find him. They have heard of his miraculous power and his ability to heal the sick. The text is clear, these individuals are seeking Jesus for what He is doing…This should stick in our hearts like a knife. We are all guilty of seeking Jesus for what He can give us rather than seeking Him as the gift. We should be reminded that He is the treasure and the results of Him are often good gifts for His people.
In contrast with verse 8, Jesus goes up on a mountain and calls to himself His disciples (verse 13). This is a beautiful picture of God’s grace for those whom He saves. Despite ourselves and our sin, He calls His disciples to Himself. Then, just as Christ did with the twelve, He sends us out on a mission! A mission to spread His. gospel and fame. Are you doing this???
We all are like the Pharisees in this passage. We have all added requirements to God’s law in an effort to provide a measuring stick that we can attain. How have you done this? How does this oppose the gospel?
Like the large crowds in this passage seeking Jesus, many of us are guilty of seeking God for his gifts. God’s gifts are not bad, but they are not why we seek God. The gifts of God aren’t better than God himself. Describe how you have been guilty of seeking Christ for His benefits instead of seeking Christ for who He is.
Read Matthew 13:44-46. Is Jesus your treasure? Do you struggle with this?
4) Just as the Disciples were called by Christ and then sent out on a mission, so have we been called and sent. Are you living your life on a mission for Jesus? If not, why?
The Kingdom of God is here! – At this time in the book of Mark we see that Jesus is starting the beginning of his earthly ministry. Jesus is healing the sick, the deaf will hear, the blind can see, and crowds are now starting to not only see the power of Jesus, but are now starting to believe in Jesus as well, because of this, Jesus’ fame is spreading all across the land of Israel. The teachers of the law from Jerusalem come from Jerusalem to see Jesus who they hated.
The hatred for Jesus is so large that they commit the one that cannot be forgiven- blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. They credit the work of the spirit to the work of the devil. They are saying that Jesus is from the devil. Jesus answers why would Satan cast out Satan? He reminds them that every sin that a believer commits will be forgiven, but those that commit this sin of blasphemy will never be a believer of Jesus because they will never be forgiven. They are so far gone that they know that Jesus is of God and yet credit him to be from Satan. These scribes will never be apart of the kingdom of God and they will not stand.
Those that are forgiven are a part of the kingdom of God and they are the brothers and sisters of Christ, a family that even transcends that of a natural family by blood. Brothers and sister of Christ do the will of God and love to see the kingdom of God be proclaimed and see it grow. Jesus’ kingdom has come and it is stronger than anything else.
What were the scribes accusing Jesus by? Do they truly believe this?
Why did Jesus use the parable of the strong and stronger man?
Have you ever felt like there was a sin that you committed that Jesus could never forgive? If so why? Do you live like you are forgiven by the blood of Jesus today?
Jesus stresses the importance of brothers and sisters in Christ. Do you see the importance of brothers and sisters in Christ? What do they mean to you?
Do you neglect other brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you treat other family members of God harsh or hurtful? Do you ever try to find fellowship with other believers that you do not talk too?
We have come to a time in Jesus’ life when there were great crowds following Jesus, all desiring to be part of and receive the blessings He was performing. He gives them this parable, one we are very much familiar with. The main point of this parable is for the people to examine themselves, in a sense asking them, “why are you here?”,
we would do well to ask ourselves this question. Why are we doing what we’re doing? Here, Mark describes those on who the word will have no effect (vv4-6;15), those who will hear the word but when they are tested with trials they leave their faith behind (vv.5;16-17), and those who hear the word, but they are so attached to the things of this world that they bear no fruit to their doom (vv.7;18-19).
Jesus explains to us that the only way to be found to be a true believer is to bear fruit, that is, to trust in His name and promises alone for strength, leave this world behind, pick up our cross and to follow Him which is our spiritual fruit.
What is common to each of the first three seeds of the parable (4:15-19)?
What is the central point to the parable (4:1-20)?
Read Colossians 1:21-23. How are we to keep from becoming the soil with the thorns?
Read John 6:63-65. Ultimately, who is responsible for the salvation of those around us?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. If there are thorns in our lives, they must be dug up. How can this happen? How are we strong when we are weak?
Verses 21-34 Mark is calling those who have ears to hear to be diligent in their study, meditation, and contemplation of the Word of Christ. But those who hear are not to just keep the Truth that they hear to themselves, but they are to sow the seed everywhere. They are to put the lamp on the stand wherever God has called them to be in their lives. There are also those who do nothing with what they have, and the passage tells us that they will have the little that they do have taken away from them.
Also in this portion of the text it is made clear to the hearers that their duty is only to sow the seed, but that whatever, if any growth happens is based on the type of soil that the seed lands on. And, the sower has no control over the type of soil. Because of whom it is that prepares the soil, the tiniest of seeds when it lands in good soil will grow up to be a massive tree. This is because the Master gardener has prepared soil all over His creation.
Finally, in verses 35-41 Jesus shows his authority to the disciples over the natural world, which causes them great fear. Unfortunately, they had a previous fear that was dictated by their worldly circumstances because of their unbelief. The text is showing not only the authority of Christ, but that he is all we need in the midst of challenging and unexpected worldly circumstances.
What is the purpose of the lamp?
Does your hearing bear fruit?
Do you trust God to bring the fruit?
Is your God big enough?
Do you have a PROPER fear of Jesus?
Is Jesus enough for you?
This story is almost unthinkable! Many people rule is out as a fairy tale or legend, but the fact is Satan is real and It is important to note that this event happens immediately after the events found at the end of Chapter 4. In other words, there is NO BREAK in the action in Jesus’ ministry after He calms a storm. The very next morning he and his disciples land on the shore of of region called Gadara, which was comprised of many Gentiles, who had not heard of Jesus’ fame as of yet. Immediately Jesus and his crew were met by a man who had been possessed by multiple demonic spirits. This man lived in the tombs, away from the people, in isolation because of the danger he posed.
His violent rages were so bad that he needed to be chained for his safety and others around him, but he couldn’t be bound with chains or shackles and he cut himself daily, probably in an effort to rid himself from demons who had enslaved him. When Jesus meets this man he does the unthinkable! What he does not only demonstrates his power and authority, but it should make us question, how can he just do that? Though Jesus wasn’t possessed by Satan, He did trade places with the man who was.
In the previous story (Mark 4:35-41), we see Jesus’ power over creation, specifically nature, as he calms a raging storm. In this passage today, what is Mark trying to reveal to us about Jesus’ authority? From the passage, what words or phrases do you notice that tell you this?
There are several miracles of Jesus that portray a picture of His gospel (ie. Raising of Lazarus, Turning Water into Wine, etc). This story does the same in a sense. The miracle actually happened, but it points to something we can all relate to. Our desperate need for liberation from sin. How does this story point us to the gospel? Think of Christ’s work and the response of the man after he was healed.
Why do you think that Jesus told the man that he could not go with him and his disciples? Instead, what did Jesus tell him to do? For all of us, who have been redeemed by Jesus, what should be our mission? (Romans 10:11-14)
Just as Jesus and his disciples touch down in Capernaum, after a long journey from the far side of the Sea of Galilee, He is approached by Jairus, an experienced and notable ruler in Capernaum’s synagogue. Jairus falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Him to heal his 12 year old daughter of her terminal illness. Jesus agrees and, surrounded by a bustling crowd, heads towards Jairus’s home.
In the midst of the throng of followers, a woman, diseased and ceremonially unclean, makes her way through the crowd in a desperate act of faith to touch the garment of Jesus, that she could be made well. Embarrassed and ashamed of her affliction, she touches His robes and is healed instantly and needed no further interaction with Jesus, but He, despite the demand to hurry onward to Jairus’s daughter, stops to acknowledge what had just taken place. Jesus, so immeasurably compassionate and gentle, directs the spotlight away from the matter at hand to speak to this woman. He addresses her, saying “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
Before Jesus is finished speaking, word comes through a messenger that Jairus’s daughter is dead. There was no point in pressing on. Jairus was devastated, but Jesus tells him, “Do not fear, only believe.” After sending the crowd away, Jesus continues onward with Peter, James, and John to see the dead child.
When Jesus arrives, the funeral is already in full swing. His presence is mocked by the funeral attendees, but He sends them away. He enters the little girl’s room with her mother and father. Full of the same warmth and tenderness that He displayed to the woman earlier, He says to the child, “Talitha cumi,” which means “little girl, I say to you, arise.”
Unsurprisingly, she is brought back to life. Jairus and his wife are in awe. They knew of Jesus’ power to heal, BUT TO BRING SOMEONE BACK TO LIFE? It was unfathomable.
As God, Jesus already knew what had happened when the woman touched his clothes, so why did Jesus ask who had touched Him?
Why would the woman be fearful and trembling in confessing that it was she who touched Him? Think of what the Jews would think of someone ceremonially unclean amidst a crowd.
Why would Jesus strictly command Jairus’s family not to tell anyone what had happened? (Look back at Mark 1:42-45 with the healing of the leper)
How has God used seemingly hopeless circumstances in YOUR life to remind you who He is?
Is there anything in your life that you feel hopeless about now? How can your faith carry you through it?
God, as he does in our lives today, executed His plan for His glory in a way that even the faithful did not know was possible. We can have faith in how He works in mysterious ways that we often can’t see or imagine. Often, when we see no solution or positive outcome in life, God reminds us who He is.
Jesus has just ministered to the multitudes throughout the northern region of Israel. He has healed the sick, raised the dead, casted out demons, transformed lives, and powerfully proclaimed the message of the kingdom. His message was validated by His actions. He is the Son of God, the Messiah, who came to save His people and bring about The Kingdom. Now Jesus desires to go now to His hometown to minister and His disciples follow Him. It will be in Nazareth, that Jesus is met with defiant opposition. Though his miraculous works and powerful message our acknowledged, the Nazarenes ultimately reject Jesus and are quite offended by this simple carpenter. After all, this is the same Jesus they saw grow up in their town. They witnessed him at school, in the market, and on the streets. This is the same Jesus whose brothers are James and Jude. This is the Jesus that was born to Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph when she was pregnant with Jesus. To these Nazarenes, Jesus could not be their Savior! That would be a ridiculous claim…And, thus the God who clothed himself in flesh marvels at their unbelief.
Jesus then proceeds to send out his disciples in pairs as his representatives. His followers are not given comfort or resources, but are to be totally dependent upon Him for provision. He sends them to the unbelief with the message that destroys unbelief…the gospel of repentance.
Why would Jesus marvel at the unbelief of the Nazarenes? What is significant about the sin of unbelief compared to other sins?
Read Mark 9:24…Much like the man in this passage, we struggle with unbelief. Why are we so prone to struggle with this? How does the gospel destroy unbelief?
What is the significance of Jesus experiencing rejection and then sending out His disciples?
The disciples were sent out to replicate the ministry of Jesus. Thus they were to look like him wherever they went. Do you see yourself as a representative of Jesus and His kingdom? How should this impact your daily life?
How is unbelief an enemy to repentance and the gospel?
After the miracle of Jesus feeding probably close to 20,000 people, John 6:15 tells us that Jesus sensed that the people were going to try and take him by force to be their king. That is why Matthew and Mark both show Jesus sending the disciples away with a great sense of urgency. Neither does he hang around, but goes by himself up to the mountain to commune with His Father through prayer. Then, between 3 and 6 am (fourth watch) Jesus sees his disciples struggling against the wind painfully. Jesus then comes to them by walking on the stormy sea. When they see him they are scared to death thinking that they are seeing a ghost. Jesus then comforts them by declaring that it their rabbi and friend and not be afraid. And as he got into the boat with them, the wind stopped and they were all astounded.
When the boat and all passengers arrived safely on the other side, Jesus was recognized immediately. Because the people had heard of all that Jesus was doing, people throughout the entire region were bringing their sick to him with the hopes that they might just touch the edge of his garment and be healed. And all who came to him for healing and touched his garment were made well.
Why did Jesus send away the disciples and He Himself go away so quickly after he fed the 5,000 men (not counting women and children)?
What does Jesus show to us today by going away to have private time to pray? Why is this such an important example to us?
What are some times in your life when you have been struggling with all of your might to accomplish something, but you feel like you are going nowhere? What did you do? Where is the only place that we can find true rest? (Matt. 11:28-30)
When Jesus calmed the storm when he got into the boat, why were the disciples so astounded?
In verses 53-56, Jesus reveals a few things about Himself. Name and discuss some of the characteristics that Jesus reveals in this section.
As we finish Mark Chapter 7, we see Jesus withdrawing and seeking solitude after his interaction with the scribes and pharisees. He travels with His disciples to the region of Tyre and Sidon, nearly 20 miles northwest of Capernaum, His base of operations. This is no simple journey, and would’ve been a LONG walk for the group.
Once they arrive outside of the boundaries of Israel, they attempt to enter a house without being spotted. Of course, even in an unclean and pagan land, Jesus could not be hidden. Jesus is confronted by a woman begging for assistance, as her daughter was demon possessed. The woman was Syrophoenician (a gentile), and begged Jesus repeatedly to cast the demon from her daughter. Jesus comes back at her with some seemingly harsh words, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” He is essentially saying that the time for His plan for the Gentiles had not yet come.
The woman understands Him, and doesn’t take offense to the statement, but responds, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Jesus casts the demon from her daughter from afar and tells her to return home.
Next the group travels OVER 120 MILES back to the Eastern coastline of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus heals a deaf man and charges him as He has charged many, to tell nobody of the incident. Of course, the man proclaims zealously what Jesus has done.
Why do you think Jesus sought solitude so far outside of Israel?
Why is it unusual for Him to be here? (Matthew 15:24)
Read Genesis 22:17-18 and Romans 11:17-18. Discuss it’s relation to the conversation between Jesus and the woman.
Why were the words of Jesus not harsh?
Why did Jesus heal the deaf man in such an odd manner?
The eighth chapter of Mark begins with Jesus again traveling in a desolate place with a great crowd, only this time, instead of them being Jews as in the sixth chapter and the feeding of the five thousand, they are gentiles. These are the unclean people, the dogs, those who are outside Gods covenant with His people. And yet, we see the insurmountable mercy and compassion our God desires to have on them, on us. Verses 1-10 demonstrate this compassion as Jesus displays an enormous interest in the wellbeing of the people around HIm, even over Himself. This also shows us how Jesus came to serve, how He serves us every day in the most common of ways, down to the very meals we eat, and how He is pleased to do so.
The next part of this chapter focuses on the ever incorrigible Pharisees and their continuous desire to harm Jesus. They demand Jesus to give them a sign from heaven to prove His divinity. They did not want proof in order to believe but to trip Jesus up and give them a reason to kill Him. we see this many times today, as an unbelieving and God-hating world seeks to dismantle the church with cleverly devised questions and comments. These are not for proof of the truth, but an attack on it. The worst part is that we, the church, give way to this, not believing what God’s word says and instead relying on gimmicks and greats acts to prove our relevance.
Finally we see the disciples display a similar spiritual blindness in their over concern for lack of remembering who Jesus is, the bread of life. They see the gift as their god and not Jesus, the giver. And we like them often fail to understand that it is no thing for our God to provide for us out of His abundance, and that our ultimate treasure and sustenance must be Christ Himself.
Do you believe God has the same compassion for you that He does for the crowd in the text, even though your performance in this life is far from perfect?
Do you ever find yourself in a “desolate” place, isolated from God? When you do, are you able to read Gods word and soak in His faith arousing truths? Do you see Jesus as the true bread of life?
Do you ever try to rely on your own wisdom and ways to “prove” the relevance of Jesus and the need people have for Him?
Why is it often hard for us to focus on Christ as the one who ultimately sustains is, instead of the gifts He gives us?
We pick up with Jesus and His disciples in Bethsaida, a fishing village on the Northern part of the Sea of Galilee. A blind man is brought before Jesus, and the acquaintances of the blind man beg Jesus to touch the man, believing he will immediately be healed. Jesus does touch the man, but not for healing. Jesus takes the man by the hand and leads him to the outskirts of the town before healing him in a very odd fashion.
Jesus, for the first and only time in the Gospels, heals the man, not instantly, but in two stages. Perhaps as an illustration for His next experience with His disciples.
After the healing, the group travels another 25 miles north to Caesarea Philippi. Jesus, not one to waste a good walk, asks His disciples an incredibly important question on their way, “Who do you say that I am?”
Peter responds perfectly. “You are the Christ.” The Messiah, the Light of the World. Unfortunately, as we see, the disciples and Jesus had conflicting views on what “Messiah” means.
Jesus explains “plainly” what He came to do. No parables here. Jesus tells the disciples that He has come to die, and Peter actually tries to REBUKE Jesus! Jesus makes it clear who is the root of Peter’s ideas and calls Peter “Satan!”
The chapter closes with Jesus calling in the crowds and further challenging the Jewish concept of “the Messiah” with a controversial statement. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
These statements are a harsh contrast to what the Jews believed the Messiah came to do (Deliver them from Roman rule) and mark a shift in the ministry of Jesus.
Why did Jesus take the blind man to the outskirts of Bethsaida before healing him? (Reread Mark 8:11-13)
Why do you think Jesus healed the man in two stages?
Read Matthew 16:13-20. In Matthew’s account of the same events, Jesus praises Peter and gives him great encouragement. How can Jesus then call him Satan? (Perhaps a similarity in the story of Matthew 4?)
Read Isaiah 53. Why do you think the Jewish people struggled to recognize this truth about Christ?
In Mark 9 and onward, we see Jesus making His way back to Jerusalem, where He knows He is going to die. Though Jesus has told His disciples many times what awaits Him, they still keep missing the mark on who He is. As Jesus continues to reveal to them who He is in this passage, you can imagine His words from chapter 8 still rattling around in their heads.
Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a mountain, where a number of absolutely mind blowing experiences await them. Once they reach the top of the mountain, Jesus is transfigured before them. His divine nature shines astoundingly through His human body and the three disciples of Jesus see Him in His glory, “the glory as of only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Just in case that wasn’t enough for Peter, James, and John, next we see two familiar faces appear and speak to Jesus, Moses and Elijah. These guys are a big deal now and were an even bigger deal back then. The disciples would have been going absolutely bananas. We see in other accounts that Moses and Elijah discuss with Jesus the suffering that is coming. Peter joins the conversation, though he has no place in it, and we get a classic Peter moment.
To finish off this magnificent experience with a bang, the disciples get to hear the VOICE OF GOD. You can imagine the sheer terror that the disciples had as they fell to the ground. The Father affirms the authority and sound teaching of Jesus, and the disciples suddenly find themselves alone with Jesus again. You can imagine the looks on their faces as they walked back down the mountain.
Upon returning to the rest of the disciples, Jesus, Peter, James, and John find a crowd waiting for the return of Jesus. The commotion was centered around the disciples’ inability to cast a demon out of a young man. The demon-possessed boy was mute and the disciples and scribes were unable to help him. The father begs Jesus, who casts the demon out of the boy. The disciples, who had cast out demons before, were troubled at their failure. They asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast the demon out, and He responded “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
Moses appeared representing the Law. Elijah came representing the Prophets. Read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17. What is the significance of these two appearing?
What does the father of the demon-possessed boy mean by “Help my unbelief!” How can we grow in our faith by asking God the same question?
Why were the disciples unsuccessful? What does Jesus mean when He says, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting?” What is the end goal of prayer and fasting?
In Mark 9:30-50, Jesus trades the miraculous experiences of last week for much more intimate and personal moments of teaching with His disciples. Jesus teaches on the measure of true greatness, flipping the disciples’ preconceived notions of what greatness is. Jesus teaches the disciples the importance of unity, even unity with those we don’t know, if they proclaim Jesus’ name. Lastly, Jesus speaks on the terrors of Hell.
How does society measure greatness? How does your friend group measure greatness? How do you measure greatness?
In what ways do you struggle to feel unity with fellow Christians? In what ways do you struggle to feel unity in your small group?
Are you troubled by the idea of Hell? If yes, how so? Talk about your concerns with your group.
This week, we continue to follow Jesus and His disciples as they move closer to Jerusalem. In the beginning of Mark 10, we see Jesus teaching crowds in Judea when some Pharisees see an opportunity to attempt to get Jesus to incriminate Himself. In front of the crowd, they question Him on divorce, knowing that either side Jesus lands on could be twisted against Him, as divorce was a hot topic of debate. Jesus answers by pointing them back to Scripture, focusing on God’s intentions for marriage instead of God’s allowance of divorce.
As children are brought to Jesus, we see that the disciples didn’t learn their lesson in Mark 9 when it came to Jesus’ love and admiration for children. The disciples actually go so far as to rebuke the children’s parents, which infuriates Jesus. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to encourage His followers to pursue a childlike faith.
Finally, Jesus is approached by an enthusiastic and wealthy young ruler. The young man questions Jesus on how he might obtain eternal life, as he believes that he has obeyed God’s law well. Jesus, loving the young man, uses the man’s wealth to show him that he is missing the ONE thing that was important. Jesus says, “You are missing one thing.” He could also have said, “You are missing the only thing.” The young man could not see that he was missing the only thing that mattered. When he looked at his possessions, he thought that he possessed great things, having no idea that he was actually in MASSIVE debt. The man leaves the interaction sorrowful.
Why is it important that Jesus focused on God’s standard for marriage, not man’s?
What does it mean to have a childlike faith? How is this different than a childish faith? What are some examples of childlike faith vs childish faith?
What does “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” mean? Should that line scare us, as we are all certainly wealthy here?
Are possessions a blessing or a curse? If it is impossible for a rich person to enter heaven, what chance do we have?
As we tackle the second half of Mark 10, we see Jesus for the third time telling His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to die. This is also the third time we see the disciples respond foolishly; this time it is the brothers James and John. They ask to be on the throne with Jesus in His glory, but Jesus responds by telling them the road to glory comes after the road of suffering. He asks them if they are willing to suffer for the sake of God.
Jesus explains that those who truly aspire to be leaders, honored in God’s name, must first be servants to all. As you serve God’s church and love others, you can look to Jesus who fulfills the role of the suffering servant that is talked about in Isaiah 53.
Continuing to Jerusalem, we see Jesus come across a blind beggar. The blind beggar doesn’t ask Him for glory like James and John, but instead asks Him for mercy. James and John, who could physically see, were spiritually blind, while the blind beggar, who was physically blind, could spiritually see. Servants of God who see that they need mercy will be given the sufficient love that Jesus gives to anyone who calls on his name.
In what ways in your life do you treat God more like a butler or genie to you than the God of the universe? Does your prayer life seek the will of God and the needs of others, or just your own?
James and John didn’t understand what it meant for Jesus to enter into “glory.” Do we sometimes have mistaken views of “glory” as well?
Get practical. Where in your life do you have influence, power, greatness, authority or position? How can you practice “Servant Leadership” in that role in the weeks ahead?
Do you find yourself seeking glory like James and John or mercy like the blind beggar? What areas in your life do you need mercy from God for?
As we walk through the entirety of Mark Chapter 11, we enter into Mark’s account of the last seven days of Jesus’ life. It is an emotional journey, and it begins with a long hike from Jericho, where Jesus has just healed Bartimaeus.
The disciples are dispatched by Jesus to recover a donkey for Him; specifically one that had never been ridden before, as would befit a king. The disciples recover the donkey and Jesus enters into Jerusalem with fanfare from His followers and the people of Jerusalem, who would days later be calling for His death.
The next day, Jesus uses a fig tree to give His disciples an object lesson. The fig tree, while covered in leaves, has no fruit. This angers Jesus and He curses the tree before continuing on to the Temple.
As Jesus enters the Temple, He is furious at what He sees in the Court of the Gentiles; the Jews had turned it into a market based in the extremely profitable business of ripping foreigners off. Jesus is furious and flips over tables and chases the vendors and money changers away. He openly rebukes the people, quoting Isaiah 56 at them that they may see how they have ruined the Temple.
The next day, they pass back by the aforementioned fig tree, and the ever vigilant Peter remembers the events of the day before and points out that the tree had withered away. Jesus uses this opportunity to point His disciples to faith and they move on into Jerusalem.
Once in Jerusalem again, Jesus is faced with a daunting foe, the Sanhedrin. They attempt to trick Him into speaking heresy by questioning Him, but Jesus gives them a masterclass in posing questions. Jesus asks them about His baptism by John the Baptist. Was it from heaven or from man? Jesus knew that the Sanhedrin believed John the Baptist was a prophet sent by God, and therefor they had no legitimate reason not to be following Jesus, the ONE MAN John the Baptist pointed to as Messiah during his ministry. Finding themselves insnared in a question that they can only answer by admitting Jesus’ authority, they shrug the question off.
Why is it important that Jesus fulfilled EVERY prophecy about Himself in the OT?
If Jesus was trying to fulfill those prophecies, like riding a donkey into Jerusalem, by preparing them in advance, does that negate the legitimacy of the prophecy’s fulfillment? Why not? Why are these no different than the prophecies out of His human control, like His birth?
What was the point of Jesus cursing the fig tree? Why didn’t He just miraculously make it bear fruit?
We near the end of Jesus’ public ministry and life, climaxing in this incredible brawl (more like beatdown) of the Scribes and Pharisees. This chapter begins with an incredible indictment (accusation of a serious crime) and a rebuke of the very irresponsible, evil, and idolatrous leadership of the Priests. We then move to two instances where these men try to trap Jesus in His words, both politically and theologically, both times ending in the complete destruction of their arguments. The third of these challenges is interesting because it seems as though this particular scribe is genuinely interested in the things of God, yet because of his lack of faith in Jesus as being the Son of God and the Messiah, he misses the mark.
The chapter comes to a close when Jesus turns the tables and begins His turn of questioning, which of course no one can answer to, because He’s right! He has proven time and time again that He is the spoken Messiah of scripture, He is the prophesied destroyer of the works of the devil, He is God Himself in flesh, tsking on the sins of His people, and bringing reconciliation to God. And we end with a poor widow giving her entire life earnings to God, showing that it is not how much you give but HOW you give to the Lord. She displays a proper heart of worship, one that counts everything else in this life as a loss for the sake of having God.
The main point of this chapter is Christ foretelling the end of the Judaic age and system, the end of the kingdom of David and announcing the entry of the Kingdom of God.
The religious leaders will stop at nothing to hold on to their little slice of authority. This is something we will see come to a head when they murder Jesus. What comforts in your own life do you find causing you to harden yourself to God?
Confess those things to Him.
What’s the significance and connection of our displaying the image of God and submitting ourselves to the authorities over us?
Do you see a lack of a proper view of scriptures in your life? Does that affect how you view God for you (His love, forgiveness, satisfaction, etc.)?
Why do you think it’s so hard for us to love others, especially our enemies, in a way that not only forgives them but truly desires the best for them?
Why is it important that we seek to give to God from a heart of joy and love for Him?