Read: Mark 4:1–5:43
This weeks lesson focuses on Jesus as he ministers on and around the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4-5).
- Parables (Mark 4:1-34) Christians today typically view parables as simple stories with a clear meaning. In this portion of Mark, however, it seems that parables were more like riddles than children’s stories. Why might Jesus have used this mode of teaching, given that his listeners (including his disciples) had trouble understanding what he said? Are there times when it is best to veil truth from someone we feel is not prepared to receive it? What is the key ingredient needed if we wish to understand the secret of the kingdom of God ? (4:11). What is the secret of the kingdom of God?
- Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41) Notice the implied accusation by the disciples in 4:38. How often have we leveled a similar accusation against God? Did Jesus calm the storm to save the disciples from death–or, was there another reason for his actions? What would be most terrifying: Jesus “sleeping” while we feel threatened, or Jesus exercising his power (see 4:41)?
- The Demon Possessed Man (Mark 5:1-20) Is the possessed man to be feared, rebuked, or pitied? In this account, the demons seem afraid of Jesus, yet the man runs toward Jesus. In what way does Jesus both attract and terrify evil? Notice the demon’s words to Jesus. Do demonic forces “bargain” with God (remember the book of Job)? What is the “torture” that the demons fear? Why would Jesus ask the demon’s name? A Roman legion was made up of 6,000 men. What does this indicate about the nature of the man’s oppression?A growing number of Christians are suggesting that there is a hierarchy of power within the demonic realm, with certain spirits exercising power over specific geographic regions. Does this story speak to this possibility? (See 5:1-2, 9-10, 17; also, Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26; Daniel 10:12-13). If this is the case, how might this impact (or, how should it impact) evangelism strategy?
Why do the evil spirits want to enter the pigs and why does Jesus give them permission to do what they desire? Where did the demons go when the pigs drowned?In this story, the restored man asks to follow Jesus, but Jesus tells him instead to “go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.” Usually in Mark, Jesus calls people to follow him and, after performing a miracle, tries to keep it quiet. Why is this story so different?
- Two Daughters (Mark 5:21-43) In this story, both Jairus and Jesus have a daughter (5:23, 34). Both of them need to be restored. In many stories of physical healing, the Greek word translated “heal” also means “save.” In a society where sickness was viewed as a sign of God’s judgment on sin, how would Jesus’ healing miracles be interpreted? Are some (or most?) diseases today the result of sinful choices one has made? If so, how would we react to one who “heals” the sick sinner? Would we rejoice–or should we be upset at the one who lifted a deserved punishment for sin?