Read: Mark 7:24-9:13
- Avoidance Maneuvers In this pivotal section of Mark, Jesus and his disciples are traveling on the outskirts of the region of Galilee, trying to avoid crowds. They are not successful (7:24)! Why was Jesus so eager to remain in seclusion? Today, what do we need most–times of quiet solitude or times of active service?
- The Syrophoenician Woman (Mark 7:24-30) Here we have recorded one of the very few times when Jesus engaged in active ministry to a non-Jew. Jesus apparently did pay attention to ethnic and religious realities of his day. Why? Why were all of his disciples (with the probable exception of Judas) Galilean Jews? For that matter, why were they all men? Couldn’t Jesus have made a more powerful statement about God’s inclusiveness if, among his twelve disciples, he had selected men, women, Jews, Gentiles, slaves and free?There remain ethnic “boundaries” in the Church today. Are these boundaries simply unavoidable, given human sinfulness? Is the issue in this story even about ethnicity, or is it rather a religious distinction which is in view? If it is religious, how might Seventh-day Adventism’s self-perception as the “remnant church” be affected by Jesus’ ministry to the Syrophoenician woman?
- Jesus in the Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37) On his previous visit to this region (5:1-20), Jesus had been asked to leave. Why were the people in this region so receptive to Jesus now (see 5:19-20)?
- Feeding the 4000 (Mark 8:1-13) Following Jesus’ feeding of the 4000, he is asked to give a “sign from heaven.” Most believers have, at one time or another, asked for God to provide a sign of some sort. There are also a number of instances when people asked for and received signs from God. Why, then, does Jesus refuse to give a sign in this instance? Is there a “right way” and a “wrong way” to ask God for a sign? You may want to share a time when you did or did not receive a requested sign from God.
- The Blind Man (Mark 8:22-26) At the time of Jesus, saliva was seen as having medicinal value in both Jewish and Hellenistic contexts. In what ways do “miraculous” healing and “medicinal” healing interact?As an act of faith, should Christians rely upon God’s power to heal and refuse other, more expected treatments? Why does Jesus’ first touch of the blind man bring only partial healing?
- Jesus’ Identity and his Predicted Death (Mark 8:31-9:1) In this portion of Mark, Jesus is explicitly identified as “the Christ” by Peter. Surprisingly, Peter’s correct identification is hushed. Jesus, as has been his custom, “warned them not to tell anyone about him.” This “messianic secret” was apparently necessary because of the popular misconceptions about the nature of the Messiah’s ministry. The title “Messiah” or “Christ,” while correct, would blind people rather than inform them. They would expect power and majesty, not self-denial and self-sacrifice.Earlier in Mark, Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to preach. Clearly, however, their message did not focus on Jesus’ identity as the Christ (see 6:12-13; 8:30). In much of the world today, Jesus’ identity remains either a mystery or a point of conflict. Should disciples today focus on repentance, exorcism and healing (as in 6:12-13) rather than on the identity of Jesus? Even today, might the title “Christ” or “Son of God” be so misunderstood that people would reject Jesus before they even had a chance to hear the truth? How important is it to correctly identify who Jesus is?
- The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13) As Jesus prepares for his suffering and death, why does God send Moses and Elijah to talk with Jesus? What could Moses and Elijah provide that other angelic beings could not offer? Is the location of their meeting significant? Picture the scene for a moment. How did they greet one another? What language did they speak? Had Jesus ever talked with Moses or Elijah on top of a mountain before?