Guests: Bruce Johanson
Read: Mark 10:32-11:25
- Power and Authority in the Kingdom This week’s section of Mark begins with Jesus’ third prediction of his death. As was the case with his two previous statements about his suffering (Mark 8:31-33; 9:31-32), the disciples miss the import of his words. Instead, James and John are focused on their future position in Jesus’ coming kingdom. Notice Jesus’ response (10:38-40). What are the requests that Jesus simply cannot grant? Who is Jesus referring to when he says, “These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared”?Jesus’ lecture on “servant leadership” is quite well known, yet seldom practiced. Why is it so difficult for “great” people to serve? Who are some notable servant leaders that you know? Jesus said that he “did not come to be served,” yet we often speak of “serving Jesus.” Explain this apparent contradiction.
- Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) Notice Jesus’ identical question in 10:36 and 10:51. In both cases, his question elicits a request for a personal favor. How are the requests similar? How are they different? Is one request somehow better than the other?Mark tells us that, after receiving his sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus “along the road.” Why is this significant? What will Bartimaeus soon see?
- The Triumphal Entry and the Temple Disturbance (Mark 11:1-19) The triumphal entry begins the final week of Jesus’ life. Now, instead of trying to keep away from the crowds, Jesus seems to purposefully and openly present himself as the Messiah (see Zech 9:9). Did Old Testament prophecy provide a sort of script that Jesus chose to follow, or did events “just happen” to match what was prophesied? In what ways should prophecy provide a script for Christians in the last days? Should we force the issue and stir up controversy, as Jesus seemed to do with his triumphal entry and his disturbance in the temple? In short, should we try to stay out of harms way, or stir up the hornet’s nest and so hasten the end?
- The Fig Tree and Faith (Mark 11:20-25) Why would Jesus curse a tree for fruitlessness when it was not even the season for figs? What seems to be the issue here?We are certainly comfortable with the notion of Jesus as one who blesses. Does Jesus also curse plants, or nations, or perhaps even individuals? If so, why? How about us–is there a time when we should bless and a time when we should curse?
In the Bible, faith can be used in a variety of ways. Here (11:22-25) faith seems to be a confidence that what we ask for will occur. This seems to suggest that simple-minded, easily convinced (gullible) people are at an advantage. Don’t some people naturally come to believe in things (whether they be true or false) more easily than others? Is this a desirable trait? How literally should we take Jesus’ words here? Is Jesus’ statement about “this mountain” (the Mount of Olives) significant? Did Jesus ever exaggerate to make a point?
Jesus draws a rather close connection between our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us. How does one affect the other? Are they both part of the same process?