Small Group Bible Studies in The Gospel of Mark

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1 Small Group Bible Studies in The Gospel of Mark Term 1, 2011

2 The Other Jesus - studies in The Gospel of Mark Index Study Title Passage Page Sermon Date 1 Jesus the Messiah 2 Jesus the Powerful Study week Mk 1: /2/ Feb (after sermon) Mk 1:16-3: /2/ Feb (after sermon) 3 Jesus the Riddler 4 Jesus the Shepherd 5 Jesus the Divine 6 Jesus the Servant 7 Jesus the Judge 8 Jesus the Future 9 Jesus the Forsaken 10 Jesus the King Mk 4: /2/ Feb (after sermon) Mk 4:35-7: /2/11 27 Feb 5 March (after sermon) Mk 6:45-8: /3/ March (after sermon) Mk 8: /3/ March 10:52 (before sermon) Mk /3/ March (before sermon) Mk /4/11 27 Mar 2 April (before sermon) Mk 14: /4/ April 15:39 & (before sermon) 22/4/11 Mk 15:40-6: /4/ April [school holidays] (before sermon) 2

3 Introduction to the Gospel of Mark: If we want to know the truth about Jesus, there is only one place to turn. We must read and study the Gospels, for they are the only reliable source of detailed information about him. The Gospel of Mark is probably the earliest of the four Gospels, and was written while many of those who were involved in the events (as participants or eye- witnesses) were still alive. It is a remarkable book, and not only because of its subject matter. The more we read Mark s account of Jesus, the more we are enthralled by what a great story it is, and by how well it is told. Many of us are not used to reading Mark s Gospel (or any of the Gospels for that matter) as one continuous story. Instead, we are more used to regarding the Gospels as a collection of lots of different stories that don t have much to do with each other. We re familiar with stories about healings and exorcisms, about John the Baptist, about miracles and parables, about arguments with Jewish leaders, and of course about Jesus death and resurrection. Yet many of us have grown up with these Gospel stories without pausing to think that there might be a connection between all these different incidents, that the Gospel author might be trying to tell a big story of which all the different episodes are only part. In fact, we aren t even sure which Gospel the episodes come from, since there are four versions of Christ s life, each written from a slightly different perspective, and each containing particular emphases. These studies are attempting to familiarize us with just one of the accounts of Jesus life: the Gospel of Mark. We re not going to simply look at a grab bag of highlights. We re going to see how the whole story fits together, how the characters relate to each other, how one episode flows into the next, and how Mark presents us with a unique portrait of Jesus. As we do so, we ll see that the Jesus of Mark s Gospel is not only surprising and intriguing he also fulfils all our greatest dreams. 3

4 Study 1: Jesus the Messiah Mark 1:1-15 Opening discussion: What have you heard people say about Jesus? How do people explain who they think he was, and what his significance has been people in the media, at work, friends, neighbours, family? What is the basis for their views? Having discussed some popular opinions about Jesus, let s now have a look at the other Jesus the Biblical Jesus as presented in Mark s Gospel. Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 1:1-15 together and answer the following questions) 1. Look at verse 1. What does Mark mean when he describes the story of Jesus as the gospel? Do you know what gospel means? 2. Have a look at verses 2-3. Mark quotes from two Old Testament passages: Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Take the time to look up both references and find out what links these two quotes. a) What is the message of Malachi 3:1-2? b) What is the message of Isaiah 40:1-11? c) So, what do these passages tell us about Jesus? 4

5 3. Have a look at Mark 1:4-8. Why did the people come to John? What were they looking for? 4. John is presented by Mark as the messenger of the Old Testament prophecies. According to John s message, what will happen next? 5. What does John tell us about Jesus? 6. Have a look at Mark 1:9-11. What does Jesus baptism tell us about his relationship to us? 7. The voice of the Father in heaven alludes to Psalm 2:7-8. Read Psalm 2. What does this psalm tell us about Jesus? 8. The voice of the Father also alludes to Isaiah 42:1. Read Isaiah 42:1-4. When the Spirit- filled servant arrives, what will happen next? 9. Read Mark 1: What happens to Jesus after his baptism? 10. Read Mark 1: Humanity has rejected the kingdom, or rule, of God. We want to be in charge of our own lives, but Jesus says God is re- establishing his kingdom. How does Jesus say we are to respond? 5

6 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. Many people, including some Christians, are mostly ignorant of the Old Testament. How can this affect their response to the Christian message? 2. What difference does it make to you that the gospel is so deeply rooted in Old Testament history? 3. If someone asked you, Who is Jesus?, how would you reply? How has this study affected your answer? 4. Is the popular Christian view of Jesus different from Mark s description? If so, how do you think this has come about? 5. Why should every human being alive take a serious look at Jesus? 6. Why should every truly converted believer be serious about helping others to know about Jesus? 6

7 Pray Thank God that he is patient with sinners, holding back his judgment on this world in order that people may repent and be saved. that Jesus took God s judgment on himself so that we can be saved. Ask God to help you understand the Bible s message about Jesus, so that you can proclaim him accurately. to give you boldness, love and opportunity to proclaim Jesus to the non- Christians you come into contact with. Turn to the table on the last page of these studies start listing and praying for people you know who don t yet know Jesus. OTHER PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 7

8 Study 2: Jesus the Powerful Mark 1:16-3:35 Opening discussion: What do you think are the greatest threats to humanity at the moment? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. Read Mark 1:16-20 together. a) What does Jesus promise to do for these men? b) What are the consequences if they follow him? 2. Read Mark 1:21-28 together. What is the link between the teaching of Jesus and his conflict with the evil spirit? 3. Read Mark 1:29-45 together. How is Jesus authority shown in this section? 4. What is the most important thing for Jesus? Why is this his priority? 5. Read Mark 2:1-12 together. The Son of Man was the name given to a human figure in the prophetic vision of Daniel 7. He came to God (v 13) and was given the kingdom of God (v 14). He therefore had authority over all people. a) What is the source of Jesus authority? 8

9 b) What is Jesus authority for? c) What were the responses to Jesus words (and the actions that backed them up)? 6. For this next section, break up into 4 smaller groups, and then report back to your larger group on what you have found. Group 1: Read Mark 2: What do the actions of Jesus show us about God? Why do the Pharisees find this so disturbing? Group 2: Read Mark 2: What does the coming of Jesus mean for external religious conformity and religious rules? Group 3: Read Mark 3:1-6. What were the Pharisees concerned about? How does this compare with their own actions? Group 4: Read Mark 3:20-21 and Mark 3: What opposition does Jesus face? How does he answer the opposition? 7. Together again, read Mark 3: a) How does Jesus riddle answer the religious leader s charge? (vv 23-27) b) Why does Jesus give them such a stern warning? (vv28-30) 9

10 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. How do you respond to God s authority in your life in fearful disregard, in grudging submission or in joyful obedience? How could a better understanding of Jesus authority lead you to greater joy? 2. Why is a gospel of Jesus will meet all your needs alone not enough to help sinners understand the truth about Jesus? 3. What are the priorities of Jesus? How can we make them our own? In what ways can the agenda of non- Christians distract us from the priorities of Jesus ministry? 4. How much of your Christian ministry (what you do for others in the service of God) involves communicating or bringing others to hear the gospel? Or, do you serve others and the community without saying why? What changes could you make? 5. How should we view times of opposition or rejection that come because we are Christians? Did Jesus deserve opposition and persecution? What caused the offence? 6. From what we have read so far in Mark, what was Jesus offering people if they followed him? 10

11 Pray Thank God that no one is too sinful for Jesus to show them compassion. that Jesus has power over sin and has shown us he has the power to bring in the new age where there will be no sickness or evil or death. Ask God to encourage and strengthen Christian brothers and sisters facing persecution today. to give us compassion for those to whom no one else would give the time of day. PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 11

12 Study 3: Jesus the Riddler Mark 4:1-34 Opening discussion: What are people in your daily contact trying to gain for the future? What chances do you think they have of success? Is there any assurance that their hopes will be realized? What is your most pressing hope for the future? What do you long for and dream about most? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 4:1-34 together and answer the following questions) 1. Take another look at verses How does the kingdom come? By what means? 2. What does the parable say about the potential responses to the announcement of this news? 3. How might the coming of God s kingdom through Jesus have differed from Jews expectations? 4. Compare verses and verse 33. Did Jesus speak in parables so that people could understand, or so that they could not understand? What prevents people understanding? 12

13 5. Take another look at verses The kingdom comes in a secret way through the word of God (v 11). a) Does this mean people were wrong to expect the kingdom to come in glory and triumph? b) What is the promise and the warning of these verses? 6. Take another look at verses a) How do these parables about growing seeds confirm what we have already learnt about God s kingdom? b) What do they add? Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. How should the parable of the sower (v 1-9) shape the way in which Christians spread the message of the kingdom of God? 2. How should we react when people are indifferent to what we tell them about the Christian message? Or, respond enthusiastically, but then never really grow and finally give up altogether? Have we failed? What hope does this parable give? 3. How can this parable help us when we feel pressure or temptation to give up proclaiming the gospel, and to do something more comfortable instead? 13

14 4. If God has given you the secret of his kingdom (v 11), so that when you see you perceive, and when you hear you understand, and have turned to him for forgiveness what kind of fruit will you produce? 5. How do all these parables (vv 1-34) explain why, when explaining to people that Jesus is King, it does not appear to them as immediately obvious? 6. What does the gospel of Jesus say to our world which is filled with hopes and dreams for a better future? Pray Thank God that the secret of the kingdom has been given to you, if you are a Christian, so that you understand the truth about Jesus. that he has put off the glorious return of King Jesus, to give time for the gospel of grace to bring salvation to sinners. for his word, and his faithful servants who are sowing it throughout the world. Ask God to help you, and other Christians know with confidence that Jesus is King, in a world that lives as if he were not. to open the hearts of people you know (name a few specific people) that are like one of the unfruitful soils, so that they will accept that Jesus is King. to help you and our church to stay faithful in sowing God s word, even when the harvest seems very small. 14

15 PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 15

16 Study 4: Jesus the Shepherd Mark 4:35-7:8 Opening discussion: What is it, in your experience, that makes a leader worth following? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. Read Mark 4:35-41 together. a) What does the episode show us about Jesus strength and authority? b) Why do the disciples ask their question (v 41)? c) What were they afraid of? 2. Read Mark 5:1-20 together. In the description of the man, what is emphasised? 3. Think back to where Jesus was being accused by the religious leaders as being in league with the devil (3:23-27). In the light of this, what have we learnt about Jesus from his encounter with the demon- possessed man in the passage before us? 16

17 4. Read Mark 5:21-43 together. Jairus is a synagogue ruler, one of the religious leaders of his people, yet he is powerless to save his daughter. What does he expect from Jesus? What does he get? 5. The woman with bleeding was also powerless, and beyond the help of anyone else. What response does Jesus commend her for? 6. Read Mark 6:14-29 together. Is Herod an attractive or an unattractive character? What are his strengths and weaknesses? 7. What threat does Herod pose for Jesus mission? 8. Read Mark 6:30-44 together. Verse 34 is a reference to Ezekiel 34, where God promises to come and shepherd his people because the leaders of his people had failed to do so. Mark is comparing King Jesus in 6:30-44, with King Herod in the previous passage. What is Mark showing us about the kingship of Jesus? 9. Read Mark 7:1-8 together. a) What problem does Jesus expose in Israel s leaders? b) Why are the leaders hard- hearted? c) Overall, what is Jesus assessment of Israel s leadership? 17

18 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. What makes Jesus a leader worth following? 2. What is the proper response to him? Why do people not give that response? 3. We ve seen ways in which Jesus is a different kind of king. How should we, as his followers, imitate him? - Think of ways in which Christians and churches can show a worldly concern for status and wealth. What motivated Jesus to ignore such considerations? - In what ways can Christians and churches show a worldly lack of care for the needy? What motivated Jesus to spend more time with needy people? 4. Are there areas in your life where you are in danger of following Herod rather than Jesus? What do you need to change? Think about your ambitions, priorities, attitudes to serving others, and the way in which you treat God s word. Pray Read Psalm 23 and write down three things to thank and praise God for, and three things to ask him for. 18

19 PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 19

20 Study 5: Jesus the Divine Mark 6:45-8:30 Opening discussion: Why do some people believe Jesus is the divine Son of God while others do not? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 6:45-52 together and answer the following questions) 1. Why do the disciples respond as they do? What is their problem? 2. Remember the first incident when the disciples crossed the sea with Jesus (4:35-41)? Have the disciples progressed at all in their understanding since then? 3. Read Mark 7:1-30 together. What is the real problem of the religious leaders? 4. How do Jesus disciples compare with the religious leaders? 20

21 5. The Syrophonecian woman is not one of the people of God, as they were designated in the Old Testament. She is a Greek, not a Jew. Given this, how does the woman s response to Jesus compare with those we have just seen? What is the state of her heart? 6. Read Mark 8:14-8:26 together. When Jesus again crosses the sea with them (8:13-21), what does he warn them about? 7. What problems do the disciples have according to Jesus? 8. What is unusual about the healing of the blind man (8:22-26)? How is this a picture of the disciples? 9. Look again at the stories which surround this conversation in the boat (8:14-21). If the disciples are ever to understand, what must happen to them? 10. Read Mark 8:27-30 together. What does Peter finally see? 21

22 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. We tend to think of the Pharisees as the bad guys in the story. But what would have been their standing in the community of their day? How do you think they would have been regarded? 2. The disciples were for a time just like the Pharisees and Herod. Have you seen people reacting to Jesus like this? 3. What is necessary before people can understand who Jesus is? 4. How does this make you think about your own knowledge of Jesus? 5. How does it make you think about how you can help other people who don t know Jesus? 6. What makes evangelism different to selling a commercial product? 7. How important is prayer? 8. How important is patience? 9. Do you feel discouraged because you can t persuade others of the truth of the gospel? How can this study help you to persevere (with confidence) with these people? 22

23 Pray Thank God that Jesus brings grace and salvation to all people, regardless of sex, nationality, status, class, upbringing, education, intelligence or personality. that, if you are a Christian, Jesus has opened your eyes and ears to the truth of his gospel. Ask God to give faith to people you know who have heard the gospel, but who do not yet see who Jesus is (name a few specific people). to help you see everyone equally as a sinner who needs Jesus, and who needs to hear the gospel. to give you faith in Jesus power and willingness to open the eyes and ears of people to the truth about himself. PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 23

24 Study 6: Jesus the Servant Mark 8:27-10:52 Opening discussion: Think about the most impressive Christian people you know. What makes them stand out? If you were to ask most people today, what would they say is the essence of being a Christian? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 8:27-9:1 together and answer the following questions) 1. What does Peter see for the first time? 2. From these verses, what does it mean for Jesus to be the Christ? 3. Why do you think Peter rebukes Jesus? 4. Why does Jesus call Peter Satan? 5. What does Jesus say following him will involve? 24

25 6. What wonderful promise is given to those who follow Jesus? 7. Read Mark 9:2-13 together. We might expect the voice from heaven to say: Look how amazing and glorious he is. What does the voice say instead? Why? 8. For this next section, break up into pairs or triplets, each group taking two or three of the following passages. Answer the two questions printed below the list of passages, in reference to each passage, and then report back to the group on what you have found. The passages are: 9:14-32 Healing the boy 9:33-37 Who is the greatest? 9:38-41 Not against us is for us 9:42-50 Kingdom or hell 10:1-12 Pharisees and divorce 10:13-16 The children 10:17-31 The rich man 10:32-45 Suffering and servanthood 10:46-52 Blind Bartimaeus The two questions for each passage are: a) What attitude or response does Jesus commend? b) What attitude or response does he condemn? 25

26 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. What sort of Messiah is Jesus? How will he bring in his kingdom? 2. How is this related to us entering the kingdom? What is the only way into the kingdom? 3. What does this mean for your own life? How would you summarise the essence of the Christian life after reading this part of Mark s Gospel? 4. In what ways are you tempted to be ashamed of Jesus and his words (8:38)? Give specific examples. 5. What kind of success are you aiming for? In which areas of life do you need to repent of seeking the wrong kind of success, and follow Jesus and His words instead? 6. Throughout this section of Mark, what are the things that get in the way of people responding properly to Jesus? Which of these is of most relevance to you? 7. According to Jesus, true greatness in his kingdom lies in self- sacrifice and becoming a servant in the same way as he came not to be served but to serve. Think practically about how this might be worked out: - in your own life and relationships with people (be specific) - in our church 26

27 Pray Give thanks and praise to God that Jesus came as a Servant King, and not as a conquering militaristic king. In Mark 9:24, the boy s father said to Jesus: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. Maybe you can pray something similar for yourself and our church. Who do you know who is struggling with unbelief, or has failed to truly understand Jesus call to discipleship, or who understands but is ashamed of Jesus and/or his words? Spend some time praying for them. PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 27

28 Study 7: Jesus the Judge Mark 11 & 12 Opening discussion: Any time someone has an opinion about Jesus, they are judging him. Think for a moment about how people judge Jesus. What standards or measurements do people use to judge Jesus? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 11:1-11 together and answer the following questions) 1. Look up Zechariah 9:9-10 together. What is the significance of Jesus riding on a donkey? 2. What do the shouts of the crowd tell us about Jesus? (Read Mark 11:11-26 together and answer the following questions) 3. The cursing of the fig tree is an illustration of the cleansing of the temple. How does the fig tree incident help us understand what happened in the temple? 4. What does Jesus say the temple should have been? (Read Mark 11:27-12:12 together and answer the following questions) 5. According to this parable, what is the attitude of humanity to God s word? 28

29 6. What is the climax of humanity s attitude to God in the story? And in history? 7. What will God do to rebellious people? 8. What will God do to his Son? (Read Mark 12:13-44 together and answer the following questions) 9. Chapter 12 describes a series of confrontations. Who initiates the confrontation in each case? What is the issue in each case? Who is judged by whom? a) v b) v c) v Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. The really important question these chapters pose is: What is our judgment of Jesus? In 11:28, Jesus is asked, By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you authority to do this? How would you answer these questions about Jesus? 2. Why do people reject Jesus today? 29

30 3. In what ways can our church community fail to fulfill the role of God s temple? What do we Christians need to do to enable all peoples to find forgiveness and meet with God? 4. Take another look at verse 23. The destruction of mountains is an act of judgment. ( This mountain is most probably a reference to the temple mount and its coming judgment.) Jesus community continues his work of judgment. How do our words bring judgment? 5. God s people today continue Jesus work of bringing both judgment and forgiveness (11:22-25)? What kind of responses can we expect when we proclaim the words of Jesus? Pray Theses verses show that our sin is so great that, when we get the chance, we murder our Creator. Think about what to pray in the light of this truth. In the light of this, pray for non- Christians that you know. What have we learned about what God wants his people to be and do? As one of his people, how do you need to pray? 30

31 PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 31

32 Study 8: Jesus the Future Mark 13 Opening discussion: Discuss an occasion when an important visitor came to your home, office or some other context you are involved in. What preparations were involved? What would be the consequences if you were not ready? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. Read Mark 13:1-2 together. What is the verdict of Jesus the Judge on the religion of the temple? (Read Mark 13:3-13 together and answer the following questions) 2. In chapter 13, Jesus is answering two questions. What are those questions (v 4)? 3. What events does Jesus predict in verses 5-13? 4. Take a look again at verse 7. Are these events signs that the temple is about to be destroyed? 5. What comfort does Jesus give persecuted believers? (Read Mark 13:14-23 and answer the following question) 32

33 6. What must the believers do when they see the temple being desecrated? (Read Mark 13:24-31 together and answer the following questions) 7. When does Jesus say these events will take place? 8. Verses quote from Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4. What do these images describe in Isaiah (see Is 13:1 and Is 34:9-11)? What do these images describe in Mark 13? 9. Verses refer to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man comes/goes (it s the same word in the original) to heaven to receive authority from God. How will this be seen by the generation to whom Jesus is speaking? (NOTE: angel simply means messenger in the original. It can mean either a heavenly messenger or a human messenger, depending on the context.) 10. Read Mark 13:32-37 together. Look at the references to when things will happen in verses How are they different from verses 32-33? 33

34 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. What examples do you see today of people looking for signs to confirm God s promises? What is tempting about them? 2. What examples have you come across of detailed speculation about the future, and attempts to interpret the Bible prophecies in terms of current world events? What do you think Jesus would say to them? 3. What did the disciples have to do to keep living for Jesus, despite the difficulties they faced? 4. If you live faithfully as a Christian, what difficulties will you face waiting for the future that Jesus promises? 5. What makes it worth enduring such difficulties? 6. What does Jesus say to our society and culture about the future? 7. If Jesus were to return tonight would you be ready? Would you be found on the job or would you be found sleeping? 34

35 Pray Thank God that he is in control of history. Ask God to make you ready for Christ s return Ask God to turn the hearts of non- Christians you know to Jesus so they will avoid the awful judgment to come (pray for the people you ve listed in the table on the last page of these studies). PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 35

36 Study 9: Jesus the Forsaken Mark 14 & 15 Opening discussion: Discuss why it is that we sometimes feel that God is not there for us just when we need him. Perhaps you have had that kind of experience. Is it right or wrong to feel like that? Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 14:1-11 together and answer the following questions) 1. What do the priests, the woman and Judas have in common? 2. What does Judas give the authorities that they have been looking for? 3. What do you think of Judas action? Does the passage hint at his motives? 4. Read Mark 14:27-31 together. What does Jesus predict will happen to him? - and to his followers? 36

37 5. What do you think of Peter s protests? Do you feel positively or negatively towards him? 6. Read Mark 14:32-52 together. From this section, how do you end up feeling towards: a) the disciples? b) Judas? c) Jesus? 12. Read Mark 14:53-72 together. a) Why is it a surprise to find Peter still following Jesus? b) At his trial: i) What is Jesus condemned for? ii) What does Jesus promise? c) What does Peter s denial indicate: a) about him? b) about Jesus? c) about Jesus other promises? 37

38 (Read Mark 15:1-39 together and answer the following questions) 13. Why was Jesus killed? What reasons can you find? 14. How do you feel towards these characters and why? a) Pilate b) The crowd c) The religious leaders d) The disciples (they aren t even there!) e) The gentile centurion (15:39) 15. Do you feel close to or distant from Jesus? 16. What is the effect of all this? What does the story make you want to do? Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. What makes Jesus attractive in these chapters? 2. Why did Jesus have to die? 3. What is the right response to Jesus death? How do we receive the benefits of Jesus death? 38

39 4. What s your view of the cross of Jesus Christ? Is it just an event of history, or relevant to everything in your life the way you understand God, yourself, your sin, your future, your status and security, your purpose in this world, your relationships with others, your response in times of trouble? 5. Some people say that Jesus death on a cross proves that he cannot be the Son of God. How can we answer that objection? 6. How can it help you through your own personal disasters and tragedies to understand that the cross was part of God s sovereign plan? Pray Ask God to help you put the cross of Christ at the centre of your life Ask God to help us to put the cross of Christ at the centre of our church. PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 39

40 Study 10: Jesus the King Mark 15:40-16:8 Opening discussion: Have there been times when you did not tell people about Jesus because you were afraid or embarrassed? Share a couple of examples with the group. (Don t be self-conscious all Christians have had this experience.) Section 1: Observation and interpretation (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) (Read Mark 15:40-47 together and answer the following questions) 1. When reading 15:40-41, do you find that you identify with the women? Explain your response. 2. Some people have said that Jesus simply fainted on the cross or was taken down prematurely, before he died. What is the evidence here that Jesus truly died? 3. What do we learn about Joseph of Arimathea? What have we, as readers of Mark s Gospel, been waiting for that Joseph is also waiting for? (cf. 1:15; 4:26-29; 4:30-32; 9:1; 13:29; 14:25) (Read Mark 16:1-8 together and answer the following questions) Most modern translations have a note questioning the reliability of Mark 16:9-20. The oldest copies we have of Mark s Gospel do not contain these verses. It is highly likely they were a later addition. Some people believe there was a lost ending to Mark s Gospel. The problem is that verse 8 seems an abrupt end. But there are good reasons to think that Mark intended to end with verse 8. 40

41 5. What is the significance of what the women find? Look up (in pairs, perhaps): a) Mark 9:31 b) Mark 10:33-34 c) Mark 13:24-26 (cf. Dan 7:13-14) d) Mark 14:62 6. If these expectations have now been fulfilled, what should happen next? Look up (in pairs again, perhaps): a) Mark 9:9 b) Mark 13:26-27 c) Mark 14:9 d) Mark 1:16-18 e) Mark 14:28 6. What does happen? What is the result of the women s fear? 7. Was their fear in response to what they had witnessed right or wrong? Do you feel frustrated; like having a word with them? Explain your response. 8. So, what is the effect of this last verse in Mark? What thoughts does Mark leave in the minds of his readers? 41

42 Section 2: Thought and Application (allow 1/2 of your discussion time for this section) 1. Why does honest belief (ie. faith ) in Jesus and the gospel help us overcome our fears and embarrassment about telling others the good news? 2. What are the consequences of following Jesus as King of the world in our society and culture? a) what are the costs? b) what are the benefits? 3. If all that Mark says is true, how does it change: a) our dreams for the future of the world? b) our hopes and ambitions for our own future? c) our whole view of the world and what life is about? 4. What might you say to someone who is interested in Jesus but thinks the resurrection is just myth? 5. Are you convinced about the resurrection of Jesus Christ for yourself? Do you understand its significance? 6. What will you do to encourage faith in Jesus, in yourself and others? Think of specific ways in which you could put your faith into practice by telling others the good news about Jesus Christ, our amazing Servant King? 42

43 Pray Thank and praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ask God to give you faith in Jesus faith that drives away fear. Ask for opportunities to tell people about Jesus and ask for the faith to take those opportunities. Pray for fellow Christians you know who are victims of fear, and need encouragement to have faith in Jesus. PRAYER POINTS GROUP MEMBER PRAYER POINTS 43

44 Praying for people who don t yet know Jesus Group member Praying for 44

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