Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Gospel of Mark: A Serving Savior 2015-2016 / Lesson 5 --“Teaching with Parables”-- Mark 4:1-34

Lesson 5 --“Teaching with Parables”-- Mark 4:1-34
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)

The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Read Mark 3:31-4:41 to help understand the context of this passage.  Read Mark 4:1-34 in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.  Also, read Isaiah 6:9-10.
Context: Chapter three highlights a variety of responses to Christ’s ministry ranging from the disciples to the scribes.  How do they color our understanding of the Parable of the Soils? 
(Also, before you begin to study the five parables in this lesson it would be helpful to scan through the ten principles for interpreting parables in the article below.)
1.      ID: (4:1-8)  Who/what are the main characters/items in this story?  What occurs at the end?  (Make a visual summary.)
2.      WS/CR: (4:9-12)  Why did Jesus say He was telling parables (parabolē)?  What does “hear” mean in this context?  How did that fulfill Isaiah 6: 10? (Matthew 13:10-17)
3.      ID: (4:14-20)  After identifying what the elements of this parable meant, what do you think is the main focus or application of this parable?  What does it mean to bear fruit?
4.      ID: (4:21-32)  Identify these things in each of these four parables.  1. Who are the main characters/items?  2. What occurs at the end?  3. What is the main focus of this illustration?  (mustard seed)
5. ID: (4:1-34)  Make a list of repeated words, phrases, or ideas?  What do you make of this?

The WALK: What should I do?
1. What soil are you tempted to revert back to?
2. How does Satan snatch away the Word?  How does he attempt to snatch the Word from you?
3. Do you only experience joy and growth in the good times?  How do we sink down roots to sustain us during difficult times?
4. What are the specific things in your life that tend to choke out the Word?
5. What makes soil good for bearing fruit?

6.     Where in this passage do we see Gospel truths about God, Man, Christ, and our response?  Have your sins been forgiven?
Going Beyond:  1. What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
q The Bible   q God  q God the Father   q Jesus Christ    q The Holy Spirit    q Man   q Salvation   q The Church         q Angels & Satan   q Future Things

By Kevin Halloran  © Unlocking the Bible 2014
1. Understand the nature of the parables.
Parables are tools to compare something physical to something spiritual. Jesus begins several parables by saying “The Kingdom of God is like…” so he could tie an abstract concept (the Kingdom of God) to something more concrete and visible (like a mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32).
Jesus chose to teach in story form because stories engage the mind and emotions of listeners like no other form of teaching. One great example of this is when Jesus painted a beautiful picture of what “loving your neighbor as yourself” meant when he told the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).
2. Understand the purpose of parables.
Jesus taught with parables for two main purposes: to explain truth to some (see Luke 10:36-37) and to keep truth hidden from others (see Mark 4:10-12 below). For those eager to follow God, parables were memorable illustrations of a kingdom principle. For those opposed to God’s plans, the meaning of the parables would be hidden in a form of judgment.
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.  Mark 4:10-12
3. See the parable in its proper context.
Often times a parable has a brief introduction that will greatly affect its meaning and interpretation. Luke 18:1 shares a key for interpreting the parable that followed when it said, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Other times, a parable’s context will inform us that it is directed toward a certain group of people (for example the Pharisees in Luke 15).
Parables are often grouped thematically, and understanding the main thread that ties related parables together can shed light on their overall meaning and interpretation. Luke 15 groups three parables together (the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son) to respond to the Pharisees and scribes who were hypocrites that did not understand the grace of God.
4. Remember the cultural gap.
Some of the images and metaphors have rich meaning to people in Jesus’ time that are not as easy to recognize for those living in the 21st century. The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) makes much more sense when one understands the Jewish marriage customs present at the time of Jesus. A good study Bible will likely have helpful notes to aid you in your study.
5. Parables usually have one main point.
Our understanding of a parable and its details should all flow from the main point (or points). This is a crucial step, because the main point of the parable is the reason Jesus said it in the first place!
Some recommended questions for finding the main point are:
1. Who are the main characters?
2. What occurs at the end?
3. What occurs in quotation marks?
4. Who/What is the focus of the story?  [1]
6. Take notice of surprise details.
Certain parables have shocking and unexpected twists in the story that help us understand the point Jesus was trying to make. Although a careful reading will usually expose the special details, sometimes these details are hard to pick up on due to cultural differences and our familiarity with the parables.
An example of an important and surprising detail is found in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35). The surprise detail of this parable is the difference in the amounts of money forgiven by the king and by the servant (thousands of dollars compared with millions of dollars), which shows the great magnitude of God’s forgiveness of us and how that should lead us to forgive others.
7. Not every minor detail has significant meaning.
Because parables are stories, they sometimes need supporting information in order for the main idea of the parable to make sense and have its power.
For example, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the story shares that five virgins were wise and the other five foolish. It would be wrong to conclude that 50% of people are wise and 50% of people are foolish. The fact that there were ten virgins total with five wise and five foolish is an inconsequential detail that merely helps the story progress. Often times pressing on insignificant details can make the story unravel and make one miss the entire point of the story.
8. Notice “stock imagery” in the parables.
“Stock imagery” is a term coined by Robert Plummer for many of the images used repeatedly throughout the parables. Many times repeated images are paralleled in the Old Testament and would have been common spiritual ideas understood by Jesus’ original hearers.
For example, whenever there is a Master/Judge/King figure in the parables, that signifies God, while sheep/servants/workers illustrate followers of God.
9. The ending of parables is very important.
While longer parables share a lot of important details along the way, the key to understanding the implications of the parable is often found in its conclusion. In the parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30), the ending reveals what happens to the wheat and tares respectively and shows the ultimate purpose of the parable which is to indicate that God will judge who is really part of the church at the final judgment.
10. Be careful with allegorical interpretations of parables.
There have been some throughout church history who have thought that the meaning of parables was hidden and unable to be explained without applying special meanings to the text. The problem with this is that they normally disregarded the plain reading of Scripture and offered confusing ideas from the mind of the interpreter.
An example of this is Origen’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan. He reads several details into the text: the man walking down the road signifying Adam, the priest signifying the Law, the Levite signifying the Prophets, the donkey signifying the body of Christ that bore our sins, and the Samaritan signifying what Christ did for us.
There is no basis for such an interpretation. It is much easier to understand when you remember the context: Jesus used the parable to answer a man’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” The Great Reformer Martin Luther called some allegorical interpretations of the parables “amazing twaddle” and “altogether useless.” Avoid these types of interpretations!
As you dig into the deep riches of Christ’s parables, it is our prayer that you develop a deeper grasp on the grace of God, an amplified experience of the Kingdom of God , and a hunger to follow hard after Christ.
[1] A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible: Playing by the Rules, Robert Stein
The ESV Study Bible | 10 Reasons to Read the ESV Study Bible
Plummer, Robert:  40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible
Snodgrass, Klyne: Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus

Also check out: Interpreting Parables by Michael Vlach /
Lesson 5 – Mark 4:1-35
·        This is probably a good time in your study to check with your men to see how they think the study is going.  Sometimes a small adjustment in format or focus can make a significant difference. 
·        Context:  Where did Mark place these parables in his narrative?  Reflecting on the responses to Jesus in chapter three could be helpful in understanding the parables in chapter four. 
·        Make note of the principles for interpreting parables and try not to over think or make things more complicated than they are.
·        2. It is probably significant that this reference to Isaiah’s ministry (who was commissioned to go to a people who had firmly rejected God and were destined to judgment) follows some Scribes deliberate, resolute, and unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  
·        I chose to go deep with the parable of the soils, so the questions primarily focus on that.
·        This is a helpful article on interpreting parables.  You should encourage the men to at least read the headings.
·        There is also a link to another helpful article.

The Gospel of Mark: A Serving Savior 2015-2016 / Lesson 4 - "Crowds and Conflicts" - Mark 3:7-35

Lesson 4 --“Crowds and Conflicts”--Mark 3:7-35
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)

The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Read Mark 3:1-4:3 to help understand the context of this passage.  Read Mark 3:6-35 in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use. 
Context: Mark 3:6 highlights an important transition as the Pharisees (ISBE-WBE) and Herodians (ISBE-BLB) begin planning how they might destroy Jesus.  What five conflicts in chapters 2-3 led up to this opposition?  Do you see any common themes developing?
1.     ID: (3:7-10)  Where did great multitude come from to see Jesus?  Why did they come?
2.     ID/CR: (3:11-12)  How did the unclean spirits respond to Jesus? (James 2:19-20)  What did He warn (order) them not to do? (Mark 1:23-25, 34)
3.     ID: (3:13-19)  Who did Jesus appoint as His disciples (Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16)?  Why did he appoint them (14)?  What did He give them power to do?
4.     WS: (3:21-27)  What accusations were made against Jesus?  By whom? What was His response to scribes’ reasoning?
5.     ID/CR/WS: (3:28-35)  What does it mean to blaspheme (blasphēmeō) the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 12:22-32; Luke 12:8-12)  To whom did Jesus direct that warning? (Comb the text for clues before you refer to the article below.)
6.     ID/CR: (3:21, 31-35)  Who was in Jesus’ family (Mark 6:3)?  Why did Jesus’ family want to take him back home?  Who did Jesus claim as his family?

The WALK: What should I do?
1.     What do you think brought two opposing groups together to oppose Christ?  How do we prevent those thoughts and attitudes from taking root in ourselves?
2.     The multitudes came to Jesus because of the things they heard He did.  What causes you to turn toward Him?  Who would you want Jesus to heal?
3.     Are Jesus’ two purposes for His disciples in 3:14 taking place in your life?
4.     Think of an area where it is difficult for you to “do the will of God.”  What concrete step can you take to this next week to bring that area more under His control?
5.     Where in this passage do we see Gospel truths about God, Man, Christ, and our response?  Have your sins been forgiven?
Going Beyond:  1. Read some of the articles about the “unpardonable sin.”
2. Update your Mark charts.  What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
q The Bible   q God  q God the Father   q Jesus Christ    q The Holy Spirit    q Man   q Salvation   q The Church         q Angels & Satan   q Future Things

What is the “Unforgivable Sin”?
By Andy Rau on his October 10, 2012, blog
Last week’s Monday Morning Scripture post highlighted Jesus’ response to accusations that he was in league with the devil himself. In answering his critics, Jesus refers to something that has troubled Christians ever since: the so-called “unforgivable sin.” Here are Jesus’ words:
I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.” — Mark 3:28-29 (CEV)
Different Bible translations word this differently; some use the phrase “eternal sin” or “unforgivable sin.” In some, the sin is to “blaspheme against” or “curse the Holy Spirit.” Whatever the wording, what troubles many readers is the suggestion that there is a type of sin that God will not forgive. Doesn’t this contradict verses like 1 John 1:9, which state that God will forgive all of our wrongdoing? What exactly is the sin that can’t be forgiven—and is it possible that you’ve committed it, even unintentionally?
These are serious questions. For an answer, I turned to author and apologist Lee Strobel’s Investigating Faith newsletter, where earlier this year he published a thoughtful reflection on a difficult Bible passage. Here’s Lee’s response to the question, “What is the unforgivable sin, and how do I know I haven’t committed it?”
“If you’re worried that you may be guilty of the unforgivable sin, you almost certainly are not,” Rick Cornish aptly points out in his book Five Minute Theologian. “Concern about committing it reveals the opposite attitude of what the sin is. Those who might be guilty wouldn’t care because they have no distress or remorse over the possibility.”
Jesus talked about the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:31-32: “And I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Let’s face it – that’s a very sobering teaching! But let’s put it into context. Note that Jesus didn’t address his comments to his disciples or a mere crowd. He was talking specifically to Pharisees who had personally witnessed his miracle of completely and instantly healing a blind and mute demon-possessed man (Matthew 12:22). Rather than acknowledging the obvious fact that Jesus was exercising divine powers, the Pharisees were so spiritually depraved that they attributed his power to Satan (v. 24).
“Their problem was not blind ignorance, but willful rejection,” pointed out Cornish. “That deliberate refusal to believe, even though knowing the truth, seems to be what Jesus called the unforgivable sin.”
As the Quest Study Bible puts it, “Jesus gave the solemn warning in these verses to people whose hard-heartedness placed them on the brink of disaster. Blasphemy against the Spirit evidently is not just a one-time offense; rather, it is an ongoing attitude of rebellion – a stubborn way of life that continually resists, rejects and insults the Holy Spirit. This is what makes it, in effect, an eternal sin (Mark 3:29). Blasphemy against the Spirit is not unforgivable because of something done unintentionally in the past, but because of something being done deliberately and unrelentingly in the present.”
So if you’re an authentic Christian, don’t spend time fretting over whether you have accidentally committed this unforgivable offense. “There is no biblical evidence that a genuine Christian can commit this (unforgivable) sin,” says the Apologetics Study Bible. “Fear that one has done so is probably a good sign that one hasn’t, for full-fledged apostasy is a defiant rejection of everything Christian and lacks the tender conscience that would be worried about such an action.”
·       You Asked: What Is the Unforgivable Sin?” -- Jonathan Pennington
·       What Is the Unpardonable Sin?-- Clay Jones
·       What is the “unpardonable sin”? / How does sin become “unforgivable”? -- Paul S. Taylor

Lesson 4 – Mark 3:6-35
I have been reflecting on the phenomenon of Jesus being popular with the masses and in conflict with the power brokers in first century Israel.
Context: From time to time there are context questions to help us focus on and understand the bigger picture.  This is important.
1. The Chronological Life of Christ indicates that the locations listed would mean that people could have traveled as much as 120 miles to see Jesus.  This says something about how widespread his reputation was at this time.  Note, while the dedication to travel that far was remarkable, the reason given was not that they believed in Him or wanted to hear his teaching.
3.  Some of the disciples were known by more than one name.  The second part of this question will be revisited in the WALK questions.
4.  This question is not meant to get into the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That is the next question.
5.  This is an issue that is clarified by Scripture as a whole, but push the men to glean insights from the text itself before branching off into systematic theology or general concepts from the articles linked from this lesson.
2. The second part of this question may give men an opportunity to share about themselves or someone in their life who is hurting.  This could be an opportunity for you men to get to know each other on a more personal level. 
I picked the article by Andy Rau primarily because it was so short.  There are links to three others that will provide more food for thought.


Monday, October 5, 2015

The Gospel of Mark: a Serving Savior / 2015-2016 - Lesson 03 - “Jesus Challenged on the Law” - Mark 2:13-3:6

Lesson 03   “Jesus Challenged on the Law”   Mark 2:13-3:6
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Read Mark 2:7-3:12 to help understand the context of this passage.  Read Mark 2:13-3:6 ina more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.  Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and 1 Samuel 21:6?
This passage introduces the ongoing conflicts with the religious leaders about the Jewish Sabbath.  Take so time in this lesson to focus on understanding the Sabbath, it’s regulations, and meanings, etc.
1.     ID: (2:13-17)  Before going to a Bible dictionary, make as many observations about Levi as you can from these verses (Note the parallel accounts in Matt. 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-32).
2.     ID: (2:16-17)  What kind of people did Jesus come to call?  How did that affect who he associated with?
3.     ID: (2:18-21)  Who questioned Jesus about His disciples not fasting? What reason and parables did Jesus answer them with?  How are they connected?
4.     WS/CR: (2:23, 27-28)  What was the Sabbath? (שַׁבָּת-shabbath /σάββατον-sabbaton) (Exodus 16:23-29; 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15)  What rules had been given about keeping (or observing) the Sabbath?  How important was it to keep the Sabbath?  (Leviticus 23:23-32; Nehemiah 13:15-21; Jeremiah 17:21-27; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 4:1-10)
5.     CR: (2:25-26)  The example Jesus gave about David eating showbread (1 Samuel 21:6) did not involve specific Sabbath rules.  How did it apply to the situation in Mark?  (Extra: Do you think the disciples were ignoring the Sabbath, not breaking the Sabbath, or breaking Sabbath rules and making an exception?)
6.     ID: (2:8)  What caused Jesus to be angry (orgē) and grieved (syllypeō)?  Why didn’t Jesus play it safe and wait till the next day to heal the man with the withered hand?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.     How do we harmonize Jesus’ eating with sinners in this passage with 2 Corinthians 6:14-18?
2.     Have you ever fasted?  How might fasting help you?  What are some precautions that should be kept in mind when we fast?
3.     Have you ever observed or known people who observed rules about a day of rest?  What were some pro’s and con’s you observed?
4.     How do you respond when your “religious expectations” are disrupted or ignored?
5.     Where in this passage do we see Gospel truths about God, Man, Christ, and our response?  Have your sins been forgiven?
Going Beyond: 1. Read an extra article. “Shabbat”; – “What is Shabbat?”; Grace to You ( – “Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?”; – “They Changed the Sabbath to Sunday
2. Update your “Miracles in Mark” and “Titles Given to Jesus” charts.

II. History of the Sabbath after Moses.
(Part of an article on the “Sabbath” in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ©1915)
1. In the Old Testament:
The early prophets and historians occasionally make mention of the Sabbath. It is sometimes named in connection with the festival of the new moon (2Ki 4:23; Am 8:5; Ho 2:11; Isa 1:13; Eze 46:3). The prophets found fault with the worship on the Sabbath, because it was not spiritual nor prompted by love and gratitude. The Sabbath is exalted by the great prophets who faced the crisis of the Babylonian exile as one of the most valuable institutions in Israel's life. Great promises are attached to faithful observance of the holy day, and confession is made of Israel's unfaithfulness in profaning the Sabbath (Jer 17:21-27; Isa 56:2,4; 58:13; Eze 20:12-24). In the Persian period Nehemiah struggled earnestly to make the people of Jerusalem observe the law of the Sabbath (Ne 10:31; 13:15-22).
2. In the Inter-Testamental Period:
With the development of the synagogue the Sabbath became a day of worship and of study of the Law, as well as a day of cessation from all secular employment. That the pious in Israel carefully observed the Sabbath is clear from the conduct of the Maccabees and their followers, who at first declined to resist the onslaught made by their enemies on the Sabbath (1 Macc 2:29-38); but necessity drove the faithful to defend themselves against hostile attack on the Sabbath (1 Macc 2:39-41). It was during the period between Ezra and the Christian era that the spirit of Jewish legalism flourished. Innumerable restrictions and rules were formulated for the conduct of life under the Law. Great principles were lost to sight in the mass of petty details. Two entire treatises of the Mishna, Shabbath and `Erubhin, are devoted to the details of Sabbath observance. The subject is touched upon in other parts of the Mishna; and in the Gemara there are extended discussions, with citations of the often divergent opinions of the rabbis. In the Mishna (Shahbath, vii.2) there are 39 classes of prohibited actions with regard to the Sabbath, and there is much hair-splitting in working out the details. The beginnings of this elaborate definition of actions permitted and actions forbidden are to be found in the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era. The movement was at flood tide during our Lord's earthly ministry and continued for centuries afterward, in spite of His frequent and vigorous protests.
3. Jesus and the Sabbath:
Apart from His claim to be the Messiah, there is no subject on which our Lord came into such sharp conflict with the religious leaders of the Jews as in the matter of Sabbath observance. He set Himself squarely against the current rabbinic restrictions as contrary to the spirit of the original law of the Sabbath. The rabbis seemed to think that the Sabbath was an end in itself, an institution to which the pious Israelite must subject all his personal interests; in other words, that man was made for the Sabbath: man might suffer hardship, but the institution must be preserved inviolate. Jesus, on the contrary, taught that the Sabbath was made for man's benefit. If there should arise a conflict between man's needs and the letter of the Law, man's higher interests and needs must take precedence over the law of the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-14; Mr 2:23 through Mr 3:6; Lu 6:1-11; also Joh 5:1-18; Lu 13:10-17; 14:1-6). There is no reason to think that Jesus meant to discredit the Sabbath as an institution. It was His custom to attend worship in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Lu 4:16). The humane element in the rest day at the end of every week must have appealed to His sympathetic nature. It was the one precept of the Decalogue that was predominantly ceremonial, though it had distinct sociological and moral value. As an institution for the benefit of toiling men and animals, Jesus held the Sabbath in high regard. As the Messiah, He was not subject to its restrictions; He could at any moment assert His lordship over the Sabbath (Mr 2:28). The institution was not on a par with the great moral precepts, which are unchangeable. It is worthy of note that, while Jesus pushed the moral precepts of the Decalogue into the inner realm of thought and desire, thus making the requirement more difficult and the law more exacting, He fought for a more liberal and lenient interpretation of the law of the Sabbath. Rigorous sabbatarians must look elsewhere for a champion of their views.
4. Paul and the Sabbath:
The early Christians kept the 7th day as a Sabbath, much after the fashion of other Jews. Gradually the 1st day of the week came to be recognized as the day on which the followers of Jesus would meet for worship. The resurrection of our Lord on that day made it for Christians the most joyous day of all the week. When Gentiles were admitted into the church, the question at once arose whether they should be required to keep the Law of Moses. It is the glory of Paul that he fought for and won freedom for his Gentile fellow-Christians. It is significant of the attitude of the apostles that the decrees of the Council at Jerusalem made no mention of Sabbath observance in the requirements laid upon Gentile Christians (Ac 15:28 f). Paul boldly contended that believers in Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, were set free from the burdens of the Mosaic Law. Even circumcision counted for nothing, now that men were saved by believing in Jesus (Ga 5:6). Christian liberty as proclaimed by Paul included all days and seasons. A man could observe special days or not, just as his own judgment and conscience might dictate (Ro 14:5 f); but in all such matters one ought to be careful not to put a stumbling block in a brother's way (Ro 14:13 ff). That Paul contended for personal freedom in respect of the Sabbath is made quite clear in Col 2:16 f, where he groups together dietary laws, feast days, new moons and sabbaths. The early Christians brought over into their mode of observing the Lord's Day the best elements of the Jewish Sabbath, without its onerous restrictions.)
Lesson 3 - Mark 2:13-3:6
Have you had any unbelievers visit or attend your group?  Encourage your men to invite friends who are seeking or open to spiritual things.
1. You might want to walk the men through some practical steps of making inductive observations about a passage with this question.  The PRECEPT AUSTIN site has some top notch information and encouragement about inductive Bible study.  The word “observations” links to my blog where I have a short portion of those materials about inductive questions.
3. It is interesting that it was some Pharisees and John the Baptist’s followers who joined in questioning about this.  This makes me wonder whether this might have been an honest question about why the disciples did not observe a practice that most serious followers of God were doing.  Thomas Constable’s Expository Notes and the NET Bible translation and study notes are helpful resources for these verses.
4.  Normally, I would emphasize not taking too much time on something like the Sabbath, but since it will be an issue again, it makes sense to have a good understanding about it.  I have links to multiple word studies, cross references, and articles in this lesson, so you should have ample resources.
5.  I have word study links for angry and grieved, but the real focus should be on whether we are hard hearted.  The WALK question 4 touches on this.
1.  The main purpose of this question is to give you an opportunity to explore the principles of being in contact with unbelievers without being influenced by them or yoking ourselves together with them.
2.  We don’t talk much about fasting.  If you have men who fast in your group, this will give them an opportunity to share about their experiences.  Please make sure to mention some of the medical cautions for fasting.  We don’t want someone with diabetes, etc. to go on a strict fast and end up in the hospital.
3. Resting is Biblical and this gives you an opportunity to talk about how to do that.
5. Please make it a point to make note of the gospel points.  It is important for the men to learn to observe how and when the Bible points toward the Gospel. I have organize your discussion around the four points we highlighted in the 2015 summer preaching series on the Gospel. 
·       I have part of an article about the “Sabbath” from the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on page two.
·       There are links to four articles about the Sabbath.  The first two are from non-messianic Jewish sources.  The third contains notes from John MacArthur on why we don’t need to observe the Sabbath as believers.  The last has some historical information about the switch from observing the Sabbath to worshiping on the first day of the week.
·       You probably don’t have time to look at them, but remind the men to keep up with their Mark charts.  I think it will be a valuable and meaningful resource for them when they finish the study.


The Gospel of Mark: A Serving Savior / 2015-2016 - Lesson 02 - “Ministry Begins in Galilee” - Mark 1:29-2:12

Lesson 02     “Ministry Begins in Galilee”   Mark 1:29-2:12
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Read Mark 1:32-2:16 to help understand the context of this passage.  Read Mark 1:35-2:12 in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.  Read Leviticus 14:2 about the procedure for lepers who had been healed.
1.     ID: (1:35-36)  What observations can we make about Jesus’ time of prayer?
2.     WS/CR: (1.41)  What does it mean that Jesus was “moved with compassion (splagchnizomai)?  (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34; Mark 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Luke 7:13; 10:33; 15:20)
3.     CR: (1:44)  Why did Jesus tell the leper He healed, “show yourself to the priest?”  What would the man have offered? (cf. Leviticus 14)
4.     ID: (1:44-45) Jesus did not allow the demons to speak in Mark 1:34 “because they knew Him.”  Now Jesus tells the healed man to show himself to the priest and “say nothing to anyone.”  What clues are in this passage to why Jesus didn’t want the healed man to speak about Him?
5.     ID: (2:3-5) How could Jesus see their faith (pistis)?  What does that teach us about faith?
6.     WS: (2:6) What does it mean for God to forgive (aphiēmi) sin?  Why did the scribes think Jesus was speaking blasphemies (blasphēmia)?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.     After a long day of teaching and healing Jesus rose in the morning long before daylight and went off to pray.  If Jesus is the Son of God, why did He need to pray?  When is the last time you took a prolonged time to pray? 
2.     Do you remember a time when someone showed you compassion or a time when you showed compassion?  What causes you to be moved with compassion? How can we develop the trait of compassion in our lives?
3.     Why do you think the healed man disobeyed Jesus and proclaimed freely that he was healed?  Why don’t we obey Jesus after he told us to proclaim the Gospel?
4.     Do people see our faith?  How should people be able to see our faith?
5.     What is the main point for each of these two miracles?  Are they related?
6.     Where in this passage do we see Gospel truths about God, Man, Christ, and our response?  Have your sins been forgiven?
Going Beyond:  1. Record these miracles on your “Miracles in Mark Chart.”
2.  What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
   The Bible     God    God the Father    Jesus Christ      The Holy Spirit      Man     Salvation     The Church     Angels & Satan     Future Things –

Introduction to the Miracles of Jesus
By Hampton Keathley IV
When something amazing happens, we often say, “It’s a miracle!” But more than likely that is not technically correct. It was not a true miracle. It was amazing, it was abnormal, etc., but was it a miracle?
What is a miracle?
(1) A scientist gave the following definition of a miracle on an April 14, 1995 PBS program. He said, “A miracle is nothing more than a natural law not discovered.” So, he doesn’t believe in miracles. He thinks everything can be explained scientifically. This is an attitude which at the least denies any intervention into our world by God, and more than likely means that scientist denies the existence of God.1 I don’t see how raising someone from the dead, restoring a blind man’s sight, etc. are natural laws not yet discovered. This is obviously a bad definition. The fact that anyone would take this guy seriously is a sad commentary on our society.
(2) A computer magazine had the following definition in its word-for-the-day section: “Coincidence is a miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous.” In other words, there is no such thing as coincidence. This elevates almost everything to the status of being a miracle. I would have to go along with the idea that there is no such thing as coincidence or chance. If there is such a thing as chance, then God has an equal out there in the universe, against which He is competing. Think about that statement for a minute. If there is such a thing as chance, then God has an equal out there in the universe that He is competing against. In other words, God is not in control. So, although I think that God is control and is involved in our lives, does that mean that these events are miracles? No.
These two illustrations represent opposite extremes. The truth is somewhere in the middle. What is a miracle?
If we look at the words the New Testament uses for miracles we see the following:
(1) It is an act of a supernatural being. The word dunamis has the idea of a supernatural power. It speaks primarily of the agent of the act. That power may be delegated to a human agent. The question is "Where did Jesus’ power to do the miracle come from?" There are two options - either from God or from Satan. Obviously, Jesus’ power came from God. Some suggest that Satan only imitates miracles. I think Satan can perform miracles. He does not have divine power, but he does have supernatural power. So the idea from the word dunamis is that there is supernatural power involved.
(2) Another word - terasa - speaks of the effect. A miracle is an unusual event. Terasa speaks of the wonderment of the event – as in signs and wonders. As a matter of fact, terasa is always used with semeion.
(3) The Greek word semeion means sign. A miracle is a significant event. It has purpose. Matthew, Mark and Luke use the first two more. John uses the word semion, because he is focused on the purpose of Jesus in performing the miracles.
(4) Therefore, in our search for a definition, if we combine the ideas of these words used in the New Testament, we might come up with the following definition:
Definition: A miracle is an unusual and significant event (terasa) which requires the working of a supernatural agent (dunamis) and is performed for the purpose of authenticating the message or the messenger (semeion).
I don’t want to imply that God can’t do a miracle without a miracle worker or that He can only do miracles when He needs to authenticate His message. But, examination of Old Testament and New Testament miracles shows that when a human is the agent performing a miracle, the purpose is authentication of the person and his message. For example: Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Apostles… That is the norm. It is a little oxymoronic to use the words norm and miracles in the same sentence, but I think it is important to establish what the norm is if possible because of what various people teach concerning miracles.

1 This attitude can be traced back into the period of the Enlightenment and received one of its most cogent arguments in the philosopher David Hume. For a brief description of Hume’s arguments, especially as they touch on the issue of the resurrection, see Greg Herrick, The Historical Veracity of the Resurrection Narratives,
Does your group take the time to read through the passage?  Is it really safe to assume everybody has read it or remembers what they read?  God promises to use his Word.

1. Question one in the walk section follows up with this question.  You might have that in the back of your mind as you guide the discussion on this question.
2. You might take the time to look through the references to see what it was that the Gospels say moved Christ with compassion.  Again there is a walk question to follow up with this topic.
25.49 σπλαγχνίζομαι; σπλάγχναc, ων n (only in the plural): to experience great affection and compassion for someone—‘to feel compassion for, to have great affection for, love, compassion.’
σπλαγχνίζομαι: Σαμαρίτης δέ τις ὁδεύων ἦλθεν κατ’ αὐτὸν καὶ ἰδὼν ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ‘but a certain Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon him, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him’ Lk 10:33.
σπλάγχναc: ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ ‘how I long for you all because of the compassion of Christ Jesus himself’ Php 1:8.
In Php 1:8 the phrase ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ is ambiguous. It may mean ‘because of the compassion which Christ Jesus himself has for you’ or ‘… for me.’ On the other hand, it may also be interpreted as characterizing the kind of love which Paul has for the believers, for example, ‘how I long for all of you, even with the kind of love Christ Jesus himself has for you.’[1]
3.  This is an opportunity to look back to Leviticus to see the law or custom referred to here. Don’t spend a lot of time on this.
4.  We saw Jesus tell the demons to not speak and now the ex-leper is told not to tell anybody.  I think you will see a couple direct hints why in the text.  The Chronological Life of Christ has some additional suggestions.
“Why does Jesus command him to keep silent about this?  First, as prejudice against Jesus rose, this leper’s chances of being declared clean by a priest against Jesus rises, this leper’s chances of being declared clean by a priest would diminish due to his connection with Jesus.  Thus, it was for the leper’s benefit.  Second it was for Jesus’ benefit.  His popularity is rising at such an alarming rate that he is already mobbed by the crowds.  Jesus is trying to avoid the very thing that happened (Mk 1:45): the leper blabs it all over and the crowds swelled so that Jesus can no longer enter any city but has to stay in the country.  Furthermore, as is indicated by Luke 5:15, Jesus’ presence creates excitement for the wrong reasons.  The crowds want physical healing and a circus show.  This makes it all the more difficult to teach his true identity.  Finally, the tensions have begun to rise between Jesus and the religious hierarchy.  There is no need for a premature, nasty confrontation.”  -- Moore, Mark E. The Chronological Life of Christ. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub., 2007. 132.
5.  Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.
6.  We have a claim by Christ to be God.  This is also a good place to do a word study on the word for forgive.
2.  Compassion is important for men.  Jesus was not a push over, but also had a “tender side.”  What should that look like for men?  Can we be tough and compassionate?
5.  Look for the Gospel in this passage.  Don’t force it in but take time to notice it.  We have truths about who Jesus is, what God is like, forgiveness, etc.
This is the start of an article that defines a miracle.  While it is not the only or even the best definition, it does use the three Greek words the Bible used to highlight some truths about Jesus’ miracles.

n neuter
[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 293.