Introduction: The New Bible Commentary reminds us that once a king
“had been anointed, proclaimed and given God’s Spirit for the task,
he had to go out and prove his calling.” (Commentary on Mark 1:21.)
Last week, Mark paraded a series of witnesses to prove that Jesus was
the Son of God. He showed us Jesus’ baptism and His endorsement by
God the Father and the Holy Spirit. This week Mark proceeds to show
us how Jesus now proves His calling. Let’s jump right into the middle
of the action!
- One In Authority
- Read Mark 1:21-22. Are you familiar with Jewish teaching?
If so, how do Jewish leaders teach? (Jewish leaders teach
much like American lawyers argue: they look “backward.”
Lawyers argue based on court decisions of the past. Jewish
teachers teach based on the writings and sayings of their
- How did Jesus teach? (Jesus taught as if He had
authority in Himself. He did not have to rely on
teachers of the past.)
- How do you teach? How should you teach?
- The Demons
- Read Mark 1:23-24. Do you sometimes feel that the relative
of this person attends your class?
- Consider this from Satan’s viewpoint. How does it
advance Satan’s work to correctly identify Jesus as
the “Holy One of God?”
- When the demon-possessed fellow says to Jesus, “Have
you come to destroy us,” do you think this reflects
the views and questions of Satan and his evil angels?
- Was Jesus the ultimate threat to the power of Satan?
- Read Mark 1:25. Why did Jesus tell the demon to be quiet?
- Let’s skip ahead a few verses. Read Mark 1:32-34. Again,
we have Jesus interfering with demon free-speech. What
reason does the text give for Jesus keeping these demons
- We have this pattern of Jesus keeping evil angels from
correctly identifying Him. Why not say to the crowd, “Hey
guys, did you hear what he said? Well, even Satan knows
who I AM. Do I have a witness?” (Jesus’ work is to
confront, defeat, and destroy evil. He certainly did not
want to be giving any credit to demons. Perhaps more
importantly, John’s gospel records that at the beginning
of Jesus’ ministry He was concerned about the timing of
things. ( John 2:4: “My time has not yet come.”) My bet is
that Jesus thought the best way to convert the people was
to slowly prove who He was, rather than start with the
claim He was the Son of God.)
- Read Mark 1:26 and re-read Mark 1:34. What is the outcome
of these confrontations with demons?
- What important piece of evidence has Mark given us to
prove the calling of Jesus? (That Jesus has power
over the forces of evil.)
- What is the lesson for your life?
- Read Mark 1:27-28. What conclusion do the people reach?
(None. They say, “What is this?” They acknowledge the
power of Jesus. They see He has new teaching presented in
a new way. But, they do not reach a conclusion.)
- Let’s step back into our discussion of the conclusion
of the demons. The people were curious and working
through the problem. The demons were sure – they had
already worked through the problem. What lesson do
we learn here about evangelism?
- At the Church Board meeting this week, we discussed
promoting the “Forty Days of Purpose” outreach
program in our local church. One Elder objected. He
said our church had distinctive truths and we should
start with those, rather than a more generic approach
to bringing people to Jesus. Good question. Should we
evangelize with our distinctive points of doctrine?
(Jesus did not evangelize by starting with the
conclusion. He gradually brought people along so that
they could reach their own conclusion about who He
was. Let’s say your church has a distinctive doctrine
about the nature of the Second Coming or last day
events. It does not seem to me that Jesus would
start evangelizing by presenting those conclusions
- The Leper
- Read Mark 1:40. How was this fellow’s faith?
- Read Mark 1:41-42. What do we learn about Jesus’ attitude
about sickness? (He has compassion towards those who are
sick and He is willing and has the power to heal.)
- Read Mark 1:43-45. In retrospect, should Jesus have healed
- What are you balancing in discussing this question?
- Is this the kind of consideration that goes on
in heaven today when we ask to be healed?
- What is Jesus’ attitude towards the Mosaic law?
- The Paralytic
- Read Mark 2:1-2. What do you think was Jesus’ first
priority: preaching or healing? (My feeling is that His
healing resulted from two things: 1)His heart for
suffering people; and, 2)His desire to attract people to
His preaching. His preaching of the gospel must have been
His first priority.)
- Read Mark 2:3-4. How do you like it when your first
priority is interrupted by others?
- Imagine preaching and all of a sudden there is this
big noise of digging and scraping in the roof. This
is followed by junk falling down on the crowd and on
you. How do you react if you are trying to preach
while this is going on?
- Would you consider the people who were breaking
up the roof to be inconsiderate and rude?
- Put yourself in the place of the friends of the
paralyzed guy. Would you take one look at the crowd
and decide to come back tomorrow?
- What motivated them to persist?
- Do you consider them to be inconsiderate and
rude? Or, loving, caring and resourceful in
helping their friend?
- When people in the church are suffering, is your
attitude more like “let’s come back tomorrow” or
“let’s dig a hole in the roof?”
- Read Mark 2:5. How did Jesus react? Was He irritated by
- Step back a minute and consider the digging and
Jesus’ preaching. Is the digging a good thing for
what happens next? (Yes. It focused the attention of
the people on what Jesus said and did to the
paralyzed guy. The digging was a blessing to Jesus’
- On what did Jesus base His conclusion about (v.5)
“their” faith? (Their works!)
- Who does Jesus mean when He says “their” faith?
- The problem is that this fellow is paralyzed. Put yourself
in the place of the friends. You just got through the work
and embarrassment of digging through the roof in front of
this big crowd. Instead of healing your friend, Jesus says
“Your sins are forgiven.” How do you feel?
- Why would Jesus be talking about sins? (Read John
9:1-3. The common perception was that sickness was
caused by sin. Some, obviously, was. Whether the
paralytic’s sickness was caused by sin or whether he
merely thought it came from his sin, apparently his
sin was his first concern. Jesus addressed his first
- Read Mark 2:6-7. Are the teachers of the law correct?
(Yes. Only God can forgive sins.)
- What point is Mark making to us?
- Read Mark 2:8-9. What is the answer to Jesus’ question?
Which is easier to say?
- If you answered “Your sins are forgiven,” are you
- Read Mark 2:10-12. If the teachers of the law had not been
thinking critical thoughts, would this paralyzed guy have
- If you were in the crowd, would you be convinced by Jesus’
logic? Is it logical to believe that everyone who heals
can also forgive sins? (It is true that healing comes from
the power of God. But not everyone who heals is God. I
think Jesus was making a different argument. The critics
were saying, “This is just hot (and blasphemous) air.
Anyone can say anything.” Jesus shows that His words have
power. When He says I can forgive sins, they need to take
His words seriously.)
- What important evidence has Mark given us to prove the
calling of Jesus?
- Friend, how about you? Do you take Jesus’ words seriously?
Do you truly believe that He has power over Satan? Do you
believe He has the power to forgive sin? Are you, like the
paralyzed guys friends, active co-workers with Jesus in
overcoming the power of Satan? Or, are you waiting for a
more convenient, less-crowded day?
- Next week: Sabbath Healings and Hard Hearts.