Introduction: How many times has someone come to you for help,   and you realize that something is not right? What they think they need is not really what is needed. For example, some one comes to you (once again)to borrow money. What that person more likely needs is a budget, self-restraint, or a better job. Our lesson this week looks at two stories in the Bible that illustrate getting to the root cause of the things that bother us in life. Finding the root cause is important to finding true rest.  Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Paralytic

    1. Read Mark 2:1-3. What do you think was Jesus’ first priority: preaching or healing? (His preaching must have been His first priority. Healing arose from his compassion for suffering people and His desire to attract people to His preaching.)

    2. Read Mark 2:4. How do you like it when your first priority is interrupted by the priority of others?

      1. 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?

        1. Would you consider the people who were breaking up the roof to be inconsiderate and rude?

      2. 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?

        1. What motivated them to persist?

        2. Do you consider them to be inconsiderate and rude? Or, loving, caring, and resourceful in helping their friend?

        3. When people in your church are suffering, is your attitude more like “let’s come back tomorrow” or “let’s dig a hole in the roof right now?”

    3. Read Mark 2:5. How did Jesus react? Was He irritated by their rudeness?

      1. 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’ ministry.)

      2. On what did Jesus base His conclusion about (v. 5) “their” faith? (Their works.)

      3. Who does the text refer to when it says, “their faith?”

    4. 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?

      1. Why do you think Jesus is 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 sin, apparently his sin was his first concern. Jesus addressed his root concern.)

    5. Read Mark 2:6-7. Are the teachers of the law correct? (Yes. Only God can forgive sins.)

      1. What point is Mark making to us?

    6. Read Mark 2:8-9. What is the answer to Jesus’ question? Which is easier?

      1. If you answered “Your sins are forgiven,” are you sure?

    7. Read Mark 2:10-12. If the teachers of the law had not been thinking critical thoughts, would the paralyzed guy have been healed?

    8. Is it reasonable 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.)

  2. Elijah

    1. Read 1 Kings 18:21-24. Is this a fair test?

      1. Why does Elijah say that he is the only prophet of the Lord? (It is not fair by human standards for him to be up against 450. This points to the power of God. It also says something about Elijah’s attitude.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:27-29. Is this a respectful debate? Is Elijah showing compassion towards the false prophets? How would you characterize his attitude?

    3. Read 1 Kings 18:36-38. How would you feel if you were Elijah?

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:40 and 1 Kings 18:45-46. How do you explain the different attitude towards King Ahab and the false prophets? Isn’t Ahab their sponsor?

      1. How would you characterize Elijah’s attitude?

    5. Read 1 Kings 19:2-3. How can this be possible? How can he be afraid of anything?

      1. Notice that his first stop is in Judah. One commentator pointed out that if the actual issue was fear for his life, Elijah would be safe in Judah where Jehoshaphat would have protected him from Jezebel. To leave his servant and continue to run to the desert means something deeper is the problem.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 19:4. What do you think Elijah means “is enough?” (He has had enough conflict. He is battle weary.)

      1. Have you ever felt this: burnout, depression, or some similar mental health issue that makes no logical sense?

      2. Is he like the paralytic in that the real problem is not obvious?

    7. Read 1 Kings 19:6. How does God approach this kind of mental problem? (He shows that he cares. He gives Elijah things that are the opposite of letting him die.)

    8. Read 1 Kings 19:7-8. What is the next step for treating this kind of problem? (To seek out God. God helps him in this effort.)

    9. Read 1 Kings 19:9-10. What is Elijah’s key complaint? (He is alone.)

      1. Is that true? (He was the lone man against the priests of Baal.)

    10. Read 1 Kings 19:11-12. What is God’s message to Elijah in this demonstration? (That God is in charge of nature. Elijah may feel alone, one man against everyone else, but the God who controls nature is on his side.)

      1. What does it mean that God was “not in” the wind, earthquake, or fire?

      2. Is this connected to the fire that consumed the sacrifice? (Yes! God is capable of the most frightening and glorious displays of power. Elijah is concerned that God has left him alone against God’s enemies. God shows Elijah that God’s methods are not about raw power.)

    11. Read 1 Kings 19:13-14. Does Elijah understand God’s message? (I don’t think he understands at this point in time.)

    12. Read 1 Kings 19:15-17. How does God operate? (He doesn’t need fire to come down from heaven. He doesn’t need the majority to be on His side. He is simply in control.)

      1. Let’s focus on 1 Kings 19:16. What were the two personal requests that Elijah made? (He said, “it is enough” and that he wanted to die. 1 Kings 19:4.)

        1. How does God answer Elijah’s request to be relieved of duty? (He answers it by giving him a successor.)

        2. How does God answer Elijah’s request to die? (Read 2 Kings 2:11. Elijah is now thousands of years old!)

        3. What does this show us about our God?

    13. Friend, God knows the underlying issues in your situation. He cares about you, He is in charge, and He will take care of you. Will you trust Him today?

  3. Next week: The Rhythms of Rest.