A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1–12, NIV)
What kind of friends do you have? The kind that have enough faith to do whatever they need to to get you to Jesus?
What do you think the friends of the paralyzed man thought about him? He obviously could not do everything they could, but do you think they thought less of him because of it?
Why would the religious elite think so poorly of Jesus’ actions which healed a man? Wouldn’t you think they would rejoice that healing came to someone who needed it?
How important is the faith of your friends to you? How does that faith impact your own?
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where
“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9.42-50, NIV)
How does your life influence others in positive ways? And are you watching out that you do not cause harm to others?
What situation can you think of that might be an example of causing “little ones” to stumble or sin?
In what was does it seem harsh that Jesus would advocate cutting off a hand or plucking out an eye that causes you to sin? In what ways does it seem a perfectly normal reaction to sin?
How can we influence others to peace?
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16–20 , NIV)
How would you start the process of gathering people who would help spread your good news to the entire world? And how crazy would your request for them to follow you sound?
What sort of things would you need to hear in order to give up everything to follow someone, including Jesus?
Notice that the new followers of Jesus left everything “at once,” and “without delay.” Is this surprising to you? Why or why not? How do you think would you would have responded?
What questions were left unanswered (or even unasked) by Jesus when these disciples began to follow him? What should we understand by this lack of questions and answers?
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35–41 , NIV)
It’s interesting that the power of Jesus to calm was what prompted his disciples to be frightened. We do not know what to make of amazing power, do we?
In what ways do we try to control the fears we face on a day-to-day basis? How do storms, literal storms, challenge our assumption that we can control things?
Why do you think Jesus was able to sleep during this storm? What causes you to have peace during the storms of your life?
What is the best response we can give to Jesus for his power to calm storms? How does this response compare or contrast to the response of the disciples?
He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Mark 4:21–25, NIV)
What’s the purpose of a lamp? To shine light. What’s your purpose? Are you fulfilling it?
How crazy is it to think one would buy a lamp and then hide it so no-one could see the light from it? Why do people try to hide those things they have–ability or message?
How difficult is it for you to understand what you have been given and your ability to use those gifts?
Why do you think people who “do not have” will have what they do have taken from them?
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:35–39, NIV)
Someone once said the greatest single argument in favor of prayer is this: Jesus prayed.
How does the start of Jesus’ day compare to the typical start of your day? In what ways might you make your day more like Jesus’?
What do you sense Simon’s thinking was in trying to find Jesus? What was most important to him? What was most important to Jesus?
How are prayer and “preaching” related? What might you pray to better help you share the message of Jesus with others?
Numbers 16.41-18.32; Mark 16.1-20; Psalm 55.1-23; Proverbs 11.7
Your Bible probably mentions in a note or by using italicized typeface that verses 9-20 of Mark 16 are not in the most reliable of our Bible manuscripts. I think for some, the fact that the women come to the tomb, Jesus is not there, and they leave “trembling and bewildered, and … frightened” just seems like too strange of an ending. Yet, if you have been reading Mark’s gospel closely, it makes perfect sense. In a way, Mark is just identifying the reaction many of us would have had if we found ourselves in these women’s shoes. He also leaves us with an important question: These women ran in fear. What are you going to do?
So let me get this straight. The Lord punishes Israel for grumbling against Moses and Aaron, people are killed over their complaints, and then the very next morning … the people start to complain all over again. What’s wrong with these people?
What does the fact that the women brought spices to anoint Jesus tell us about their understanding of the situation at hand?
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Ps. 55.22) What burdens do you need to give God today?
What is the connection between wickedness and relying on our own strength?
Numbers 15.17-16.40; Mark 15.1-47; Psalm 54.1-7; Proverbs 11.5-6
If you read Mark 15 carefully, you discover there were at least two people who knew Jesus’ true identity. In the midst of the accusations, the mocking, the jeering, two of the most unlikely suspects understand that the man they are witnessing is indeed the Son of God. Which brings the focus on us. Many reading this might claim to follow Jesus, but in the midst of the chaos of this life, do we stop and proclaim: Surely this man is the Son of God?
What things similar to the blue tassels of the Israelites might we use to help remind us of God who rescues us?
How bad would a group of people have to be that they preferred a known murderer to someone who brought life to others, instead of take it away?
In what ways have you been able to say: God is my helper?
What examples can you give of ambitious people who have been trapped by their desires to get ahead?
Numbers 14.1-15.16; Mark 14.53-72; Psalm 53.1-6; Proverbs 11.4
If you were accused of something you did not do, how much effort would you expend to prove you were not guilty? I can’t help but think I would say anything and everything that might help my cause and when people did not listen, I would say it again, only louder. Yet there is something incredibly powerful (truth be told, maybe even speaking louder than all the voices!) of someone accused, yet refusing to defend himself or herself from false accusations. Had you been a bystander during the “trial” of Jesus, how do you think you would have reacted to his silence?
Can you think of a time when you refused to listen to someone trying to persuade you to follow God in the midst of a trial or during a choice you had to make? How did not listening turn out for you?
How maddening would it have been for Jesus to have to sit and listen to the Jewish religious leaders try to find people whose stories would align, all the while seeing them not being able to do so?
If God looked down form heaven today to see if anyone was truly wise and followed him, what response do you think he would give? How does your life support or detract from that response?
Riches versus right living. Which would you prefer?
Numbers 11.24-13.33; Mark 14.22-52; Psalm 52.1-9; Proverbs 11.1-3
If we had been counting from the time God appeared to the Israelites in Egypt to this point in our story, how many miraculous, powerful things do you think we would have seen God do? Just a cursory reading indicates that at every turn, God was with his people. He provided them with everything they needed and rescued them when they needed his power the most. So just why would the Israelites, specifically they 12 spies, suddenly decide God was not powerful enough to defeat the people of Canaan? Are we ever guilty of doing the same thing?
Moses is described as the most humble man that ever walked the face of the earth. Why does God use the most humble people to do the greatest good?
Jesus requests that God use some other way besides the crucifixion to accomplish his purposes. In other words, Jesus was not exactly wild about the suffering he was about to undergo. What does this tell you about his humanity? About the trials and suffering you might face?
Why would someone boast about wrong doings, when they should be repenting?
When have you seen honesty guide good people, or a more modern way of saying this: a time when honesty proved to be the best policy?