Published November 19, 2009
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Dec 6
The Sea of Galilee provided a fitting backdrop for the early ministry of Jesus. The residents were common, hardworking people who felt the burdens of everyday life. Jesus began His ministry, He spoke words of challenge and encouragement that addressed their everyday lives in practical ways.
People today need to see how Jesus’ teachings are practical in our time and our culture. In this lesson, we will explore what Jesus wants to do in the lives of common, ordinary people.
He can save - Mark 1:14-15
Readers will notice a difference between the HCSB and KJV in the translation of verse 14. At the risk of oversimplifying a more complex study, suffice it to say that evangelical biblical scholars have identified two main families of ancient manuscripts.
The Eastern family developed throughout the Roman area, mainly in Constantinople. The Western family developed in Northern Africa, primarily around Alexandria. Translators compare the two families with other known ancient biblical manuscripts and translate each passage in a manner they deem closest to the inerrant original.
In verse 15, Jesus spells out two requirements for salvation: repent and believe. His Jewish listeners would have been familiar with the concept of repentance but they also would have taken offense.
When a non-Jew decided to become a Jew, they recanted their old life and declared their allegiance to God’s commands. As a symbol of that change, they submitted to public baptism. Jesus told his listeners that in the new Kingdom, even Jewish followers came to God in the same way non-Jews did.
Repentance means more than just a change of mind; it also involves a change of heart and results in a change of action. Believing involves more than giving mental assent to data presented; it also involves transferring trust from ourselves to what Christ has done on the cross, and ordering our lives accordingly.
We need to be careful that our presentation of the gospel includes the same demands Christ presented. Jesus saves all who come to Him when they come to Him in repentance and faith.
Discussion question: What are some ways we present a gospel without a call for repentance?
He can lead - Mark 1:16-20
We often use the phrase “called by God” to refer to those in vocational ministry. However, all who have repented and believed in Jesus have answered His call.
Since following a rabbi involved leaving behind – at least temporarily – one’s vocation and family, disciples usually chose their own rabbis after much deliberation and consideration.
Jesus, however, sought out His own disciples, and His call was so compelling they immediately went with Him. They left jobs and families, uncertain where they were going and what they would experience.
Discussion Question: What do we find difficult to let go of and leave behind to follow Jesus?
He can free - Mark 1:21-28
Jesus’ teaching exhibited an authority no other teacher had ever shown. His words carried more weight and had more effect than any teaching the scribes had ever presented.
This reminds us that any teacher has no authority of his own. The only authority we have in our teaching is the authority that accompanies God’s Word. People are set free not by the effective communication skills of a human teacher, but by the transforming power of God’s authoritative and infallible Word.
Of all places one would expect to encounter a demon, “church” would seem to be a most unlikely place. Yet, Jesus and His disciples encountered a demon-possessed man in the synagogue, with Jesus demonstrating His authority over the demonic realm by commanding the demon to be quiet and to come out of the man.
Jesus has power over everything in our lives, demonic or otherwise, that hold us in bondage. When Jesus works in the lives of His believers, even unbelievers notice His work and He gets glory. “His fame then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.”
Discussion question: How can God get glory through our difficulties?
He can enable - Mark 1:29-31
Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue and went to Simon’s house for “Sabbath Dinner.” Normally, as matriarch, Simon’s mother-in-law would have served Jesus and her guests, but she lay in bed sick of a serious fever. Jesus went to her at once and healed her fever. Her immediate reaction was to get up and begin serving her guests.
How often do we enjoy the blessings of God, the answers to prayer, and then return to our normal course of life without so much as a “thank you” to God or, even more, rededicating ourselves to His service?
As we read the Gospel of Mark over the next several weeks, we will see the word “immediately” occur quite often. Mark stressed the immediacy with which Jesus moved and the immediacy with which His disciples and those He touched responded to Him.
Questions for discussion: What obstacles has Jesus removed from your life? Did you respond quickly or delay in your service to Him?
Following Jesus begins with a decision to repent of our sins and believe in His work on Calvary’s cross on our behalf. Jesus calls all of us to forsake our own way and follow Him, living our lives in obedience to Him.
He has power and authority over every obstacle that stands in the way of obeying Him. Once we have been touched with Jesus, we can freely and thankfully devote ourselves to serve Him.
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