Newcomers welcome!  Please join us as we read about Jesus during the 40 days leading to Easter.  No previous Bible reading experience is necessary!  You can read from a Bible or go to www.BibleGateway.com .

To all who read the Bible, please read it as being more than a history book, religious document, or a book that tells stories about God and Jesus.  Yes, it is all those things, but also so much more!  The Bible is called the Living Word because God is still speaking to us through the Bible.  As you read, take note of the things that seem to speak to you, jump out at you, or stay on your mind after reading.  Those are the things God wants to bring to your attention.  Each of us will read the same passages, but take away different things because of how God speaks to us differently according to who we are and what He wants to say to us.  If someone else picks up on something you didn’t even notice, it’s ok.  It doesn’t mean you’re not as bright or that you’re not good at reading the Bible.  Not at all!  It just means that the Living Word spoke differently to that person.  Some things might not speak to you much at all, while other things make more of an impact.  Disciple Bible Studies encourages us to not just read what the Bible says, but also be open to what the Bible says to us.

Today’s reading is the first chapter of Mark.  The Book of Mark is believed to be the first Gospel written about Jesus, dated between AD 55-65, which would be 25-35 years after Jesus lived.  It is the shortest of the four Gospels and is referenced in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Mark was not one of Jesus’ disciples.  His biography of Jesus is compiled of stories he heard, or possibly read.  Mark accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey, so it is possible he acquired much of his information during that time.

Mark begins by referring to Jesus as Messiah.  He is referencing the Jewish use of Messiah which meant “anointed one”.  Old Testament writings refer to the coming Messiah as the divine One whom God will send to be King, to deliver God’s people from oppression, and reign supreme.  He also quotes the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3, written approximately 700 years before Jesus was born) and his foretelling of John the Baptist who would come to prepare the people for Jesus.  Mark goes on to report Jesus being baptized by John, Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit, and affirmed by God as His “beloved Son” with whom God is “fully pleased.”   From this we hear Jesus referred to as the Son of God.  Mark also tells about Jesus going into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan, then begins his accounts of Jesus’ ministry.

Follow-up questions:

  1.  How long was Jesus in the wilderness, alone, and exposed to wild animals?  (1:13)
  2.  Who tended to Jesus?  (1:13)

(For more about Satan confronting Jesus and Jesus’ response to Satan, refer to yesterday’s reading, Luke, Ch 4.)

3.  Temptation is only bad when we give in to it.  The Gospels show how temptation was used to strengthen and prepare Jesus.  What can we learn from Jesus’ time of temptation?

4. Jesus rebuked Satan by quoting scriptures (Luke, Ch 4).  With this in mind, how can we prepare ourselves so we’re ready when temptation comes our way?

5. What were Jesus’ first words in Mark?  (1:15)   Why does He refer to his teachings as “Good News”?

6. Back in the day of Jesus, Pharisees ruled with a heavy hand. Jesus would proclaim the news that would set the oppressed free, give sight to the blind, and heal the sick.  These things would be true literally and spiritually.  What examples of this did you find in today’s reading?

7.  Perhaps most amazing for those who witnessed Jesus’ miracles was his ability to cast out demons.  Even demons submitted to his authority, and the demons knew who Jesus was.  Demons recognized Jesus before his followers did!  Why did Jesus command demons to be silent and not reveal His true identity?

Bible scholars and commentaries suggest that 1) Jesus wanted people to recognize Him as their Messiah and Savior because of their own experiences and beliefs, 2) Jesus would reveal his true identity when the time was right, not when Satan forced him to do so, 3) Jesus didn’t want people to follow Him because he could perform miracles, but because He could free them from the power of sin and death, and that time had not yet come.

8.  Jesus had a busy time in Galilee.  He spent the day teaching in the synagogue (like a church, where scriptures were read and taught on the Sabbath Day), then healed “great numbers” of people who came to him at sunset.  Why does the Bible say they came at sunset? (1:32)  Why didn’t they come throughout the day?

The Sabbath was a day set aside for worship of God and rest.  It began at sunset the night before, and ended at sunset on the Sabbath Day.  People waited until sunset because they were observing Sabbath throughout the day.  Hmmm….what can we learn from this?

9.  What is the first thing Jesus did the next morning?  (1:35)  What does this say for the busy way we live our lives today?

After praying, did Jesus tell the people He was tired and needed a day of rest?  No.  He was refreshed and revived by His time in prayer.  He went on to do the work God called Him to do.

10.  Who were the people Jesus met with and healed?

The people Jesus tended to were those who were sick, oppressed, and those cast aside by society because of their afflictions (illness, physical handicaps, demons, leprosy).  Jesus not only gave them his attention, but also physically touched them and made them well.  Disciple Bible Studies refer to these people as “the least, the last, and the lost.”  Mark’s accounts talk about physical healings, but these miracles led to spiritual healing, too, that benefited the sick as well as those who saw and heard about the wondrous things Jesus could do.

Dear God, Thank You for these teachings about Jesus.  Please help us in times of temptation to be strong like Jesus.  Thank You, also, for the miracles Jesus performed during His ministry and the many ways You continue to be at work in our lives today.  May we live in ways that reflect the goodness of Jesus to others so that we might bring glory and honor to You.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen. 

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