Lesson 2 Miracle Worker
Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: .
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!
I. One In Authority
A. 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 predecessors.)
1. How did Jesus teach? (Jesus taught as if He had authority in Himself. He did not have to rely on teachers of the past.)
1. How do you teach? How should you teach?
I. The Demons
A. Read Mark 1:23-24. Do you sometimes feel that the relative of this person attends your class?
1. Consider this from Satan’s viewpoint. How does it advance Satan’s work to correctly identify Jesus as the “Holy One of God?”
1. 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?
1. Was Jesus the ultimate threat to the power of Satan?
A. Read Mark 1:25. Why did Jesus tell the demon to be quiet?
A. 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 from speaking?
A. 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.)
A. Read Mark 1:26 and re-read Mark 1:34. What is the outcome of these confrontations with demons?
1. What important piece of evidence has Mark given us to prove the calling of Jesus? (That Jesus has power over the forces of evil.)
a. What is the lesson for your life?
A. 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.)
1. 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?
1. 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 first.)
I. The Leper
A. Read Mark 1:40. How was this fellow’s faith?
A. 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.)
A. Read Mark 1:43-45. In retrospect, should Jesus have healed this fellow?
1. What are you balancing in discussing this question?
a. Is this the kind of consideration that goes on in heaven today when we ask to be healed?
1. What is Jesus’ attitude towards the Mosaic law? (Positive.)
I. The Paralytic
A. 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.)
A. Read Mark 2:3-4. How do you like it when your first priority is interrupted by 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?
a. Would you consider the people who were breaking up the roof to be inconsiderate and rude?
1. 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?
a. What motivated them to persist?
a. Do you consider them to be inconsiderate and rude? Or, loving, caring and resourceful in helping their friend?
a. 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?”
A. 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.)
1. On what did Jesus base His conclusion about (v.5) “their” faith? (Their works!)
1. Who does Jesus mean when He says “their” faith?
A. 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 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 concern.)
A. 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?
A. Read Mark 2:8-9. What is the answer to Jesus’ question? Which is easier to say?
1. If you answered “Your sins are forgiven,” are you sure?
A. Read Mark 2:10-12. If the teachers of the law had not been thinking critical thoughts, would this paralyzed guy have been healed?
A. 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.)
A. What important evidence has Mark given us to prove the calling of Jesus?
A. 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?
I. Next week: Sabbath Healings and Hard Hearts.