The Personal Factor
(Mark 2 & 9)
Introduction: Have you ever wondered what is the best way to bring people to Jesus? Should we go door to door? Talk to people when they are trapped next to us in an airplane? Pass out flyers? Stand on the street corner and proclaim the message? Let's jump into our lesson and examine some stories of people being brought to Jesus!
- The Roof Rippers
- Read Mark 2:1-2. Is Jesus tackling people in the street to listen to His message? Is He trapping people in a house to listen to Him? How many people were there to listen to Jesus? (They did not have even standing room - even the places outside the door were taken! Jesus had a crowd.)
- Did the people come to Jesus' "home?" What does this suggest about the need to tackle people in public? (It suggests that if you have a worthwhile ministry, people will come to you!)
- Read Mark 2:3-4. Here is an example of bringing a person to Jesus. Assume you are one of the friends who wants to bring this paralyzed guy to Jesus. What obstacles do you have to overcome? (Lots! First, this guy cannot get to Jesus on his own. You cannot bring him by yourself, so you have to work with others. Second, when you get there, the crowd is so big you cannot approach. Third, you have to break into the property of someone else to get Jesus' attention! Last, you have to lower the fellow down to Jesus.)
- Do you think these friends had to fix the roof later?
- How many of you have been willing to do so much to bring someone to Jesus? I assume some of you have been willing to drive someone to church. Would you have you been willing to drive someone if it took three other people to help? What if it involved house repairs?
- What would you do if you brought a friend to church and it was full and you had no place to sit?
- What lesson do we learn about witnessing from this story so far? Is it just passing out tracts or flyers and running away? (No! This is an example of extreme, determined, personal involvement! Tackling people in public is by nature impersonal.)
- Read Mark 2:5. Whose faith did Jesus see? (Every translation I consulted renders this as plural: "their faith." The friends who brought this paralyzed guy showed their faith in going this far to bring him to Jesus.)
- If you were one of the guys who brought the paralyzed guy, would you be discouraged at this point? Did they bring this fellow to be forgiven of his sins?
- Couldn't they get his sins forgiven down by the temple where the crowd was limited?
- Read Mark 2:6-9. Are the teachers of the law right?
- Do you agree with the logic of the argument that Jesus' made to these teachers? (The teachers of the law were exactly correct in thinking only God can forgive sins. Jesus was also correct in saying "talk is cheap." As an aside to this exchange between Jesus and the teachers: If you do not believe that Jesus is fully God, you are not paying close attention when you read the Bible!)
- Read Mark 2:10-12. Do you agree with Jesus' logic here? If you heal, are you God? If you heal, do you have power to forgive sins?
- Let me just spin your mental wheels a moment. Does Jesus' statement in Matthew 16:19 fit in with Jesus' suggestion in Mark that if God gives you the power to heal, He can also give you the power to forgive? (This story and Matthew 16:19 challenge my traditional thinking. Let's consider carefully the logic of this story. The teachers of the law believed that only God could forgive sins. Jesus did not dispute that conclusion. Instead, He argued that proof that He was God was found in His ability to heal. I agree this is some proof, but it would not be conclusive proof for me. However, Jesus did not say this was conclusive proof.)
- Let's turn next to another story in Mark.
- Our Power to Heal
- Read Mark 9:17-18. We are going take this story out of order for a little bit. Tell me why this man says that he "brought [Jesus] my son" when he brought the son to some of Jesus' disciples? (Apparently, the father believed, or the disciples claimed, that they were Jesus' agents.)
- Is there any lesson in this in bringing people to Christ? (We need to make clear that we are not God! Further, we need to be careful about claiming to speak for Him. It is better to direct the people to God and what He has written.)
- Now, let's start at the beginning of this story. Read Mark 9:14-16. Let me ask you the same question Jesus asked, what do you think they were arguing about? (It obviously had something to do with the boy not being healed. However, I do not think that was something to argue about because he obviously was not healed. Instead, I think they were arguing about their authority to heal or their authority to speak on behalf of Jesus. They were not able to heal, but they maintained that they could.)
- Read Mark 9:17-19. Who is the unbelieving generation? What if I am right that the disciples were arguing about their ability to heal? Is Jesus saying that the disciples lacked belief? (They argued they had the "right stuff," but it turns out they did not. Note that if the disciples were arguing with the teachers about the power of Jesus, then Jesus might be addressing this comment to the teachers of the law.)
- Let's jump ahead again to better follow this line of the story. Read Mark 9:28-29. Why didn't Jesus say "this kind can only come out by faith" - since He had just referred to an "unbelieving" generation?
- As you are trying to bring someone to Christ, is "roof ripping" the only necessary ingredient? That is, our first story taught us the necessity of diligent effort. This story teaches us something else. What is it? (That we need to earnestly ask in prayer for God's power. We are co-laborers with Him. Prayer is the link to heaven.)
- Let's go back now. Read Mark 9:20-23. Why do you think the spirit threw the boy into a convulsion when he saw Jesus? (It seems this was some sort of challenge to Jesus. Sort of a rebel's "brave face.")
- This is an example of another person brought to Jesus. What can this convulsion teach us about problems in bringing an unbeliever to Christ? (Satan and his evil angels will resist. Sometimes the person who is interested in Christ will, perhaps, seem hostile at times because of the resistance of evil.)
- There is a big theological question lurking in these verses. How is it that a child can be demon-possessed? The law has something known as the "age of accountability" and Christians generally subscribe to the idea that a child has to reach a certain age before he can knowingly accept or reject salvation. Can you be demon-possessed before this age? (This specific Greek word is only used once in the New Testament. However, the word from which it is derived can refer to a "mature child.")
- Although the Bible clearly ascribes this child's condition to an evil "spirit," many would suggest that this speechless (v.17) child has a medical condition which results in these seizures (v.18). Does Jesus' question in v.21 sound more like a medical question or a theological question? (I am not one who rejects the plain statement of the Bible to superimpose my "superior" wisdom about modern medical diagnosis. However, it surely sounds like Jesus is asking a medical question. What difference would the length of the condition make if the cure is casting out the evil spirit?)
- Look at v. 22. What is wrong with the father's request? (He suggests that Jesus is like His disciples -- He might not be able to help.)
- Is that attitude a problem? (Yes!)
- If you pray and your prayer request is not granted, is it because you lacked faith? (This story clearly teaches that a lack of faith, a lack of prayer, could be the reason. However, our lesson (Wednesday) has a brilliant comment that notes Jesus said (v.23) all things are "possible," not all things are "guaranteed." Jesus asks us to believe that are prayer requests are possible.)
- Read Mark 9:24-27. Is there anything that you particularly like about the Father's statement in verse 24? (I like that he asks Jesus for help even in the fact of believing. This is total dependence on God.)
- Why was the spirit allowed to abuse the boy even after Jesus was on the scene? (This is another lesson in personal witnessing. Jesus is the victor over sin and will ultimately eliminate it, but the battle still rages between good and evil here on earth. Those who are coming to God should not be surprised when Satan gives them a few last kicks as he leaves.)
- Friend, bringing someone to Jesus can be hard work. It requires not only a personal touch, but it requires faith and a serious prayer effort. Are you up to the task? If not, ask Jesus to help you.
- Next Week: Powerful Pray-ers