Lesson 6

Passion Predicted

(Mark 7:24-9:13)
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Introduction: What keeps a person from having faith in Jesus? The insults of church members? The failure of prayer to obtain the requested results? Spiritual blindness? This week we study a series of stories surrounding Jesus' miracles. In these stories we learn lessons about the importance of faith. Let's dive into our study!

  1. Let the Dogs Eat


    1. Read Mark 7:24-26. How do you feel when you want to be left alone and someone is bothering you? Is that how Jesus feels here?


      1. Even when you want to be left alone, are you willing to be interrupted for sufficiently important reasons?


        1. Is this a sufficiently important reason?


    2. Read Mark 7:27. Why is Jesus talking about feeding dogs?


      1. If Jesus is calling this woman a "dog," what does that say about His attitude toward her interruption? (He was calling her a "dog." She was not only a Gentile, she was a woman, neither of which got you any points in that culture.)


      2. Mark smooths over Jesus' roughness towards this woman. Read Matthew 15:22-23. What additional insult do we see in Matthew? (Jesus ignores her. He does not even answer her at first.)


      3. Read Matthew 15:24. Is this woman outside the scope of God's care?


        1. What would she think is the answer?


    3. Let's look back again at Mark 7:27 and then read Mark 7:28. Put yourself in her place. What response would you give? What response would the world give? What would be the outcome of this story if verse 28 reported that she threw back insults at Jesus and said: "I'm having nothing to do with whatever religion you have to offer." (She made no insult. Instead, she called Him "Lord!")


      1. What do her words reveal about her? (If you look carefully at Mark 7:27, you will see that Jesus is not closing the door on her. He is implying that something may be available after the children eat. She grasps the small hope given in His words.)


      2. What cuts across racial and gender lines and gives this woman a miracle? (Faith! She did not look to the left or the right. She tossed off insults and societal disabilities. She held fast to faith.)


    4. Read Mark 7:29-30. What lesson do you find here for the modern church? (How many times do we wail about our inherited problems? I have this problem because of my race, my gender, my upbringing, my parents, etc. We get so upset if someone treads on our "problem." If that is the focus of your life, you are missing the point of this story. Faith is the great leveler. Faith brings you to the throne of God.)


    5. Now, all of you bigots (and, honestly, we all are, including you) what is the lesson in this for us? Should we be making distinctions based on race and gender? Is that the lesson Jesus is teaching? (No. Jesus is teaching us that faith is our common bond. Whatever side of the equation you are on, whether the favored or disfavored race or gender, we need to look only through the eyes of faith.)


      1. Would Jesus have so throughly insulted this woman if she lacked faith? (It is hard to imagine that Someone who stands at the door of our heart knocking ( Revelation 3:20), is waiting to hurl insults. Jesus knew her heart.)


  2. Bread and Yeast


    1. Let's talk about food some more. In Mark 8:1-10 Jesus again feeds thousands of people by multiplying the small amount of food they had on hand. He and his disciples then got into a boat. Read Mark 8:14-16. What are some of the ingredients of bread? (Yeast would be one.)


      1. When the disciples go to the store to buy supplies, they should avoid the yeast marketed by the Pharisees or Herod. Right? Herod brand yeast is out.


    2. Read Mark 8:17-18. What problems do the disciples face, according to Jesus? (They cannot properly see, hear, think or remember. And, they are unspiritual.)


      1. Let's do a self-check. Is Jesus talking about bread?


    3. Read Mark 8:19-21. What is there to understand? (Jesus is talking about bread at some level. Why should the disciples worry about having enough bread when they have Jesus with them - the man who had twice fed thousands of people from basically nothing.)


      1. Should you be worried about your needs in life? (Yes, if you cannot properly see, hear, think or remember. And, you are unspiritual. The disciples were worried about having enough bread and Jesus said those things about them!)


      2. Compare the Gentile woman to the disciples. (She showed faith in the face of adversity. The disciples did not show faith when things were going perfectly for them.)


    4. Let's get back to the initial question: Jesus warning about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. Is Jesus talking about bread in that context?


      1. What does yeast do to bread? (It makes it expand.)


      2. What was Jesus doing to the bread in the feeding of the thousands? (He was making it expand.)


        1. What, then, is "Jesus yeast" versus "Pharisee yeast?" (Jesus performed these miracles through the power of God. Herod and the Pharisees were working through their own power. The disciples were using "Pharisee yeast" when they were worried about forgetting to bring more bread. They were focused on what they could do or what they had. Although yeast is used to represent a number of specific sins (see, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7; Galatians 5:7-9; Luke 12:1), it seems that Jesus is talking about an attitude of faith versus the attitude of the world and false religion. We need to have faith that Jesus can "expand" whatever we have to meet the need.)


      3. Whose fault was it that they had forgotten bread? (The disciples.)


        1. Does the spiritual lesson turn on who is at fault for creating the problem? (The focus is on Who is the solution, not who is at fault. The focus is on faith.)


  1. Tree Watching


    1. Read Mark 8:22. Who asked Jesus to heal the blind man: him or others? (It appears that those who brought him asked Jesus to heal him.)


    2. Read Mark 8:23-24. What does it mean to see people who look like trees walking? (I know all about this. Until some recent surgery, my eyesight had been getting worse over the years. (Too much reading!) When I was in college, because I could not see that well at a distance, I would recognize people on campus by the way they walked. This fellow is telling Jesus that the only way he can tell people from trees is that the people are moving.)


    3. Read Mark 8:25. How many times did Jesus have to perform this miracle to obtain perfect results?


      1. How do you explain an imperfect miracle?


        1. Why would Jesus imperfectly heal this man's vision the first time? (Let's start with the assumption, based on His other miracles, that Jesus had the power to do it right the first time. Recall two things. First, Mark has been teaching us about faith. Second, it appears the blind man came based on the faith of others. By performing a "two stage" miracle, Jesus cultivated this man's faith.)


        2. What lesson do we find for us? (When it seems that God has not perfectly solved your problems, perhaps it is to cultivate your faith.)


    4. Friend, what about you? Have you let the insults of others keep you from faith? If so, consider the faith of the Gentile woman. Have you let "imperfect" answers to your prayers keep you from faith? If so, consider the blind man healed in two stages. Has your faith failed simply because you do not open your eyes to what Jesus has done in your life? If so, consider Jesus' disciples and their concern about bread. Faith in Jesus is central to your spiritual life.


  2. Next week: Teaching the Disciples.

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