The Gospel of Mark 4-6: The Kingdom of God and the Disciples of Christ

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...
First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Yesterday, I started a weeklong series of Bible studies through the Gospel of Mark.  Yesterday we started our study by looking at how Jesus is presented in Mark chapter 1-3.  This morning, I would like to continue our study by asking you to read Mark chapter 4-6 in your Bibles.  In today’s study we will see how Jesus 1.) Taught about the Kingdom of God through Parables, 2.) Displayed His authority over nature through miracles and 3.) Sent out His disciples to carry out His mission.

As you read through this study, I have included some questions in italics for your to think about.  After you have finished reading through and thinking about this study I would like for you to share something you learned about Jesus in the comments section.  Finally, I would urge you to share these posts with your friends and family members through Facebook or Twitter.

 

1. The Parable of the Sower (4:1-25)

 

Jesus often used parables when He taught His disciples.  A parable is an earthly story with a spiritual meaning or application.  Usually parables have one main point Jesus is trying to drive across.  In this passage, we see one of the most important parables that Jesus taught. We often refer to this as the parable of the sower or soils.

 

There are four types of soil in this passage: hard, stony, thorny, and good.  Jesus shows how each of the first three soils fails to produce a harvest.  In the next set of verses, Jesus’ disciples come and ask Him about the meaning of the parables. In verses 13-20, Jesus explains it to them.  In verse 14, Jesus says that the seed is the Word.  In other words, the seed represents the message of the gospel. In the verses that follow, He begins to explain what each of the four represent.

 

This parable is about the different ways people respond to the message of the gospel.  Some hear the word but immediately reject it and turn away from the truth.  The truth never penetrates their hearts and Satan comes and immediately steals the truth from them.  In Jesus day, this group was best represented by the religious leaders of the day: scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees.  These people had become so hardened in their own understanding of the Scripture that they rejected Jesus outright.  Others, represented by the seed that falls on stony and thorny ground, seem to initially receive the gospel, but later turn away when the trials and difficulties of life come their way.  These two groups represent what we might call a superficial acceptance of the gospel.  The last group, represented by the seed that falls on good ground, hears the word and accepts it, but unlike the previous two groups they endure and produce a harvest.

 

The lesson in this parable is very important, because it teaches us that the evidence of true Christianity is not how you start but how you finish.  Many people make professions of faith only to later abandon the faith when things get tough.  The evidence of a genuine Christian is that they endure by God’s strength and power to the end.

Here is helpful article dealing with seed that fell along the wayside and the rocks.

 

2. Jesus Displays His Authority Over Nature (4:35-41)

 

As in the previous miracles that we looked at yesterday, the miracle of calming the winds and the waves is

 

Jesus with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee...

 

a demonstration of Jesus’ authority over nature.  Many of the disciples were seasoned, veteran fisherman who had grown up around the Sea of Galilee and were well acquainted with its frequent storms.  The fact that they thought they were about to die (v.38), shows just how violent and dangerous this storm was.  According to v.38, Jesus was asleep during the storm and the disciples thought that He didn’t care if they died or not. 

 

If you had been in the storm with the disciples, do you think that you would have felt that Jesus  didn’t care about you? Why or Why not?

 

The most amazing thing in this story is that all Jesus had to do to stop the storm was to speak three words, “Peace, be still.”  In other words, Jesus had complete authority over the natural forces involved in this storm.  Verse 42 is ironic, because the disciples began this passage being afraid of the storm and ended it being afraid of Jesus.  When the Bible says that the disciples “feared” Jesus, we should not take this to mean that they were afraid that Jesus would harm or hurt them.   The “fear of the Lord” is a phrase that believers often use to describe our respect or reverence for God.  The point of this passage is this: when we serve Jesus we don’t have to be afraid of anything, because Jesus has complete power and authority over everything and everyone in this universe.  This truth would become very important to the disciples later, when they would face persecution because of what they believed and preached (see Acts 4:22-32).  Christians throughout the ages have remained faithful under extreme hardships, because they “fear” God more than they “fear” their circumstances or those who would persecute them.

Here is a helpful article by Danny Akin entitled “Trust the One Who Controls the Storm”

 

3. Jesus Sent Out His Disciples (6:7-13)

 

            Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus training His disciples and preparing them to continue spreading the “good news” after He leaves to go back to heaven. In this passage, we see the first time that Jesus sent out His disciples on their own.  You will notice in v. 7, that “He called the twelve”. These are the same twelve that were designated in Mark 3:13-19.  Take time to reread Mark 6:7-13 and see if you can answer the following questions:

 

What did Jesus give the disciples power to do?

 

What were the disciples forbidden to take on the journey? Why do you think Jesus gave them this command?

 

What  were the disciples supposed to do in places where they were not welcomed?

 

By giving the disciples the power to cast out demons, Jesus was showing that they were His representatives.  In other words, the same authority that gave Jesus the power to cast out demons was not operating through His disciples.  In Acts 1:8, just before He ascended back to heaven, Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them so that they could be His witnesses throughout the world.  This is an important doctrine for the church, because we often feel powerless to do the work that Jesus has called us to do.  The mission of the church is so big and Satan’s opposition is so fierce that we often feel intimidated.  But the Bible consistently reminds us we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out the works that Jesus has called us to do.

 

Jesus told the disciples not to take any supplies with them on the journey, because He wanted them to learn to be dependent on Him.  This command was not intended to be permanent and, later on, Jesus rescinds it for the disciples (see Luke 22:35-38).  The point of the command was that Jesus would give us all that we need for the mission.  When we go out on mission, we can be certain that God will provide for all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).

 

Take a moment to share what you learned about Jesus from today’s Bible study in the comments section. 

 

 

 

 

Study of the Gospel of Mark: Pt 1. Who is Jesus?

Lindisfarne Gospels -- Mark
Lindisfarne Gospels — Mark (Photo credit: manuscript_nerd)

 

 

This week I would like to invite you to join me in a week-long study of the life of Christ.  Primarily we will base this study in the Gospel of Mark, but I will also draw in several other passages of Scripture that will help us to gain a deeper understanding of the person and ministry of Christ.  Today I would like to invite you to get out your Bible and read the Gospel of Mark chapters 1-3.

 

Since Jesus is the source of our life and the object of our affections, it is important for every believer to have an correct understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do.

 

Take a moment to read Mark 1:1 again and underline the following three words in your Bible: Gospel, Christ, and Son.  Each of these three words are important for understanding who Jesus is and what He came to do.

 

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic
Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic (Photo credit: jakebouma)

 

1. The Message of Jesus is Good News

 

The word “gospel” simply means good news.  In Jesus’ day, when a king would win an important battle or there was some news of national importance that needed to be delivered, he would send out a messenger who would carry the “good news” or the gospel to the people.  Mark is telling us in this verse that the message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is “good news.”

 

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is “good news” to us, because they tell us how God has reconciled us to Himself.  Last week, we learned about how Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden.  The curse of sin has been passed from generation to generation, all the way from Adam’s day to the present.  The “good news” of the gospel is that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin and rose again to give us new life.

 

2. Jesus is the Christ

 

             Some people think that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name, but actually the word Christos means “anointed one”, and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term messiah.  Therefore, when the New Testament refers to Jesus as the Christ, it means that Jesus is the Messiah whom the Old Testament prophets said would come.  The Old Testament has dozens of prophesies about the Messiah that have been fulfilled in the life of Christ.  The Gospel of Matthew is especially concerned with how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.  Take a minute to consider the following passages and how Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies.

 

Read Matthew 1:18-25

 

Read Matthew 2:1-6

 

3. Jesus is Fully God

 

One of the best demonstrations that shows Jesus is God is found in Mark 2:1-12.  In this passage, four men bring their friend, who had been paralyzed from birth, to see Jesus.  When they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching and healing, they were unable to get in because of the great crowd that was around the house.  So, the men went up onto the roof and made a hole large enough to be able to lower their friend through.  When Jesus saw their faith, He made an astonishing comment, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  The scribes, who were the religious experts of the day, immediately picked up on what Jesus was claiming.  In their hearts they reasoned, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  They understood that by claiming to forgive this man’s sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.

 

Jesus demonstrates that He is divine in two ways in this passage.  First, He demonstrates that He is all-knowing by being able to discern what was in the scribes’ hearts.  Jesus knew what they were thinking without them ever saying it.  This is something that only God can do.  Second, He demonstrates that He is able to forgive sin by healing the paralyzed man.  Notice what Jesus asks in Mark 2:9: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?”  Obviously, it is easier to say that “your sins are forgiven”, because there is no objective way to prove that statement.  Notice what Jesus says in v.10-11: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…I say to you, arise take up your bed, and go to your house.”  Do you see what just happened?  Jesus confirmed His ability to forgive sin by speaking the word and healing a paralytic.  In other words, the miracle served to prove “who” Jesus is.

 

             The greatest demonstration of Jesus’ divinity is the resurrection. In John 10:18, Jesus, speaking of His physical life, says, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have the power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” The Apostle Paul builds on this same theme in Romans 1:4, where He says that Jesus was, “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  The resurrection proves that Jesus is God because only God has this kind of power over life and death.  No one raised Jesus from the grave.  He had the power to lay His life down and to raise it up again.

 

Other Articles You Might Find Helpful:

Review of “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart” (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)

How often do you have to repent in order to be sure?