SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Mark 1:1 through 3:35
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11)
John Mark, author of the Book of Mark, was the son of Mary, a devout woman who lived in Jerusalem and in whose home early Christians assembled. Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, and traveled with both Barnabas and Paul. It is possible that Mark was converted to Christ through the ministry of Peter, and later he acted as Peter’s interpreter and helper.
The Book of Mark is considered by many to be the earliest of the Gospels, probably written between A.D. 50 and 67. The book was likely written from Rome for the purpose of reaching the Gentile Christians, to prove unquestionably to them that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
From the opening words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . .,” Mark established Jesus’ credentials. The book documents the ministry of John the Baptist, then tells of the baptism of Jesus, His temptation, and the call of the disciples. By the third chapter, Jesus is already beginning to face opposition.
Most of the events recounted in these first three chapters took place in the area of Galilee. Capernaum, a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, was an economic center and had a military installation. This city became Jesus’ headquarters.
The narrative is fast-paced, and the Greek word eutheos, translated straightway, seems to be a favorite of Mark’s. While various English words are used, the original word was used eight times in the first chapter and thirty-nine times in the other fifteen chapters.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- What aspects of John the Baptist’s ministry were identified in Mark 1:3-4? In what way does this message apply to us today?
Several aspects could be mentioned. Verse three brings out that John the Baptist was commissioned to proclaim the coming of the Messiah and prepare His way. Ask your students to suggest ways we can present Christ today. Some of their examples might include witnessing to others, giving a thoughtful word or smile, offering to pray for someone who is experiencing difficulties, etc.
John the Baptist also called the people of Israel to repentance for the remission of sins. Today, repentance is still the only route to a right relationship with God through the remission (pardon, deliverance, or forgiveness) of sins. A person who has a repentant heart will recognize the wrongs he has done and be sorry for them. This great regret about sin will cause a desperate desire for change in the person’s ways and habits.
Your students may also mention that John’s baptizing of individuals who had decided to give up sinful ways and turn to God is a clear example of the ordinance of water baptism for believers.
- Jesus’ water baptism was a milestone in His earthly life. Prior to that event, He had been little known. When He came to be baptized by John, He was publicly introduced as the Messiah, and shortly would begin His ministry. Why do you think His personal baptism was necessary? Mark 1:9-11
God used this occasion to show His approval and witness to Jesus’ ministry. This was also a witness to the Trinity because God spoke and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus. Further class discussion could also bring out that Jesus was baptized to show support for John’s ministry, and to give us an example to follow in the ordinance of water baptism.
- What does Christ expect us to give up to follow Him, and what can we learn from the disciples’ response to Jesus’ call? Mark 1:16-18
God requires a full surrender of our hearts and a yielding to Him of our all. We may feel that we have nothing good to bring to Jesus and that others have more to give, but that is not the point. God is looking for those who will let Him control their lives. Heaven will be filled with those who gave their all.
The disciples left their livelihood and changed lifestyles, and they did it “straightway.” You might ask your class the advantages of responding to the Lord quickly, and the disadvantages of postponing our response when He calls. Some of your students may be willing to share personal experiences.
- While Jesus was in the synagogue on the Sabbath, one who had an evil spirit spoke out about Jesus. How did Jesus respond to the man possessed by the evil spirit? (Mark 1:23-26) What does this account tell us about evil spirits and Jesus’ power?
Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and He did not accept demonic testimony to His lordship. Any truth spoken by evil spirits may be mixed with lies and deception. Although Jesus would later proclaim Himself the Son of God, His own statement of the message would be pure. In every case where Jesus confronted evil spirits, He rebuked it and caused it to leave.
This account gives the believer hope that Jesus not only has authority and ability to forgive sins, but also to deliver from the power that causes sin. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to defeat him in every way.
- When Jesus left the synagogue, He went to the house of Simon Peter and Andrew. As soon as they entered the house, Jesus was told about Simon’s mother-in-law being sick. How did Jesus respond to the problem? (Mark 1:31) What difference should it make in our lives that Jesus has the power to heal the sick and deliver the demon-possessed?
Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Each of the Gospel writers reported what stood out to them, and often they highlighted different details. Matthew’s account mentions that Jesus touched the woman’s hand (Matthew 8:14-15). Luke added that Jesus spoke to the fever and it left her (Luke 4:38-39). In Mark’s account, He helped her up. These accounts do not conflict. Each writer chose to highlight different details of the account in order to emphasize certain characteristics of Jesus. We get a more complete picture as we read all of the accounts. The important point is that Jesus has power to heal the sick.
Today we can go to God in prayer, knowing that He has the power to meet our every need. If we are sick, we can be healed through the same power that was available when Jesus walked on earth. Those who are bound by demon possession can be delivered in the same way.
You could bring out to your class that Jesus was able to help Simon Peter’s mother-in-law because He was an invited guest in their home. Think what Peter and his family would have missed if they had not invited Jesus to their house! What are some of the blessings we will enjoy if we invite Jesus into our homes?
- In the second chapter, Jesus came to a house in Capernaum, which became so full that there was no more room to enter. What do the details in Mark 2:3-4 tell about the paralytic man and his friends? What motivated Jesus to respond to the man’s plight? Mark 2:5
Class discussion could bring out that the man seemingly was desperate for help. He and his friends all demonstrated faith — the paralytic by being willing to be carried to Jesus, and the four men by putting their faith into action, proving that they believed if they could get their friend to Jesus, he would be healed. The extreme steps they took show the determination they had to reach Jesus. Their faith and determination resulted in more than healing: the sick man was also pardoned from his sins.
Jesus was motivated to respond to these men because of their faith. The Greek word pistis translated as faith in verse 5, indicates a strong conviction of belief and assurance of an answer to their request.
- Several times Mark referred to an event taking place on the Sabbath day. What did the disciples do that outraged the Pharisees? How were the Pharisees misguided about the Sabbath? Mark 2:23-28 What benefits result from honoring the Lord’s Day?
The disciples plucked corn and broke the kernels off; or as Luke says, “[Rubbed] them in their hands” (Luke 6:1). The Pharisees were outraged with the disciples because the Law did not allow work on the Sabbath, and they deemed that the disciples had violated the Law by their actions.
It might be interesting to point out to your class that the Jewish legal traditions had thirty-nine categories of activities that were forbidden on the Sabbath. Harvesting was one of them. The Pharisees went so far as to describe different methods of harvesting that were forbidden, and one of these was to rub the heads of grain between the hands, as the disciples did.
The Pharisees were misguided in that they were locked into the letter of the Law, but missed the purpose and benefits of the Law. This resulted in bringing men into bondage and dread of the Law of God.
As you discuss the results of honoring the Lord’s Day, it should be noted that setting Sunday aside to honor God helps us set our priorities spiritually. Also, it is beneficial in the physical and emotional aspects of our lives. Review with the class some specific benefits of honoring the Lord’s Day, such as time to worship and pray, a way of showing our respect for God, and fellowship with other Christians.
- The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were so desperate to excuse and defend themselves that they resorted to accusing Christ (Mark 3:22). What was their accusation against Him? How did Jesus answer the charge? Mark 3:22-27
They accused Christ of having Beelzebub (a name referring to Satan) and casting out devils through the power of the prince of the devils.
Jesus answered the charge by asking the logical question: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” The answer was obvious: If Satan were to cast out evil, he would be working against himself.
Cover the three rebuttals Jesus used:
1. “If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24).
2. “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
3. “If Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand” (Mark 3:26).
- In Mark 3:28-30, Jesus said that all sins, even blasphemy, can be forgiven. God’s love reaches out to all, even those who curse and revile Him. However, He warned of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which is sometimes referred to as “the unpardonable sin.” Because a person can only be saved through the Holy Spirit’s work, the person who rejects the Holy Spirit removes himself from the only One who can lead him to repentance. Who was Jesus talking to in this passage, and why do you suppose He addressed this subject with them? Mark 3:22, 30
Jesus gave this warning to the scribes because they said, “He hath an unclean spirit.”
The key point of this question is to make sure your students understand what “the unpardonable sin” actually is. Sometimes people worry that they have committed the unpardonable sin. However, the very existence of concern shows that they have not rejected the Holy Spirit. The sin of rejecting the Holy Ghost is unforgivable because the one who commits it will never feel any drawing to seek forgiveness.
Encourage all unsaved in the class to seek God while He is dealing with them. The time may come when the Spirit will not do so.
Jesus showed Himself to be the Son of God. Many people opposed Him, but He was able to demonstrate His Messiahship by both His words and His miracles.