The Gospel of Mark #4 – Study Questions
A life of worship.
Mark 2:18-28 (CGS#4)
INTRODUCTION: Heading into the conclusion of chapter 2, we are about 24 months into Jesus’ earthly ministry. That’s right, two whole years into his ministry. Feels quick, doesn’t it? It feels like we just started with Jesus, and his ministry just began in the region. However, Jesus has been preaching, teaching, and performing miraculous deeds all through the region for quite some time now. When we began the series, we described Mark’s Gospel as a passion narrative with a prologue. That is, Mark really deals with the last month and weeks of Jesus’ life and has a brief intro section to cover the first 2.5 years of ministry. Why wouldn’t he slow down and give us a fuller picture of the life of Christ? The answer to that is wrapped up in the purpose and occasion for Mark to write his Gospel. He and Peter have been traveling around supporting churches and are now in Rome. By the 50’s AD, Christians have faced significant persecution. At this point, the original eyewitnesses of the resurrection and Jesus’ ministry are beginning to die or be martyred. So, while Mark still has Peter around, he sets out to record the essentials of what needs to be passed on. And more than the early years of ministry, what is most important? The death and resurrection of Jesus. That is what they’ve staked their lives on. So, Mark gives us pertinent details and key interactions from the first two years but then camps around the last season of Jesus’ life. It is the fact that Jesus came back from the grave that changed everything for him, them, and us. Mark doesn’t want us to miss that.
One of those key interactions Mark gives us comes in 2:18-28. Jesus is answering a controversy about fasting and the Sabbath that has come up. Jesus isn’t so much worried about the particulars of either but is most concerned that those there understand exactly who he is. See the ironically tragic logic of the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist come back to the front. They knew God deserved worship, and worship included obedience. They just made their obedience the object of their worship and tragically missed the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t want them or us to do the same. Jesus deserves our worship as the Son of Man, the Messiah, and God incarnate. With that, our worship is to include a life of obedience. That’s how we worship God with our whole lives. Again, the Pharisees were right but tragically blinded to the reality that God, the right object of worship, was right in front of them. It is easy to pull the rug out from under them, but if we look in the mirror, we’re a lot like them, aren’t we? We often make the action of worship the object of worship. Or we exchange the giver for the gift and worship the gift. Prayer, fasting, keeping the Sabbath, Bible study, whatever it is, is only good because of whom it connects us to, God. He deserves our complete worship. But we can’t miss it, a life of worship is a life of obedience.
GETTING STARTED – As a group, take time to answer this question. If you had to define what worship is, how would you? How would you know that you are worshipping God? Are there things that are worship or aren’t worship? What role does obedience to God play in worship?
IN THE WORD – Let’s dig back into the passage(s). It is important to strengthen our muscles in reading God’s Word. On Sunday, we walked through the passage in the sermon. Hopefully, that helped you to see the landmarks of the passage with fresh eyes. Now, with your group, go back through it and see what God is saying to you specifically.
First, before you read the passage, take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to quiet your mind and heart and to illuminate the text to you. Second, read the passage aloud to the group. Then, follow the simple method below. (O.P.A)
Observe: Make 8-10 observations from the passage. Pay close attention to observe and note repeated words and phrases, names, places, and themes.
Principles: From your list of observations, what patterns or big ideas do you see emerging? Can you distill it down into 2-4 big idea truths?
Apply: Moving from your list of principles, it is time to apply God’s Word. Remember, we believe that God’s Word is living and active and that it can change the way we live Monday- Friday. What is one tangible way to apply a truth from your list above?
Note: Another way to approach your time together is to talk through the following questions.
- What was clarified for you in this passage about Jesus’ person and character?
- When you look at the life of Jesus, how do you see him modeling obedience as an act of worship? How might his teaching on fasting and the Sabbath inform your answer?
- The logic of the Pharisees was ironic and tragic all at the same time. How can we slip into similar patterns? I.e., How do you see yourself in the Pharisees in this passage?
- Out of this passage, what do you think the point of the Sabbath is? What tends to interrupt your rest with the Lord?
- Jesus teaches that even the good practices of fasting and the Sabbath are not more important than him. What good things do we elevate to the level of being an idol? I.e., What good things do we confuse for God?