The Gospel of Mark #5 – Study Questions
The Values and Expectations of Discipleship
Mark 3:1-35 (CGS#5)
INTRODUCTION: Just over a month ago, when we started our journey into the Gospel of Mark, we discovered Mark’s main purpose for his Gospel, which is that all who read it would see Jesus clearly and follow him accordingly. As we make our way through chapter three this week, we are once again going to see Mark’s purpose on display. In this chapter, we find the final conflict with the religious leaders from the larger section included in chapters 2 and 3. Here, the challenges and claims of the religious leaders become increasingly intense. One scholar notes, “Sometimes we become so familiar with reading the Gospels that we miss the audacity of what is really happening. One almost feels sorry for the scribes and Pharisees at this point. Imagine the audacity of trying to ambush God incarnate. It is mission impossible.” Jesus turns their accusations and claims back on themselves and reveals their hardness of heart. Not only are they not willing to see that he is the Messiah, but they should have readily recognized him as such. But now they were also hard of heart against their fellow man, and that demonstrated not only their blindness to God but their blindness to the heart of God’s law. Truly sad and tragic stuff.
This is one of those passages that it can be easy to pull the rug out from underneath the religious leaders and think to ourselves, “I would never do that.” Yet, as we’ve seen before, we shouldn’t be so quick to do that. God’s Word offers us an opportunity to reflect and ask, when have you and I missed the heart of the law by being distracted by the “letter” of the law? See, in this larger section, it isn’t just about the failure of the religious leaders but the seriousness of discipleship. That is the values and expectations that come with following Jesus. Jesus is absolutely serious about what it means to follow him. There can be no fence-sitting with him. I mean, do you hear what he says about his own family in vv. 31-38? You are either in with Jesus, or you’re not. This truth should hit us squarely in the individualism of this age. Too often, we are like the Pharisees in our own way. We think we can intellectually believe in Jesus without having to really adopt all of his values. Or, we think we can follow him while keeping all of our own priorities. That is to say, we think we can be a disciple on our own terms. That is exactly what the Pharisees did. They were determined to follow God on their own terms. Maybe we are like the Pharisees, aren’t we? Yes, we are children of grace. We are not just saved from something (sin), but also to something. What is that? We are saved to follow Jesus in every area of our lives. There is a lot in this chapter, but at the center of it all, we should hear Jesus’ call to surrender to him. That is, Jesus wants your whole life, not compartments of it.
GETTING STARTED – As a group, take time to answer this question. How are you seeing Jesus more clearly as we walk through the Gospel of Mark?
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. 
- When you look at the actions and posture of the Pharisees from this passage or even in chapter 2, what parts of their logic or actions do you see in yourself? What is an intentional step to guard against it?
- Following Jesus in a life-defining way doesn’t mean we become monks or disengage from the culture around us, but that we carry the values of Jesus everywhere we go. How is Jesus modeling truth and compassion for us in this passage? Why do you think Jesus speaks sternly to insiders (religious leaders, his disciples, his family, etc.) and is less stern (still truthful) to outsiders? Do I emulate Jesus in this way?
- What is striking or clarifying in the vision for discipleship that Jesus gives in vv. 31-38?
- “Proximity to Jesus is not enough; allegiance to Jesus is what matters.” What do you think allegiance to Jesus looks like today?
- Are there areas in your life where you are minimizing or dismissing Jesus’ words or authority—aspects that are not yet surrendered to him?
 Jason Meyer, Mark for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You (The Good Book Company, 2022), 57.
 Questions 4 &5 are from: Jason Meyer, Mark for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You (The Good Book Company, 2022).