Term 1 2020

The Servant King

This term we take a fresh look at Mark’s biography of Jesus. Mark wants us to understand that Jesus is God’s chosen saviour king who gives his life as a ransom price for us. A leader who genuinely serves his people is rare. Jesus serves us by dying for us. Mark points us back to the Cross as the ultimate demonstration of the love of God for people who have turned away from him. He invites us to share the assessment of the Roman Centurion who watches Jesus die and says “Surely this man was the Son of God.” This assessment is vindicated by Jesus’ resurrection victory over death.

You are NOT what you eat   Mark 7:1-23  23rd February

  • Why do we say the phrase “You are what you eat?” Why is the sermon titled “You are NOT what you eat?”
  • Why are the Pharisees angry at Jesus? Why does Jesus respond the way he does to them? Does he see them as a lost cause? Can you think of any teachers of the law who converted to Christian faith? 
  • What might the disciples be thinking as they witness this exchange?
  • Who are the Pharisees of today? What traps might these people fall into? 
  • What is it that defiles, according to the Pharisees? According to Jesus? What is the difference, both spiritually and practically seen in their lives? How might your life be different if you were living under the Law? 
  • Do we use our laws and traditions, both in and out of church, to get away with doing ungodly things currently? 
  • What are the positives and negatives of tradition? Is routine a better word to use instead of tradition? 
  • What is a tradition that we hold on to that might not actually be Godly? How can we judge if it is or isn’t? What is a Godly tradition? 
  • It is easier to know what we are ‘eating’ but harder to know what is already in the heart. How do we know what is in our heart? Discuss  

Does God Work on His Day Off?   Mark 2:23 – 3:6  16th February

  1. Compare the Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20:8-11 with Deuteronomy 5:15. Describe the different reasons given for observing the Sabbath.
  2. What sins can Sabbath observance protect us from? What benefits can Sabbath observance bring?
  3. The Jewish Sabbath went from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Most Christians have observed the Sabbath on a Sunday. What is good about this? Are there any drawbacks?
  4. How might the following Christians observe the Sabbath:

a) People who work on Sundays, either regularly or when rostered on
b) Unemployed job seeker
c) Retiree with many voluntary responsibilities
d) Couple who both work full time and have three children in primary school
e) Person caring full time for family members
f) Yourself

5. Why was Jesus being provocative in this passage?
6. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Discuss.
7. Jesus said, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Discuss.
8. How can we observe Sabbath without legalism? How does Jesus fulfil the Sabbath?


A Disturbing Diagnosis   Mark 2:1-12   9th February

  1. Read Mark 1:29-45. What do these verses tell us about Jesus’ popularity and his priorities? What pressure is he under?
  2. Mark tells us that Jesus “preached the word” to the crowd in the house. What do you think Jesus’ message was (check Mark 1:14-15)?  Where does forgiveness fit in this message?
  3. Read Mark 2:3-5. The paralysed man’s friends go to extraordinary lengths to get him to Jesus. What do you think Mark means when he says “Jesus saw their faith”?
  4. What were the man and his friends hoping Jesus would do? How do you think they felt when Jesus said “Son, your sins are forgiven.” What does this tell us about how God sees people?
  5. In what ways is this different from the way we forgive someone?
  6. How exactly do the teachers of the law (in verse 6) understand Jesus’ statement and the implied claim behind it? From this verse, how would you define blasphemy?
  7. Read verses 8-12. How would you answer Jesus’ question in verse 9? Discuss your reasons. What are the implications for the teachers of the law if they choose each of the alternatives as the harder thing?
  8. Jesus links forgiveness and healing in this case. What are the dangers for us if we link these two things in every case?
  9. Do you think it is possible to forgive someone if they don’t repent? Discuss your answer and your reasons. Do you think God forgives us if we don’t repent?
  10. How does Mark 2:13-17 help us to understand Jesus’ willingness to forgive vs the teachers of the law and the Pharisees’ attitude?  What practical steps can we take in our situations to be more like Jesus and less like his opponents when it comes to sin and forgiveness?


A New Beginning   Mark 1:1-15   2nd February

As a group you could choose to read Mark’s Gospel from cover to cover over 2 or 3 weeks or just in one sitting (take a break every 4 chapters or so). You could also listen to David Suchet read it. The YouVersion Bible app has him reading the NIV 11 (we use this version).

  1. As you read the Gospel in large “slabs”, or even in one sitting, note down and discuss the impact it has.
  2. What portrait of Jesus does Mark paint?
  3. How is Mark’s style different from the other Gospel writers?
  4. What are the main divisions in the Gospel?  What do each of the sections focus on?
  5. What fraction of the Gospel is devoted to the account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, death and resurrection?