Mark continued….

And here it is:  the last installment of our study on Mark.  May you all have a blessed summer, and may you find that a pathway is made open to share time with those who are dearest to you.

Bible Study:  Mark 15-16:8

Opening Prayer:

Jesus, you have called us:
Come, follow me, take up your cross,
deny yourself and live.

Jesus, I am willing though I am weak;
I’ll trust you and I’ll go where you lead.


I followed you to the cross
I watched you laid in the tomb
I hear the tomb is empty
I don’t know where you are, yet;
I will follow, I will follow,
I will follow where you lead.

Jesus, you have shown us how we should live:
in sacrifice, humility and love.

Jesus, I am willing though I am weak;
I’ll follow you, though I do not know where you lead
I will follow, with your Spirit in me.

Adapted from Joel Payne, the Jubilate Group


Read:  Mark 15- 16:8


A servant is called to be the slave of all.

What does the world consider true greatness to be?
In that world-view would the world consider Jesus to be a great man?
Why?  Why not?

Read:  15: 1-15

15 At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.

2-3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.

4-5 Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.

6-10 It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?” Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.

11-12 But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”

13 They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

14 Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

15 Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.


What kind of a man was Pilate?

What evidence is there that Pilate want to do the right thing?

What keeps him from doing right?

How can we prevent giving into the same temptation as Pilate; of wanting to do what is right but not doing it?

READ Romans 7:  17-25

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.


What evidence is there that Paul wants to do what is right?

What keeps him from doing what is right?

For Paul what is the answer that keeps pulling him back into doing what is right?

How is Paul’s struggle reflected in your own struggle?

How do you find the balance of faith and will to obey God?

Read again Mark verses 11-15

11-12 But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”

13 They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

14 Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

15 Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.


What was Pilate’s motivation?

How was he powerless over self-interest?  The desire to be popular?  His fear of what the mob might do?

Have you ever felt that kind of inner conflict and sense of powerlessness?
How does seeking to be a servant change your desires in that instance?

How is Barabbas a stand in for every believer?

In verse 21 Simon from Cyrene is made to carry the cross for Jesus?

How is Simon a stand in for every believer?

How do these two men cause you to reflect on your own salvation and call to be a servant?

Read 15:  25-39

25-30 They nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—the king of the jews—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

31-32 The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—but he can’t save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then!” Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.

33-34 At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

35-36 Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

37-39 But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”


Why does Jesus refuse the wine laced with narcotic?
If he had taken it, how would it have affected his full participation in the cup of suffering?  Would it still have been voluntary?

What are the charges laid against Jesus?
In what ways does this charge indicate an insurrection?  Make Jesus out to be a traitor?  Usurper?

How are these charges ironic in the light of what Jesus came to do?  Be?

In what ways are the Centurion’s words the climax to the whole of Mark’s Gospel?


Read 15: 40-47

40-41 There were women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women followed and served him, and had come up with him to Jerusalem.

42-45 Late in the afternoon, since it was the Day of Preparation (that is, Sabbath eve), Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came. He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Working up his courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate questioned whether he could be dead that soon and called for the captain to verify that he was really dead. Assured by the captain, he gave Joseph the corpse.

46-47 Having already purchased a linen shroud, Joseph took him down, wrapped him in the shroud, placed him in a tomb that had been cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the opening. Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Joses, watched the burial.


Why do you think it was the women and Joseph who had followed Jesus to the cross?

Why not the 11 disciples?

In other gospels John is present?  Why not here?

Joseph of Arimathea was a highly respected member of the Jewish council, why are his presence and his actions significant?

What does it say about him choosing to do what is right?

Do we wonder if he tried to do what was right when the council put Jesus on trial?  Was he powerless against the other council rulers?  A voice in the wilderness?  Silent?

Was the tomb and the shroud a sign of his desire to be a servant?

Read 16: 1-8

16 1-3 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”

4-5 Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.

6-7 He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

They got out as fast as they could, beside themselves, their heads swimming. Stunned, they said nothing to anyone.

Ponder and Consider:
The earliest and best manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel end at 16:8.  Verses 9 – 20 are considered to be written by someone else.

Scholars believe that Mark intended to end the gospel at this point.

How is verse 8 an appropriate ending for this gospel?

Did the women flee in fear?  In faith?

How could this ending speak to the dilemma they would have had:  to do what was right and tell the story, or flee in fear of what the Romans might do?

How does this ending speak to us in our calling as servants and witnesses of the Gospel?


Blessing for the ending of Mark

If you are looking for a blessing,
do not linger here.

Here is only
a hollow, a husk
where a blessing
used to be.

This blessing
was not content
in its confinement.

It could not abide
its isolation,
the unrelenting silence,
the pressing stench
of death.

So if it is
a blessing
that you seek,
open your own

Fill your lungs
with the air
that this new
morning brings

and then
release it
with a cry.

Hear how the blessing
breaks forth
in your own voice

how your own lips
form every word
you never dreamed
to say.


See how the blessing
circles back again
wanting you to
repeat it
but louder

how it draws you
pulls you
sends you
to proclaim
its only word:


And again,
it circles back
draws you
pulls you
sends you..
Disciples of the resurrection
Servants of Christ

happy Canada Day everyone.  Hope you are finding the celebration joyful.

Here is today’s study.

Mark 11: 27-12:27

Tempting Questions

Opening Prayer

Let us pray.

O God there have been times when we have cried from our hearts and asked you questions.  Often there are no answers, only your patient request that we trust you.


Loving God, even as we ask these questions we know there will be no answer, except the one you have given in the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Help us to trust that declaration of your utter commitment to us, and to turn our questions into the effective practice of love for one another.

May every “why” engender not frustration but a deeper sharing in your compassion for this world.

Yet we know that others have asked questions of you to tempt you, or to test you.  We see the examples of those who asked questions to trap Jesus.  Help us as we ask, to do so with open hearts, willing to hear you speak, willing to follow where you lead.

Wherever faith is new and fragile, and love needs patient nurturing, please keep your church keen and humble in its duty of care for the little ones in Christ’s kingdom.

Redeeming Jesus, enable each person in the many churches scattered among the nations, to tighten their faith, heighten their hope, and widen their love, to your honour and praise.

Through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen!

Read:  Mark 11: 27-12:27


Some people ask questions because they want to know the answers.  Others take malicious delight in posing unanswerable questions or in trying to trip up an opponent.

What kinds of questions have you heard in regarding God, or as a way of tripping someone up?

I was once asked:  Can God create a boulder so big that even he can’t move it?  If so then he really isn’t God.

How do you answer that?  Truly God can do everything, but why would he.  He doesn’t have to prove himself to us or to others.  He is God.  What did Jesus say to Satan when he demanded that Jesus throw himself off the pinnacle of the Temple so that God would prove himself and send angels to protect Jesus?  Do not tempt the Lord your God.

Have you heard other, similar questions?

Sometimes people ask one another questions out of pure malice.  Not in order to be open to listening and talking over things, but an effort to hurt or trap them.  Especially if done in public.

The worst example of such a question that I have encountered is:  Is there any truth to the rumour that you have stopped beating your wife?  It’s not a question, but rather a trap.  It takes wisdom and patience to have a discussion in this atmosphere of hostility.

What are examples of the way those who opposed Jesus attempted to trap him with antagonistic questions?

Read:  11:27-33

27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”


What is indicated in this exchange?  How does the question represent a trap?

Why won’t Jesus answer?

When Jesus handles these questions how does he display the wisdom of God?

Are there times when we also should not answer questioners?

Read Proverbs 26: 4-5

  Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

How does this speak to answering wisely?  Can you think of a time when you have been asked a foolish question that you needed the strength of the Holy Spirit to help you answer?

Read Proverbs 26:24-28

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.

How do we guard ourselves and our speech in these situations?

Let’s look again at how Jesus handles this.

Read 12:  13- 17

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[b] to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.


Questions:  Clearly this was a trap.  The supporter of Herod and those who were staunch nationalists and opposed to Roman Occupation wanted support for their positions.  When we are in those kinds of situations, we ask ourselves, “what is their agenda?”

Yet each group had conflicting interests.  To answer in support of one, would be to reject the agenda of the other.  Jesus was in a no win situation.

Yet guided by wisdom he succeeded in teaching what is rightfully God’s.

What do we owe God?

What do we owe our Government?  ( A good question to ponder on Canada Day?)

Read:  Matthew 22: 34-40

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Ponder:  Again a question that is a trap.  Again the wisdom of God in the answer.  What does this tell us about what we owe God?

Love, loyalty, and fulfilling his mission of love in our living?

Read 1 Timothy 2: 1-2

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

What other than our taxes do we owe the government?

How is praying for the government a way in which we honour God?

Read 12: 1-12

12 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?”

12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.


Who is the owner?  The servants?  The son?

Who is the vineyard?

The vineyard is the kingdom of God and the church—all those who follow and honour God.

How is your experience of the vineyard helping you to experience the truth of Scripture?   The power of God?

How do we develop our experience of the vineyard/kingdom?

How do the questions we ask help us to grow in that understanding?

How can we be prepared to answer the questions about God that others bring to us?

Read Luke 12:  11-12

11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Closing Prayer:

Loving God, I need your strength and the Holy Spirit’s help as I speak with those who are opposed to your message of salvation. I want your words, not mine, to be what others hear in that crucial moment of confrontation. Please give me wisdom to know when to speak, what to say, and when to remain silent. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Good afternoon:

Here is another installment in our study of Mark.  I propose that we continue for the 1st of the July and the 8th.    That will leave all of us free to make some choices for the summer, now that travel is being opened up.  I am sure that for many of us summer beckons.

today:  Mark 10:  32-52

Mark 10:  32-52

Spiritual insight and alertness

Opening Prayer

There are so many questions O God?  We look at ourselves and we wonder, how does this make Christ known in the world?  What are my responsibilities as a leader in your church?  How do you walk with us and not become frustrated by our lack of understanding?

Help us today as we consider how Jesus led his followers, even though they didn’t understand his words.  Help us as we recall how little they understood leadership and equated it with power.

Help us to grasp completely what it means to be caught up by you, to see, to hear, to understand what it means to be a follower and a leader in your church.  In Jesus name, Amen

Read:  Mark 10: 32-52


What spiritual truths has God revealed to you over time?  In the last few weeks?

How has this expanded your understanding of what God is calling you to do in the church?

Read verses 33-34

33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

This is the third time Jesus has predicted his death.  (see also  8:31 and 9:31)

What is different this time?

What is significant about the extra detail?
the lack of response of the disciples?

Why does Jesus put so much emphasis on preparing them for the events that are to come?  Do you think they hear the assurance about the resurrection?  Would we if we didn’t look at these words with ‘post-easter” eyes?

Read:  35-37

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”


What is ironic about this discussion in the context of death/resurrection?

What motivates this request?

James and John take Jesus aside to ask him about this?  Why do you think they do it this way?

What do you think it says about how they view leadership?  Influence?

When the other disciples hear about this how do they respond (v 45)

Read:   38-40

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

How does Jesus respond?

What does he mean by the cup he will drink and the baptism he would endure?

Was he speaking only to James and John?  Or also to the others?

What are the lessons here for us?

Why do we so often need to be reminded servanthood is our calling?

Or Suffering?

Read 42-45

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Who does Jesus say is the greatest among us?  How did Jesus achieve greatness?  How do we achieve greatness?

What kind of leadership are we called to?

What is the cost for following Jesus?

What are his priorities for you right now?  The congregation?

Who does he call us to reach out to?

What will be the cost in time, energy, priorities to fulfill our calling?


Read 46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.


What kind of man does Bartimaeus seem to be?

How does he recongize Jesus?  Call him by what name?
Was the pressure from the crowd to silence him successful?

What questions does that raise about the lesser, weaker voices being silenced?  Are some peoples requests more worthy than others?

Why then did the crowd try to stop Bartimaeus from making his needs known?

How does Bartimaeus respond when Jesus asks him to come?


Note that Jesus specifically asks Bartimaeus what he wants Jesus to do for him?

What does that tell us about our prayers?  Do we need to be specific about what we need?  For healing?  For preparation for leadership?  For engaging in mission and ministry?

When Jesus says, go, your faith has healed you how does Bartimaeus respond?

What does it mean for Bartimaeus to be on the road with Jesus?


Jesus is on the road to glory, but that road will not bypass Jerusalem…
Self sacrifice and service makes the way.

Looking at the Jerusalem road, are we prepared to journey with Jesus?

How are the present opportunities for our journey present themselves?

What might be the costs?

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,

you know us, you love us, you free us,

then call us to follow you

and we bless you.

Your mercy meets us in our confusion;

may your spirit meet us in our everyday living.  Amen


Hello everyone.   Just letting you know that this week (June 10) and next week (June 17) there will not be a Bible Study posted, as I will be attending virtual meetings for Presbytery.  There will be a Bible Study posted for June 24.    Blessings.   Ena


Happy Wednesday everyone.  I pray that you are being fed and filled as you ponder the Bible Study each week.  It doesn’t feel the same as being together, but may the Holy Spirit provide for each of us the energy, wisdom and understanding that will give us a deep understanding.


Mark 9:  33-50
The first and the last

Opening Prayer:

God of unsearchable mystery and light, your weakness is greater than our strength, your foolishness brings all our cleverness to naught, your gentleness confounds the power we would claim.
We confess that we don’t understand it, yet when we see it in action the humble beauty of powerlessness that builds peace and underscores justice is a thing of beauty and joy.
Today remind us, that you call first to be last and last to be first, servant to be leader and ruler to be underling of all.  Open to us your understanding of servant leadership and your call on us to serve you as Jesus served you, with self-sacrificing love.
Help us to listen to your Spirit as we open our hearts to learn from your Word.  Pour into our hearts the wisdom of your Word and Spirit, that we may know your purpose and live to your glory. Amen.

Read Mark 9: 33-50


All of us, I imagine, struggle with the question of status and identity within a group.   Where do we fit in?  How important are we in this group?  The congregation?  Our community?

As members of this congregation in this place, who is on our side?  Who isn’t?
As members of the Church in the world, who is on our side?  Who isn’t?

How does Jesus turn conventional wisdom about status and group identity on its ear?

Read:  33-37

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

34 The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

35 He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

36-37 He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”


How would you define success?

Would you say you have achieved it?

In terms of success and status, what is Jesus trying to teach the disciples?

What other examples of first and last have we seen in this (other) Gospels?

What socio-economic group do many of the disciples come from?  Jesus?

Who comes for healing?  Who opposes Jesus?

What examples of servanthood do we see in Jesus?

Why is a child so appropriate as an illustration of Jesus’ point?

What defines weakness?  Strength?  Power?

Read 38-41

38 John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”

39-41 Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.


How is this a question that diverts Jesus from the argument on the road?

How is this a question that will lead into an ever growing awareness of servanthood and who is called?

What perspective is seen in how Jesus responds to the question?

Who judges who is for us?  Against us?

Why is a simple act of kindness/justice a sign that we are for Jesus?

Read Micah 6: 8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.


In the study on the Beatitudes we explored the depths of humility before God, recognizing that we are indeed poor in Spirit and desperately need God, not just for salvation, but also for hope, purpose and direction in servanthood.

How does a humble walk with God, that leads to justice, love, mercy reflect on being a servant in society?

How does that humbleness increase the power of God working through us?

Read 42-50

42 “On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.

43-48 “If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.

49-50 “Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”


What further rebuke is given to the disciples?

How big, important, crucial is our service to those of childlike trust?  The disadvantaged?  The least of these?

How is this conversation about personal greatness and worth radically different from attitudes we often see in society?    Attitudes about greatness in the structures of the Church?.

Christian history has known some to take literally the words of Jesus about cutting off hand or foot.

How would cutting off a hand, or a foot, or plucking out an eye be able to change a persons sinful nature?

Would such an action really stop us from sinning?  What would stop us from sinning?

The point here is not to create a church of lame, blind servants, but to cause us to explore deeply what lies at the root of our sinfulness and confront it.

In the NIV verses  50 and 51 are translated as:  49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”  Other translations use, refiner’s fire.

If we need to be purified from sin, how is being refined with fire and preserved with salt a way of dealing with sinfulness?  Are we prepared for the painfulness of these processes?

What in your life is challenging you with fire/salt processes as your sins are exposed to you?

What does having salt in you mean for you?

How does judging ourselves lead to peace/unity?

Why does addressing our own sinfulness lead to peace?  Peacemaking/peacekeeping?

What individuals/groups are we tempted to silence because they are not “one of us”?

Does that mean that we shouldn’t oppose anyone?  Does Jesus give us limits and methods for opposing?

How did Jesus stand up to those who attempted to thwart his mission?

How did Jesus speak to them?  About them?

What did Jesus pray for them?  How humbling is that action?

The now or later suggestion in the resource booklet is to plan to join together for worship with another denomination where we live as an act of unity.  Given our current circumstances, could we perhaps reflect on our calling as landlords to the Living Waters Congregation and how that is a sign of unity in the Body of Christ?

How is that relationship a privilege?  A responsibility?  A call to work together in love with one another?

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus,

you have said that your followers must be the ‘light to the world. Light propagates itself, dispels darkness.  It sows rays of joy and hope. It is life-giving.

Help me, Lord, to be a light to this world, so that my life radiate your message of love, hope, and joy.  May I be the beacon leading to You those who seek truth.

You also said, Lord Jesus, that your disciples must be the salt to this earth.
Salt gives taste to food.  It retards spoilage.  It is also a healing agent.

Lord, may I be the salt that takes away the blandness in the routine of living,
that prevents the rottenness of hatred and greed from expanding around me,
that brings compassionate healing to anguished souls I encounter.

Lord, help me to be “worth my salt.” And infuse your “saltiness” in me, so that I do not become “flat” and useless. In Jesus name, Amen

Act of Commitment:   (written by Anne Osdiek)

Who is for us?

Jesus’ answer:


who extends a helping hand,
who shelters the homeless,
who cares for the earth,
who feeds the hungry,
teaches the ignorant,
stands for justice,
a cup of water
in my name
is all for us,


and belongs to me.


all we want
is to belong to you.


Good afternoon all:

It is good to be pondering the questions of our faith and our journey with Jesus, as we go back to the Gospel according to Mark, coming back where we left off during Lent.  So today we look at Mark chapter 9, and we will continue to the end of the Gospel.  Peace and Blessings to you all.

Mark 9: 1-32  Suffering and Glory

Opening Prayer.

Holy God we thank you for your word found in Scripture, for your word found among us, for you word held deep within us.

We thank you for the roots of our community, for what we share together here this evening, and for the life that we share with one another.

Open your path before us now, as we place our future in your hands.  Bless to the understanding of our minds and our hearts, the word that compels us forth as your servant people.  In Jesus name.  Amen.


Read Mark 9: 1-32

Do you remember the show, let’s make a deal.  You can choose from the prize in this box or take the prize behind curtain #1.  The teasers about what could be in the box or behind the curtain suggested that maybe one prize was better than the other.  But choose carefully because it could also be a zonk.

We are called upon to make choices everyday.  Sometimes those choices are like an array on the desert buffet each looking more pleasing than the other.  Sometimes the choices come with difficulty ahead.

What does the reading from Mark suggest about the choices Jesus would be making ahead?

What about the disciples?

Those who followed?

Clearly throughout the choices needed to be faith-filled.   Lack of faith, lack of preparation were problematic for the disciples and even for those who came for healing.

Read  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 New International Version (NIV)

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Consider:  choices have the consequence of life, prosperity and even death and destruction.

Yet sometimes choosing God’s way, leads to difficulty, even to persecution, and in extreme cases death.  Choosing God’s way does not guarantee an easy life.

This would certainly be true for Jesus.

But faith choices would be even more important going forward.  Jesus chooses to forth to be murdered.  The disciples chose to ignore his statement and not look too closely at what he was talking about.

These choices were more important than risking for a prize or a zonk.  These choices were about obedience to God.

But obedience to God does not necessarily mean that making the right choice leads to a prize… or even an easy time in life.  Jesus makes a choice that leads to suffering, the disciples make a choice that leads to denial.

What are the consequences of these choices?

Discuss:  What sort of suffering in relation to the gospel do you fear most?

When has fear of some kind of suffering kept you from sharing or embracing the gospel?



Let’s look at the unfolding of this passage and consider the faithfulness that leads to living in God’s plan.

Read verses 1-13

Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”

In a Light-Radiant Cloud

2-4 Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

5-6 Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.

Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

9-10 Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.

11 Meanwhile they were asking, “Why do the religion scholars say that Elijah has to come first?”

12-13 Jesus replied, “Elijah does come first and get everything ready for the coming of the Son of Man. They treated this Elijah like dirt, much like they will treat the Son of Man, who will, according to Scripture, suffer terribly and be kicked around contemptibly.”


If you were present at this event, what would you see or hear?  Remember?

Would you focus on the awe, joy and wonder of seeing Moses and Elijah?

Would you have wondered what meaning was behind these appearances?

Would you remember what Jesus had said a few days ago about seeing the coming of the Kingdom (verse 1)…

What do you see as the connection between the transfiguration and the promise of the kingdom?

Would you focus on all that and ignore/overlook the message of verses12/13    “Elijah does come first and get everything ready for the coming of the Son of Man. They treated this Elijah like dirt, much like they will treat the Son of Man, who will, according to Scripture, suffer terribly and be kicked around contemptibly.”

Read Malachi 4: 4-6

“Remember and keep the revelation I gave through my servant Moses, the revelation I commanded at Horeb for all Israel, all the rules and procedures for right living.

5-6 “But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.”


How does what happened to Elijah, who suffered terribly and was beaten establish a pattern for what would happen to Jesus?

How does it establish a pattern of what could happen to the other followers?  To us?

Certainly this mountain top experience would have been overwhelming for the Peter, John and James.

How do you think the lingering affects of that experience shaped the ways they understood the events that followed?

Read verses 14-20

14-16 When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, “What’s going on? What’s all the commotion?”

17-18 A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”

19-20 Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.


Why were the disciples unable to heal the boy?

What difficulties were presented by the religious authorities?  Could that have been a factor in their failing faith?

The disciples had already seen how the temple authorities persecuted and questioned Jesus, even called him evil.

What does this encounter say about how the disciples would experience persecution?

How does that reality speak to us?  Or not?

Jesus is clearly frustrated with the disciples.  Why do you think he is so harsh?

Read verses 21-27

 21-22 He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”

“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

23 Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

24 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

25-27 Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.


What does this exchange tell you about faith?


Did the boys father have confidence that Jesus would/could heal his son after his experience with the disciples?

If they couldn’t heal his son, then maybe Jesus couldn’t….

Why does Jesus say there are no “ifs” in the kingdom?

Why can anything happen in the kingdom of God?

Read Mark 1: 40-41

40 A man with leprosy[h] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

41 Jesus was indignant.[i] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.


What do these 2 passages seem similar?

What is different about these 2 healings?

Leper questioned Jesus’ willingness.  The boy’s father questioned the ability of Jesus?

Yet both these indicate a lack of faith.

Which do you struggle with more?  Believing that Jesus can do something?  Or that Jesus wants to answer your prayers?

How does the discussion between Jesus and the boy’s father encourage you when your faith is weak?

How is the irony of believing that Jesus can’t, reflected in the request that Jesus increase the father’s faith?

What could the disciples learn about how  their ability and willingness to help would be questioned by even those who sought them out?

What can we learn about our own faith and confidence/trust that God will take care of our needs?

Read  verses 30-32

30-32 Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

Why do you suppose the disciples failed to understand what he meant?

What details about the healing of the boy show similarities to the prediction Jesus makes about his upcoming suffering and victory?

How does the passage encourage us in the midst of pain and suffering?

For extra study:

Read 1 Kings 18: 1- 19: 18

1 Kings 18:1-19:18 New International Version (NIV)

Elijah and Obadiah

18 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

15 Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

Elijah on Mount Carmel

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Elijah Flees to Horeb

19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid[b] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”


How is Elijah called on to face suffering for doing the Lord’s work?

How does God empower him?

What about our suffering?  Empowerment?

Note:  even after his success Elijah feels like a failure.  How does God care for him then?

What can we learn about the tenderness of God’s care for us?

Closing prayer:

O God, for your love for us, warm and brooding, which has brought us to birth and opened our eyes to the wonder of creation, we give you thanks.

For your love for us, wild and freeing, which has awakened us to the energy of creation, to the sap that flows, the blood that pulses, the heart that sings, we give you thanks.

For your love for us, compassionate and patient, which has carried us through our pain, wept beside us in our sin and waited for us in our confusion, we give you thanks.

For your love for us, strong and challenging, which has called us to risk for you, asked for the best in us, and shown us how to serve.  We give you thanks.

For your Spirit present deep within us, and at the heart of all life, for your love made known to us in Jesus Christ, and for drawing us into the protection of your presence.   We give you thanks.  Amen.



A blessed Holy Week to all of you.  May you find this time to be a deepening of the Presence of God.  May his deep peace fill you.

Today’s Bible Study is posted below. Sadly it is the last.  So since I am not going anywhere and none of you have anywhere to go, do you want to continue.  We could keep working our way through the Gospel of Mark.  Let me know if yes, great, and if no you feel the need to be out in your gardens and flower beds that is okay too.  Please note the following Holy Weeks Services to look for under the Sermons banner.

Thursday:  the Maundy Thursday Service
Friday:  a Good Friday service based on the Stations of the Cross (loosely) that explores how God cares about what we are going through because he exerienced it in the life of Jesus and at each stop along the way we will have the opportunity for the situation of our world and lives with prayers for first responders, front line workers, politicians and prisoner as well for all those who are grieving.

Sunday:  Easter worship

Here is this week’s Bible Study”

April 8  Mark 8:  27-38  Who is Jesus for you?

Opening Prayer:

Loving Lord Jesus!
Give me the grace to seek You diligently all through the day just as how You sought Your Father while You sojourned on this earth. Help me to seek Your kingdom and its righteousness first and trust that You will add all things to it. In Your precious name I pray.

Read in your favorite translation:  Mark 8: 27-38

Consider:   Jesus is called many things by people of faith as well as people who don’t believe.  We live in a world when we talk about Jesus we have to know what those statements entail and to teach who Jesus really is and about why he means so much to us.

Read Mark 8: 27-28

27 Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”

28 “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”

When people say John the Baptist or Elijah what does that say about some prevailing religious belief?


Or spirit channeling

…or it could simply meant that they saw him as a prophet like John (current) or Elijah (past and some would argue the greatest of the prophets)

Yet when Jesus is challenged by the disciples to show them God, what does he say?

Read John 14: 6-14

6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

9-10 “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.

11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

What does Jesus say about himself and who he is?

How is Jesus the revelation of the Father?

What does this revelation mean for those who believe?


Consider:  even in his time there were those who said that Jesus was a fraud, the devil, a sinner.

What does that say about people who can’t see who Jesus is?

What would you want to say to those people?


Read:  CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

How did Lewis answer the question and how did he explain who Jesus really is in light of what has been said about him?

What do you think about what Lewis said?

Gospel Clues

The entire Gospel as it unfolds leads clues to who Jesus is.

Discuss the evidence of who Jesus is in the ways he responded to: 

The  lepers
The sick, blind, deaf, lame
The dead
Those who accused him of being a devil
The devils who claimed they knew him
how he treated the hungry
how he taught in the Temple/Capernauam

The Pharisees who judged him

Also consider how he responded to those who demanded a sign

Jesus had no need to prove himself, he simply lived in obedience to his Father.  How is that a sign that he truly is the Son of God?

There are many ways in which Jesus as the Messiah is revealed throughout the canon of Scripture

We have already seen that Jesus refers to himself as

The Road, the Truth, The Life

But there are other descriptors of Jesus scattered throughout the Bible

Discuss some of these descriptors and how they help you to understand who Jesus is

Immanuel:  God with us

Son of David:  Legitimate Heir of the throne of David

King of Kings:  the blessed and only King of Heaven

Lion of Judah:  In the Revelation, “the one who conquers”

Lamb of God:  the sacrifice who takes away sin

Son of Man:  (Daniel) the one with dominion over the earth/delieverer)
(gospels) a man of humble condition
(Revelation) warrior king

Messiah:  Saviour/Liberator

Read:  Mark 8: 28 – 33

29 He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

30-32 Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

32-33 But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

Which meaning of Messiah do you think Peter meant?

When Jesus countered that he was the Son of Man what did he mean?

Although the passage says he spoke clearly so they would understand it is also clear that they didn’t

What about us?  Do we sometimes not understand who Jesus is?

Peter confessed who Jesus is and then denied that the claim Jesus made about himself was incorrect/or at least shouldn’t be followed.

What about us, how often do we try to make Jesus into who we want him to be?

Consider:  who Jesus is for us is a question that we all must answer: but this is only the first step.  The second step is a living of our confession fully and authentically.

What does that mean in the context of your life?

Read Mark 8: 34-38

34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

38 “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

What does Jesus teach that it means in the life of each follower?

Sing Jesus teach me day by day

Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week

My savior,
do you invite me to share
in the glory of the resurrection?
Please stay with me
as I struggle to see
how accepting the crosses of my life
will free me from the power
of the one who wants only
to destroy my love and trust in you.
Help me to be humble and accepting
like your son, Jesus.
I want to turn to you
with the same trust he had in your love.
Save me, Lord. Only you can save me.  Amen




Hello all:

A few reminders as we meet this night.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and Shirley will prepare the service.  Please pray for her, especially as Bill has surgery tomorrow.

Next week will be our last Bible Study.
Thursday I will post the Maundy Thursday Service
Friday  a Good Friday service based on the Stations of the Cross (loosely) that explores how God cares about what we are going through because he exerienced it in the life of Jesus and at each stop along the way we will have the opportunity for the situation of our world and lives with prayers for first responders, front line workers, politicians and prisoner as well for all those who are grieving.

Now here is tonight’s study for you.  May you be blessed in it.  E

Lenten Study:  April 1, Mark 5: 21-43  Foolishness or Faith

Opening Prayer:

Eternal Holy God, whose thoughts and ways are not ours, you alone are God, awesome, holy, and most high, we come to you and seek to learn from you, what it means to be a fool in Christ.

School us in the ways of faith and wisdom, that we, like the woman who touched Jesus, or Jairus may place our trust in you, even, especially when it looks like a foolish choice to others.  May we learn to truly see and hear, and in humility find blessing. Amen.


Today is April Fool’s Day. In these days of isolation you may not have been pranked, but there may have been other times when you did fall for the prank and were called a fool.  Recall those moments.

Today the Premier of Alberta sent out a notice that all children would be required to go back to school in July and August to make up for the time currently lost.  Reports are that children responded with alarm, anger and even tears.

Believing untruths, half truths and lies is what makes us fools.  The kinds of tales on April 1 that draw us into believing what is untrue are signs that at some level we will believe whatever someone in authority tells us.

Many of us have also known those times when we have placed our trust wholly in God, and have looked like fools to the world.  That can be a difficult road to walk.

We also see times when people of faith are compelled to defy political and religious authorities in order to be faithful to God’s calling.

Question:  What is a fool?

Wikepediaa person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person.

The Bible:

Proverbs 1:7 English Standard Version (ESV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Psalm 14:1 English Standard Version (ESV)

14 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.


As we read the text for today, keep in mind the emotions and thoughts of both believing like a fool and believing with faith.

Read in your favorite translation:   Mark 5:  21 – 43

Consider and, if possible, discuss your initial thoughts from this passage.

A deeper look:

Read Verses  21- 24

21-24 After Jesus crossed over by boat, a large crowd met him at the seaside. One of the meeting-place leaders named Jairus came. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” Jesus went with him, the whole crowd tagging along, pushing and jostling him.

Some Bibles include this under a banner:  a risky faith

What made this request risky for Jairus?

Could he have been worried what his peers on the Sanhedrin thought of his actions?

Being a member of the Sanhedrin could he have been worried that Jesus would reject his request?

How was he showing risky faith in defying the religious authorities he worked with?

In a whole crowd of people seeking Jesus and begging him to do things for him, Jesus heard Jairus, and left to go with him.

If you were in the crowd, needing something from Jesus how would you feel when Jesus walked away?

Read:  verses 25 – 29

25-29 A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.


We have all heard/seen televangelists who would, for a donation, pray over a hankie, or a necklace or whatever, then mail it to you so that when you hold it you will be healed.

Would it be foolish to respond to that opportunity?

If a person who did showed signs of healing, would we still say it was foolish?

How is what the woman did by touching the hem of Jesus robe any different?  Other than the obvious that Jesus didn’t ask for money to let her do that?

Was her faith for healing any more or less foolish than someone who sent money to a tv preacher?

The difference between being a fool and being a person of faith is who or what you put your faith in.

So then is it possible that she, like the crowd, like Jairus had heard of Jesus and knew of his power?

But why not ask Jesus for healing?  Why the stealth and secrecy?

Under Jewish cleanliness laws a woman menstruating was considered unclean and not allowed to be in public where they might infect someone they touched.

How then is this woman being foolish to touch Jesus?

How is she defying religious authority to seek what she needs from God and believes God will give her?

The BIG question:  The line between foolishness and faith seems to be so thin?  How do we discern what is a foolish action and what is a faithful action?

Read verses 30-34

30 At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!”

32-33 But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story.

34 Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”


Again we see the words risk of faith.

How is faith a risk?

When you believe for healing and you remain sick, has your faith been foolish?  Or does faith also include acceptance in God’s sovereignty?

Is faith worth the risk?  Some would say not, as the risk for no result cause them to lose faith.

When my cousin lost a leg shortly after returning to a faith relationship with God, I will admit that his brother and I were concerned.  Knowing his journey away from and back into faith, we wondered if it was strong enough.

Brian and I discovered that we both asked the question,  What happened to Aaron’s faith?

It turned out that even though he prayed for healing, his faith got stronger.

In the eyes of many that would be foolishness, to have a stronger trust in the God who did not heal you or heed your prayers.

And what of the disciples in this narrative.  Where do we see their foolishness?

Did they fully understand or grasp the depth of power in Jesus, and his connection with it.  In a crowd where everyone was touching him, he knew that the woman had touched him and received power.  Yet they questioned Jesus.

Was that foolishness or faith?  Or is any questioning that leads to greater understanding always a sign of faith?

Again consider the woman.  How did she reveal her faith?  The first time?  The second time?

Which time would have been the greater revelation of faith?  The touch or the confession?

Read:  verses 35 – 43

35 While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?”

36 Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”

37-40 He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.

40-43 But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.”


What were the causes for anxiety in Jairus?

When he heard the news that his daughter died, could he have wondered if his faith in Jesus had been misplaced?

How big a test of faith was it to trust in Jesus at that moment?

How many in the crowd scoffed and called Jairus a fool as he walked home with Jesus in faith and trust?

How difficult would it be for you to have trust and faith in similar situations?

Think of people you know who kept their trust in God even in the evidence that the news was bad?  Where did they get their strength from?

Why did Jesus limit the number of people who could come into Jairus’s house?

How important was it for Jairus and his faith to leave the scoffers outside and not bring their negativity into the room with his daughter?

When in your life has your faith confounded those around?  When they scoffed and said you were merely in denial, what did you say?

There have been times when I was accused of being in denial, when I knew that God would take care of me….

Even so, I have to say, that sometimes I worry that a person might be in denial?  And I am amazed at how good God is when I learn that I am wrong.

I admit to having a bit of foolishness along with the faith.

Mark 9:14-29 The Message (MSG)

14-16 When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, “What’s going on? What’s all the commotion?”

17-18 A man out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”

19-20 Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.

21-22 He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”

“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

23 Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

24 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

What is the corrective to our foolishness.

Let us pray:

God we thank you for showing us the way of faith.  We confess that some days we tread the road of unbelief, the road of foolishness.

On those days O Lord, help us to remember that you are all powerful and always on your throne and in charge.

Help us to turn to you in our prayer, in our doubt and in our struggle to believe.  Turn our foolishness into faith.

O Lord I believe, help me in my doubts.







March 25 Lenten Bible Study:  Mark 4: 1-20 Seeds of Faith

Opening Prayer

Read Mark 4: 1-19

Consider:  what is a parable?

Do you always understand parables?

Do they sometimes make you confused/angry?

PG Woodhouse writes that a parable keeps something up its sleeve which suddenly pops up and knocks you flat.

My New Testament professor, Lloyd Gaston taught that parables had a twist that makes you sit up and take notice and could even make you angry.

Luke 15: 1-7

 1-3 By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

What jumps out at you?

  • Persistence of the shepherd?
  • How much the shepherd would risk to find the sheep?
  • The tender care of the shepherd?

Now put the parable in context with the judgment in the preamble:  he eats with sinner/treats them like old friends.

I preached on this passage the Sunday after 9/11

In the context of befriending sinners I looked for what twist might make us angry

The lost sheep are the ones Jesus goes looking for.  Tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes.

Then I asked the question:  What if the lost sheep Jesus is talking about was one of the pilots that deliberately crashed the planes into the Twin Towers?

We need to be willing to understand that Jesus came for all sinners.  Sometimes in difficult times that is a truth that we may not be willing to accept.  Yet it doesn’t change that it is Kingdom Truth.

Answer:  How do we listen for Kingdom Truth in the Scripture and especially the Parables?

How do we listen for unpleasant truths, hear and obey?

Mark 4: 3-9

3-8 “Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Question:  What does really listening look like?  How can we do it?


Consider:  Hearing spiritually is related to the concept of deep listening. Deep listening is the idea that we listen with compassion. We listen to understand and finally we listen with intention, specifically the intention to act. In other words, to open one’s ears is to open one’s heart. In fact, the Greek word eisakouo can be defined as to hear, to heed, or to obey. Just as a teacher may instruct his/her students to listen closely because the material can be on the test; Jesus ends the parable by telling the crowd to listen not only to understand, but also to act on the teaching, to obey, and in this particular case, to participate in the manifestation of God’s kingdom on the earth.  Jennifer Kaluund, working preacher

What are you listening for when Jesus talks about the see that is scattered?

Parables are used by Jesus to teach.  Through them he invites the listeners to discover new insights and discoveries.

Parable:  parabola in Greek… means to toss near or put aside

If I toss something near to you what do you have to do?

Stretch or reach for it.

Think about teaching a baby to crawl.  You put their favorite toy just out of reach.

Do you do that to be mean?  No.  You do that to encourage the baby to develop new skills….crawling.

So Jesus tossing the seeds of the word by us, or putting them just out of reach of us for a reason….

So that we will stretch our faith.

Mark 4: 10-13

10-12 When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—

Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”

13 He continued, “Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way.

Does any part of this passage make you sit up and take notice?  Make you angry?

These are difficult verses.  Is Jesus saying he deliberately hides the meaning of God’s word from people?  Or stating a reality of what happens in the hearts of listeners until they are ready to hear?

What in these verses makes you stretch to have an understanding in faith?

Can you see how this parable is an open-ended invitation to:

  • Enter the story
  • Gain new insights
  • To see things in a new perspective

How are you being invited to place yourself in the story and explore what it means to live faithfully in God’s world.

Jesus scatters the seed of God’s word and invites us to listen.

In the parable how is the soil invited to listen?

Standard farming practice at that time would be to scatter the seed and then plow to work the seed in.

How does this give you encouragement to sow widely as you share the good news of the kingdom with others?

What are some examples of Jesus sowing the seed widely, regardless of how it is received?

Mark 4: 14-20

14-15 “The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them.

16-17 “And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

18-19 “The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

20 “But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”


What are the barriers in your life that prevented you from hearing the word?

  • Hard soil
  • Rocky soil
  • Thorny soil
  • Deep fertile soil

Do you recall a time when you suddenly realized what you previously did not understand?

Why do you think Jesus took the time to teach the disciples what this parable meant?

Having learned about this parable do you think they were then more likely to know how to listen to other parables?

How does the lesson on how to listen to a parable help you to know how to listen for the twist or startling moment that makes you sit up and say, What?

Does the lesson help you to ask more questions?  Give you a willingness to learn and hear?

Reread Mark 4: 1-20

In this parable what is the secret of the kingdom?

Put your skills to the test:

Choose one of these parables:  lost coin, or prodigal son

In both there is an extravagance.  Explore what that extravagance teaches a about the kingdom of God and God’s mercy?

Closing meditation:

Ponder the words of the hymn:  There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

like the wideness of the sea.

There’s a kindness in God’s justice,

which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows

are more felt than up in heaven.

There is no place where earth’s failings

have such kindly judgment given.

2 For the love of God is broader

than the measures of the mind.

And the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more faithful,

we would gladly trust God’s Word,

and our lives reflect thanksgiving

for the goodness of our Lord.



Mark 3: 7-19  Disciples

Hello everyone.  Here is tonight’s study.  We so appreciate you joining us on line.  Blessings.  Ena

Opening Prayer

Read Mark 3: 7-19

Initial Discussion:  What does it mean to you to be a disciple of Jesus?

In this passage, when did the followers become disciples?

Read:  Mark 1: 16-20

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.


Discuss:  we read this a few weeks ago.  What does this suggest about when a person becomes a disciple?


  • Definition of disciple

1: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as

A: Christianity : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts  Merriam Webser

Discuss:  did disciples begin and end with the 12 apostles?

  • Desiring God Blog: A disciple of Jesus is a worshiper, a servant, and a witness.

Compare these two definitions.  How do they resonate with your definition of a disciple?

…your sense of calling as a disciple?

Consider from Desiring God Blog

The standard definition of “disciple” (noun) is someone who adheres to the teachings of another. It is a follower or a learner. It refers to someone who takes up the ways of someone else. Applied to Jesus, a disciple is someone who learns from him to live like him — someone who, because of God’s awakening grace, conforms his or her words and ways to the words and ways of Jesus. Or, you might say, as others have put it in the past, disciples of Jesus are themselves “little Christs”

  • What do disciples do?

Learns from Christ to live like Christ

By grace conforms their words and ways to the words/ways of Jesus

What do you think about the definition:  “little Christs”?

How does this further our understanding of being a disciple?

Read:  mark 3:  13-19 He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons. These are the Twelve:

Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),

James, son of Zebedee,

John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),






James, son of Alphaeus,


Simon the Canaanite,

Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him).

What was the plan?

Whose power were the disciples using in this ministry?

Any surprises on the list?


Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible (Notes)  We know a few of the more famous and infamous disciples, but there are many in this list we know nothing about at all.  In our own discipleship, we may be asked to do some work or to take a stand that gets noticed by others.  But often discipleship consists of faithfulness in the small, even mundane, acts of Christian service, perhaps unnoticed by all except God.

Question:  are there expectations of Disciples, then and now?

Is being a quiet disciple less important than being a well-known disciple?

Judas is on the list of disciples.

Why do you think he was not removed from the list?


Read:  Matthew 28:18-20 The Message (MSG)

18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

  • So the tasks of the disciples:
  1. Proclaim the word
  2. Banish demons
  3. Train other disciples
  4. Baptise
  5. Instruct the believers in Christian living (how different from training?)
  6. Trust in Christ’s presence with them


Disciple as Servant

Read Mark 10: 35-45

35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”


36 “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”


37 “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”


38 Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”


39-40 “Sure,” they said. “Why not?”


Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”


41-45 When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

Consider:  what should the aspirations of a disciple be?

What does it mean to be a servant.

Sing Maranatha, Make me a servant  (Use the link, or just sing if you know it)

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Make me a servant Humble and meek

Lord let me lift up Those who are weak

And may the prayer Of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

And may the prayer of my heart always be

Make me a servant Make me a servant

Make me a servant today

Final Thoughts

Closing Prayer

Please also pray for those affected with Covid 19 and for all government and medical officers at all levels who are scrambling to respond quickly as new information becomes available.





Hello everyone:   Here is our second installment:  mark 2: 1-7  Forgiveness.

Bible Study:  March 11, Forgiveness

Gathering Prayer

Read:  Mark 2: 1-17

General Discussion:  what does forgiveness mean to you

  • for·give·ness


  1. the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.




Who to forgive?

When to forgive?

Why to forgive?
how often?


Read Matthew 18:  21-22

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”


22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.



Are there limits to forgiveness?


How doesour willingness to forgive again and again connect us with the will of Christ?


Read:  Mark 2: 1-5

After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

Who?  When?  Why?

Those who seek healing
when they come to you
because of their faith

But no one asked to be forgiven—does that matter

Did forgiveness make his complete healing more likely?

When people don’t feel forgiven can this be a barrier to them feeling whole, or having faith?

What do you think is the freeing effect of forgiveness?

But does everyone feel the same way about everybody deserving forgiveness?

Read:  mark 2:  6- 12

6-7 Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”


8-12 Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”


What are the attitudes of the Pharisees about Jesus announcing forgiveness?

Did they have another attitude following the healing?

How do we feel when someone we don’t feel deserves forgiveness is given grace?

A shorter prison term for a child abuser?

Or a person who robbed a senior of their life savings?

Or a person who drove drunk and killed someone in an accident?

Are there some sins that are worse than others?  Who gets to decide?

What is the difference between forgiveness and cheap grace where everything is forgiven.

Do we forgive the unrepentant?

Do we forgive them to set ourselves free from the anger/betrayal we feel?

  • Quote:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.  Mark Twain

What does this quote say about us when we live a forgiving life-style?

Read Mark 2:  13- 17

13-14 Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” He came.


15-16 Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”


17 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

Contrast the Pharisee’s attitude toward tax collectors and “sinners” with Jesus’ attitude

How does Jesus act like a “doctor” for each of these two men?

How is sin like illness, especially leprosy and paralysis?

Jesus came announcing the kingdom and proclaiming forgiveness.
who was the forgiveness for?

What change would need to take place in the Pharisees before they could hear Jesus call?

The Pharisees objected to what Jesus did.  What objections might people have today when we talk about forgiving others?


We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


What does this quote suggest about our ability to see ourselves honestly?

How does this make it possible for us to see others differently?

Increase our capacity to forgive?


Read:  Matthew 6:9-13

9 Therefore, this is how you should pray:


‘Our Father in heaven,

may your name be kept holy.

10 May your kingdom come.

May your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our sins,[a]

as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.[b]

13 And never bring us into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’[c]



How is prayer and forgiveness linked?

What does it mean to forgive others like God has forgiven us?

How is forgiveness God’s will for each of us?


  • Quote:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.


Martin Luther King, Jr.


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” -John 8:12

When we forgive how does this bring light into our lives?



Apart from the forgiving grace of Jesus, we live in darkness. We have limited capacity to understand who we are or what we see in the world.


Final Thoughts
How do we live as forgiven people?

Believe our own forgiveness
Extend forgiveness to others

Closing Prayer


Hi all:  This week we began our Lenten Study based on the Gospel of Mark.   Here it is:

Lenten Bible Study

Opening Prayer:

Read:   Mark 1: 1-20  Repentance

Think about important people, events and places in your spiritual development.  How have they shaped you and how you tell the story of Jesus?

Read Mark: 1-3  1-3 The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!


Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, tracing his heritage through some of the most noteworthy men of the history of God and his people as revealed by God in his Word.

Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Boaz, David, Solomon, kings, prophets, priests.  But Matthew also notes the questionable women and relationships in the family tree:  Tamar,(incest) Rahab (a harlot) and Ruth (a foreigner/refugee) Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife that David stole) an emphasis on both the worthiness and unworthiness of Jesus ancestry…all of them redeemed and deemed acceptable by God.

Luke begins with prophecies about the birth of John and Jesus.  He is tying the birth of both into the long history of God’s promises to his people, promises now fulfilled in these two births and intends it to be an orderly account, some would say almost clinical reflecting that he is a doctor.

John’s Gospel begins with a poetic account of Jesus coming into the world as the word of God to illuminate the darkness in which we live.

But Mark has urgency.  Mark begins was a breathless declaration it starts here—a messenger to prepare the way, and not just any messenger, a wild-man shouting in the desert.  One commentator this message called it a big block of ice, dropped into the deep end of the pool… the impact of this startling good news arcs in all directions.  By verse 5 we are all drenched—and standing face to face with the wildest person in the New Testament>John the Baptist.

What does the first verse reveal about Mark’s own view of the events he is about to describe?

Its new

It is starting

There is preparation that is necessary

It is rooted in God’s promises of a pathway to salvation

More importantly Mark considers this to be good news.

Really, good news?

Those promises are specifically rooted in the particular prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah

Read:  Malachi 3: 1-4

Malachi 3 “Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!” A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

2-4 But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?

He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

When Mark uses this passage as part of his declaration that the good news starts with John, preaching and baptising.   what is he saying about John?

God’s messenger who clears the way for God

John’s emphasis on repentance as the preparation to meet God

That listening to John will be good for us.

What does John ask of us?  Repent!  Repent and believe the good news!

What does repentance mean to you?

Read Wikepedia:  definition of repentance

Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better.[1] In modern times, it is generally seen as involving a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live a more responsible and humane life. In other words, being sorry for one’s misdeeds. But it can also involve sorrow over a specific sin or series of sins that an individual feels he or she has committed. … In religious contexts, it often involves an act of confession to God or to a spiritual elder (such as a monk or priest). This confession might include an admission of guilt, a promise or intent not to repeat the offense, an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.


  • Metanoia

Literally, it is a Greek word meaning “change of mind”. Yet the full meaning is somewhat more. In the New Testament, the word metanoia is often translated as “repentance”. But this kind of repentance is not about regret or guilt or shame; it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction.

We commonly think of repentance as a turning around, changing our lives.  It can include saying we are sorry, making amends, seeking forgiveness.  Things we think we can do on our own power… but the repentance that is necessary for preparing to meet God sounds, painful.

But U Turn as a metaphor for repentance has limitations.  When driving and lost we can make a U turn and go back to the place where we turned the wrong way and recorrect.  In life, we can turn the direction of our lives around, but it is not always possible to go back to where you went wrong and start again.  In that case repentance relies on forgivenss to clean the slate, forgiveness from God and forgiveness from ourselves for the decisions we made in the past that we regret, but which in some cases will affect our whole lives.

So what do the prophets say forgiveness from God looks like?

AfIt is an encounter with white hot fire
strong lye soap
being scrubbed clean
having all our impurities removed
being made fit for God


Read Isaiah 40: 3-5

Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”

Is this a gentler view of repentance?

When we think about the mountain roads we travel, what is entailed?

Blasting rock
bulldozing and carting away the rubble
grading the ground and scraping away the high spots
covering it with hot asphalt and rolling with heavy machinery until it is flat

Even in the day that Mark was writing, creating that road required back-breaking work, all done by humans with no mechanical assistance

There is no mistaking it:  repentance is hard work

As with all difficult things in the Kingdom, we are grateful we don’t have to do this in our own power.

So we have John in the desert, shouting at us to repent and believe the good news.

Something is being asked of us

When we hear John, a response is demanded from us.

Read:  Mark 1:  4-8

4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”


Note:  this response is the beginning of our discipleship

What does discipleship mean to you?

Reading scripture, praying, loving others, worshipping etc.

Consider this:

The With God Life

The Bible is all about human life “with God” and how God has made this “with God” life possible and will bring it to pass.  The name Immanuel, meaning “God with us” is the title given to the one and only Redeemer, because it refers to God’s everlasting intent for human life—namely that we should be in every aspect a dwelling place for God.

What do we need to do to become a dwelling place for God?

When you moved into your home it was an empty space.

How did you turn it into your home?

Furniture, family photos, favorite paintings etc.

So repentance that prepares us to be a dwelling place for God involves turning around, confessing, changing our ways etc, but also:  means an emptying of ourselves so that God can move in and put his mark on us, inwardly as well as outwardly.


Read Mark 1: 9-11

9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

12-13 At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

What steps did Jesus take to empty himself before God?

Baptism/ testing/ obedience/ submission/ teaching about the kingdom of God

Teaching others how to be a part of building the kingdom of God

Are you beginning to see that Mark had a sense of urgency, now this, then this and immediately that.  Building God’s church is important and there is no time to reflect on details, this is “get’er done time”

Read Mark 1: 16-20

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.


When we repent and become an empty vessel for God, what are the next steps?

Don’t ask questions go where God asks

Immediately leave your family and your security and go with Jesus

Read Luke 9: 57-62

57 On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.

58 Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”

Jesus said to another, “Follow me.”

59 He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.”

60 Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”

61 Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.”

62 Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”



It’s no wonder repentance is such hard work and a painful process, it is the preparation for living the with God life of discipleship


Final thoughts

Closing prayer