I’ve changed things up a bit this week. I hope this will be easier to use. All hints are included in each day. All Scripture is included with each day. This is rich stuff. Enjoy!
Monday, June 11
Scripture: Mark 3:1-6
 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.  And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.”  And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Read emotionally. Oftentimes when you know the end of the story, you lose sight of the suspense along the way–and miss important details–here Jesus’ own heart.
Questions to answer:
- What emotions are the Pharisees feeling?
- What might the man with the withered hand be feeling?
- What emotions does Jesus express?
Now when you look at the emotions expressed by the key players in this account, what insight does that give you? What do you learn about Jesus’ heart? If this is Jesus’ heart, then this is the heart of God. How does this change the way you understand God?
Hint: How do Jesus’ anger and grief reveal the heart of God? What might God be angry about today? Grieved about?
Tuesday, June 12
Scripture: Mark 3:7-21
 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea  and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.  And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him,  for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.  And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”  And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.  And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach  and have authority to cast out demons.  He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter);  James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);  Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot,  and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.  And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Finding the common denominator.
Questions to answer: Here we find Jesus in different circumstances–however Mark has a common theme woven throughout. What is that? When you read what do you see as the common denominator? Don’t think theological until you’ve read for what is there. Here are questions to help you arrive at that:
- In verse 7 why did Mark use the word “withdrew” to describe Jesus leaving?
- In verse 9 why did they get a boat ready for Jesus?
- In verse 20 what did Jesus have difficulty trying to do?
- What insight does this give you into Jesus’ everyday life?
- What emphasis does this give on his choosing the 12 in the middle of all of this going on?
Hint: Jesus was crowded to the point of being crushed and unable to eat, still he focused on the mission, commanding even the demons not the reveal who he was (12) and choosing his disciples so that the Word could spread.
Wednesday, June 13
Scripture: Mark 2:22-30
 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”  And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.  But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.  “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Interpretation This is often a very misunderstood passage. So it makes sense for us to focus on the skill of interpretation. What does Jesus mean by blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? Let’s dig in.
Helpful questions when studying this passage:
- Who is Jesus’ audience for this teaching? (see verse 22)
- What are they saying? (Jesus cast out demons because he is possessed by demons)
- How does Jesus’ answer refute their bold accusations?
Jesus refutes them with a philosophical argument, several actually. “How can Satan cast out Satan? Kingdom divided against itself? House divided against itself?” Then Jesus illustrates how to take out a strong man: enter his house and bind him. Who was the strong man in 27? Satan. Who is the stronger man? Jesus. Jesus cast out demons because he is taking out the strong man, Satan. He’s plundering Satan!
So, in light of this, what is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? Succinctly, it’s calling Jesus Satan. Ultimately blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rejecting the Holy Spirit’s call to follow Jesus, which results in following Satan.
Thursday, June 14
Scripture: Mark 3:31-35
 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.  And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”  And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Immediate Context Context is most important in studying Scripture. Having read all of Chapter 3, answer the following questions:
- Who rejects Jesus in 3:1-6?
- Who does Jesus reject in 3:7-12?
- Who does Jesus enlist in 3:13-19?
- Who rejects Jesus in 13:20-21?
- Who rejects Jesus in 3:22-30?
- Who does Jesus reject in 3:33?
- Who follows Jesus in 3:35?
The immediate context (current verses and verses before and after) reveal that lines are being drawn and people are deciding on who Jesus is to them. Is he the Son of God, or a devil? Who follows and doesn’t is a bit surprising. He is rejected by religious leaders and his own brothers and sisters! He is followed by rough and tumble fishermen. In tomorrow’s passage, Jesus teaches on the reality of not everyone following him.
Friday, June 15
Scripture: Mark 4:1-9
 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.  And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:  “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.  And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.  Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.  And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”  And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Understanding Parables A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The main rule for understanding a parable is not to try to connect every detail with something–rather look for one primary meaning. What is the one truth Jesus is trying to communicate with the parable. There can be other truths embedded in the details, but these would only support the one primary truth. That’s how parables worked then (and mostly now). In light of this definition of a parable, answer the following questions:
- Who is the main character of the parable?
- What is he doing?
- What is different about each time the sower sows?
- What is the same about each time the sower sows?
- What is the result of the sowing?
- What is the primary truth of the parable?
I believe the primary truth of this parable is this: Since the sower is the same and the seed is the same, the one difference is the soil. The soil is the human heart. In light of immediate context (chapter 3), Jesus’ family and the Pharisees did not have the heart to receive the seed. I think 3:35 and 4:8-9 are inextricably linked. Those who have good soil are those who do the will of God.