Jesus is incredible! He shines in every passage this week. Enjoy Him as you learn to take his word in. Remember the goal: for you to get into the word and getting the word into you.
Monday, June 18
Scripture: Mark 4:10-20
 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.  And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,  so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”  And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.  And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.  And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,  but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Application The reason we are looking at this skill with this passage is that Jesus is, in this passage, applying the parable of the sower. When you consider application, you must necessarily answer questions about yourself.
Questions to answer:
- Do you know people in each of the categories Jesus mentions?
- How can you tell?
- Where are you? Be honest. Where do you want to be?
- What can you do to prepare your heart to receive God’s Word?
Tuesday, June 19
Scripture: Mark 4:21-25
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?  For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.  For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Understanding Parables. Remember what a parable is: a story that tells a truth–a single truth.
Questions to answer:
- What is the one point of this parable?
- Don’t forget immediate context. What did Jesus say about parables in the preceding passage?
Hint: The one point fo the parable is found in hiding a lamp and not putting it on the stand. You can’t hide light. Jesus is the light, which some receive (compare the parable of the sower) and others reject. This parable shows that the condition of the heart is not a foregone conclusion–it’s the way people are and they can ask God to change their stubborn, rebellious hearts.
Wednesday, June 20
Scripture: Mark 4:26-34
 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.  The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.  He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Parables…again.
Helpful questions when studying this passage:
- What is the one truth of each parable? (I think they’re the same).
- What principles can be gleaned from this parable?
Hint: What is small becomes large, what is hidden becomes seen (see previous parable), what is little becomes much. All of these are indicators of the Kingdom of God. His kingdom will start small and become large, be hidden and then seen, be a few people then many. Wow!
Thursday, June 21
Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Reading Imaginatively. You will never get the full impact of this story unless you can imagine yourself in it. If you read it quickly, re-read it. Picture it. Now that you have, consider the following questions.
- Where are they? (Sea of Galilee)
- What strikes you about their question to Jesus?
- What strikes you about Jesus’ questions to them?
- Why do you think they were filled with great fear?
- Why do you think they ask, “Who then is this?”
Hints: In two words I think this passage is about “misunderstanding Jesus.” They didn’t know who Jesus was. That’s why they asked, “Do you not care?” That’s why Jesus asked, “Why are you so afraid?” I think you could add, “Didn’t you know who was in the boat with you?”
Historical fact: For a Jew, control over the weather was considered to be the greatest possible miracle. That would answer question 5 above.
Friday, June 22
Scripture: Mark 5:1-20
 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.  And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.  He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain,  for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him.  Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.  And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.  And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”  For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”  And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”  And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.  Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside,  and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.”  So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.  The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened.  And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.  And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs.  And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.  As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.  And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Sometimes stories have an element of surprise. What surprises you most in this story? Don’t miss the flow of the account–Jesus comes, meets a man who has terrorized the community, casts out his demons into nearby pigs, the townspeople hear about it and…SURPRISE..beg him to leave. You have to ask why this happened!
Hint: I think they asked Jesus to leave because this hurt their commerce. See verse 16 “and to the pigs.” They were afraid of someone who had so much power, even if he could solve their greatest problem. WOW!