Monday, July 9
Scripture: Mark 7:31-37
 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.  And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.  And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.  And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.  And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.  And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are related. Look for cause and effect. This may sound simple, but it will give insight as to what or who caused what.
- What is the cause and what is the effect? Did Jesus cause the man to be healed or did they, by bringing him, cause him to be healed?
- In the healing of the man, what is the one word that surprises you?
I will share the one word that catches my attention: “sighed.” Why do you think Jesus sighed? Do you think Jesus reflected all the way back to creation and thought, this is never how this was meant to be? What makes Jesus sigh when he sees it in your life? What pain? What difficulty? What heartache?
Tuesday, July 10
Scripture: Mark 8:1-10
 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them,  “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.  And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”  And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”  And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”  And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.  And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.  And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.  And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.  And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are true to life. Sometimes a passage will come to life when you can relate to it? What are possible things in this passage that are true to your own life experience? Examples could include hunger, the need to feed a bunch of teenagers who have come to your house, being in a remote place where food wasn’t readily available, or organizing a large meal. Now, before you get too involved in what the passage means, reflect on how that true-to-life connection with the passage makes you feel. Once you have done that, now explore the theological significance. It’s remarkable how your own true-to-life connection makes other connections come alive.
Wednesday, July 11
Scripture: Mark 8:11-21
 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.  And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.  Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.  And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.  And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”  “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.”  And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context is critical here. We have already talked about it. In order to understand this conversation between Jesus and his disciples, you will have to understand leaven. Go to biblestudytools.com and look up leaven. What was its significance. I’ll also provide a bit of insight. At times the Israelites had to eat unleavened bread for certain celebrations. Just a little bit of leaven, when it goes into bread, affects the entire loaf. When Jesus said, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod,” he was warning them not to be influence, in the smallest of ways, by the Pharisees or of Herod. The Pharisees were seeking a sign, when the destination (Jesus) was right in front of them!
Thursday, July 12
Scripture: Mark 8:22-26
 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.  And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”  And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Look in previous passages (7:31-37). How is this healing similar to that one? Why do you think? What does Jesus tell the deaf man and the blind man? (“tell no one” and “do not enter the village.”)
Here we see what scholars have called the Messianic Secret. Jesus surprisingly tells them not to tell anyone what he has done for them! Why? Jesus doe not want his healings to overshadow his ultimate mission: to die on the cross. Jesus was focused and he knew that, if he continued to heal, they would want to make him king.
Friday, July 13
Scripture: Mark 8:27-30
 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”  And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”  And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Yes, we’re looking at this again. Why? Jesus clearly tells Peter and the other disciples to tell no one about him. Why? The Messianic Secret. Do you see a pattern unfolding? Now look for this in other parts of the Mark as you continue to study.
This should give you great joy, cause you to appreciate even more Jesus remarkable sacrifice, his incredible focus and his ultimate goal: to die for your sins.