Bible study questions on Mark: Sessions 6-11

Session 6

1. Last week we read one familiar story, and one perhaps less familiar. Which do you find it easier to pay attention to, and to learn from?

2. Read Mark 4:26-29 and Mark 4:30-34. What is the point of the comparison in vv26-29? What is the point of the comparison in vv30-32?

3. Why did Jesus use parables to teach the crowds? And why did he explain to the disciples?

4. Read Mark 4:35-41. What is the main point of this story? What does it tell you about the relationship between Jesus and the disciples?

5. Read Mark 5:1-10 and Mark 5:11-20. What do you learn from vv1-5 about this man and his condition? What is the significance of the name?

6. Is there any point in the destruction of the pigs? V16 explains how the news spread. What do you think about the reaction in v17?

7. v19 is very different from 3:12, 1:44. Why is this?

8. Which reaction is appropriate now for those who have reason to be grateful to God?

9. Amazement is mentioned in 5:20, implied in4:41, and perhaps as a reaction to some of Jesus teaching, and his teaching style. Why is this? Should it still be our reaction – and why or why not?

Session 7

1. Mark’s story of Jesus continues at a fast pace. Are there times when Christian activity makes you tired, and you wish for some time off? Is there a place for not doing so much – and what is it?

2. Read Mark 5:21-24, Mark 5:25-34, and Mark 5:35-43. What pressures are on Jesus in vv21-24? What pressures were on Jairus?

3. The “woman” of v25-34 is not named – why do you think that is? What differences are there between her and Jairus?

4. What is the difference in the way Jesus treats Jairus and the woman?

5. Why does Jesus behave as described in vv30-31? What difference does it make?

6. What emotions do you think Jairus went through in vv35-43? Why does Jesus do so much to avoid drama as the girl is healed? Can you remember two other gospel stories of raising the dead?

7. Read Mark 6:1-6. What is causing this reaction? Why did it limit Jesus ability to heal and teach?

8. Read Mark 6:6-13. What does sending out the 12 achieve?

9. What is the point of the instructions in vv8-10?

10. How would you summarise the progress of Jesus mission to this point? What would you have expected to happen next if you had been there?

Session 8

1. At this point in Mark’s gospel, there is a sense of excitement. Do you find any excitement in church now? Is it important that there should be any, or are there dangers in excitement?

2. Read Mark 6:14-20 and Mark 6:21-29. Mark dips back into history to tell us of Herod and John the Baptist. What do we learn of Herod’s character? How useful is his interest in John?

3. What do you make of Herodias, and of her daughter? What do vv26-29 tell us about Herod as a ruler?

4. Read Mark 6:30-36 and Mark 6:37-44. How does this compare with “days off” you have had? What does this tell us about rest and work?

5. What response did Jesus expect to his question in v37?

6. Why does Mark make the comment in v43? What are we meant to understand from the story?

7. Read Mark 6:45-50 and Mark 6:51-56. Compare v46 and vv31-34. Does this alter your answer to question 4?

8. What does v52 tell us about the significance of this event?

9. Do you get the feeling from vv53-56 that there wasn’t much time to reflect on these events before busyness returned?

10. After the disciples return from a mission where they succeeded in preaching and healing, Jesus shows control – of nature and natural forces. Why do the disciples need to know this?

Session 9

1. In Mark 6 we dealt with powerful miracles; in Mark 7 we come to religious disputes, and individual problems. Is Christian faith more concerned with the big things or the small things – or if all sorts of things, how do you tell where to concentrate and focus your attention?

2. Read Mark 7:1-8, Mark 7:9-13. Where does the concern with ritual cleanliness come from? What is its significance?

3. In what way have the Pharisees gone beyond the Old Testament? Do religious people still do things like that? When is “tradition” helpful, and when is it offensive to God?

4. Read Mark 7:14-23. In what ways does diet not matter – and in what ways does it matter? Why was v19b so important to Mark’s readers?

5. What examples does Jesus give of things which come out of a person and defile them (ie make them “unclean”?). How would we avoid or control these things?

6. Read Mark 7:24-30. Why was Jesus reluctant to do as the woman asked? Why did he agree? Why was this important to Mark’s readers?

7. Read Mark 7:31-37. Why did Jesus take the man away from the crowd? What do you think might have caused his sigh? What is so strange about the man speaking plainly?

8. Which is more likely to foil our attempts to live as Christians: the dangers of Mark 6, or the complications of Mark 7?

Session 10

1. Where do you think Jesus’ disciples are spiritually at the beginning of chapter 8 – perhaps at different stages? Do you think the congregation you know has people with different amounts of understanding of the gospel, and attitudes to it?

2. Read Mark 8:1-13. Another feeding miracle (after Mark 6:30ff) – why does Mark tell it? What shows it to be another occasion, not a re-telling of the 5,000?

3. Why do the Pharisees want a sign? What sort of signs does God give, and to whom?

4. Read Mark 8:14-21. What is Jesus warning of? What is Mark telling us about the disciples?

5. Read Mark 8:22-26. What are the significant details in the healing of the blind man?

6. Is it reassuring that Jesus stays with the man to complete the cure? Is Mark telling this story here relevant to the disciples and their understanding?

7. Read Mark 8:27-30. Why do you think Jesus didn’t just tell them who he was? Is it enough for people today to get Jesus title correct?

8. Read Mark 8:31-33. Why does Peter tell Jesus off? Is this a common danger after getting something big right?

9. This is the “balance point” of the gospel. We have all the evidence, we have seen Jesus at work, teaching and healing. We have seen the priorities of his ministry worked out in the choices he and the disciples make. But having given Jesus a title, we have yet to see how it works out . . . In Christian life today, is it also important to see how faith in words works out in action?

Session 11

1. Since we started reading Mark, what has struck you most strongly about his gospel? Is there anything totally new you have found in reading this time?

2. Read Mark 8:34-38. How high are the stakes for the disciples following Jesus, how much risk is there? If this was also true for the first readers of Mark’s gospel, is it still true?

3. If this is not always the story of those who follow Jesus, why is it still necessary to face the possibility?

4. Read Mark 9:1. What does this mean, and who does it apply to?

5. Read Mark 9:2-13. What is the significance of Moses and Elijah?

6. What does Peter want to do? Can you suggest why? Is this a danger with religious experiences?

7. What does the voice emphasise? Can you think of other voices from above in scripture?

8. v9 Is the reason for secrecy the same as with some healing miracles?

9. Explain v11-13. Why “Elijah”, and why is v13 in the past tense?

10. Is the beginning of Mark 9 a vision, or is the illusion the world they go back to down the mountain? Which is more “real”?