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Lesson 4: By Galilee *

Introduction: Do you like to be among the elite group of insiders? At work, are you one of those who knows what is really going on with the company? Do you want to know all of the secrets? This week Mark teaches us that becoming a follower of Jesus is like joining an elite, secret society. Jesus has "insider" messages only for us. We understand secrets the world does not. How is this possible? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

  1. Secrets in the Seed

    1. Read Mark 4:2-8. Why is Jesus teaching them about farming? (He is not. The idea of a parable is to teach a spiritual lesson through story-telling.)

    2. Read Mark 4:9. Who is supposed to be listening to this story? (Everyone with ears - a pretty broad standard.)

    3. Read Mark 4:10-12. What reason does Jesus give for teaching in parables? (So that those on the "outside" will not understand.)

      1. What happened to the idea that everyone with ears was a candidate for this teaching?

      2. I thought the idea of teaching through stories was to illustrate, not conceal, the point. Am I wrong?

      3. I thought the point was to encourage people to turn from sin and be forgiven. Am I wrong?

      4. Are some denied the opportunity to believe in Jesus?

    4. Read Isaiah 6:8-11. We see that Jesus is quoting the instruction given to Isaiah after he answered the call to be a prophet of God. What does this teach us about what Jesus is saying about His parables? (The people in Isaiah's time had turned away from God. Their hearts were hard. God had Isaiah tell them that their hard hearts would result in the destruction of their cities and their deaths. Since God told Isaiah to explicitly say this to the public, I think the message for Jesus' audience (and us) is that we need to ask the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts, open our eyes, and make our best effort to understand Jesus' teaching. Otherwise, we are not going to "get it.")

    5. Read Mark 4:13. The disciples privately come to Jesus, He tells them His parables are for those who are "insiders," and they say they don't understand. What is Jesus' reaction to their lack of understanding?

    6. Read Mark 4:14-20. What reaction do we find here to their lack of understanding? (Jesus takes the time to explain the parable to them. This should encourage us.)

      1. What relationship does this parable have to this issue of understanding Jesus - the issue we have been discussing? (Have the lights turned on in your mind? This entire section is about understanding the teachings of Jesus - and it is the main point of the parable.)

        1. What keeps us from understanding the parables of Jesus, according to this parable? (1. Satan taking away our understanding. 2. Not letting Jesus' teaching take hold of us enough to withstand trouble or persecution. 3. Letting the cares and concerns of life overcome our faith.)

        2. Look again at Mark 4:13. Do you understand now why Jesus said this? (Since this is a parable about understanding parables, if you don't get this one you don't get any of them! It is a teaching about how to understand Jesus' parables.)

  1. Secrets in the Soil

    1. Read Mark 4:26-29. What part do we have in growing the kingdom of heaven? (Scattering the seed?)

      1. What seems to be the most important factor for successful seed growth? That is, if you wanted to help, in what area would you help? (It seems that the soil is the most important part. Mark 4:28 says, "All by itself the soil produces grain." In the first sowing parable we studied, the soil also had a very important role.)

      2. What does soil represent? (Our hearts. Our minds. Our receptivity to the gospel.)

      3. I read church growth books. I scheme about how we can best grow our church. Is all of this a waste of time?

        1. If you "scatter seed" - is that our only concern for church growth? Are we just to hope for good soil and leave the rest to God? (I'm not sure the lesson of this parable was meant for seed scatterers. Instead, I think the target of this parable was the listeners. Jesus is telling us that the most important factor for coming to Christ is having an open, receptive heart. That was the same theme Jesus hammered home in the first parable - if you have a hard heart you will always see and hear the gospel, but you will not perceive or understand it. If you want to be an "insider" who understands the secrets of the kingdom, you have to have an open, receptive heart.)

  2. The Secret of Trust

    1. Read Mark 5:21-23. What claim did Jairus have on Jesus' time? Is he someone you would naturally think should be helped? (He was an important man. His child was dying. He earnestly sought Jesus' help.)

      1. Is this a medical emergency? (Yes.)

    2. Read Mark 5:24. What was slowing down Jesus' response to this medical emergency? (The crowd.)

      1. If you are Jairus, how do you feel about the crowd? (Frustrated. Anxious. "Get out of the way! My daughter is dying." He needed a flashing red light and siren.)

    3. Read Mark 5:25-26. Is this a medical emergency? (Hardly. She had lived with this condition for 12 years.)

    4. Read Mark 5:27-28. What kind of faith did this woman possess?

      1. Was she planning on interfering with Jesus' work? Was she trying to slow Him down? (No.)

    5. Read Mark 5:29. How was her faith rewarded?

    6. Read Mark 5:30-34. Why was the woman afraid? (See Leviticus 15:26-27 - she should not have been touching anyone because the person she touched became "unclean." She thought Jesus would be required to wash His clothes, bath with water, and remain unclean until the evening. Talk about inconveniencing an important person!)

      1. Compare this woman to Jairus. Who would have the best claim to Jesus' time? (A synagogue ruler versus an unclean woman - an easy choice.)

        1. Who thought they had the best claim to Jesus time? (Jairus came boldly to Jesus and pleaded for His help. Jesus agreed to help by coming with him. The woman, on the other hand, snuck up on Jesus knowing it was "illegal" to touch Him. She just wanted to quietly sneak a touch to His coat and be healed.)

      2. What is going on in Jairus' mind during this? ("What is Jesus doing? My daughter is dying!")

      3. Is Jesus using any common sense? He has one "patient" who is dying and another who has had a problem for 12 years. Why not take care of the medical emergency first, and then address the 12-year old problem?

    7. Read Mark 5:35. Put yourself in Jairus' place. Tell me about your emotions?

      1. How do you feel about your daughter? (The IVP Background Commentary tells us that girls got married soon after they were twelve. That was the most joyous event of their life. My daughter just missed out on the most exciting time of life!)

      2. How do you feel about Jesus? (I would be so angry and disappointed. Jesus was near. He could have saved my daughter's life if only He had not been fooling around with this woman who had been sick for 12 years. How could Jesus be so uncaring and foolish with the time? Jairus has frustration upon frustration. So close, yet so far.)

      3. Now put yourself back in your own shoes. Have you felt this way about Jesus before? Has He failed to answer your prayer for help? Has He not gotten there in time? Has He frustrated your hopes? Does He seem to be helping other people and not you?

    8. Read Mark 5:36, 41-42. What answer does this parable give to all of those times when it seemed that Jesus let you down? Those times when your loved ones died, instead of being healed? Those times when you have been frustrated with God? (It shows us that God will ultimately make everything right - on His own time table. God's time is not our time)

      1. What is our obligation in this? ( Mark 5:36 - "Don't be afraid, just believe.")

      2. How important were Jairus' frustrations at the point of time just after his daughter was raised to life? (Completely unimportant.)

    9. Friend, do you want to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God? Then open up your heart to God's message. One of those secrets is that through belief, we need to see that time in the future when all of our frustrations in life will be nothing. We will live in the joy of eternal life.

  3. Next week: Confrontation in Galilee.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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