In the opening chapters of Mark, we see the meteoric rise of Jesus. We then witness conflict when the religious leaders decide they do not like what Jesus is teaching and how the crowds are drawn to Him. Jesus is helping the people of His day understand who He is and what He expects of those who make the decision to follow Him.
When expectations are crystal clear, everyone benefits. Just consider the workplace. Employers who give their new employees a written job description with detailed responsibilities and expectations avoid all kinds of future problems. Just imagine a boss telling a brand-new employee, “We don’t have job descriptions or specific responsibilities for our employees. We just hope you figure things out as you go!” It would be a recipe for disaster.
Likewise, couples repeat vows at their wedding ceremony to set up clear expectations. The couple vows to stick together and love each other “in sickness and in health, for better and for worse,” for as long as they both shall live. We have all heard these words at weddings. Why do they matter? Because any significant commitment involves setting up clear expectations and declarations of how the parties will conduct themselves.
In our modern world, we often end up skimming over words of commitment and rashly clicking the approve button. Just think about those agreements or contracts that pop up on a computer or tablet. When was the last time you actually read every word in these agreements? Most of us just scroll to the end and click “agree” without a second thought.
In the Gospel of Mark, we find that Jesus gave us clear expectations about who he was and what he expects of us. When it comes to following Jesus, we are wise to slow down and read the fine print. There is nothing better than being a disciple of Jesus, but there is also nothing that will call us to greater commitment and sacrifice.
So, as you begin this study, pay close attention to the words of this powerful biography of Jesus. It will reveal who Jesus is with staggering precision. It will also show who you are to be and what is expected if you are going to bear His name and accept the call to follow Him.
Think about when you first made the decision to follow Jesus. What did you think was expected of a Christian? How has your understanding changed and matured over time?
Play the video for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts, questions, or key points that stand out to you.
Background information on Mark’s Gospel
Two key questions in the Gospel of Mark:
Who is Jesus?
What does he want?
John the Baptist prepares the way (Mark 1:2-8)
Jesus is introduced (Mark 1:9-13) _________________________________________________________
Calling the first disciples — a mission of “kingdom expansion” (Mark 1:16-20)
Jesus’ growing popularity (Mark 1:21-45)
Growing tensions with the religious establishment:
Conflict over forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:1-12)
Conflict over friendships (Mark 2:13-17)
Conflict over fasting (Mark 2:18-22)
Conflict over working on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28)
Conflict over healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6)
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture. Use the following questions to help guide your discussion.
- What impacted you the most as you watched Jeff’s teaching on Mark 1:1-3:6?
- Read Mark 1:2-3, Mark 1:7-8, Mark 1:10-11, Mark 1:24, and Mark 1:27. What do you learn about who Jesus is as you read these passages from a variety of different perspectives? How would you respond if a non-believing friend asked you, “Who is Jesus?”
- Read Mark 1:16-20. When did you first accept the invitation to follow Jesus? How have you tried to live out the expectations that Jesus lays out in this passage?
- The people of Jesus’ day were amazed at His authority. In the opening chapter of Mark, we read how Jesus had power over demonic forces (see Mark 1:21-28), illnesses (see Mark 1:29-34), and relationships between people (see Mark 1:40-45). How have you seen Jesus set a person free from the influence of sin? How have you seen Jesus bring healing into a person’s life? How have you seen Jesus heal a broken relationship?
- Read Mark 2:1-12. Why were the religious leaders so upset that Jesus declared this man to be forgiven of his sins? Why does Jesus have the authority to forgive sins?
- Read Mark 2:13-17. In the first century, a Rabbi would never have been seen sharing intimate table fellowship with tax collectors and “sinners.” What do you learn about Jesus as you read this passage? What are some ways you can follow His example when it comes to helping broken and lost people encounter the love and grace of God?
Each session, you will be given a key verse (or verses) from the passage covered in the video teaching to memorize. This week, your memory verses are from Mark 1:16-17:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and His brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Have everyone recite these verses out loud. Then go around the room again and have everyone try to say them completely from memory.
What will you take away from this session? What is a practical next step you can take in the coming week as you seek to understand Jesus’ expectations of His disciples?
Close your group time by praying in any of the following directions:
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you learn more about who Jesus is as you walk through the Gospel of Mark together during the coming sessions.
- Ask Jesus to fill you with power to live in ways that fulfill His desires and expectations of His disciples. Praise Jesus for His amazing authority over all things and ask Him to unleash that power in your life, home, church, and community.
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Let us know what you think of Mark: In the Company of Christ. We want to hear from you!