Mark:  Why the Gospel is good news

Week 2:  Authority, Prayer & Healing.  Mark 1:21-28, 35-39

Sermon:  Sun 17th January 2016
The sense of urgency in Mark’s gospel continues as, following the calling of the first four disciples, Jesus immediately travels to Capernaum.  Right from the beginning of his gospel, Mark wants the reader to realize that Jesus was on a mission. And this mission comes from his identity as the promised Messiah.
Can you think of someone who has impressed you when you met them or saw them in person? What impressed you about this person and why?
Study: (see Helpful Hints)

  1. Following the convention of the time that allowed visiting teachers to participate in worship services in the synagogue (which was at the centre of the community) at the invitation of synagogue leaders, Jesus begins to teach.  “The people there were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” Mark 1:22  How and why do you think Jesus stood out from the other religious leaders?

  1. Read verses 23-27.   What does this episode reveal about the authority of Jesus? (Note: the title given to Jesus by the demon that was possessing the man.)
  1. Read verses 29-34. What does this episode reveal about the character, power and mission of God?  (Note: it took place “after sunset” after a full day of ministry for Jesus.)
  1. In what ways do you think people are ‘imprisoned’ today?  How does Christ set people free?  Is anyone in your group willing to give a personal testimony of how the Holy Spirit has set them free?
  1. Read verses 35-39. What can we learn about how we are to live and serve Christ, both individually and as a church, from the way in which Jesus often withdrew, either individually or with the disciples?
Do you agree that time with God is a core part of our ongoing spiritual transformation?
How do you set time aside to abide in Christ?   How do you spend this time with God?  
Share how you spend time with Christ and encourage and help each other.
Consider committing to do this and invite friends to help you by holding you accountable and praying for you.
Conclude with a time of prayer.
Helpful Hints:         
Theologian Ben Witherington[1]helpfully explains that Jesus’ healing of Simon’s mother-in-law was controversial for those who were witnessed and heard about it:
‘Though there are later stories of rabbis taking the hand of another man and healing him, there are no such stories of rabbis doing so for a woman, and especially not for a woman who was not a member of the healer’s family. In addition, there is the fact that Jesus performed this act on the Sabbath. Thus, while touching a nonrelated woman was in itself an offence, and touching one that was sick and therefore unclean was doubly so, performing this act on the Sabbath only compounds the social offence.’
Mark then writes of how the compassion shown to this one woman is extended to many others. At the end of long and full day, Jesus does not turn anyone away who comes to Him for healing.

Biblical scholar Ched Myers
[2] notes that, “From the very beginning Jesus the healer experiences the incessant press of needy masses... The way Jesus responds to these destitute subjects despite opposition dramatizes his preferential ministry to the poor.”
In this short account, Mark continues to reveal more about Jesus and what life in the kingdom of God is like.
[1] B Witherington, “The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary”,
(pub: Eeerdmans, 2001) Page 98
[2] C Myers, “Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus”, (pub: Orbis, 2008) Page 144

Richard Jones, 30/11/2015