Refresh Ministry Bible Study – “How to Save a Life”
I. Text: Mark 3:1-12 (ESV)
1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
A Great Crowd Follows Jesus
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
It’s been a pretty long time, does anyone remember anything from the last Bible study that we had (just Anna and Joanne). Today’s study is going to be a little more interactive and involve a little bit of role-playing.
III. Observations/Main Points
In v. 3, when else did He enter the synagogue? Probably one of the times that He was talking with the Pharisees, but it’s hard to tell given Mark’s pacing. Also v. 3, expectation is that this man is going to be healed – yay! In v. 2, they refers to Pharisees (see v. 6). In v. 2, the “on the Sabbath” is the critical point; if we removed this condition, would they have been watching to see whether or not He would heal the man? We see that the Pharisees do not understand Mark 2:27. “So that they might accuse Him”; is this really the meaning of Sabbath? To be used as a way to accuse others? #legalism In v. 3, He knows that they’re watching to see what He does. In v. 4, Jesus defines Sabbath as they ought to understand it; it’s not about laws anymore with Jesus’s definition, but at the core, it’s about life or death. “But they were silent” because they knew that they were getting called out for what they were thinking. In v. 5, we see Jesus’s emotional response to the way that they are not even trying to repent or acknowledge what He’s asking. He doesn’t heal the man by direct contact, but by command, and yet this is enough for the Pharisees to begin scheming. In v. 6, the Herodians are like the furthest people Pharisees would have been expected to be in cahoots with, but this is how urgently they want him; twisting things in a kind of political way by going to them. Mark with the foreshadowing of Jesus’s death with “how to destroy Him.” In v. 7, we see the pattern of healing and then withdrawing, with the crowds following after Him. In v. 7-8, people from all over the place come to see Him because of “all that He was doing” – still focused on His works (which should say something for us as we try to live out our faith). In v. 9-10, we get a pretty good visual of just how many people there were, and how much they believed that He could heal; they just wanted to touch Him. There’s some selfishness here; if you have a disease, you normally wouldn’t want other people to catch it, and yet, there’s kind of an innate sense of Jesus’s invincibility as a healer. In v. 11, we see the effect of Jesus’s authority as Son of God on the unclean spirits, nearly compelling them to fall on their knees and confess who He is. Seems like we might not even be at this level… In v. 12, we see that Jesus again is trying to not let His identity be known – this, in some ways, seems to make Him seem deeper as a character; a fraud would happily have himself be declared as Son of God, but Jesus does not want this to be the case, perhaps because He wants God to be glorified or because He knows it will distract from the work and purpose of the Father.
Open floor discussions/debate or, if enough people, do in small groups and discuss. Break up role playing if it gets too heated:
What is happening in this passage? Summarize, hit the main points, no interpretation.
Interpretation time: what do you start to notice about the narrative and how the characters are engaging? Mark allows us to have this zoomed out perspective of the Gospel.
Role play questions:
- You make a friend, find out they’re not Christian, and they ask you to do something with them on a Sunday that coincides with the time that you go to church. You know that this activity will further the relationship and that it’s really important for that person. What do you do? Argue for/think about a variety of approaches and perspectives that feed into those approaches.
- You pass by a homeless person on the street asking for money; he doesn’t look like he’s unable to get a job or find work if he really tried to. He tells you about how he’s trying to get off drugs and alcohol abuse and get his life together, but you’ve seen this guy many times before at the same place. What do you do? Argue for/think about a variety of approaches and perspectives that feed into those approaches.
- You know that you have a big test coming up, and you’re deciding whether or not to take the time off to study. A friend asks if you’re going to go to youth group tonight, and after telling him/her your dilemma, he/she says something along the lines of, “Really? You’re going to miss youth group because of a test? C’mon man.” How do you respond? Argue for/think about a variety of responses and the priorities that are buried in those responses.
There are so many times when the template of a good Christian may clash with particular instances that we may encounter as we try to live out the Gospel in a variety of environments. For people who are particularly “churched,” or comfortable being in a church environment as opposed to outside environments – even us at times – it’s possible to be Pharisaic in our outlook on what one ought to do in a circumstance. It’s also not healthy to toe the line and measure the goodness of each thing to see if you can “get away with doing it” because that’s not done in fellowship with God and praying about things before they are done, as Jesus does in Chapter 1. Therefore, to constantly remind ourselves of where the Pharisees may have fallen short (and do our best to not be Pharisees about the Pharisees because, in their own way, they loved the Lord too – just not Jesus), we need to be defining “important issues” as the Word would have us define them, turning, as Jesus does, to the core of what is asked of us, and reminding ourselves of what God is really after.
Jesus uses the Sabbath interaction as the pivot from which He exposes the underlying expectations of “good” people; He shines a light on the danger of legalism that forgets how it came to love the law in the first place. In many ways, legalism practiced well can lead to a disciplined, healthy, spiritual walk, but legalism that looks upon its own righteousness forgets the Cross that Jesus died on. The love of the law comes not from an innate righteousness, but because of a humble devotion to God and desire to obey Him.