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Lesson 4: Blasphemy, Parables, And A Stormy Night (Mark 3:20-4:41)

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Day One Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 3:20-35 and Matthew 12:22-24.

1. Discover the Facts: This section is written in “sandwich” form. Verses 20-21 and verses 31-35 are like two slices of bread with verses 22-30 as the filling between them. It was a common format for writing at the time called a “chiasm.” Mark used this format 5 times in his book. Appropriately, this incident took place at mealtime.

  • When Jesus enters a house, what did he experience (v. 20)?
  • Who heard about this and what did they decide to do (v. 21)?

Think About It: Jesus experienced family pressure for Him to rest and stop the craziness. Their intentions were good in that they cared about Him. But, they misread the work He was doing. Has this ever happened to you?

  • While His family members were on their way, what did the lawyers declare (v. 22)?
  • In vv. 23-26, how does Jesus show that their charge is illogical?
  • In v. 27, who is stronger than the “strong man?”
  • What does Jesus declare can be forgiven (v. 28)?

Focus on the Meaning: “I tell you the truth” is a statement that says to the listener, “Pay attention. This is very important.” It’s almost like an oath. Mark records Jesus using this phrase 13 times. It denotes that Jesus was speaking out of His own authority.

  • What does Jesus declare will not be forgiven (v. 29)?
  • Why did Jesus say this (v. 30)?
  • Review v. 21. Who arrives (v. 31)?
  • What happened next (v. 32)?
  • What did Jesus say that probably shocked the people (vv. 33-34)?
  • What is the dividing line (v. 35)?

Jesus hits back hard at the hard-hearted teachers of the law. This discussion of blasphemy has often been misunderstood and wrongly taught. Blasphemy means to slander God or give credit to something else that belongs to Him.

2. Let’s look first at the truth of what Jesus said in the context in which He said it. We learn from Matthew that Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man. What is the real accusation against Jesus by those who are opposing Him (v. 22, 30)?

3. Then, let’s define blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Read John 16:8-9 and the definition below to answer the next question.

Focus on the Meaning: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is this: “The malicious resistance against the Holy Spirit’s converting power after one is shown that Jesus is the Christ.” It is like a line in the sand. John 16:8-9 describes the Holy Spirit’s role in conversion and the willful unbelief of those who resist Him.

In what ways are the lawyers committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Derive your answer from the verses in Matthew and Mark that you read today.

Think About It: They know the truth and are still choosing against God and are slandering God in the process! He’s doing the miracles. Demons don’t heal people; God does. Who has been getting all the praise for the healings as they happened so far? God has. Aren’t they even listening?

4. Heartbreak to Hope: This reference to “family” is a foretaste of the Church. Every believer is adopted into God’s family by faith in Jesus. Doing God’s will by responding to Jesus makes you “family.” Your personal response to Jesus is not dependent on your birth and rearing. The underlying question Jesus is asking the crowd is this, “Will you follow Me more than the influence of your immediate family?” How will you answer that question?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Two Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 4:1-20.

Why did Jesus teach with parables? Parables are sermon illustrations usually taken from everyday life or common experiences. They generally teach one main point so not every detail has significance. Those on the outside of Jesus’s circle of followers got the parables, which formed a dividing line between those who were in opposition or just curious and those who were committed to Jesus. Even the unreceptive could remember the parable. If their hearts responded, they could understand its meaning. His followers got the more direct teaching.

1. Discover the Facts: This is a well-known parable. Look at it with fresh eyes by answering these questions:

  • Describe the setting (v. 1).
  • Where did the farmer scatter his seed (vv. 3-8)?
  • What happened to the seed in each type of soil?
  • What did Jesus say in v. 9?
  • What did the Twelve ask Him (v. 10)?
  • Jesus says the listeners have two choices in vv. 11-12. What are they?

Focus on the Meaning: A secret or mystery (vv. 10, 12) in the Bible is something previously unknown but now being revealed. See Deuteronomy 29:29. A lot of things are revealed in the New Testament that were not known or understood in the Old Testament. Jesus drew a distinction between those who accepted His teaching, such as the Twelve, and those who rejected it, such as the [lawyers] and Pharisees. God was giving those who welcomed Jesus’s teaching new revelation about the coming messianic kingdom. He was withholding that revelation from those who rejected Him. (Dr. Constables Notes on Mark 2017 Edition, p. 69)

  • What does the seed represent (v. 14)?
  • What does the hard path represent (v. 15)?
  • What do the rocky places represent (vv. 16-17)
  • What do the thorny places represent (vv. 18-19)?
  • What does the good soil represent (v. 20)?

Focus on the Meaning: Most commentaries present this “Parable of the Sower” as being about fruitfulness and teachability in response to God. The main point is this: How will you respond to the Word of God sown in you? Truth must be acted upon. Fruitfulness is the result.

2. What are ears to hear (v. 9)? Did the disciples have ears to hear? How do you know?

3. Heartbreak to Hope: Where does the soil of your heart fit in this parable? Are you teachable? Are you acting upon the truth you are taught? What evidence of fruitfulness of the Word of God is there in your life? Acting upon the truth of God’s Word will bring you hope in those places where you might be experiencing heartbreak or pain.

Write A Prayer To God In Response To What He Has Shown You In This Lesson.

Day Three Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 4:21-34.

Instead of looking at these parables in detail, you will be discerning what you think is the main idea that Jesus was illustrating with each parable and why you decided that.

4. Vv. 21-25. Note: “Hidden” refers back to “secret / mystery” in v. 11.

  • The main idea of this parable is what?
  • Why did you choose that?

5. Vv. 26-29.

  • The main idea of this parable is what?
  • Why did you choose that?

6. Vv. 30-32.

  • The main idea of this parable is what?
  • Why did you choose that?

7. Focusing on vv. 33-34:

  • What did Jesus give to His audience?
  • What did He do for His disciples (the Twelve)? See also v. 11.

Think About It: If you are a parent or teacher, you can identify with Jesus in discipling children. In a sense, Jesus was discipling His “children” (v. 34) in a way that is very similar to a parent or teacher discipling her children or students.

8. Heartbreak to Hope: Jesus mentioned a lamp in v. 21. Lamps give out light. Believers bear the light of the truth about Jesus. We are the walking, talking, visible representatives of the invisible God. As you let His light shine through you, who gets to see and enjoy the light?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

Day Four Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him that you are listening.

Read Mark 4:35-41.

Historical Insight: Situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, the Sea of Galilee is particularly susceptible to sudden, violent storms. Cool air from the Mediterranean is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes and clashes with the hot, humid air lying over the lake. (NIV Study Bible 1984 Edition, note on Mark 4:37, p. 1501)

1. Discover the Facts: Have you been in a terrifying rainstorm while in a boat or driving? You will certainly be able to identify with the disciples.

  • After teaching all day, what does Jesus say (v. 35)?
  • Who is with Him (v. 36)?
  • What happened (v. 37)?
  • Where is Jesus and why (v. 38)?

Think About It: When you are so tired you can’t even stand up straight, Jesus has been there. He understands exhaustion. You can trust Him to help you and love you through it.

  • What do the disciples do and say (v. 38)?
  • What did Jesus say to the storm (v. 39)? Note: it’s the same thing that He said in Mark 1:25.
  • What two questions did He ask of His disciples (v. 40)?
  • What is their response (v. 41)?

Think About It: Jesus wasn’t worried about Himself or the disciples. God wasn’t worried about His Son. He was letting them all go through the storm, letting them struggle. The disciples were worried, though. Did they pray? Or, did they just panic? Their question was basically, “Do you care about us?” How often have you asked that same question when you have to struggle through something that is painful, uncomfortable, or fearful?

2. What new appreciation did the disciples have for their “rabbi?”

The question Jesus asked the disciples was directed at their fear. The word He used in v. 40 means “cringing in fear, panic, timid.” It never is used positively.

Fear is a normal human emotion designed by God to alert us to danger so we will take action against it. Yet fear can take root in us and cause us to give way to panic and hysteria. Jesus knows this about us. When we are afraid, Jesus wants us to trust Him and not give way to fear. Learning to do so is our walk from fear to faith.

Whenever you are gripped by fear, here are four truths you can apply to any situation. Say these truths to yourself over and over to cement them in your mind:

  • God loves me.
  • God knows what is going on in my life.
  • God can do something about it.
  • I can trust God’s goodness in what He chooses to do.

That last truth is the hard part. God is good and what He does is always good (Psalm 119:68). During our time of trusting Him, a loving God will say “no” to some things and “yes” to others. Our choice is to trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do.

3. Heartbreak to Hope: What are the main things that strike fear in your heart? Do you have any specific phobias? Pick one thing that is causing you fear today. Apply the four truths above to that situation. Spend about 5 minutes trusting Jesus with that specific fear in your heart. Just mentally hand it to Him. Then, write it on a card and ask someone in your group (or a trusted friend) to pray for you all week long. Find “Whom Shall I Fear?” by Chris Tomlin on and sing along.

4. Heartbreak to Hope: Reflect back on this whole lesson, how did someone experiencing heartbreak, pain, or uncertainty find hope, healing and love?

Write a prayer to God in response to what He has shown you in this lesson.

[For additional application to this lesson, use the following “Applying Faith to Fear” process whenever you are afraid.]

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Applying Faith To Fear

The information below is a great tool to use whenever you are afraid. It will lead you to apply faith to your fear.

1. Confront it. What fears do you have right now? Think about them. The worst ones, the real ones, and the imaginary ones.

2. Ask about each one: What is my worst-case scenario? Consider just one of those fears. What is the worst that could happen? Think realistically.

3. Consider: If the worst I can imagine happens, could I handle it through the presence and power of Jesus Christ? As a believer, you have the power of the One who created the Universe living inside of you. Can He help you get through anything? Read Romans 8:26—the Spirit Himself is praying for you in your weakness when you don’t even know what to ask for.

4. Remember these four truths and speak them to yourself:

  • God loves me. John 16:27; Romans 5:5, Ephesians 5:1
  • God knows what is going on in my life. Matthew 6:31-32; Psalm 139:1-10
  • God can do something about it. Genesis 18:14; Luke 1:37; Mark 10:27
  • I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do. Psalm 119:68; Proverbs 3:5

5. Pray: Prayer is simply talking to God about anything and everything.

  • Thank the Lord for His presence and His goodness.
  • Ask Him for the courage and peace to ride out the storm. Where the Bible is clear, you can claim God’s promises by faith.
  • Anytime, you can ask for deliverance and protection. But you cannot hold God to promises He hasn’t made, such as immunity from natural calamities, illness, and troubles.

6. Live life securely in Him:

  • Take common sense precautions. Be wise in the world.
  • Trust God to show you what to do and to give you strength when you are weak.

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

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