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Lesson 6: Clean, Unclean And Being All In Or Nothing (Mark 7:1-9:1)

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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 7:1-23

Focus on the Meaning: I heard someone call the group of Pharisees and lawyers “The Bureau of Tapping and Snapping.” They expected the people to do whatever they said without question, even if some of their traditions made no sense. The Pharisees had added many laws to the Law of Moses. These were called “traditions of the elders” and were often held in higher esteem than the Scriptures. The issue of washing hands when coming from the marketplace was not general cleaning of dirt but referred to an elaborate cleaning ritual that removed contamination from the Gentiles who were present in the public areas.

1. Discover the Facts: In today’s passage, Jesus gets “in the face” of His hard-hearted opposition.

  • What did the Pharisees and lawyers see (vv. 1-2)?
  • What is their accusation (v. 5)?
  • What did Jesus say in response to them (vv. 6-7)?
  • What is His accusation (v. 8)?
  • What example does Jesus give to prove His point (vv. 9-13)?
  • What does He say they do to the commands of God (vv. 8, 9, 13)?
  • What does Jesus say to the crowd that nullifies the “traditions” and turns it into a heart issue (vv. 14-15)?
  • How does He explain this better to His disciples (vv. 18-19)?
  • What does make a person spiritually dirty (vv. 20-23)?

From the Greek: The word hypocrite was a Greek theatrical term referring to an actor, a pretender. This was a commonly known cultural term. The actor would do one of two things: 1) hold a mask in front of his face while playing a part on the stage (one who hid his true self under a mask) or 2) contort and exaggerate facial expressions so the entire audience could see them, performing for recognition and applause. Jesus knew the Greek culture around Him and communicated with people in terms they understood.

2. The key issue Jesus expresses in vv. 20-23 is that of the heart. What is the “heart” of man?

Focus on the Meaning: The list of sins in vv. 21-22 are not ranked by bad to worse. All sin is bad. Think of the most heinous crime. That’s the ugliness of each one of these sins to God. The consequences are different, though. People and circumstances do not cause our sin. Those things reveal our hearts.

3. Heartbreak to Hope: Jesus told the Pharisees and lawyers that they let go, set aside, and nullify the commands of God for their own purposes? How do we do this today to fit in with our culture or our pleasures? Doing so will eventually lead to heartbreak of some kind as we reap the consequences of our actions.

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 7:24-30 and Matthew 15:21-26.

1. Discover the Facts: Avoiding the hostility in Galilee, Jesus heads to Gentile territory. There He meets a woman who becomes a living example of the clean / unclean controversy.

  • What was Jesus’s plan (v. 24)?
  • A woman heard about Him. What do we know about her and her situation (vv. 25-26)?
  • What did she do and say?
  • How did Jesus test her heart with His response (v. 27)?
  • What in her response revealed her heart (v. 28)?
  • What is Jesus’s response (vv. 29-30, Matthew 15:28)?

Scriptural Insight: God desired to bless all people, but He purposed to bless humanity by first blessing the Jews (Genesis 12:3; Acts 3:26; Romans 1:16). In the gospels, Jesus restored Gentiles who came to Him in faith, not turning them away: the demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1-20, the Canaanite woman (Mark 7:24-30), and the Roman Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13).

2. How did the woman demonstrate faith in what she did and said?

Think About It: Did you recognize her humility and tenaciousness? She basically told Jesus, “I recognize I have no rights. I don’t deserve a thing, but I’m asking anyway.” Jesus was pleased with what He saw in her faith.

3. Read 2 Chronicles 16:9. How does this incident in Jesus’s ministry show that God doesn’t play favorites? In what ways did He demonstrate grace to the woman?

4. Heartbreak to Hope: We all want to get away from such interruptions by needy people at times. Our responses may be governed by our time schedule, biases, and even hard hearts. We cannot meet every need. But, who can meet the spiritual needs of every person? Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes, what should they have done for that woman instead of trying to send her away? What can you do when faced with a need?

Read Mark 7:31-37.

Historical Insight: The Decapolis was a league of 10 independent cities characterized by Greek culture. All but one of them were located east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. This was Gentile territory. The healed man from Mark 5:19-20 lived there.

5. What grabbed your attention as you read this passage?

6. What truth was Jesus communicating to these Gentile people when He looked up to heaven as He healed the man (v. 34)?

7. Heartbreak to Hope: What in today’s lesson speaks to your heart?

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 8:1-10.

1. Fill out the chart below comparing the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6) with the feeding of the 4000 (Mark 8).

What is similar?

What is different?

vv. 2-3

vv. 4-5

vv. 6-7

v. 8

v. 9

Jesus felt compassion for the crowds. He chose to be kind to them by taking care of not only their spiritual needs through His amazing teaching but also their physical needs through food. Kindness is being tender-hearted plus doing something to meet a need.

2. Heartbreak to Hope: In what ways do you try to be kind? Are you kind in your charity? Do you give what will actually benefit others or just to clean out your closet and pantry? Our kindness lets other people see God as kind and tender-hearted, compassionate. Go ahead, jot down 2 ways that you can be kind to someone in your sphere of influence specifically this week.

Read Mark 8:11-21.

3. Discover the Facts: Jesus is back on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.

  • What did the Pharisees want this time (v. 11)?
  • How does Jesus respond (v. 12)?
  • On the way back across the lake, what were the disciples thinking (v. 14)?
  • What did Jesus say to them (v. 15)?
  • What did they hear (v. 16)?
  • Aware of their discussion, of what does Jesus remind them (vv. 17-21)?

Focus on the Meaning: Confirmation is repeatedly put forth that Jesus was and is the Messiah, and He was given complete authority by God here on earth to heal, conquer death, and to forgive us of our sins. This evidence disclaims the statement, “If only I could see a miracle, then I would believe in God.”  The Pharisees and other Jews experienced and/or witnessed many miracles first-hand performed by Jesus. Yet, many still did not believe Him to be the Messiah or understand His message. Faith is not based on seeing. It is based on believing.

4. Jesus’s words in v. 15 are like a parent mulling over an incident and dispensing advice to children. What was He trying to tell them?

Think About It: Did you think to yourself when you read the Pharisees’ question (v. 11), “Weren’t healings and feedings enough?” I certainly did. What did they really want? Perhaps they wanted Jesus to call fire down from heaven like Elijah did in 1 Kings 18. But then, would that have convinced them? I doubt it. Their hearts were too hard. We, too, must beware of seeking “signs” different from what God has already shown us.

5. Heartbreak to Hope: Look at the disciples’ focus in vv. 14, 16. Do you do this? In what ways do you fret about something small and forget all about the power and teachings of the One who is always with you? Ask Jesus to help you stay focused on Him and His goodness to you.

Read Mark 8:22-26.

6. What grabbed your attention as you read this passage?

7. Have you noticed that Jesus took different actions to heal people? Jesus didn’t heal according to a formula. Sometimes He just spoke for it to be done; other times He touched, spit, and spoke. What would be a good reason for Him mixing things up like that?

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 8:27-30.

1. Discover the Facts: Now Jesus and His disciples are way up north of Galilee near the foot of Mt. Hermon. It’s retreat time again.

  • What question did Jesus ask His disciples (v. 27)?
  • Who do people say that Jesus is (v. 28)?
  • How does Peter answer the personal question, “Who do you say I am?”
  • What does Jesus tell them?

Scriptural Insight: In Matthew 16:13-19, we learn that Peter’s answer was revealed by God. Jesus calls Simon petros, meaning “stone, a piece of a bigger rock.” The bigger rock is the apostles and prophets who know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ will build His Church on that foundation. And nothing, including the gates of Hell, will be able to stop the onslaught of the people of God to build the Church. Peter is given the keys of the kingdom, which we later understand meant that he would be present to open doors to the 3 different people groups—the Jews in Acts 2, the Samaritans (half-Jews) in Acts 8, and the Gentiles in Acts 10. The apostles are given the power of binding and loosing. That is not referring to forgiving sins or determining eternal destiny (as in cults or used by the medieval church). It is the ability to authoritatively state what is permitted or forbidden in terms of practices as in Acts 15 and 1 Corinthians 7.

Read Mark 8:31-9:1.

2. Discover the Facts: We are now at a turning point in Mark. Jesus begins to reveal the future to His disciples to prepare them for what’s ahead.

  • What did He teach them (v. 31)?
  • What did Peter do (v. 32)?
  • What did Jesus say to him (v. 33)?
  • To the crowd and the disciples, what does Jesus say (vv. 34-35)?
  • How does He explain this in vv. 36-37?
  • What evidence does He give for someone having in mind the things of God or the things of man (v. 38)?
  • What promise does He make in 9:1?

Focus on the Meaning: 1) Denying oneself does not mean denying your personality, living as an ascetic, or neglecting your physical needs. It does mean saying “no” to selfish interests and earthly securities and turning away from the idolatry of self-centeredness. Following Jesus involves denying your own way of approaching life and adopting God’s way of approaching life. It is a daily choice of obeying God. 2) Taking up ones cross does not mean to purposely suffer or stoically bear life’s troubles as though having no choices. Carrying the cross in Roman-occupied territory demonstrated submission to the authority against which one had previously rebelled. When Jesus took up His cross, He was submitting to the authority of God and obeying Him. So, taking up your cross represents obedience to God and whatever opportunity or adversity that brings to you. Your choice is this: “I am God’s, or I am my own.” You can’t have it both ways.

3. Because of the phrase “adulterous and sinful generation,” we know that Jesus is addressing those in the crowd who are listening to Him but resisting belief in Him.

  • What does it mean to be ashamed?
  • What would it look like for someone to be ashamed of Christ and His Words?

4. Heartbreak to Hope: Revelation demands a response. Jesus is the Son of God, calling you to follow Him—to approach life God’s way rather than your own way or the world’s way. Choosing His way is rewarding.

  • What rewards have you received from choosing God’s way of doing life over the world’s way?
  • What challenges have you faced for choosing God’s way of doing life over the world’s way?

5. 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.

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

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