Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Mark 1
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
Who is Jesus? While this question is not new to us in our modern times, we view the question from a comfortable distance from Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Some today say Jesus is a moral teacher, or a spiritual guru, or maybe just a really misunderstood homeless man. Humans search for Jesus’ true identity goes on today, but one author sought out to clear up any confusion from the very beginning. His name was Mark.
For generations, the Hebrew people read, studied, and even memorized the Old Testament scriptures (particularly the five books of Moses, called the Torah). Part of this practice was to connect the people to their history. Another part was to become familiar with the laws that would keep them holy. But perhaps the most significant importance of the scriptures were the prophecies (in Isaiah and Malachi) about a Savior who was coming to rescue Israel from their oppressors and once and for all stand as king over all kingdoms.
So, when Mark introduces his gospel by saying, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” he is not mincing words. He is declaring that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Now remember, the people reading Mark’s gospel know this about Jesus: He lived among them, did some cool stuff, said some cool things… and then was publicly tortured to death by Rome. Doesn’t sound like much of a revolutionary king, right?
That’s exactly Mark’s point. Israel was expecting a king like they had seen before. A charismatic leader with an army. Jesus is the Messiah, and everyone missed it. So, Mark lays out the story, full of dramatic encounters, intriguing dialog, and history changing events for everyone to see the truth about Jesus.
- Who is Jesus? In your own words talk about how you have engaged the idea of Jesus.
- As you read Mark chapter 1, what stands out to you in this introduction to Jesus?
- John was an important and influential leader for his community, but he testified that “After me will come one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worth to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” What does John’s humility teach us about being leaders in the church? Does this attitude seem evident in your faith community? How can your life prepare the way for others to see and know Jesus?
The people of Israel were very dedicated to knowing scripture and preparing themselves for the Messiah, and yet they missed Him when He arrived in their midst. This should give us pause and evoke in us a humility about what God might be up to in our world.
Spend some time praying for one another. For those who might not know Jesus, give an invitation to receive His love and forgiveness. For those who have been walking with Jesus for some time, pray for a renewed hope and wonder in Jesus’ life.