Reading 1: Mark 7:1-30
Defilement Comes from Within
Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now [ay]when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, [az]they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands [ba]in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
Question: What do you get out of verse 6 in the context of this scripture? How would this apply today, honoring God with lips but having a heart that is far from God?
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—[bb]the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
9 He said to them, “All too well you [bc]reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Question: Why do their actions beginning in verse 7 make their worship in vain?
14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If[bd] anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, [be]thus purifying all foods?”20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
A Gentile Shows Her Faith
24 From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre [bf]and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. 25 For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a [bg]Greek, a [bh]Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept [bi]asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”
29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”
30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.
Questions: Why do you think Jesus had the exchange with this Gentile woman as He did? What did it prove? How might you have handled this type of test and why?
Reading 2: Mark 7:31-8:21
Jesus Heals a Deaf-Mute
31 Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. 32 Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. 33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
35 Immediately his ears were opened, and the [bj]impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Question: From what you have observed in the Gospels, did Jesus have a certain method of healing people? What can we learn this?
Feeding the Four Thousand
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.”
4 Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”
5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
And they said, “Seven.”
6 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. 7 They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. 8 So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. 9 Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, 10 immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees Seek a Sign
11 Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”
Question: Why did they seek for a sign?
Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod
13 And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side. 14 Now [bk]the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the [bl]leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart [bm]still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”
They said to Him, “Twelve.”
20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?”
And they said, “Seven.”
21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”
Reading 3: Mark 8:22-38
A Blind Man Healed at Bethsaida
22 Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. 23 So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.
24 And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”
25 Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. 26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, [bn]“Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”
Question: What observations do you make about the way Jesus healed this man?
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Question: Why do you think Jesus told them not to tell anyone who He was?
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not [bo]mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Take Up the Cross and Follow Him
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the good news’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Question: Where does denying yourself (or making Jesus Lord through surrender) to follow Jesus first begin in the ongoing walk of the follower of Christ?
Reading 4: Mark 9:1-29
The Transfiguration of Christ
And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God[bp]present with power.”
Question: Where was this prophesy fulfilled (Hint, see next verses 2-8)?
Jesus Transfigured on the Mount
2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.
7 And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 8 Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
12 Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.”
A Boy Is Healed
14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”
17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
19 He answered him and said, “O faithless[bq] generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I [br]bear with you? Bring him to Me.”20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 Jesus said to him, “If[bs] you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer[bt]and fasting.”
Question: What do Jesus’ statements about why the disciples were not able to cast out the demon tell you about walking in the power to cast out demons?
Reading 5: Mark 9:30-49
Jesus Again Predicts His Death and Resurrection
30 Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. 31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” 32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.
Who Is the Greatest?
33 Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you [bu]disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
Question: In what areas(s) of your life can you grow in the practice of being a servant for Christ’s sake, knowing this is what He values, and this is what He demonstrated (Mark 10:42-45, Philippians 2:8-11)?
Jesus Forbids Sectarianism
38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”
39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against [bv]us is on [bw]our side. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Question: What do you think it means to give a cup of cold water (or do whatever) “in Jesus name” because you belong to Christ, that Jesus taught would be rewarded?
Jesus Warns of Offenses
42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me [bx]to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life [by]maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to [bz]hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 [ca]where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into [cb]hell,[cc]into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into [cd]hell fire— 48 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
Question: Putting this in the context of the rest of Christ’s teachings that sin begins within a person before it is manifested on the outside, how do you put this into practice and get radical about removing the causes of sin in your life (Matthew 23:25-26)?
Tasteless Salt Is Worthless
49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and[ce] every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”