Mark 4:26-34 – Learn to read the Bible #16

I’ve just published the next part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 4:26-34, two short parables about the Kingdom of God.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 4:26-34

  • This is a continuation of the line of thought Jesus began in the parable of the sower. (You might like to refresh your memory about what the Kingdom of God is!)
  • The parable of the growing seed (v26-29): what is the main point Jesus is making? You might like to think about what it’s like to grow plants from seed. Can you make it grow? What point is Jesus then making about God’s kingdom?
  • The second parable of the mustard seed (v30-32): what is the main point Jesus is making about the mustard seed? The smallest thing can grow into the biggest thing. Christianity has grown from one man to being the world’s largest religion.
  • It’s an encouraging thought – maybe you could just spend a moment reflecting on those parables and taking some encouragement from them!
  • Jesus spoke in parables “as much as they could understand” (v33). Have you found that the Bible has made more sense to you as you’ve grown in understanding?
  • Jesus explained everything to his disciples. Why? Maybe because he wanted them to teach everyone what the parables meant – but when you grasp who Jesus is, the parables really start to make sense on their own.

Take a few moments to re-read the passage, think, and pray.

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 4:21-25.

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Mark 4:21-25 – Learn to read the Bible #15

I’ve just published the 15th part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 4:21-25, “a lamp on a stand”.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 4:21-25

  • This is not an easy passage to understand! In times like this, it’s often helpful to put it into context. Think about what Jesus was saying in the previous section. How does this passage relate to it?
  • What does Jesus say is “hidden” in the previous passage? How do you think that relates to having a light and not keeping it under a bowl, and things hidden being disclosed?
  • Think about how we reveal the gospel to others, how it is shown in our lives. Do we keep the gospel hidden or do we show it?
  • “Consider carefully what you hear” – what is “heard” in the parable of the sower? How does that help you to understand what Jesus means here?
  • Do you think Jesus is saying that God will respond to us in the way that we respond to the gospel? If we hear the message gladly and believe, God will receive us with gladness. If we reject the gospel, God will reject us.
  • What implications does that have for you, and for those you know? How can we be praying to help us and others be those who hear and believe the gospel?

Take a few moments to re-read the passage, think, and pray.

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 4:1-20.

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Mark 4:1-20 – Learn to read the Bible #14

I’ve just published the 14th part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 4:1-20, the Parable of the Sower.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 4:1-20

  • The passage is basically in three sections: the first part (the parable), then Jesus’ explanation of why he talks in parables, then the explanation of the parable.
  • This is one of the few places in the gospels where Jesus directly explains what a parable means. So we should take this as helping us to understand parables more generally.
  • In the first part, Jesus tells the parable. If you did not have the explanation, how would you have understood it? If you find passages of the Bible that you don’t understand, what do you do?
  • In the second part, Jesus explains why he tells parables. What do you think is the difference between those who have the secret of the Kingdom of God, and those who don’t? Why is it a secret?
  • In the final part, Jesus explains what the parable means. He says the sower sows the “Word” – i.e. the gospel message that Jesus has been proclaiming. You might like to think about all the different reactions to the word. What is your reaction? What would you like it to be? What about other people? You could spend some time praying for yourself and for them.

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 3:20-35.

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Mark 3:20-35 – Learn to read the Bible #13

I’ve just published the 13th part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 3:20-35, when Jesus is accused by both his family and the teachers of the law.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 3:20-35

There were three key points to think about from this passage:

  1. Jesus’ family thought that he was out of his mind. This is often the case in families: if someone starts to believe in Jesus, it can cause tension or division within the family. Is that the case in your experience? Are you prepared for following Jesus to cause problems in your relationships?
  2. The teachers of the Law thought that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul – Satan, the “prince of demons”. They essentially claimed that what Jesus was doing was evil. Sadly, this is increasingly common in our society: Christians are not just seen as weird but immoral. Is that something you have seen? Are you prepared to put following Jesus first, even though people might wrongly think of you as immoral? (Stephen McAlpine has just written a new book called Being the Bad Guys which you might appreciate).
  3. Jesus’ family try to use their influence over him because they are family. But Jesus says that his true family are those who believe in and do the will of God the Father. The spiritual family is just as real and even closer than the biological family. Do we see other Christians like that? Do we see fellow Christians as our true family? How can we love them and demonstrate being a family?

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 3:13-19.

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Mark 3:13-19 – Learn to read the Bible #12

I’ve just published the 12th part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 3:13-19, when Jesus calls the twelve disciples.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 3:13-19

  • There were many people who followed Jesus. Here, Jesus calls twelve people to him to be with him so he could teach them and give them a special job to do.
  • What’s the significance of the number twelve? – you might want to look up the tribes of Israel. Do you think Jesus is making a statement about what he has come to fulfil?
  • He called the twelve to preach and cast out demons. Those are things that we’ve seen Jesus do already in Mark’s gospel. Our lives are supposed to look like Jesus’, and Jesus gives us tasks to do. What is God calling you to do? How can we preach the gospel and help other people be free from the sin and evil which affects them?
  • Jesus gave a nickname to James and John – the ‘Sons of Thunder’. Jesus had real, human relationships with people. He knows all about us as well – warts and all. Does it help to think that Jesus knows all about us and loves us (even if we need to change)?
  • Jesus called Judas Iscariot, who (as the text reminds us) “betrayed him”. Think about how God was working even here. God is able to work in our lives even before we know he’s working, or even when it seems like things go wrong. Think about that in relation to what’s going on in your own life right now.

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 3:7-12.

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Mark 3:7-12 – Learn to read the Bible #11

I’ve just published the eleventh part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 3:7-12, when Jesus is surrounded by crowds.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 3:7-12

  • Jesus withdrew to the lake but the crowds followed him. Why do you think Jesus tried to withdrawn from the crowd?
  • People came to him from a very long way away – it seems like his fame was spreading. Imagine what it would be like today if someone appeared who could actually heal people!
  • He kept a boat ready to stop people from crowding him. What do you think this says about Jesus’ priorities? Does this mean that Jesus thought it was more important to teach people than to heal them? Why do you think that is?
  • The impure spirits knew who Jesus was – but Jesus forbade them from telling people about him. Why? Do you think that people might have got the wrong idea about Jesus? – maybe people would have thought that Jesus was there just to heal them or do things they wanted.
  • How do you see Jesus? Do you see him as someone to submit to and listen to, or as someone who is simply there to heal us and do occasional miracles?

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 3:1-6.

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Mark 3:1-6 – Learn to read the Bible #10

I’ve just published the tenth part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 3:1-6, when Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 3:1-6

  • It begins “Another time” – could Mark be suggesting this is related to the previous passage? They both seem to be about the Sabbath and Law.
  • “Some of them” (the Pharisees? – makes sense if it follows on from the previous passage) were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. Why do you think they would do this? Do you think some of your friends or family accuse Jesus without giving him a fair hearing?
  • Jesus asked the man to stand in front of everyone – he didn’t heal the man in secret, but did it in public. Almost as if he was looking to confront the Pharisees.
  • Jesus asked “What is Lawful on the Sabbath – to do good or to do evil”. I think this is a really good principle when thinking about God’s laws: as we saw last time, it’s easy to think the Law is a bad thing, or for obeying the Law to become an end in itself. Maybe you could spend some time thinking about the way you think about the law and how we often get this principle wrong.
  • This doesn’t mean we can ignore God’s laws! – but it’s easy to see them in the wrong way.
  • The Pharisees and Herodians end up plotting to kill Jesus – what irony! Killing someone is unlawful, whereas healing on the Sabbath is not. Why do you think they reacted like this? What does this say about our own sinfulness?

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 2:23-28.

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Mark 2:23-28 – Learn to read the Bible #9

I’ve just published the ninth part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 2:23-28, when Jesus is questioned about the Sabbath.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 2:23-28

  • When you read a passage, think about the things which are repeated – it can often be a really helpful clue in getting to the main point.
  • In this passage, “lawful” is repeated a couple of times, and the Pharisees mention one of the Ten Commandments.
  • There are three things to think about:
    1. Eating corn on the Sabbath was not prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Why do you think the Pharisees added this law? Are there any ways we add to God’s laws?
    2. Jesus said that the laws were made for us – God’s laws are for our good. Do you think of the law like that? Do you think of obeying God as a joyful thing?
    3. Jesus said the Son of Man (himself) is lord even of the Sabbath. We are accountable to him at the end of the day. Are we seeking to obey him in everything?

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 2:18-22.

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Mark 2:18-22 – Learn to read the Bible #8

I’ve just published the eighth part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 2:18-22, when Jesus is questioned about fasting.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos. Don’t forget to pray!

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 2:18-22

  • The Pharisees and John the Baptist’s followers were fasting. Fasting is not something which is generally associated with happiness! Spend a few moments thinking about why they were fasting.
  • Jesus replies to them and says they can’t fast while the bridegroom is with them – does that mean he is the bridegroom? Is he hinting at what is going to happen to him when he talks about the bridegroom being taken away?
  • If Jesus’ followers can’t fast while he is with them because it is a time of rejoicing and joy – what does that mean about our lives? If Jesus is with us, how should that make a difference to our own emotional state?
  • Jesus finishes by talking about the contrast between the new and the old. Now that he is here, we have to do things differently. Think about how you’ve changed since becoming a Christian. Think about the ways in which you need to do things differently with Jesus.

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 2:13-17.

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Mark 2:1-12 – Learn to read the Bible #6

I’ve just published the sixth part of the Learn to read the Bible series on Mark’s Gospel. This week we are looking at Mark 2:1-12, when Jesus forgives and heals a paralysed man.

For those who are coming to this new, the idea behind this series is not for me to simply explain everything to you, but rather to give you things to think about yourself. This is about training you to read the Bible for yourself, rather than just giving you all the answers!

See this page if you’d like a few pointers for how to use these videos.

You can read the passage online here (although I’d suggest it’s better in a physical Bible). You may also want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down notes and things you want to look into more.

Key points from Mark 2:1-12

This is a really important passage in Mark’s Gospel and it’s worthwhile spending a bit of time thinking and praying about!

  • Mark once again draws attention to Jesus’ fame spreading. Think about YouTube stars or people who draw a large following online – what must it have been like in Jesus’ day?
  • The paralysed man’s friends broke through the roof and lowered him to Jesus. What does this show about them? What obstacles are there which might stop us from getting to Jesus, and what should we do about it?
  • Why does Jesus say ‘your sins are forgiven’ when the man needed physical healing? What does that say about Jesus’ priorities?
  • Are the teachers of the Law right when they say only God can forgive sins? Was Jesus blaspheming? What does that say about who Jesus is?
  • Jesus says “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. Does this help us to understand Jesus’ other miracles?

Looking for more?

You can see the rest of the videos in this series on the this page. If you’d like a more focussed series teaching the Christian faith, check out the teaching programme.

You might also want to see the previous episode in the series on Mark 1:35-45.

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