Tag Archive: miracles


No Ordinary Man (Bible Study)

No-Ordinary-Man-screen-one

Chapter 24 recap

One thing about this Jesus:  He never invited neutrality.  His followers called Him the Christ.  His contenders called Him a blasphemer.  Some were drawn to Him, while others could muster nothing in His presence but contempt.  His teachings were revolutionary and His miracles undeniable.  He claimed nothing less than equality with God and proclaimed Himself as the long expected Messiah.  Jesus never left sitting on the proverbial fence as an option.

He attracted criticism in spades, but He also drew crowds.  He often taught the people in parables, pithy stories that drew spiritual lessons from everyday life to reveal the “secrets” of God’s kingdom. With simple illustrations, Jesus taught that in Him, God’s kingdom had come, while exposing the religious leaders’ misguided view of religion.  Jesus’ trilogy on lostness told of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son and demonstrated the value God places on a repentant heart.  In the story of the lost son, Jesus exposed the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees as the older brother’s indignity, angered by his father’s compassion.  Like this father, Jesus’ concern for sinners created an ever-widening rift with the Pharisees.  His popularity increased and so did His opposition.  Yet Jesus’ teaching ministry to the masses continued, and in the Sermon on the Mount, He taught them how to live by faith in close relationship with God.

Jesus was a great teacher, but even His closest disciples struggled to grasp His true identity and purpose.  He authenticated His words with miracles that made His authority irrefutable.  The disciples were awestruck when Jesus calmed a raging storm at sea.  The people were confounded when he expelled demons from a possessed man into a herd of pigs, who promptly drowned themselves.  Who was this man?  He certainly wasn’t looking or sounding like a Messiah should.  The desperate came to Him for healing, and weren’t found wanting.  Jesus healed a woman with a bleeding disorder, while pausing to restore her dignity and commend her faith.  Meanwhile, the daughter of a synagogue leader named Jairus died.  Jesus established His authority over death by raising her back to life.  He healed two blind men, and the Pharisees exposed their own desperate lack of vision by crediting such miracles to the prince of demons.

News about Jesus spread through villages and cities, homes and institutions.  Even King Herod grew interested.  He was haunted by the fear that John the Baptist might have returned from the dead, for he had ordered John’s execution. Wherever He went, people gathered around Jesus.  After one especially long day, Jesus fed more than 5,000 with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  The miracle was meant for more than filling empty stomachs.  He had come to fill empty lives; the real point was that He is the “bread” of eternal life.  As a result of his teachings, the people were divided.  Many turned away, but those who truly believed remained.  In one of His finest moments, Peter announced, “You have the words of eternal life…you are the Holy One of God.” 

Many came to Jesus with Lower Story needs, but Jesus’ mission was greater than any had imagined. He’d come to offer an Upper Story life, to fulfill the promises that began centuries ago with Abraham and David.  He’d come to offer a life of faith – faith in unseen realities, faith in who He is, and what He could do for them eternally.  The offer still stands.

Jesus’ Authority:  His Teaching and His Tests

Jesus preached the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  (Mk. 1:14-15)  As people watched and listened to Jesus, they responded, “What is this?  A new teaching with authority!” (Mk. 1:27)  No one could argue that Jesus was a controversial figure.  From the beginning, He opposed and exposed the religious establishment who despised Him.  He shattered Jewish paradigms by declaring that relationship to God is based on faith and obedience rather than flesh and blood (Mk. 3:35, Jn. 8:39).  He challenged the crowds.  He even confounded His closest disciples.  As we study the gospels, we find ourselves digging through Jesus’ teachings and in wonder of His miracles.  Many times we have been taught or studied these gospel stories in small bites because the big picture is hard to grasp.  But Jesus’ message and His miracles are not independent of one another.  His miracles do not prove that He is anything more than a great prophet or even a false one (Deut. 13:1-3).

Moses and Elijah worked great wonders too.  Even Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the first three plagues that Moses did.  The key is the combination of words and works, the message and the miracles.  Moses himself taught Israel that a wonder-worker whose words betrayed his God was not to be followed (Deut. 13:1-3).  But Israel should look for a prophet like Moses.   This Prophet must be listened to for He would speak God’s words (Deut. 18:15-19).  Moses warned that those who refuse to listen to this unique Prophet would be judged for rejecting God (Deut. 18:19).  It is within this context that Jesus’ message and miracles must be understood.  His miracles authenticate His message.  That is the situation we find in Mark 4-5.   This lesson aims to help us understand the relationship between Jesus’ teaching and His tests, and it aims to help us develop better Bible study skills so that we can better comprehend what Jesus did, why He did it, and what is the message of the gospel writer.

I.    Jesus taught…   (Mark 4:1-34)

The parables

A. Much of Jesus’ teaching was in parables.  Parables are short stories that draw comparisons to spiritual truth.  These stories come from common experiences that the original hearers would have easily understood—farming, shepherding, kings, banquets, and commercial elements such as money, debts and builders.   There are at least 35 parables in the synthesized gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  All of His parables teach something about Himself, about His kingdom or about His followers.

B. In Mark 4:1-34, or p. 277-278, Jesus taught a large crowd by the lake, so large that He actually had to get into a boat in order to teach them many things in parables.  He urged them to listen carefully, presumably because He expected a response afterwards.   Jesus’ teachings were never haphazard or random.  They always served a purpose that contributed to His overall mission.

C. Parable of the Soils—He described the various soils upon which the farmer scattered his seeds.  Not all the seeds produced a harvest.  Some were scattered and eaten up by birds.  Some sprouted quickly and were scorched and withered.  Others were choked out.  But some fell on good soil and produced an amazing bounty.  Jesus provided an explanation to His disciples privately explaining that the farmer sows the word and the soils represent the various responses of the hearers of the word.  And what is the word?  Mark 1:14-15—the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel!  This parable explains why so many Jews rejected Jesus.  It reveals God’s gracious and universal offer of salvation as preached by Jesus alongside the mixed responses and results.   The truth is timeless—people today reject Jesus for the very same reasons.

D. Every teaching of Jesus anticipates a response.  He had expectations that hearers would respond to His teaching either by faith or rejection.  And indeed they did.  Because He understood the eternal gravity of His teaching and peoples’ responses, He encouraged everyone to listen carefully.

The purpose

A.    To reveal

  1. To those who believe, Jesus revealed the “secret of the kingdom of God,” that is in Christ Jesus.  God’s kingdom or rule was taking on a new form.  While scholars may debate what exactly is that form, there can be no arguing that Jesus’ assertion of the change in the kingdom was a “secret” or “mystery,” which means it was not previously revealed.  God allowed His believers to see in Jesus this secret, for they too would become “farmers” or “sowers” of the seed.  Those who heard and believed would receive more reason to believe in Jesus, while those who were in unbelief would continue in their unbelief.
  2. Nevertheless, even these believing disciples struggled to understand Jesus’ parables.  While the stories are simple, the spiritual truths that they teach are not.  They are quite deep and require thoughtful consideration.

B.     To conceal

  1. This idea is difficult for us to understand.  Why would Jesus deliberately conceal His teaching?  But by understanding His Isaiah reference, we are enlightened to this concealment.  At the time Isaiah prophesied, Israel was given the word of God to repent and return to the LORD.  They were spiritually blind and deaf.  In spite of all the words of the many prophets, they refused to really “hear.”

  2. Jesus is saying that the people of His day were like the Israelites of Isaiah’s day—spiritually blind and deaf. They were not denied the possibility of understanding and believing in Him.  But they persevered in closing their minds of His message and continued in their rejection.

II.    Jesus tested.  (Mark 4:35-5:43; The Story, p.283-286)

A. While The Story has inserted material from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark’s account is continuous.  Jesus followed His teaching that day with miracles.  These two chapters are one continuous story and one continuous message. These Lower Story truths also convey Upper Story truths.  But the sheer volume of material of these four “tests” makes it difficult to apprehend the big picture.  Gospel writer John tells us that the works of Jesus were so numerous that all the books in the world could not contain them (Jn. 21:25).  Therefore the good Bible student must ask himself or herself why were these particular events selected to be written down.  An analysis of the four miracles will help to answer that question.  A chart is an excellent Bible study tool.  It helps us organize material so that we can take a big picture view of it to discern its meaning.

B. These miracles serve as tests for what Jesus has already taught. He just explained that on good soil, the words are heard, accepted and fruitful.  This is not new.  God tested Abraham with Isaac AFTER He had promised Abe a seed.  God tested Israel in the dessert AFTER He had spoken to them and demonstrated His power in such a grandiose deliverance. Now, Jesus authenticated His teaching by demonstrations of His authority.
I have a blank chart and a filled in chart right after this lesson to show you what it would look like to take a story and chart it out. If you have any questions about this, please ask.

  1. People:  Who is involved?  Is there a connection between the people involved and the sphere in which the miracle occurred?
  2. Method:  What method did Jesus use to carry out the miracle?
  3. Sphere:  What sphere(s) was involved in the problem and the miracle?  Was it a physical problem?  Emotional?  Or spiritual?  Was it a combination thereof?
  4. Result:  This is a Lower Story category.  This looks at the details of the Lower Story event.  What was the result of Jesus’ actions?  Could the result be explained in another non-miraculous way?
  5. Faith:  What elements of faith show up in the people involved in this story?
  6. Authority:  This is the Upper Story category.  It gives us insight into the bigger picture and helps convey the author’s reason for including the Lower Story event.  Over what does Jesus demonstrate His authority?

C. After filling out the chart, we can see horizontally that these elements or categories help us break down each individual story into manageable parts.  Vertically, we can use it to maximize our study time as it helps us draw conclusions.  Is there an increase in intensity in the problems?  In the miracles?  In the faith response?  In authority?  Is there a message that these trends help communicate?

D. Application questions to gain from this exercise:  What practical issues do these passages deal with?    Which person’s faith response is most like my own?  Is there a change required of me from this lesson?  Can I better trust Jesus because of these things, and if so, why?

Miracle

People

Method

Sphere

Result

Faith

Authority

Calming the Storm

 

The Demon-possessed Man

Woman with the Bleeding

Jairus’ Daughter

 

Miracle

 

 

People

 

Method

 

Sphere

 

Result

 

Faith

 

Authority

  

Calming the Storm

 

 

Jesus

Disciples (fisherman used to storms)

Spoken word Physical Perfectly calm waters What faith?  None

Fearful

Over the natural world

 

 

The Demon-possessed Man

 

 

Man

Jesus

Pig herder

Townspeople

 

Spoken word Mental

Spiritual

Man became normal (right mind), clothed, Man wanted to follow Jesus,

People fearful and reject, care more about $ of pigs than man

Over the supernatural realm, ruinous kingdom of Satan–death and destruction

 

 

Woman with the Bleeding

 

 

Woman

Jesus

Disciples

Touch Physical

Emotional (unclean outcast)    Lev. 15:25-30

Instant healing Her faith healed her in that it caused her to seek Jesus Over sickness

 

 

Jairus’

Daughter

 

 

Jairus

Daughter

Wife

3 Disciples

Mourners

Jesus

Spoken word and touch Physical

Emotional

Spiritual

Instantly revived, stood, walked and ate Jairus’ faith in 2 stages, showed great faith Over death—the climax of the set of miracles

III.       Applications

A. I can develop better Bible study skills so that I can mature in my faith.

B. Like the original hearers, I must consider Jesus’ message and miracles and make a decision to believe.  Jesus is expecting a response of faith.

C. I can trust Jesus in the midst of my storms—emotional or physical.

D. Jesus is sovereign over the natural world.  Even the worst of storms has been filtered through His hand.

E. Jesus is sovereign over the supernatural world of demonic forces.  I can trust Him to protect me.

F. Jesus is sovereign over sickness and death.  I can know for certain that He can heal but there is no promise that He will heal.  While He raised Jairus’ daughter, He allowed John to remain dead.

G. I can trust that Jesus is who He says He is because He has authenticated His message with miracles.

H. Like Jairus, I can cling to Jesus even when the Lower Story appears hopeless.  When it is hopeless, I need to cling even more to the only One who holds the power of life and death

I. Like the woman, I should seek Jesus in my desperate times.

J. Like the disciples, I may now “get it” all the time, but as I continue to follow Jesus and know Him more and more, my faith and understanding will continue to grow.

K. Like the farmer, most of the seeds I sow will not be fruitful.  But God is in charge of the harvest and has entrusted me with the task of sowing.

Chapter 24: The Unclean Woman

A Touch

We are now at the point in our study when you will need to open up your Bibles and look at the Word. Today we will be studying the woman with the uncontrollable bleeding. Jesus in his earthly ministry dealt with many issues of the flesh and he never turned and ran from anyone. Jesus wasn’t ordinary; He didn’t run, and He didn’t hide. Real-life suffering touched Him to the core.

I. What happened?

Any investigator will talk to every witness to get to the truth. There are three different points of view in this story. We can learn much by investigating the events that took place from the viewpoint of the unclean woman, of Jesus, and of the disciples.

The Unclean Woman. Matthew 9:20—22; Mark 5:25—29, 33-34; Luke 8:43-44, 47-48

1.  What was her problem and how serious was it?

2.  How did she know who Jesus was?

3.  What did she do to have the courage to approach him? Matthew 9:21; Mark 5:28

4. What did she do and what happened to her body?

5. How did she react when Jesus revealed that she had touched him?

6. What made her well?

 

Jesus.  Matthew 9; Mark 5; Luke 8

The Gospel accounts give Jesus’ itinerary for approximately 48 hours before the encounter with the woman.  He had maintained a grueling schedule of healing and teaching, including the press of the crowds that were following him.  Remember, the Apostle John wrote that “the whole world would not have room to contain the books that would be written” about all of Jesus’ activities (John 21:23).

 

1.  Go to the three passages that record this event and glance back at Jesus’ activities just before he encountered the unclean woman; briefly list what Jesus had been doing in that short time.

2.  Try to imagine the strain and pressure Jesus would have endured from this crowd.  Explain what you think the toll was on Jesus.

3.  What was on Jesus’ mind when this incident occurred? (Where was Jesus actually heading next?)

4.  What did Jesus realize the moment the woman was healed?

5.  What question did he ask?  Explain what he did as he asked the question.

6. Did Jesus pay any attention to the apostles’ comments?  Explain his attitude toward them.

7.  What did Jesus say to the woman?  Explain his attitude toward her.

8.  From Matthew 9:35-38, describe how Jesus viewed the people around him.

 

The Disciples. Matthew 9:37; Mark 5:31; Luke 8:45-46

1.  Describe the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?”

2. What do you think the disciples thought as they observed Jesus and heard his teachings during this hectic period of time?

3.  From Jesus’ ‘debriefing’ with his disciples in Matthew 9:35-38, what could the disciples have perceived about their question in Mark 31?

In the space of a few seconds, a woman was healed; Jesus knew it; he was chided by the disciples; and he responded to them, as well as to the woman.  No angry reaction to the stress—to the questioning—to the presumption of the woman.  For Jesus it was business as usual.  The biblical accounts describe a kind and compassionate man, calm in the midst of a whirlwind.

II.  Conclusions.

1.  What can the actions of the unclean woman teach us?

2.  What can the actions of Jesus teach us?

3. What can the actions of the disciples teach us?

III.  Touching Jesus.

The real-life story of the unclean woman is also a real-life story of every person who comes to Jesus.  What we experience when we come to Jesus is not unlike what the woman experienced.  Not only does faith lead us into a saving relationship with Christ, faith leads us to cling to Him in order to faithfully walk with Him every day. With the metaphor of the unclean woman in mind, meditate on the changes in our lives when we draw near to Jesus.

1.  Fill in the blanks: (The first letter of each word is provided from the NIV)

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came t___________________ and

f__________ at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how

she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her “Daughter your f____________ has healed you.

Luke 8:47

2.  Sin brings every kind of suffering.  Make a note of some of the suffering that has brought you to Jesus with fear and trembling. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

3.  What is the proper response to the spiritual healing and freedom that salvation brings?

4.  What knowledge do we have to base our faith upon?

5.  How much faith do we need to respond to Jesus?  (Luke 17:5-6)

Key Question:  What courageous thing will require you to cling to Jesus in faith?

For additional reflection:  The unclean woman was not the only person who summoned the courage to reach out to Jesus.  In each of the examples below note what qualms they might have had to overcome in order to ask Jesus for help.

Mary- John 2:1-22

Nicodemus- John 3:1-21

The Official- John 4:43-54

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No Ordinary Man (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Barb Miles 

One of the discussion questions for this chapter is “Why did Jesus use parables as a way to teach people.”  Using parables to help us apply God’s word brings it down to me as my “Lower Story.” An example is in Jesus’ sermon where he talked about how we should act when “Giving to the Needy”, we as a church are led by members to see and hear where the needs in our community lie.  So we silently walk into the narthex with our contributions for the week.  There is no tally of who is giving what or how much.  Jesus does not want us to be boastful in our mission work. He knows what we have done and that is sufficient.

Between Jesus teaching us with parables and his personal ministry of healing to any one with a need, and His example of taking His own time to be silent in prayer, we have been given many ways to look at how we use our time each day and let His word lead us.  I am thankful for Jesus knowing my needs.

Lord Jesus, for all You are and do, thank you.  Amen.

Perspective 2- Dan Petrak 

Perspective 3- Pastor Ron 

Mark 4:33 – “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand”

I had never really paid attention to that verse before, but now that it has my attention I wonder how much more Jesus wanted to tell them.  It leaves the reader with the impression that Jesus had lots more to tell them, but they just couldn’t handle any more at the moment.  His teaching was so radically different from what they had been hearing from the religious leaders of the day that they could only take in so much at a time.   I wonder if Jesus was ever anxious about having enough time to teach the disciples everything?  I wonder how much more He would have taught if he had four years with them instead of just three?

Maybe the most significant implication to my new-found attention on this verse is the implication for me.  How much more does Jesus want to teach me, but he has to dole it out judicially because, after all, I can only take in so much at a time.

Perspective 4- Pastor Phil 

I love the pursuit of exploration. We are invited to see, maybe for the first time, who this guy Jesus is. Last week we did see that he is no ordinary man when he was baptized and led into the desert to be tempted. But, what I really love about the chapter this week is we get to see the essence of Jesus ministry, the very core of who he is and what he came to do.

The first part of the chapter highlights his teaching, as he spoke in parables to communicate his message that people often didn’t understand. He also spoke very plainly to them in the case of the Sermon on the Mount. His message was clear and people were amazed at his understanding as he taught with authority. Was Jesus just a great teacher? No, he was a great teacher but the second half of the chapter shows us that he is soooo much more. He showed that he had command over the wind and waves and was able to heal people of various illnesses and drive demons out of people. This led his disciples to proclaim that this man must be the Son of God.

Who is this man to you? Just a great teacher, just a great miracle worker…or is he soooo much more? May the Holy Spirit lead us to see the truth as we read and explore who this man Jesus is.

Committed to the Mission

We are all familiar with Matthew 28:18 and following because it is the “Great Commission,” but what about verse 17? Verse 17 says that “…some of them still doubted!” Really!?! They walked with him for three years, witnessed miracles beyond what was possible, watched him die on a cross and now he stands before them teaching, and there are still some doubting?

It goes to show you that even when looking at the impossible in the face there are still some people who will doubt. It is not unlike today when people attempt to view miracles with their modern eyes. They want proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Things they can’t see are not possible because they don’t have a material cause. Belief in God is a belief that he will work beyond our imagination. But doubt was not the biggest issue for the disciples but it led them to take their eyes off the mission.

Once they doubted it was easier for them to take their eyes off the mission. Once you take your eyes off of the mission of bringing the saving news of Jesus to people for the first time and for a lifetime we can become blinded to the obvious. If you look in Acts 1:6 the disciples are still thinking that Jesus is going to lead the people of Israel into freedom from Rome. But that was not His mission, it wasn’t the disciples’ mission, and it is not our mission. We have to stay committed to the mission and make all of our decisions and choices based upon that mission. There is no building, program, or sermon that will change the lives of people forever. Only the good news of Christ can change a life. The others are tools or vehicles for that news to penetrate hearts. Let’s commit to the mission!

What has become a stumbling block to you that has led you to take your eyes off the mission? What can you do today to recommit to the mission?

Leave your thoughts and comments here or on our Facebook page. Thanks!

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