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Mark 2:1-6:6

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Pray

Lord, help me live as one under Your authority. Would You, by your grace, conform me more to Your image and likeness? Help me know Your will more clearly and to follow You. Help me, as I open Your Word, to see the things You desire to teach me. Give me a heart to respond to Your Word, Lord. Amen.

Read and Learn

Read Mark 2:1-6:6

Mark 2:1–17 Our section of Mark’s Gospel today contains a number of healing miracles. In 2:1–17 we see Jesus teaching and proclaiming the kingdom of God. This is His primary concern: that the Word is taught and people are brought to repentance and faith.

His miracles and healings were never ends in themselves. They were part of His ministry of proclamation and reconciliation. Jesus, in healing the paralytic, goes straight to the true need of the man before Him. The world saw a man paralyzed and unable to walk; Jesus saw a man lost in his sins, unable to save himself. So He told the man his sins were forgiven. Notice, however, that Jesus met the man’s physical and spiritual needs. He was not indifferent to the genuine desire of the man for physical healing.

Bottom line: Jesus knows our needs before we know them ourselves. He is not indifferent to the needs of His children. He went out of His way to meet the needs of those who came to Him, but He never lost sight of their true need. He never stayed silent about the state of their souls or their need for repentance and faith.

Jesus continues to call out His disciples. In calling Levi, it becomes clear He’s not an ordinary religious leader. He deliberately surrounded Himself with sinners and tax collectors. The world may look at some people and think they’re a lost cause, that God could never use them. But Jesus, full of mercy, takes the most broken, the weakest, and the most unsuitable and turns them into gospel-saturated ministers of His Word.


Mark 2:17–4:41 Mark focuses on Jesus as He teaches about the kingdom of God. In Mark 4, Jesus begins to teach in parables. Jesus taught in parables because it was a medium His audience understood. Jesus, however, used them specifically as a means by which He judged those outside the kingdom—those with no ears to hear—and instructed those inside the kingdom—those with ears to hear.

Mark 5:1–6:6 In this next section of Mark, Jesus’ compassion is on display. We see Jesus cast out a man’s demon, heal a woman with a bleeding problem, and even raise Jairus’ daughter back to life. In all three incidents Jesus shows great authority, as well as mercy and kindness.

Notice that in 5:34 and 5:36 Jesus highlights the role of belief and faith. It was the woman’s faith that made her well, and He commanded Jairus not to fear but to believe. Knowledge without faith is meaningless. Jesus healed and met the needs of those He encountered in order for them to be able to hear and respond to the truth of who He is.

Daily Verse for Meditation

Mark 2:17

17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’

Reflect and Change
  1. Are there people in your community you’ve dismissed as lost causes? Have you been too quick to judge, thinking of yourself more highly than you ought? Seek forgiveness and ask God to help you see people as He sees them.
  2. Notice how the stories Jesus told were short but packed with contextualized meaning. Consider the ways in which you communicate the gospel with those you work with. In what ways do the parables of Jesus provide a model for us in our own communication of God’s Word?
  3. As we disciple others, we must be mindful of the fact that knowledge often accompanies authority. How do we ensure that we use this authority in a way that’s always merciful and kind?
  4. As you seek to love and serve those in your community, do you do so with an attitude of humility, mercy, and grace? Are you patient and long-suffering? Consider the way Jesus has treated you, and seek to treat others likewise. If you see a need, be active to meet that need. Yet always be mindful to look for opportunities to turn these moments into opportunities for the gospel to be proclaimed.
Go and Do
  • Ask God for wisdom to help you see the true needs of those around you. As you’re able, and in a way that’s helpful, seek to sacrificially meet the practical needs of someone this week. Perhaps visit a patient in the hospital, cook a meal, or help someone with a task at work—and look for an opportunity to talk about the gospel.
Discipleship Activities
  • Visit the Dare to Share website. Choose one worldview to learn about. Read about the best ways to evangelize a person of that faith. Also read one of the below worldview summaries to learn more about the one you’ve chosen: Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Animist, Jewish, Secularist, and Catholic. Share something you learn with someone this week. [Making Disciples, All Peoples]
Muslim Worldview Summary

There’s no way to introduce all the actual beliefs and values of the people you will meet. Instead, use these summaries as information on generalized types. With these rough contexts for your new friends, you’ll at least have some baseline knowledge you can use to truly learn about what’s important to them. Like you, your new friends don’t want to be put in a box, and they have important personal stories. Use these brief introductions to start thinking about how to relate Jesus to the people—not the religion—you meet.

MEET MUSLIMS

  • 1.6 billion people with different interpretations of Islam
  • Worship a single god, Allah
  • Generally follow teachings of “final” prophet, Muhammad (also the religion’s founder)
  • Emphasize submission to holy book, the Koran
  • Committed to community prayer and fasting, divine rules over everyday life, strong families, pilgrimage, and ritual sacrifices
  • Two main types of Islam (Shia and Sunni) with deep divisions between these types
  • Islam often defines an adherent’s culture, national/ethnic identity, and government
  • Folk Muslims can turn to spirit world for divination, healing, and cultural ceremonies
  • CORE VALUES: family, hospitality, friendship, loyalty, quality time, and generosity

MUSLIMS SHARE WITH CHRISTIANS:

  • Belief in angels, heaven/hell, final judgment, eternal life after death
  • Prophets like Adam, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus

ACCORDING TO MUSLIMS

Serious Muslims may consider Christians pagan worshippers of three gods, with obscene theology about God and Mary sexually producing a “son.” Christians, they say, rightly respect many prophets, including Jesus, but are profane to worship a human man as a god. Jesus either did not really die or did not resurrect. For serious Muslims, many Christians have a cheap view of God’s greatness, believing they will attain heaven despite shameful lifestyles. Many Muslims think Christians have low respect for women because Christian women do not dress modestly (an Islamic value); they also think Christians should be more vigilant about their families and social values. Some think Christians are deceptive and will try anything to earn converts.

CONNECT WITH MUSLIMS

Focus on understanding first! Show genuine interest with no accusations or assumptions. Exchange stories or teachings about shared prophets, but don’t debate theology. Refer to Jesus’ words and God’s stories often in conversation with comments like, “Jesus taught about that, too!” or “Praise God for (anything good that happened). Jesus shows me He cares about (healing, providing, bringing peace, etc).” This communicates true respect for God, which is very important to Muslims.

Expect to spend lots of relational time with new friends, to be served food every time you meet, and to include whole families. The more quality time you spend listening and learning, the more open your friends will likely become to hearing about Jesus. Jesus has shown the true way to God, and you can point Muslims to His power and His teachings by sharing verses and stories from the Word while maintaining respect for what they share. God proves and defends His own Word; your job is simply to share what He says and maintain right relationships. Ask to pray for people in Jesus’ name when needs arise.

Always work first to understand the values, hopes, and fears of the person in front of you. That often creates a peaceful space for spiritual conversations. Try questions like:

  1. I respect your serious faith! Tell me more about what you/your family believes is important for a good life.
  2. What makes a “true” or “good” Muslim? How do you know if/when you are one?
  3. What is your main concern in life right now?
  4. What do you think about Jesus? Could I share why I choose to follow Him?

For more questions and resources about sharing with Muslims, check out Dare2Share.

DEFINITIONS:

Shia are often in a country’s minority. Only Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain have dominant Shia populations.

Sunnis make up most of the Muslim world: Southeast Asia, African-Arab, Arab gulf, South and Central Asia, most of the Middle East.

Folk Muslim: Culturally Muslim; don’t strictly follow Islam


  1. Shia are often a country’s minority. Only Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain have dominant Shia populations.
  2. Sunnis make up most of the Muslim world: Southeast Asia, African-Arab, Arab gulf, South and Central Asia, most of the Middle East.
  3. Folk Muslim: Culturally Muslim; don’t strictly follow Islam
Buddhist Worldview Summary
  • Leader and founder is Buddha (“Awakened/Enlightened one”) from Nepal ~ 600 BC
  • 500 million followers, growing quickly in the West
  • Set of philosophies and practices, no god figures
  • Two main types: Theravada and Mahayana (see below)
  • Established as a self-denying path to control desires
  • Focused on managing Karma (rules of managing actions and their impact, cause/effect)
  • Four key truths about the nature, causes, and overcoming of suffering
  • Committed to meditation and achieving enlightened perspectives on reality
  • Nothing is fixed or permanent
  • Deep environmental and humanitarian concern

CORE VALUES: peace, mindfulness, tolerance, self-awareness, non-violence, agency

More of a philosophical system than a religion, Buddhism developed as a response to suffering and a need for peace. It outlines a purpose to life, explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and teaches a peaceful way that pursues real happiness.

ACCORDING TO BUDDHISTS

Many Buddhists consider Christians dogmatic, rigid, or oppressive. Christian “myths” prevent them from seeing the world clearly and distract them from practical, real questions. As serious Buddhists are non-argumentative and looking for commonality and peace, they can be suspicious of Christians who seem to have conversion as a goal. Most Buddhists reject the idea of supreme beings or a Creator God and see the concept of sin as unhelpful. Jesus was a good teacher with some enlightened ideas, but people should not worship him or any other teachers as divinity. Some Buddhists will see clear commonalities of value with Christians, such as charity, generosity, self-control, love, and peace.

CONNECTING WITH BUDDHISTS

Remember that your religious language will be foreign to new Buddhist friends. Reviewing the values and language on this page, find new ways to articulate truths about Jesus (i.e. “freedom from evil/suffering,” “achieving eternal peace” and “breaking the cycle of bad karma”). Confrontation and apologetics will be highly unwelcome, so instead look for opportunities to share simple teachings of Jesus that are appropriate to the circumstances. Jesus’ words carry ultimate, divine authority and can completely transform your new friends’ perception of reality. But first, seek to understand your new friend’s personal Buddhism. Ask:

  1. How do you think people can individually achieve true peace? How would you define peace?
  2. What has most influenced your ideas about life and the world?
  3. Who would you consider the most enlightened/awakened person you know? May I share mine?
  4. May I share about someone who opened my spiritual eyes in a transformative way?

Theravada: Dominant in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia

Mahayana: Found more in East Asia, e.g. Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. It includes Zen Buddhism, which popular in the West.

Hindu Worldview Summary

Nearly 1 billion Hindus strive for perfectly good lives to achieve a spiritual existence. Following a personal guru (leader/teacher) helps one be freed from darkness and the evils of life. Many Hindus are looking for true peace, so all life decisions (food, friends, clothes, body) are weighed for their spiritual impact. Key ways to pursue higher spiritual life include personal purity, mystic disembodiment, and specific devotion to a chosen god or goddess.

“Brahman” is the supreme being expressed in many gods and goddesses, each of which have unique virtues and vices. Jesus and Mary are acceptable to some modern Hindus as part of the pan-Indian pantheon. There are three major Hindu paths (Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism) based on three different primary gods.

Many Hindus value race-based or caste-based hierarchies, believing that certain types of people are naturally more holy. Some are also highly superstitious or skilled at interacting with the spirit world; many also put heavy stock in dreams and divination. For many Hindus, spirituality is connected to social and class standing. Personal agency and positive life direction is extremely important, as is maintaining social respect. Most Hindus are born into their religious system and often both family threats and spiritual fear hold them to it.

ACCORDING TO HINDUS

Some Hindus will see Christianity as the West’s colonizing missionary religion. For many, Jesus could be a good example of a guru who leads to one of many spiritual paths to transcendence. Parts of the Bible contain meaningful teachings, but other parts are too violent and manifest the evil things of the world. Christians cannot be on the path to light while soaking in darkness.

Hindus believe Christians don’t take seriously enough the need for good deeds and a pure life, so their devotion to Jesus as a guru or a god is weak. Some Hindus see Christians as lower-caste people who have sold out on their long, rich heritage for money or hand-outs.

CONNECT WITH HINDUS

Respect their long tradition of spirituality, and agree if necessary about the colonizing, divisive nature of Christianity’s history. Work to isolate conversations about Jesus rather than engaging in religious discussions, and focus on your shared need for peace (spiritual, personal, etc). Jesus has the power to overcome all evil in the world; He made clear the way to eternal life. So, when your Hindu friends are open, you can share how your life is being transformed by God’s Spirit.

  • You’re not the one who converts, but someone who has found the true light and wants to share
  • Find ways to share how Jesus identifies Himself: “Did you know that Jesus calls Himself the ‘light of the world’?”
  • Refer often to Jesus’ way: “Jesus’ way has important teachings about                       , too!“ or “Jesus’ way gave me hope for spiritual life when I was desperate.”

Remember not to make assumptions about your new friends. Try to understand their personal and spiritual stories. Ask questions like:

  1. How do you know when you find a path, guru, or teaching worth following?
  2. What’s your deepest hope in life right now? Your biggest fear?
  3. Who is the most perfect person you’ve personally known? What are/were they like?
  4. How does one transform themselves? May I share how following Jesus has changed me?
Animist Worldview Summary

Animists have an unusually wide-ranging set of beliefs and ideas (borrowing elements from Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as Western expressions of Wicca and Native American rituals). But all animists focus on the power of the spiritual world, believing that everything in nature, including many deceased relatives, contains spirits that interact with people’s lives. Any number of gods may exist, and spirits are the connection to those gods. Spirits can have either helpful or harmful intentions toward people, and animists’ lifestyles are centered around either appeasing or worshiping the various spirits.

Most animists would not consider their beliefs a religion but rather a way of managing reality. As such, their beliefs and practices are often incorporated by people of other religions. Most animist traditions have no holy text and rely on their own spiritual strong people, or shaman, to guide their lifestyles and spiritual interactions. Rather than an ethical code or moral law, they’ve developed magic tools to manipulate the surrounding spirits that direct their lives. Most animist groups have strong superstitions, traditions, and tokens that protect their values and loved ones. They value knowledge, spiritual power, careful lifestyles, and respect for nature and the environment.

ACCORDING TO ANIMISTS

Because there are so many spirits and gods, there are many ways to achieve a good life and positive afterlife. Some animists consider Christians arrogant or dangerous to claim a monopoly on truth about life and God, while others find their focus on worshipping a single God far too narrow and risky. If there is a God, He is far too distant and disengaged to have any impact on people’s lives, and it would be foolish to stop any form of spirit management because that could end in personal or family disaster. Animists aren’t necessarily looking for the truth or a knowledge of God; rather, they’re hoping to limit the amount of bad things that happen to them and manage spiritual forces on their behalf.

CONNECTING WITH ANIMISTS

Your new friends are trying to control the impact of evil on their lives and have taken the matter into their own hands. While some may have been born into animistic families or cultures, others may have been drawn in after indulging an interest in spiritual beings. Either way, your role is to create a safe relational space in which Jesus can come as the God-man with ultimate power and true peace. This will require open ears and careful framing of your own spiritual narrative.

Notice if your new friends have any tokens or spiritual items they keep with them, and ask about those. Animistic lifestyles are often incredibly fearful, so recognize that talking about their spiritual experiences could be very uncomfortable. Try to reciprocate disclosure, and offer to pray in Jesus’ name when your friends are disturbed or spiritually uneasy. Start with questions like:

  1. If you could have anything in life right now, what would it be?
  2. Do you ever sense that there could be a personal but supreme God?
  3. Tell me a story of the most spiritual experience you’ve ever had. May I share one of mine also?
  4. Jesus is very important to me. What do you know of Him?
  5. Did you know that Jesus had perfect power over spirits and leaves the Holy Spirit to help anyone who chooses to follow Him?
Jewish Worldview Summary
  1. One of world’s oldest religions, started with the Law given to Moses
  2. Single, all-powerful Creator God
  3. Holy book, the Torah, is God’s revealed will and commands
  4. Spiritual traditions and religious family passed down through generations from Abraham
  5. Commitment to feasts and sacrifices for pure life
  6. Rabbis (religious leaders) interpret the Scriptures for life application
  7. Three main types: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform
  8. The world is broken and people are suffering
  9. A Messiah is coming to restore righteousness and full life
  10. There is a clear ethical law all should follow to stay right with God
  11. All Jews are connected in global community

CORE VALUES: obedience, commitment, community, ethics, spiritual responsibility, hope, faith.

ACCORDING TO JEWISH PEOPLE

Some Jewish people view Jesus as a good teacher, but only the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) is from God and Jesus cannot be a part of God. Christians are violent to focus so heavily on the idea of hell. The Creator God couldn’t and never would embody a human man. Many Jewish people would consider blasphemous or at least impossible the idea that people can be saved simply by faith, without regard to law-keeping or lifestyle. Similarly, many would consider it preposterous to place the weight of their whole existence on a single decision.

CONNECT WITH JEWISH PEOPLE

You share a respect for God’s Word and God’s honor. You also agree that right relationship with God is imperative. Be careful about your terminology when you mention you own faith, perhaps using the words “believer” or “follower of Jesus” rather than Christian, which carries baggage for many Jewish people. Though your new friends don’t know Him yet, Jesus proves to be the perfect Messiah and has a plan to bring a completely new world with perfect righteousness and peace. Find ways to talk about life concerns and values; then bridge to how Jesus can relate to those areas. Try questions like:

  1. What’s most troubling to you about the world we live in?
  2. Do you think it’s possible that God is preparing a better, fuller life and world than this one?
  3. What’s your perspective on suffering? Could/does God ever suffer?
  4. Could I share why learning about Jesus changed my whole view of God?
  5. Could I share how I believe Jesus has brought me into God’s new family?
Secularist//Postmodern Worldview Summary

Postmodernists and secularists believe a slew of different things. But these are generally consistent among them:

  • Religion is mythical imagination and unimportant in understanding and living life
  • God may or may not exist
  • Spiritual systems and organizations are irrelevant at best, destructive to humanity at worst
  • Happiness is a goal, but people do not have a reliable way to find it
  • Individual authority and experience are supreme
  • Ideas of morality, truth, and ethics are largely subjective and cultural
  • Institutional claims on truth or authority are highly suspect
  • Life’s problems are highly complex and void of clear answers
  • Absolutes are oppressive and should be avoided

CORE VALUES: Do not judge, do not tell, do not prescribe, stay free and unattached, think rationally.

ACCORDING TO SECULARISTS/POSTMODERNISTS

For most secularists/postmodernists, Christians are oppressively moralistic and hopelessly brainwashed by myths. Some may also see Christians as patriarchal and discriminatory. Because so many religious institutions have gone terribly bad, it’s best to give up on the system and trust one’s individual instincts or logic. Christians are woefully irrational and have allowed various leaders to twist their minds. People are essentially good on their own. Christians are creating unnecessary problems with their stories of sin, heaven, and hell.

CONNECTING WITH SECULARISTS/POSTMODERNISTS

Your new friends are likely proud they’ve had the self-respect to disassociate from any religious system, so be sure to associate with Jesus rather than a religious form. However, stories about your spiritual life will likely be welcomed once you’ve listened to their concerns, beliefs, and worries. Remember that you don’t need to prove God’s existence, but simply live and act like He’s present in your life. Rather than arguments, your new friends are looking for evidence of the good in reality. You can develop a close friendship in which your changed life is easily a topic of discussion. Refuse to enter debates or get lost in attempting to answer challenges; you’re not trying to argue—just share love and light. Lead into conversations with:

  1. How do you—or can we at all—make sense of all the brokenness and hurt in the world?
  2. Do you ever have existential crises? How do you handle that? Can I share how I handle it?
  3. What gets you most excited about life? Why?
  4. What frustrates you most about (authority) (religion) (society) (fill in the blank with their pet issue)?
  5. Can I share how I found unexpected purpose through Jesus?
Catholic Worldview Summary
  • Two main traditions, Eastern and Western (see below)
  • One God and Father of all creation
  • All people sinful and need saving
  • Believe Jesus is God, accept the Trinity, and venerate the Bible
  • Leaders are from direct long heritage of apostles that trace back to Jesus
  • People must be baptized into the Catholic family to ensure eternal life with God
  • The Church as an institution and Mother Mary connect a person to salvation
  • Rituals of baptism, confirmation (learning a set of teachings), and communion bring one closer to God
  • Committed to community prayer and worship, fasting, tithing, and taking communion

CORE VALUES: family, authority, prayer, worship, morality, obedience to the Bible.

Catholics hold many teachings in common with evangelical Christians, but they base their relationship with God on their rituals and depend on leaders to relate to God for them. Church traditions support faith, and connection to organizational church lineage is essential for a connection to God. Praying to Mary and other dead saints and relatives is valuable for direction and the protection to live a good life. Though saved by Jesus’ work, Catholics must be purified by works and prayers before they can see God.

ACCORDING TO CATHOLICS

According to Catholics, evangelical believers aren’t part of the true faith. Some Catholics also see them as unnecessarily exclusive and divisive, failing to recognize Catholics as true and original Christians. It’s impossible to be instantaneously saved, they say, because salvation is a lifelong process. Evangelical believers are missing the fullness of God’s revelation by rejecting papal teachings, church doctrines, and extra writings that have been added to the Bible. Evangelicals should have more respect for the long heritage and tradition of the Catholic church.

CONNECTING WITH CATHOLICS

Recognize that your new Catholic friends already identify as Christians—and they maybe don’t even consider you a real Christian—so trying to distinguish between your two types of Christianity will likely prove unhelpful. Because of the worldview and theological similarities, it could be more tempting with Catholics than any others to try apologetic methods and theological debate. But since your new friends already accept the Bible as true, Jesus can open their hearts through His Word. Find ways to pray and read together, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your time. Again, remember that your new friends have their own brands and takes on their faith, and have personal stories you should seek to understand.

What’s more, it’s possible your Catholic friend is genuinely born-again, and only “Catholic” in their upbringing rather than through their own conviction. So don’t assume all people who call themselves Catholic believe the same things about the Pope, Mary, church history, etc. When engaging Catholics in spiritual conversations, try questions like:

  1. When have you felt closest to God? Why that particular occasion? Could I share what has brought me close to God?
  2. What currently makes you most fearful in life? Most hopeful?
  3. What does it take to live a truly good and meaningful life?
  4. Could I share how God gave me new purpose in life?

Eastern Catholics recognize Pope in Rome as leader, includes Coptic, Armenian, and Chaldean Catholics.
Western Catholics often have denominational bishops, includes U.S. American and some European Catholics.