With Friends Like These...

The Disciples in the Gospel of Mark

For Openers:

The format for our study this week will be a bit different than usual. Note that the "For Your Information" section includes most of the questions to work us through the material. Approach the questions as though you do not know what the other Gospel writers have to say about the situation. Also, be careful to read the verses exactly as noted in the questions so that we can trace the shift in attitudes and perceptions within a story.

For Your Information:

A1) We first meet the disciples in 1:16-20. Read this passage again.

What do Simon, Andrew, James, and John know about Jesus when he calls them to follow him?

What is your opinion of these disciples at this point?

Check out 10.28-30 and how it applies. Then read 10.31!

A2) Read 4:10-13 and 33-34.

What privileged position do the disciples have with regard to Jesus' teaching of parables?

A3) Read 6:7-13.

How does this passage shape your view of the disciples?

B1) Read 4:35-38.

Are the disciples responding appropriately?

Is their question to Jesus a legitimate one?

Now read verses 39-40. What is Jesus' attitude towards the disciples?

Now read verse 41. Is the disciples' response and question appropriate? How do you feel about the disciples now?

B2) Read 6:45-50. Did the disciples respond appropriately? What is the relationship between Jesus and the disciples?

Now read verse 51-52. How and why do the disciples respond as they did?

What is your attitude towards the disciples now?

C1) Read 6:34-36.

Does the disciples' question reflect a compassionate concern for the people?

Now read verse 37. What is going on in the relationship between Jesus and his disciples?

Now read verses 38-44. How do the disciples respond?

C2) Read 8:1-3. Who raises the issue of feeding the crowd this time? Why?

Now read 8:4. What do you make of the disciples' question?

Now read verses 5-10. How do the disciples respond?

C3) Read 8:14-21. What is going on here? What is Jesus' relationship with the disciples?

D) Read 8:27-30.

What is your opinion of Peter and the disciples now?

Now read verses 31-33. What is your opinion of Peter and the disciples now?

Now read verses 34-38. How is true discipleship defined?

E) Read 9:14-19.

How are the disciples portrayed here?

Who is the "faithless generation" Jesus mentions?

Now read 9:28-29. How do you understand Jesus' response to the disciples' question? (angry, understanding, information, correction, rebuke, etc.)

F1) Read 9:30-32. How are the disciples characterized here?

Now read verses 33-34. What were the disciples arguing about?

What is your attitude about the disciples?

Now read verses 35-37. What lesson does Jesus want the disciples to learn?

F2) Read 10:13-16. How well did the disciples learn the lesson of 9:35-37? How does Jesus respond? How do you respond to the disciples?

G1) Read 14:26-31.

Who is right: Jesus or Peter and the disciples? How do you know?

Is Peter sincere in his intention not to desert Jesus?

G2) Now read 14:66-71. How is Peter portrayed in these verses? What is your opinion of him?

Now read verse 72. How does the information in this verse affect your view of Peter?

G3) Read 16:6-7. Why is Peter specifically mentioned here?

H) Now we will look at some other possible examples of discipleship in Mark.

H1) Read 1:40-45. Is the leper a model of faith or disobedient to Jesus' command?

H2) In chapter 5 is the story of Jesus' healing of the man with the "Legion" of demons. Read the conclusion in 5:18-20. How is this man a disciple of Jesus?

H3) Read 5:25-34. How is this woman characterized?

H4) Read 7:24-30. How is this woman characterized?

H5) Read 10:46-52. How is Bartimaeus characterized? How does he respond?

H6) Read 14:3-9. How is this woman characterized?

H7) Read 15:42-47. How is Joseph of Arimathea characterized? (By the way, read 6:29. Who might have we expected to bury Jesus?)

I) Read the "Parable of the Sower" in 4.1-9 and 13-20. Who in Mark’s gospel are "path" people? (Cf. 3.6) Who are "thorny"? (Cf. 10.17) Who are "good soil"? (Cf. texts in H above) Who are "rocky"? (Cf. 3.16 where Simon is given the name Peter which means "rock"!)

For Your Consideration:

  1. Write down characteristics of the disciples as you have seen them in Mark.
  2. Write down characteristics of what you think true discipleship involves.
  3. What is your overall impression of the disciples?
    Arrogant because of their relationship with Jesus
    Well-meaning but absolutely clueless
    Weak and misguided
    Good negative role models
    Projects still under Jesus’ development
    They just don’t get it
    Pretty normal human beings
  4. What are the consistent or defining characteristics in the group of people who were considered in question H above?
  5. In what ways are you a faithful disciple of Jesus? How is your discipleship challenged in your daily life? In what ways do you need to grow?
  6. Consider again the texts in questions B1-2. Have there been times in your life when God has seemed to be asleep or distant? What is the best way to respond? What encouragement do you find in these stories?
  7. In Mark 6.7-9, why did Jesus send the disciples out in pairs? Why were they to take so little with them? What implications does this have for your own discipleship?
  8. If you had been in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus (14.32-52), what do you think you would have done?
  9. The depiction of the disciples in Mark

For Later:

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