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15: Setbacks and Conflicts (Mk 9:14-50)
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I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

The twelve apostles had been given great authority, but still they encountered problems, both external and internal. Jesus taught them about dealing with setbacks and conflicts in the ministry. He also warned them against causing anyone (including themselves) to sin.

B.     Key Verse

            “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (9:35).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.        Child (9:36): The Jews regarded the presence of children in the family as a sign of divine favor and greatly to be desired. Children were subject to the father, who in turn was bound to protect them.

2.      Hell (9:45,47): “The word translated ‘hell’ is gehenna, a Greek form of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of the city of Jerusalem, which was used in OT times for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35). King Josiah put a stop to this dreadful practice (2Kings 23:10); and the Valley of Hinnom came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish, including animal carcasses, were disposed of and burned. The fire of gehenna never went out, and the worms never died.”

3.      Salt (9:49): Salt was often used for ratifying agreements, and became a symbol of friendship and faithfulness. It was plentiful along the shores of the Dead Sea and in Jebel Usdum, a mountain of rock salt.When rock salt is exposed to air and heat, its impurities cause chemical changes that gradually make it bitter.

II.    Observation

A.     Outline















B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. General Analysis

1.      What setbacks and conflicts have you experienced when working for God? How was your faith affected? How did you overcome them?

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     9:14-29

1. Peter, James, and John came down from the mountain and saw the other disciples arguing. How do you deal with everyday problems after being inspired spiritually?

2. What were the disciples arguing with the scribes about?

3. Compare the people’s reaction when they saw Jesus (15) to the Israelites’ reaction to Moses coming down from Mount Sinai (Ex 34:29-30). What does this teach us about the effects of spending time with God?

4. Compare this unclean spirit’s behavior to those of the other spirits.

5. The unclean spirit had tried to throw the boy into fire or water to kill him (22). What extreme situations has the devil put you in to harm you?

6a. What did the boy’s father do after Jesus’ disciples failed to drive out the unclean spirit?

6b. Read verse 24. What did the father believe? What was his unbelief?

6c. What do you believe about Jesus? What is your unbelief?

7. For a moment, the boy appeared dead. Share a time in your life when things seemed to get worse after you had prayed to God. What happened in the end?

8a. Why couldn’t the disciples drive out the unclean spirit?

8b. How does a habit of prayer help you? Have you ever prayed with fasting against the evil spirit’s work?

B.     9:30-32

9a. Why do you think the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus when they didn’t understand?

9b. When you don’t understand certain biblical teachings, what do you do?

C.     9:33-41

10. The disciples argued over who was the greatest. What does this tell you about their relationship with each other?

11. Explain verse 35. How can you be first by being the very last?

12. What phrase do verses 37 and 41 have in common? What does this teach us about serving others?

13a. Why did Jesus have a little child stand among them?

13b. List examples of welcoming one of the little children.

13c. Identify one of the little children around you. How can you help him or her?

14a. Why did the disciples stop a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name?

14b. Today, who are those working in Jesus’ name and yet are not one of us? How do we associate with them?

D.     9:42-50

15. How does each of the following cause you to sin?

15a. Hand

15b. Foot

15c. Eye

15d. What did Jesus mean by “cut it off” and “pluck it out”?

16. Read verse 48 and visualize hell. What do you see?

17a. In verse 49, what does salt represent? (cf. Mt 5:13; Col 4:6).

17b. In verse 49, what does fire represent?

17c. Explain verses 49-50.

18a. How might have the disciples’ actions (cf. 14, 34, 38) have caused others to sin?

18b. In our zeal to serve God, how might we cause others or ourselves to sin?

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