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
“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last
of all and servant of all” (9:35).
Did You Know…?
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
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.”
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.
setbacks and conflicts have you experienced when working for God? How was your
faith affected? How did you overcome them?
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?
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?
10. The disciples argued over who
was the greatest. What does this tell you about their relationship with each
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?
15. How does each of the following
cause you to sin?
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
17b. In verse 49, what does fire
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?