We are at a pivotal point in Mark.
Keller calls it “The Turn.”
The disciples have been following Jesus, believing He
had come to rescue them out of all their troubles.
He turns and tells them he must suffer and be killed.
Peter rebukes him.
How can this be?
Our symbol this week is a man falling off a cliff,
for Jesus tells us to follow Him into “death.”
We must die to ourselves to find real life,
and it can feel like this:
I certainly felt that way when I realized as a young mother that Jesus was who He claimed to be, and that if I clung to my life and to my dreams for what I thought would make me happy, I would lose my life.
It felt frightening to surrender, but I am so thankful God gave me the faith to do so, for the Lord kept His promise.
I found, and am continuing to find, life to the full.
As missionary Jim Elliot said:
Yet Elliot also said that you can’t really give your whole life to the Lord in a single moment, it is a daily dying. And so together, through this study, we urge one another to live with abandonment to Him, knowing the way up is down!
Also, in the season of Lent, of repentance, we will not turn from our idols unless we trust God to be there for us, for He is love.
This brings me to our highlight from our discussion last week.
Highlight from Last Week’s Discussion:
Several of you commented that you hadn’t seen how the miracle of the “second touch” is also a metaphor for how He keeps touching us to heal our blindness. In part, so we don’t just see people as “trees walking.” Julie P. wrote:
OH WOW…Seeing people as trees walking. This hit hard. I want to have my eyes looking up and forward and not down that I pass up an opportunity to be kind and loving to someone.
We also need continual healing for the “cataracts” we develop, that make us blind to His constant love. Jennifer G. is one who was so overwhelmed when she saw God’s love for the first time, but she realizes she must keep seeing it. She made a couple of wonderful statements:
I am reminded there is nothing I can do to win God’s love. He has already freely given it. I must remember that and walk in that truth instead if the lies I tell myself or allow myself to believe.
And she also noticed how people who often go out and tell after Jesus told them not to, but:
…even in our disobedience He loves us completely
We have to keep remembering. My friend Sylvia also called me, referring to the question of last week if God is ever disappointed in us, and said she felt the theme of Scripture is that He is grieved rather than disappointed, looking particularly at Hosea. That whole book is a picture of God’s great love for a bride who keeps grieving Him by running after her lovers.
And Hosea 14 is a picture of true repentance. Take a look at it. Sylvia said: “He is grieved by our sin, by our running to idols instead of to Him, for it so wounds us when we don’t trust His love.” Grief seems a more accurate word than disappointed. I thought that too was insightful.
Thoughts? Great to keep talking.
Oh Lord, give us your second touch, so that today and all this week we might see people, not as trees walking, but those who need love, and help us to be good repenters, “dying” to our false lovers, running away from them and into your arms, so that we might be “like a green pine tree.”
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Where have you surrendered to Him recently? What was the result?
Monday: Who Do You Say That I AM?
3. Read Mark 8:27-30
A. How did the disciples respond to Jesus’ question: “Who do people say that I am?”
B. Who do people say that He is today?
C. When He directed the question to His disciples, who was the first to answer and what
did He say?
4. Read Mark 8:31-33.
A. What shocking thing does He now tell them?
B. How does Peter respond, and why, do you think?
C. What does Jesus say to Peter, and why, do you think?
5. What insight does Daniel 7:13-14 give you into Jesus title “Son of Man?” Can you turn this
Scripture into a praise of adoration?
6. Read the opening of chapter 8 in Keller’s book, up to “A Personal Necessity” and share any
comments or questions.
Tuesday: Falling Into His The Everlasting Arms
Elisabeth Elliot always began her radio program, Gateway to Joy, with:
“‘You are loved with an everlasting love,’ that’s what the Bible says,
‘and underneath are the everlasting arms.’”
That trust in His love, in His goodness, helped her to live her life with reckless abandonment.
7. Read “A Personal Necessity” in Chapter 8.
A. What does Vanstone say is the difference between false love and true love?
B. When you look at your relationships, asking God to help you see, would you agree
that “there’s a certain mercenery quality to your relationships?”
C. Keller says “What we need is someone to love us who doesn’t need us at all.” If we
believe that, it fills us up and helps us to love better. How has the Word (perhaps think of
The Song of Songs) or the reality of Christ’s presence in your life helped you to love
8. Read the note from the young woman in Keller’s church at the end of this section. Can you identify? Why or why not? Pray for yourself to move toward this kind of trust and true love.
Wednesday: Winning Through Losing
9. Read a Legal Necessity in Keller’s book and explain why Jesus had to die.
10. Read A Cosmis Necessity in Keller’s book and explain how Jesus won through losing.
11. Is there anything else in these two sections that stood out to you? If so, what and why?
Thursday: A Way of The Cross
12. Read Mark 8:34-9:1
A. To whom is Jesus speaking?
B. What does He tell them is required in a disciple?
C. Some say you can be saved yet not a disciple. What evidence is there in the text
to cast doubt on that?
D. Find all the reasons you can that Jesus gives for “losing your life.”
13. N. T. Wright asks this good question: “How have you seen in your life and in others’ lives
that “if you want to save your life, you’ll lose it, but if you lose your life because of me and
the Message, you’ll save it?”
14. If Christ leads us into danger, why should we not dread the loss of our lives?
15. Using this passage, pray for yourself and those close to you.
Friday: A New Kind of King
15. Ask the Lord to help you focus as you carefully read Keller’s closing section in this chapter.
Share your notes and comments.
16. What do you think you will remember about this week’s lesson and why?
17. Is God impacting your life through His Word? If so, give a praise.