1. Opening up
- Review: Mark 1-4 answered the question, “who is Jesus?” Mark 5-8 showed us that the religious and irreligious approaches look for life apart from Jesus. But Jesus came to heal the sick, so true life only comes by looking to him for healing. In Mark 9-12 we focused on forgiveness. We need to forgive others and be forgiven by God.
- Homework: Our homework was to ask two questions: 1) Who do you need to truly forgive? 2) Why do you need God’s forgiveness?
- ASK: how did you answer that question?
- ANSWER: Parents, feel free to share stories about how you’ve seen forgiveness give life to someone, both horizontally (between two people) and vertically (with God).
- Pray: Having just discussed forgiveness, thank God for His grace through the Lord Jesus. Then ask the Spirit to lead your study.
Transition: In these chapters, we begin to read about different kinds of suffering.
2. Suffering in the world
- Context: Many people find Mark 13 to be a very confusing chapter. Because of this, there are many different opinions on the exact meaning of Jesus’s words here. However, without getting lost in the little details, we can clearly make some big picture observations about Jesus’s teaching. As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple (the place where the Jewish people worshipped in Jerusalem), one of his disciples was marveling to Jesus about the size and beauty of the temple buildings. The temple complex was massive in size and adorned in marble and gold. Some of the stones were 16 feet long! Jesus used this comment about the temple to teach the disciples about destruction that would come upon the temple, suffering in the world, and the end of time.
- Why do we suffer?
- In chapter 13 Jesus talks about all kinds of suffering. He mentions wars, natural disasters (earthquakes), famines, the persecution of Christians, division in families, destructive false teaching and more. Jesus is honest about the world that we live in. He doesn’t pretend like everything is ok, but plainly teaches about real suffering.
- ASK: When you think about suffering what comes to mind? How have you suffered? How has your family suffered?
- Suffering is really hard. And when you’re in the middle of suffering, it’s even harder to understand it or make sense of what’s happening. That’s why it’s so important to understand what God teaches us during times when we’re not going through hard suffering.
- ASK: If you were going to explain the Bible’s teaching on suffering to someone what would you tell them? What does the Bible teach about suffering? Why do we suffer?
- *Brainstorm together to highlight important Biblical teaching on suffering. Some examples could include: Sin has led to suffering. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When Adam and Eve sinned, suffering and death entered into our world, which tells us something very important about suffering – it began with sin. That does not mean that when someone suffers it’s because they sinned and God is punishing them. Jesus taught that we shouldn’t think that way. We also know that God entered into our suffering by sending Jesus. And we know that God promises to work everything – even suffering – for our good.
Transition: Now think back to Jesus’s teaching on suffering, all the way through Mark. Here are a few things he has shown us…
3. Suffering points to sin and judgment
- Our deeper problem: Sin. Remember back to Mark 2, when the paralytic man was lowered through the roof by his four friends in order to see Jesus? Instead of first healing the man’s body, Jesus said something striking: “your sins are forgiven.” Why would he do that? To show us that there is a deeper problem than our broken bodies. Suffering in this life points to a deeper problem: our sin problem. The reason suffered into the world was because of sin. So if we really want someone to fix our suffering problem, then they need to fix the deepest problem – our sin problem.
- Judgment. But there’s another problem, sin brings judgment. If God is good then he must judge sin. If you think back to World War II in Nazi Germany, as Hitler and the Nazis began killing the Jews, many of the Nazi officers killed Jews simply because they were told to do it. In addition to that, most of the German citizens did nothing to stop the evil or speak against it. Few people in Germany were judging the evil commands and wicked deeds. We easily recognize how wrong that was because something deep down inside of us believes in justice. We want Someone good to make sure that good laws are followed.
- ASK: can you remember a time in life when you were thankful for judgment – when justice upheld the law? (Parents, share your own answer)
- On the one hand, we should be thankful that God is just and upholds the law. But on the other hand, it creates a big problem for us. We are sinners. Sin is breaking God’s law and running away from His good commands. Because of that, in Mark 13 Jesus is saying that one day God will bring all things to an end, and he will judge sin. The message is clear: all of us our sinners and in our sin we deserve to be judged. Suffering reminds us of that.
Transition: That’s bad news. But here is what’s so incredible about the story of Jesus…
4. Jesus came to suffer
- He suffered through judgment: Remember that Jesus was completely innocent. He was without sin. He always did what was right. But in Mark 14 and 15, he was judged as a guilty. The innocent One was declared guilty. He was judged as a lawbreaker.
- ASK: in what ways was Jesus treated unfairly in Mark 14 and 15? How does that make you feel?
- He suffered through physical suffering: Not only was Jesus judged, he was mistreated. He suffered in horrific ways through physical punishment.
- ASK: in what ways did Jesus suffer in Mark 14 and 15? How does that make you feel?
- He suffered through death: on the cross Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Father has turned away and allowed him to die as a guilty criminal.
5. Responding to Jesus
- The question for us is: how will we respond to Jesus? We see several different responses in Mark 15.
- ASK: what are the different responses to Jesus in Mark 15?
- People-pleasing Pilate: he believed Jesus is innocent, but instead of letting him go free, Pilate had Jesus crucified. Why? Because he cared about the approval of other people more than he cared about Jesus.
- Mockers: some people mock Jesus because they look at his weakness and conclude that he is a failure. Little did they know, he was using his weakness to defeat sin and death.
- The Religious people: the Pharisees also mock Jesus, because they were so confident in their own “good” works. They think they are righteous because of their own actions, and therefore that they didn’t need Jesus.
- The Busy Soldiers: the soldiers were too busy obeying orders and not paying attention to the evil deeds in front of them. Their busy-ness kept them from seeing what’s really happening.
- The Roman Centurion. Here was the one person who really was able to see Jesus. A Roman Centurion would have been a battle-tested soldier, in charge of many men, and a person who witnessed many deaths. He most likely oversaw dozens, if not hundreds of crucifixions in his life. But he looked at the crucifixion of this man and the way that he died, and made a startling conclusion: “Truly this man was the Son of God” (15:39).
- ASK: what are the different responses to Jesus in Mark 15?
6. The BIG Picture GOAL: to see that Jesus, the innocent Son of God, suffered for you.
- It’s no accident that Mark finished the crucifixion with the Roman Centurion’s testimony. Jesus, the Son of God, was innocent but he suffered and died. Why? He did it for you, for me, and for all of those who trust in Jesus.
- ASK: do you agree with the Roman Centurion’s testimony?
- Homework: think about your own suffering? Where are you suffering right now? How does this truth – that Jesus suffered for you – encourage you?
7. For next time…
- Choose the day and time for your next study.
- Kids and parents: Read Mark chapters 16 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. If this will be a challenge for your son or daughter, read it together over a few days. Read it, or listen to it using a Bible app, like the ESV Bible app or the YouVersion Bible app.
- Parents, look over the next lesson… coming soon!