Bible study on Mark 1.29-39
This study can be used by a small family/ household group, or by an online group, or – sometimes with a little adaptation - by an individual.
See our Guidelines for a weekly Bible study
Begin with an opening prayer
O God, we come to you out of our week –
with its successes and disappointments,
its joys and its struggles.
By your Holy Spirit,
help us to focus on you now,
to listen as you speak to our hearts,
so that we may be better prepared
to serve you in the week to come.
Read the passage
Consider different ways to read the text. For example, hearing it in more than one version of the Bible.
In an online group, you could share parts between those present, or use/adapt this week’s Share the Word suggestion: Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to Share the Word and scroll down to find the Gospel reading.
Explore and respond to the text
Start by reading the Bible notes below. You may want to read them more than once, or pause after each paragraph to reflect on what you have read.
In this chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus moves between public spaces and private ones, and we learn how he uses each to sustain himself and others. From the synagogue, he comes to the house of his first disciples, perhaps seeking to retreat from the crowds. Throughout this Gospel, Mark makes it clear that healing has a noticeable impact on Jesus (e.g. 5.30), and a house is often a safe space for him (7.24). However, even in a private home, Jesus’ healing power is still needed. The woman’s healing makes it possible to re-establish the order of the whole household – the story is a small-scale reflection of Jesus’ impact on society at large.
After dark, when the sabbath is over, people are able to travel and carry their sick to see Jesus. The door of the house becomes a meeting-place and Mark vividly suggests the chaos of a desperate crowd. People needed healing – alongside the pain and trauma of illness, it created economic problems where workers were unable to earn their living. Jesus wields complete authority over a range of illnesses and, as in the synagogue, shows his power over the demons by forbidding them to speak. For the first time, Mark shows us the extent of Jesus’ power, verifying the big claims he made for Jesus in his opening verses.
Then, in the stillness before dawn, Jesus retreats again to a deserted place. For the Israelites, the desert was the place to meet God, and Jesus too uses this safe space to pray. But his disciples find this hard to handle – they ‘hunt him down’ and demand that he returns to the scene of his triumph. After his time of prayer, Jesus has other ideas. He is ready to expand his mission, and they embark on their first journey together, in which preaching and exorcism go hand-in-hand, each reinforcing the other as proof of Jesus’ real identity.
Spend a few moments thinking about what stands out for you from the Bible reading. This idea may help.
When politicians or chief executives begin a new role or time in office – including in very recent time the President of the USA – they often set out a list of priorities for their first 100 days, giving a sense of the direction of their thinking. Then, we critically evaluate their achievements against their stated hopes and goals. Here, Jesus is establishing his priorities for his mission. He preaches and heals, he resources his disciples, and he underpins all this with a life of prayer. There is no stated list of aims and objectives. Far more powerfully, people can see from his actions what he wants to achieve. What do our actions, as individuals or as a faith community, say about our vision for the next steps for us?
Questions for reflection
You may wish to use these questions and the picture to help you think about or discuss issues arising from this week’s Bible passage.
- In what circumstances do you feel the need to press the snooze button?
- How well balanced is your life between action and reflection?
- How far do you demonstrate what you really care about in your daily living?
A simple worship activity
Spend time thinking about God’s priorities for us this week.
Give everyone a sheet of paper and a pen. Ask them to draw a line down the middle. On the left-hand side they should write ‘I want’ and list anything that they want to bring to God today.
After a couple of minutes, ask people to write on the other side of the paper ‘God wants’, and then to think about what God’s priorities for them might be. Suggest that those who are not sure how to do this might pray: ‘O God, what do you want me to do this week?’, and then be very still and quiet, listening for the thoughts that come into their minds. It might be helpful to play some quiet music in the background.
End with the prayer that follows.
Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to more activities
n Explore and respond
Adapt to your local context.
A prayer of adoration
People. People. Everywhere! Day in. Day out. Seeking you, Lord. Hunting you. Following you. Hungry for your presence. Wanting your attention. Yet not once did you complain.
We’re sorry, Lord, that the weight of life’s demands causes us to stumble, to lose our temper and at times to buckle under the pressure. Help us to be more like you, Lord.
We’re sorry for not getting our priorities right. Help us to know, as you did, the importance of spending time with and drawing refreshment from the Father.
We’re sorry for allowing other people and things to take over and squeeze out our time with you. Help us to draw daily on your refreshing strength in order to cope with whatever our day holds.
Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.
Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to find more prayers,
including up-to-date intercessions.
A prayer to end the Bible study
go with us into the world this week.
Help us to remain focused upon you
and to make your priorities our priorities in
all the places you are sending us.
Go with God 24/7
Encourage everyone to put their faith into action.
Take the sticky notes home and keep them somewhere where you will see them regularly. Mark a note with a small cross each time you are able to bring that priority of God’s into your daily life.
Encourage everyone to explore their faith this week with the ROOTS at home resource.