Fortunately for us, the story of Jesus doesn’t end with His death. He died to save us from our sins, but then He rose again, showing He has power and victory over sin and death!
Read Mark 16:1-8. Read verse 6 aloud.
Jesus had been dead for three days when a few close friends came to the tomb to anoint His body. What were the ladies’ concerns before going to the tomb?
What did the women discover once they got to the tomb?
Whom did the ladies meet at the tomb?
What was the angel’s message? What were they commanded to do?
What are you commanded to do with the message of the resurrected Savior?
The women got quite a big surprise that day at the tomb. They had all watched Jesus die. They saw Him buried. And they saw a big stone rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb. They were shocked when they found the heavy stone had been rolled away; they were even more astonished when the angel told them that Jesus was not dead, but alive. So what does Jesus being alive have to do with you personally?
When Jesus died, He took the world’s sin (including yours) as His own; however, sin did not defeat Him. He conquered sin with His death and resurrection. You can have victory over the bondage of sin only with the truth and power of Christ. The angel commanded the woman to tell others about Jesus’ resurrection because it’s a message of hope. Whom do you need to tell?
THINK ABOUT A TIME when God changed your life. Maybe it was the moment you accepted Jesus. Maybe it was an experience from Camp this past summer. Or maybe it was something that someone did for you or said that opened your eyes to the truth.
Read Mark 15:33-39. Would you have responded like the soldier in verse 39?
What events surrounded Jesus’ death?
Were these natural occurrences?
Reread verse 39. What was the centurion’s reaction to the events that took place that day?
When did you first say to yourself, “This Man really was God’s Son!”?
How did that realization change your life? Or perhaps you still haven’t had that realization.
What do these verses teach you about Jesus’ love for you?
What does this passage teach you about your access to God?
The importance of Jesus’ death didn’t escape the centurion’s notice. He had watched Jesus die, and His death convinced him that Jesus was the Christ. The centurion suddenly knew that Jesus wasn’t just a common criminal; He was the very Son of God.
Jesus died to free us from sin. He followed the Father’s will to the cross. He broke the barrier of sin and made a way for us to have a relationship with God. That’s what the torn curtain in the temple represents. If you’re a Christian, you’ve recognized that Jesus fixed our Sin problem and you have decided to follow him. And you have a story the world needs to hear!
THINK ABOUT A TIME when you had to stand up for what you knew was right. Maybe it was at a movie theater with some friends or at the lunch table in the school cafeteria or even a time at camp when your counselor wasn’t around. Did it cost you anything? Were you embarrassed? Was it difficult?
Today, you’ll read Mark’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. Put yourself there in the crowd of bystanders. Listen to the insults; feel the humiliation. Seek to understand just how much you mean to Christ and what He went through to save you.
Read Mark 15:27-32, concentrating on verse 32.
What insults were being thrown at Jesus?
Who was taunting Him?
What were the people asking Jesus to do?
Why do you think Jesus did not come down from the cross even though He could have?
On the day of His crucifixion, Jesus was being made fun of by everyone—passers-by, the chief priests, scribes, and the other men being crucified. It was humiliating. Understand that this is Jesus, God in the flesh, on a cross being mocked and taunted. And remember that Jesus could have gotten down off the cross at any time if he had wanted to, but he chose to stay there. He was punished even though He was innocent.
Why did He have to die, and what does His death mean to you today? Christ died because He loves us. He took on our sin and our punishment so we didn’t have to. He put all things aside and died for you because He loves you. When you think about the cross, understand that it is proof of how much God loves you.
Jesus was obedient to His Father even though the world didn’t understand and treated him poorly. You’re called to follow His example, even when it’s difficult.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ACCUSED of something you didn’t do? Perhaps it was a sibling trying to put blame on you for something he or she did. Or maybe a teacher punished you for something that wasn’t your fault. How did you feel knowing the truth when other people around you didn’t? How did you respond in that situation?
Read Mark 15:6-15 and focus on verses 9 and 10 to see when Jesus was falsely accused.
Who was accusing Jesus?
Concentrating on verses 9 and 10, why was Jesus being accused?
What emotion did the accusers let get in the way of doing the right thing?
What was Jesus’ punishment?
Did He deserve this punishment?
Jesus had done nothing wrong and yet the people were shouting for His death. Notice that the crowds accusing Jesus were being egged on by the chief priests, the religious leaders of that day! These men knew the Scriptures by heart and were devoted by all outward appearances, yet they were shouting for an innocent man to be put to death.
It’s easy for us to judge those people. But put yourself on the side of the accusers. Has there ever been a time when you put your thoughts and feelings first, even to the extent of hurting someone else? Sometimes it’s easy to be led by your emotions instead of reason. With all the competing voices, beliefs, and emotions we face, it’s easy to be swayed from what we know is right. That’s when we should strive to hold onto the truth, no matter what.
Is there a part of the Bible that you know to be true but are ignoring? It’s time to face off with the truth.
WHEN HAVE YOU WANTED TO GIVE IN? When was the last time it seemed easier to give in rather than stand firm? In class? With a friend? While you were surfing the Internet or flipping through the TV channels?
Think about a time when standing up for what was right would have cost you something. Did you stand firm? What did you learn from the experience?
Read Mark 14:43-50. Ponder verse 50.
What happened in these verses?
Who is Judas, and what had he done?
What was Jesus’ response to the mob? How did it shame them for their actions? Why is it important that this moment fulfills the Scriptures?
What was the disciples’ response to the arrest?
What would your response have been in this situation?
When have you been given a chance to stand firm for Christ and run away instead? Explain. When have you stood strong? What did you learn in both situations?
What are some areas of your life in which you need to stand strong for Christ?
What steps will you take to turn these things over to Him?
Moments before, Jesus had been praying in the quiet garden. Then, a mob with clubs and swords and led by His own disciple, Judas, arrived. In the chaos of Jesus’ arrest, the disciples who’d promised that they would never leave Him ran away.
As followers of Jesus, we’re called to stand firm in the faith when it’s easy and when it’s not. And Jesus’ own life tells us there will be times when it is not easy, when deserting Him seems like the best option. Just remember that He stood strong in His commitment to save us. He has never deserted us.
A PASSING GRADE. Getting through your parents’ divorce. Getting tapped out for the Little Chief test. Winning a state championship. We all have priorities—things that are important or that we want to accomplish. A priority is generally considered to be the most important issue or your primary consideration. When you look at your life, what are your priorities? Why are these things so important?
Read Mark 14:32-38. Then, read verse 38 again.
What was about to happen to Jesus in these verses?
Why is it important that Jesus asked His disciples to pray for Him?
What were Peter, James, and John doing when Jesus came back to them?
When have you gotten distracted, tired, or become unfocused when trying to pray?
How do these verses help you to understand that prayer is important to God?
Prayer was important to Jesus, a priority even. Would you describe it as a priority in your life? Why or why not?
What steps will you take to make prayer a priority in your life?
Jesus was about to be arrested, tried, and crucified. He knew what was going to happen, and His response was to take His closest friends and go to a quiet place to pray. He obviously thought prayer was important. That it accomplished something. That it was vital to His relationship with the Father. And His closest friends couldn’t even stay awake to pray for Him, even after He had told them His soul was “swallowed up in sorrow.”
Strong relationships require communication. Prayer is our way of communicating with God. A strong relationship with Jesus doesn’t just happen; it takes effort. You have to take action and focus on the things that He says are important, like prayer. Prayer is powerful. Talk to Him today!
YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH. The speaker in the school assembly is going on and on. Somehow, you feel like the speaker just loves to hear himself talk. It reminds you of the last concert you attended. The outfit the singer wore was so weird! It’s obvious when someone wants to be the center of attention. Does this ever happen at church? Or what about Camp?
Read Mark 12:38-40. Pay attention to verse 40.
Why did Jesus warn against scribes in the marketplace?
Is it wrong for religious leaders to seek recognition? Explain.
What did Jesus mean when He said that scribes “devour widows’ houses”?
What do these verses teach you about God’s attitude toward our motives?
When have you found yourself doing something good, even something godly, but your actions were fueled by a desire for recognition?
Why is that kind of worship, love, or service not what God wants?
If you have grown up in church, you may remember being in awe when you listened to long prayers or heard solos ending in high notes. When does public recognition overshadow a heart for worship? Jesus warned us about those who are only involved in religious practices to garner the praise of others. There will be judgment for that kind of motive.
What about you? Do you attend worship because you love God or because you want to meet the expectations of others? If your friends didn’t attend Bible study, would you still be involved? We will grow in our faith when we desire a deeper relationship with God. Take time to examine your motivation, and spend time in prayer. God will meet you there.
I LOVE THAT SONG, DON’T YOU? “I love this ice cream.” “I love to play basketball at this gym.” “I love playing Sock War.” “I love my counselor.” Love. We throw the word around all the time. It can have a casual meaning or a heavy-duty one. “Because I love my country, I will serve wherever I am needed.” “I loved my grandmother; I really miss her.” “I will never love another girl/guy like that.”
So with all this talk of love, what does it mean when we say we love God?
Read Mark 12:28-31. Memorize verses 30 and 31a, if you haven’t already.
What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart?
How is it possible to love the Lord with all your mind? Will this affect your thinking?
If you love God with all your strength, what kind of commitment are you making?
According to God’s point of view, whom are we required to love?
Do you ever have trouble loving yourself?
Mark 12:30 states that we must love God. We understand that, but HOW we love God is the key. We must love God with our hearts—all our feelings and emotions. It’s clear from these verses that Jesus is asking us to let God be in charge of everything in our lives. Do we love God enough to let Him be in charge of our mind, attitudes, choices, and whom we allow to influence our thinking? When we give God our strength, we allow Him to direct how we spend our time and energy.
Jesus also challenges us to love others, making their needs as important as our personal desires. A loving relationship with God must be our first priority. We can have a meaningful life when we love God and love others.
POTENTIAL IS definitely a word we like to throw around. When I hear it, I’m always reminded of a pepper plant I once planted in my garden. The plant was in one of those biodegradable pots, so you could plant the whole thing. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to cut the bottom out so that the roots could continue to grow. That plant never grew to its potential because it was confined. Think about that. The thing is, we’re the same way. If we allow limitations to be put on us, we don’t grow in Christ.
Read Mark 11:22-25. Read verse 25 a few times, slowly.
What was Jesus talking about in these verses? (putting limits on what He can do and unforgiveness)
According to these verses, what happens when we pray believing God can and will answer?
What does it mean to forgive?
How does forgiving someone help you grow in faith?
How have you seen these things keep you from growing in your faith?
What steps do you need to take to actively pursue God’s will in these areas?
Growing in your faith in Christ will give you victory. Once I figured out the problem with that pepper plant, it had already died. It died because it couldn’t get the nourishment it needed to be a successful plant. You and I are in the same situation. When we don’t believe God can or will answer our prayers or refuse to forgive, our faith stagnates and our growth is minimal. But Jesus wants us to flourish. Christ wants us to have a dynamic, growing relationship with Him. What do you need to start pursuing to have that kind of relationship?
WHEN WAS the last time you felt angry because someone’s actions disappointed you? For me it was when my wife and I drove up to our house to discover my car had been stolen. It’s a strange feeling to be angry and hurt at the same time.
Read Mark 11:15-19. Contemplate verse 17.
What was going on that made Jesus angry?
Why would that have made Jesus angry?
How did the priests and scribes respond to Jesus’ actions?
Why were they afraid of Jesus?
Jesus didn’t like the things He saw at the temple that kept people from truly worshiping. What kind of things would He not like in your life?
That day in the temple, it seems clear that Jesus was angry and hurt at the same time. He had walked into the temple—the place where people were supposed to serve the one true God—and found thieves. The money-changers and religious leaders were profiting from the religious traditions of the day. The temple was the one place where worship should have been on full display; and instead, greed was the primary focus.
It must have saddened Jesus to see the people He loved so far from the truth. Yet, we still do the same thing today when we allow barriers to get in the way of true worship. We do it in our daily lives when we let things distract us from focusing on God and in worship services when we text, daydream, or write notes. Are you making God’s house a place of worship or a den of thieves?