An Upside-Down Kingdom
Gospel of Mark: Kingdom Invasion
Week #8: An Upside-Down Kingdom
his week’s lesson begins a transition of emphasis. Previously, we have seen Jesus’ power and the advancement of the kingdom of God. Jesus continues to be powerful, and the kingdom continues to advance, but in a very different and unexpected way.
READ Mark 8:22-38; 9:30-41; 10:32-52
Many believe that the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida (8:22-26) and the healing of blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52) form what is called a “Markan sandwich,” a bracket around Jesus’ teaching of discipleship (8:31-10:45). Perhaps the coming to sight of the two men illustrates gaining insight into who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. Our study thus far has focused primarily on the kingdom advancing with power and authority. But the conquest of God’s kingdom looks nothing like the advancement of the kingdoms of this world. As we shall see, it is indeed an upside-down kingdom.
After the healing at Bethsaida (8:22-26), Jesus leads his disciples to far-away Caesarea Philippi, north of Galilee, a city known for its worship of the pagan god Pan. Jesus has been talking about the kingdom and demonstrating its power. Now it’s time to clarify his identity.
- In Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), what do you think Peter and the disciples may have expected from a Messiah?
- In 8:31-33, how does Jesus blow away their categories for what it means to be the Messianic king?
- In 8:34-38, what does Jesus say is required of those who follow him and are citizens of this type of kingdom?
- In 9:30-32, Jesus reiterates the theme that he, as king, is destined to suffer at the hands of men. How does Mark 9:33-37 further illustrate the upside-down nature of Christ’s kingdom?
- For the third time Jesus predicts his death in Mark 10:32-34. What evidence do you see that the disciples still don’t get the nature and requirements of the kingdom (10:35-40)?
- What principle of this upside-down kingdom does Jesus teach in 10:41-45?
- In 10:45, we see not only Jesus’ example of this principle, but a reason for his suffering. In your own words, what do you think it means that Jesus gives “his life as a ransom for many”?
- Do you think that the upside-down nature of the kingdom Jesus describes is still a contrast to the ways of this world? Describe some ways that kingdom values differ from this world’s values.
- Are you living more according to the ways of this world, or according to the ways of Christ’s kingdom? Explain.
- What are some ways that followers of Jesus could live out counter-cultural values for good in today’s society?
- Commitment to counter-cultural values often comes at a cost. What price may this require of you and other Christians?
§ What are the benefits?
The following questions will be posted on-line for comments:
- What stood out to you about the upside-down nature of Jesus’ mission as the messianic king?
- What stood out to you about what is required of those who want to follow this type of Messiah?
- What stood out to you about how the values of Jesus’ kingdom differ from the values of this world?
- What personal application did you get from this lesson?
- Do you have any other comments about this week’s passage and lesson?