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A Kingdom of Paradoxes

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Gospel of Mark: Kingdom Invasion

Week #9: A Kingdom of Paradoxes





ince this is an upside-down kingdom, it’s probably not surprising that this kingdom is full of paradoxes, truths that either seem to be contradictory, or at times, opposites that are sometimes held in tension.

READ Mark 9

Withdrawing and Advancing (Mark 9:1-13)

  • If the kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future hope, what connection do you think Mark wants the reader to make between Jesus’ promise in Mark 9:1, and the transfiguration six days later (9:2-13)?

[Note: Some believe that since Jesus predicted his death at the end of chapter 8, perhaps the promise of Mark 9:1 relates more to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Which explanation sounds more convincing to you?]

  • Though we may not need to read too much into Peter’s outburst in Mark 9:5 (see Mark 9:6), what longing, perhaps subconsciously, may he be expressing?

§         Why may Peter want to prolong this glorious moment by building three shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah?

  • Have you ever had a “mountain top” experience with God, away from your normal, everyday life? If so, describe it.

§         Did you want it to last? If so, what challenges did you face transitioning to ordinary life?

  • Why do you think Jesus does not prolong this experience, but instead, leads them down the mountain?

  • Do you think both withdrawing to worship and advancing to serve are necessary components of following Jesus? What happens if we only practice one or the other?

Doubting Faith (Mark 9:14-29)

  • Imagine you are the father of the boy with an evil spirit. How would you feel?

  • What do you make of his statement in Mark 9:24? Is faith the absence of doubt, or is it possible to have faith mixed with doubt? Explain.

The Greatest will be the Servant (Mark 9:33-37)

  • In any kingdom, there is a hierarchy of rank and importance. According to Jesus, how do you achieve greatness in God’s kingdom?

  • What are the challenges of living out the principle of servanthood?

Life Comes Through Death (Mark 9:42-50)

In Mark 9:30-32, Jesus tells his disciples once again (see Mark 8:31) that he will be killed, but then three days later will rise. Something good (life) comes out of something bad (death).

  • In Mark 9:42-50, Jesus talks about “dismembering” parts of our body that cause us to sin. Occasionally throughout church history, some believers have taken his words literally, their zeal perhaps exceeding their wisdom. Why is literal disfigurement not radical enough to deal with sin?

  • In your own words, how would you apply Jesus’ words about how we should deal with sin?

  • There is a type of death we must undergo in order to confront sin and temptation. In what sense does this “death to self” bring about spiritual life?


  • How are you doing living out the rhythm of withdrawing to worship and advancing to serve? Which one may require greater attention at this point of your life?

  • Are there any areas of your life where you need greater faith in Jesus’ power in the midst of your struggles with doubt? What would it look like to ask for greater faith, while acknowledging your unbelief?

  • In what sphere(s) of life is God calling you to demonstrate the principle of servanthood: work, family, friends, community, etc.? Name one specific way you will apply this the upcoming week?

  • Are there any radical steps you need to take in order to put to death a particular sin habit? Explain.


The following questions will be posted on-line for comments:

  • What stood out to you about the story of Jesus on the mountain with three of his disciples (Mark 9:1-13)? 

  • What stood out to you about the story of the father’s request for his troubled son (Mark 9:14-29)?

  • What stood out to you about Jesus’ discussion with his disciples concerning who is the greatest (Mark 9:33-37)?

  • What stood out to you about Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9:42-50?

  • What personal application did you get from this lesson?

  • Do you have any other comments about this week’s passage and lesson?
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