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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Continuing through the Gospel of Mark, today’s study guide takes us through Mark 12:18–44. In this guide, we’ll address a series of questions and confrontations between Jesus and the religious leaders, demonstrating what it means to be free and exploring how we can help others find freedom.
Watch as Calvary Christian Academy Discipleship Director Steve Mayo invites us into a deeper conversation around this topic!
Below, you’ll find some key discussion point questions to reflect on and consider on your own, in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, as well as some action points for the week and a look ahead.
Memory Verse of the Week: Mark 12:33 (NIV)“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Icebreaker: What is your favorite game to play and why?
Getting the Conversation Going: Have you ever played chess? It’s definitely a game for thinkers and strategists. It’s been said that chess is “the struggle against the error.” In the passage we’re studying today, that’s exactly what’s happening between Jesus and the Jewish leaders. However, as you read through Mark 12:18–44, you come to realize that these Sadducees and Pharisees were in way over their heads when confronting Jesus! They tried to trick and trap Jesus, to outthink Him and cause Him to make a mistake, to lose credibility and respect from the Jewish people who were following Him and pondering if He was their long-awaited Messiah. But here’s the thing: Jesus is God, and God can’t be trapped.
Mark 12:15 (NIV)“But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked.”
Jesus can’t be trapped, but oftentimes we can be. Whether it’s being trapped in a relationship, verbally baited and then caught off guard in a conversation, duped by cultural lies, compromises, or false teachings, deceived into believing a false narrative and identity, or caught up in sin, we are prone to committing costly errors in the chess match of life. We are susceptible to the honey traps. What’s a honey trap? It’s the irresistible bait that’s used to lure and trap a victim.
Discussion Question 1: Why is it so easy for us to become trapped?
Discussion Question 2: Share a time you were trapped by something or someone. How did you get to that point? What have you learned?
Because Jesus Can’t Be Trapped, He Has the Power to Free You: Galatians 5:1 (NIV) says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” In Jesus, our chains to sin—the very thing that causes us to be trapped, burdened, held down, and deceived—are broken. His perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection set us free to live a life of faith, love, and generosity.
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (NIV)“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
As those who have been set free through the work of Christ, we are empowered in Him by the Holy Spirit to see through the lies the enemy tries to sell us about ourselves, others, and the world. We’re called to “demolish” the honey traps, sin strongholds, and destructive ideologies of the cultural landscape, of the narratives that are constructed, and of false teachings that snake their way into the Church. And what’s our most effective weapon in this game of chess? Living like Jesus! If we desire to be used by God to win people to Christ, it must be done through a life of faith, love, justice, compassion, mercy, and generosity.
We must remember that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV). Jesus’ battle was not against the Pharisees and Sadducees; He came to die for them and make salvation available to them! His battle, and our battle, is never against people, but against sin and the spiritual forces that seek to trap us in sin. Checkmate in this case isn’t taking someone down or trapping them, it’s being used by God to open their eyes to the truth and bring them to saving faith in Jesus Christ!
If you need proof, look no further than Jesus’ conversation with the teacher of the law in Mark 12:28–34. Don’t you love how Jesus, after a series of contentious battles with the religious rulers, is still willing to treat this man differently? He hones in on the heart that’s open to hear, He sows the seed of truth, and then waters it with encouragement. May we never forget this about our Lord.
Discussion Question 3: Why is it important to keep in mind who our battle is really against?
Discussion Question 4: What steps can you take to ensure you’re serving to help others experience and walk in freedom?
This Week: In Mark 12:41–44, a widow gives an offering “out of her poverty,” putting “in everything—all she had to live on.” This week, find someone who is hurting or in need and show them the generosity of Jesus! Bless them, pray for them, and do something unexpectedly kind for them.
In our next study, we’ll continue working our way through the Gospel of Mark and discuss Mark 13:1–37. In this study, we’ll examine Jesus’ view of the end times and what it means for us.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.