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Women's Bible Study

This fall, approximately 45 women, meeting either on Tuesday evenings or Thursday mornings, have been gathering together for a Bible Study entitled, “Meeting the King: A Study in the Gospel of Mark,” by Cindy Cochrum.

We have been joyfully engaged in this study of the life of Christ as passed on to Mark by the apostle Peter. Mark’s account, the shortest of the four Gospels, moves quickly and is action-packed, using one of his favorite adverbs “immediately” or “at once” as we quickly move from scene to scene. Mark’s primary concern is to answer the questions, “Who is Jesus?” and “Why did He come?”

Mark’s Gospel opens in Mark 1:1 with a bold proclamation: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and then quotes Isaiah the prophet, who said, “Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight paths for him.” After 400 years of silence from the prophets, Mark reminds his audience of the promises of old telling them that a Savior would come to them, and the glory of the Lord would be revealed.

As we work our way through Mark, we marvel at Jesus’ authority over every area of life: men, sickness, the spirit world, the physical world, the temple, and even death, as he raises Jairus’ daughter to life. Jesus battles misunderstanding by his disciples, who seem convinced he will sit on a physical throne and restore the political kingdom of their father, David. Jesus also battles the religious leaders, who challenge and attempt to trap him at every turn.

We see Jesus using physical miracles to point to spiritual realities—certainly His deity is a spiritual reality evidenced in these miracles. It is impossible in this space to cover all the examples we’ve discovered, but following are two that have been particularly encouraging.

First, in Mark 1:40-45, the leper. We know from scripture that the life of a leper was miserable, as he was required to wear torn clothes, keep his hair unkempt, live alone outside the village, and in case anyone had any doubt of his status, was required to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” about himself.

In Mark 1:41-42, we see Jesus compassionately touch the leper, and although the disease was highly contagious, the man is instantly healed, while Jesus is unaffected. Jesus warns him not to tell anyone, but in spite of himself, the man begins to spread the news, and we discover that Jesus no longer could enter the town openly, but stayed outside in lonely places.

What a foreshadowing of the Gospel! The leper, the exile, was welcomed in. Jesus, as a result, was “excluded,” forced out. Isaiah 53 comes to mind: “He was despised and rejected…familiar with suffering…like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised… Surely he took up our infirmities… the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Although Jesus did not become ill with leprosy, He became like a leper so that we could be welcomed into the family of God!

A second incident, in which Jesus curses the fig tree in Mark 11, illustrates a spiritual reality for both Israel, and us. Mark brackets Jesus’ response to the activities in the temple, in which he overturns the tables of the money changers, with the account of him cursing the fig tree, thus connecting the two events.

The fig tree was a common image used in the Old Testament to symbolize Israel. When Jesus discovers an actual fig tree with leaves but no fruit, he curses it, symbolically passing judgment on Israel for its lack of fruitfulness. Israel had turned its back on God, giving the appearance of religiosity, but actually being spiritually barren, as illustrated by their use of the temple for commerce, as opposed to the worship of God.

A question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we all leaves but no fruit?’ Where does our ‘walk’ not match our ‘talk’?”

Our study of Mark wraps up in two weeks, at which time we will summarize our conclusions to “Who is Jesus?” and “Why did He come?” We will also share other ways God has revealed himself to us through this study, and how we should be applying it to our lives.

Our Spring Bible Study begins on January 9 and runs through the end of April. Watch the bulletin for further details! All women of the church are invited to attend.

Janey Richmann
Women’s Bible Study, Leader