The Opposite Path to Popularity

Jesus often says and does the least expected thing imaginable as the Gospels track his ministry. But, looking back, we can see that Jesus’ mission and identity were clear from the start.

Even in the opening pages of Mark, where Jesus’ popularity was beginning to rise, he does some of the exact opposite things that a person would do if he were driven by worldly motives like power and popularity.

Many of us find it difficult to comprehend some of Jesus’ words and actions. But we can rest assured that all of these things serve to clarify who he is and why came to earth.

Mark Bible Study

Read Mark 1:29-45 with an eye to how Jesus’ identity and mission are coming into sharper focus.

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Jesus Preaches in Galilee
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

Mark 1:29-45

A Clearly Defined Mission

Austin points out three clarifications made in these verses about Jesus’ identity and mission:

  • Jesus refuses to let demons frame his identity. (Mark 1:29-34)
  • Popularity does not dictate his mission. (Mark 1:35-39)
  • Jesus’ mission does not compromise his compassion. (Mark 1:40-45)

Discussion Questions

  • What do you find to be particularly surprising about what Jesus does in these verses?
  • Do you think Jesus cared very much about his popularity?
  • Why would Jesus not allow demons to be the ones to testify to his identity?
  • How do you think the glory of the Father motivated what Jesus did?
  • Do you think it was easy for Jesus to balance the demands for healing with the necessity of preaching?
  • Why was preaching more important to Jesus than healing?
  • Why did Jesus not ignore healing?
  • What truths about salvation from sin was Jesus’ healing pointing to?
  • How should we balance ministries to people’s physical needs with the ministry of pointing people to Jesus?
  • How can we look beyond our own physical needs to the healing that we need Jesus to do to our own souls?
  • Does Jesus’ physical touch of a leper challenge the way that you show compassion in your own life?
Jonathan Pugh
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