Small Group Questions: 03-10-2024

ICE BREAKER

If you could obliterate one thing from existence with the snap of your fingers (without any consequences), what would it be and why?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Mark 13 together as a group. Feel free to pause and discuss things you notice, were reminded of, have questions about, etc. Once you’ve done this, feel free to re-read sections that are related to the questions below.

1. There’s a bumper sticker that says, “Jesus is coming! Look busy!”

-What attitude might be revealed by this statement?

-How do you feel about Jesus’ return?

-What does being “ready” look like for you day to day?

2. In Mark 11 and 12 tells how Jesus symbolically enacted judgment on the temple (with the money changers in the temple itself and on the fig tree), claimed authority over the temple, judged the leaders of the temple and affirmed that the two great commandments are much more important than sacrifices in the temple.

-How do the opening verses of chapter 13 indicate that the disciples still haven’t understood what he’s saying?

-What beliefs & attitudes might the disciples have held that caused them to draw Jesus’ attention to the building structure of the Temple?

-What thoughts, feelings, and emotions might you have if you were in their place?

-How do we follow the same patterns of thought & behaviors as the disciples when it comes to “religious buildings”?

3. Imagine walking with Jesus into BCC or another modern-day church. You turn to Jesus and say, “Isn’t this place great! We have a wing for the youth, a wing for the kids, and this amazing Worship Center too.” To which he replies, “All of this is going to be destroyed. There won’t be one wall left standing.”

-How would you respond?

-What would you say?

-What questions would you ask?

-Do you think Jesus would ever say this in our modern context? Why? Why not?

4. In verse 13 Jesus says we need to hold onto our faith in the midst of difficulties. Many Christians today face persecution every bit as severe as that which the early church suffered. Then there are those Christians who don’t face persecution but instead face the opposite temptation, to stagnate, to become cynical, and suppose that nothing much is happening.

-What specific situation in your life right now do you need patience for?

-Where are you holding onto your faith & remaining patient in the midst of difficulties?

-Where are you tempted to stagnate or become cynical?

-How have periods of chaos affected your belief, trust, and perceptions of God?

-What practices or beliefs help you endure during challenging seasons?

5. Mark 13:5 tells us Jesus’ primary reason for telling His disciples what signs would precede the end of the age.

-Why do you suppose this was so important?

-How does this verse help us to put the rest of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 13 into context?

6. Verses 5-13 describe events that are NOT signs of the end. And yet we often hear when a new war breaks out, a destructive hurricane or tsunami happens, or any number of other world events, that these are “signs that the end is near.”

-How should we respond when we hear people say these things?

-How should we respond when we see these things happening around us?

-Is there such a thing as “signs of the times”? How do you know?

7. Biblical Scholar N.T. Wright has this to say, “The temple, while a symbol of Jewish identity and nationhood, by virtue of that intense focus, prevented Jews from liberally making God’s blessing available to those who weren’t Jews.”

-How can focusing on our own identity prevent us from offering God’s blessing to those who aren’t like us or in our group?

-How have you seen religious symbols & institutions create barriers?

-How can these barriers be addressed or overcome?

8. Many New Testament Scholars believe that the “Abomination of Desolation” that Jesus speaks of is Rome who came into the Temple in A.D. 70 and set up pagan symbols before ultimately destroying the Temple.

-What options have you heard for the identification of the “abomination of desolation” Jesus speaks of?

9. Many scholars point to Mark 13:30 as evidence that Jesus (like many of his contemporaries) was expecting the end of the world to come at any moment. He seems to be saying that within a generation (typically 40 years) all these things will happen, both the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Son of Man. And yet…here we are 2000 years later and we are still waiting.

-How do we reconcile Jesus’ words with reality?

-If you could pick when Jesus came back…when would you pick?

10. In Mark 13:32 Jesus says there is something he doesn’t know (the day or the hour) of the events he is describing. He doesn’t seem to know when the Temple will be destroyed or when the Son of Man will come.

-How do you understand Jesus being fully divine and yet also not being all-knowing?

11. There have been a number of people both in the ancient and modern world who wrote about prophecy and tried to figure out precise timing of events.

-What is your experience with doomsday prophets & predictions of the end of the world?

-What does this passage teach us about leaving such issues to God and trusting him when the future is not entirely clear?

12. Jesus does not command his disciples (or us) to sit down and work out a prophetic timetable. Instead, six times he says “Keep awake and watch!” (Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33, 35, 37) and emphasized the importance of endurance and staying faithful until the end.

-What does endurance look like for you in your spiritual journey?

-How do you maintain your faith amidst chaos and uncertainty?

-What does Jesus mean by this command & how can we carry it out?

13. Jesus’ teaching in Mark 13 can bring up a variety of questions, thoughts, and feelings.

-What are the questions you have as you work through this chapter?

-What are the thoughts you have as you work through this chapter?

-What are the emotions you have as you work through this chapter?

PRAYER PROMPT:

Take time together as a group to pray for the millions of Christians around the world who face life & death situations because of their faith. Then pray for each other as you “watch” together, remaining faithful to the end.

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