with the Word online Bible study: inner and outer


Mark 1.21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

What do you hear in this story? What questions do you have? What do you wonder about?

Can you imagine this scene? Imagine someone with amazing authority–the kind that comes from within, where the person just radiates authenticity and knowledge and grace and truth. Imagine that person preaching in our church…and then a disruption.

What are you thinking when this disruption happens? What do you feel? What are your immediate reactions to this man, his appearance, his outburst? What do you think of what he says?

When Jesus heals the man, he changes him–not from the outside in, but from the inside out. Jesus calls out transformation. The man was likely still just as unsavory looking, just as frustrating to behold or to be around, just as dirty (maybe even more so, since he’s just been thrown to the floor!), but nonetheless he is changed. Jesus is interested here in the man’s inner self, not in his outer appearance.

Have you ever been caught up in someone’s (or your own!) outer appearance, while neglecting the inner self? What kind of transformation is most attractive to you–inner or outer transformation?

Makeovers, plastic surgery, diets and exercise fads are a multi-billion dollar industry in our culture. But inner transformation is usually left out of the picture. What do you think about that? How do you participate in that culture? How do we pass it on to our youth and children? Is it what we want to pass on?

Jesus teaches with authority, and transforms people in ways we can’t even imagine. Do you have any experience of Jesus transforming your life? What is that like? How can you help others to find that kind of transformative good news?

Read the story again. What music do you hear as the soundtrack to this part of the film? What other stories or characters or moments or novels or movies come to mind? What good news do you hear for our community, or for you individually?


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