This week we see one of the darkest parts of Mark’s gospel- the death of John the Baptist. King Herod was conflicted by John’s ministry and John was conflicted by Jesus’ ministry.
Read Mark 6:14-29 and Matthew 11:1-11.
Simple Discussion Questions for Small Groups:
To start your group, have everyone share one way they have seen God at work in their life this week.
1. What doubts do you have about your faith, life, God, etc? Or what causes you to doubt? (Remember- doubt comes when our belief does not match our perceived reality).
2. How does the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus help answer doubts?
3. How can your doubts lead you to a deeper trust in Jesus?
4. Review the Fighter Verse- 1 Peter 3:15. but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Are you prepared to give the reason for your hope? How can you get prepared?
To close your group, have everyone share one challenge they will face this week. Have group members pray for each other as well as pray other Kingdom Centered Prayers.
For Deeper Discussion:
In what ways did Herod doubt (Mk. 6:20)? In what ways did John doubt (Mt. 11:3)?
How were Herod’s and John’s worldviews different?
*Note- Herod couldn’t make sense of John’s worldview. It was countercultural- lose everything to gain. Herod lived to gain everything in this life. John’s righteousness and his boldness caused Herod to doubt his own worldview.
*Note- John had doubts about Jesus because, like everyone else, he expected justice and defeat of God’s enemies. But Jesus came to show compassion and defeat the true spiritual enemies on the cross.
Doubts can help us to ask questions about the convictions in our life. How would you answer these core questions:
- What do you live for?
- What do you fear most?
- Who do you focus on?
Doubts also allow us to ask the most important question about Jesus- who do you say that Jesus is? How would you answer this question?
If your doubts come from suffering (like John), how can Jesus answer these doubts.
*Think about the suffering of Jesus, and how the gospel proves that suffering has meaning. If Jesus suffered, won’t we also suffer? If Jesus’ suffering had meaning (redemption) can’t out suffering also be redemptive?
If your doubts come from success (like Herod), how can Jesus answer these doubts?
*Think about how what makes us successful in this life doesn’t last, it doesn’t truly satisfy. It doesn’t provide ultimate meaning because it is not eternal and it is not the greatest good (God is).
What has power over you? Is it a position you hold? Is it a person? Is it a fear?
How can Jesus become the new power source of your life?
*Note- When we make anything or anyone our standard or hero they will crush us. John was crushing to Herod. These standards cannot be lived up to. The same is true if we simply make Jesus our example. He will crush us because we will never live up to it.
BUT if we let Jesus be our Savior he will never crush us, because he wants to rescue us. Yes, the standard of his life seems crushing but he doesn’t ask you to live up to his life- he asks you to RECEIVE his life, for free!
In what ways do you need to make Jesus your Savior rather than your example?
Discussion Questions for Families
The Life of John the Baptist
1. Read Mark 1:1-4. Theme: John Prepared the Way for Jesus.
Talk to your children about messengers. What was John’s message to the people? How did John’s message prepare the way for Jesus?
2. Read John 1:29-34. Theme: The Lamb of God.
Review with your children the sacrificial system of the Israelites. Why did they have to sacrifice animals? Talk about how the sacrifices covered up sins. Why would John call Jesus the Lamb of God? Help your children to see that Jesus didn’t just cover up sins, but he erased all sins (Hebrews 10:10).
3. Read Matthew 11:1-11. Theme: Everyone Doubts.
Ask your children about what confuses them or causes them to doubt. Let them know that it is ok to have doubts even about God. Doubts help us to ask questions- and that is a good thing!
What doubts did John have about Jesus?
4. Read Mark 6:14-29 (note: this story is a bit violent). Theme: Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
Ask your kids to think through why John died- why did King Herod kill him?
Help your children to see that God doesn’t always prevent bad things from happening. But in the middle of these bad things we are asked by God to be bold and this shows that God is real and can be trusted because he has made a place in Heaven for us.
Here’s a good introductory video about John the Baptist for kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OO84K9RuF0