Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Where would you turn to get an exact definition of a word? to learn which new car is the most reliable? to keep up on current events? Explain your reasons for doing so.
2. What are some differences between a person who is authoritativeand a person who is authoritarian? While both words describe someone who has the power to act and the right to command, how does each type of person establish authority?
Read Mark 1:16-20.
1. Have you ever met someone you could call a “professional student,” a person who was always in school but never held a job? Separate the two clauses (separated by “and”) in verse 17. Explain how that verse shows that Jesus was inviting his first disciples both to learn and to practice what they would be taught.
2. Jesus’ encounter with these disciples described here was not the first time they met him. Skim through John 1:29—2:11, verses that recount events of about a year before. How did the first disciples become convinced of Jesus’ authority?
Read Mark 1:21-24.
3. Recall teachers you have had in the past. Can you think of one who just “taught the textbook?” Can you think of another you considered to be an expert on his or her subject? How could you distinguish one from another? From which one did you learn more? Why?
4. What does it mean when someone argues that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” How would the words of the man described in verses 23 and 24 be more likely to convince others in the synagogue to accept Jesus’ authority rather than reject it?
Read Mark 1:25-28.
5. Underline the word authority in verses 22 and 27. Contrast the reasons for describing Jesus as authoritative in each case. What conclusion about the scope of Jesus’ authority would the people attending synagogue that day have drawn?
6. Briefly read through the account following our text (Mark 2:1-12). What point about the scope of his authority did Jesus make in this case? Why were Jesus’ claims/teaching and his actions both necessary in making that point?
7. Some argue that one should follow Jesus on an authoritarian basis—accept him as Savior or suffer eternal punishment. Try to construct an evangelistic strategy that presents Jesus on an authoritative basis—that he knows what people seek and has the power to supply that.