Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. If you were to find the proverbial magic lamp and were granted three wishes, what would they be? Were any of your wishes related to safety/security? How about desires/appetites? Did any relate to deeper understanding/relationships?
2. Give yourself one minute to make two lists: 1) things that I don’t have but want and 2) things that I have and for which I am grateful. Which list was easier to create quickly, off the top of your head? Do you think it is easier for most people to list their wants or to list the blessings they already have? Explain.
Read Mark 8:14-18.
1. The Old Testament law commanded that households be cleansed of yeast/leaven in preparation for the Passover, the celebration of freedom from Egypt. With that in mind, what do you think Jesus was implying when he spoke about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod? What could not happen if their “yeast” was present?
2. Review the five questions Jesus asked in verses 17 and 18. Do you think he expected an answer, or were the questions rhetorical—having an obvious answer? If so, what was Jesus saying about his disciples’ priorities?
Read Mark 8:19-21.
3. Mark’s Gospel focuses on Jesus’ miracles and how they relate to one another. Note the common theme of his “boat miracles”—4:35-41 (especially v. 39) and 6:45-52 (especially v. 51a). What do they say about safety and security?
4. Mark includes two “bread miracles”—6:30-44 and 8:1-10. What do they teach about appetite and hunger? After both bread events the disciples were back in a boat, and they received the same evaluation of their “heart condition” (6:52; 8:17). What is the common theme of all four of these miracles?
Read Mark 8:22-26.
5. In this miracle, a man’s eyes were literally opened and his vision restored. How do we use those terms (having one’s eyes opened, getting vision) figuratively? Look back at Jesus’ question in verse 21. Do you see a relationship between the gradual restoration of a man’s sight and the figurative eyes of the disciples’ hearts being opened?
6. Move beyond our lesson text to vv. 27-30 and 9:2-8. What was the eye-opening revelation that finally came after the disciples had witnessed miracle after miracle?
7. This week be mindful of what you ask for in your prayers—especially safety/security and desires/appetites prayers. Allow those prayers to mature into the understanding/vision/relationship prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19a.