Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark 1–3does not contain any information about the birth or youth of Jesus. Mark’s account begins with the ministry of Jesus Christ, including His baptism and the calling of His disciples and Apostles. Notice how quickly Mark introduces Jesus’ miracles.
Prayerfully study Mark 1–3and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 43–45.
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Mark 1–3.
To help prepare your students for their study of Mark, share with them any of the information from the introduction to the book of Mark that you feel would be helpful. For example, you could illustrate the compact nature of Mark’s Gospel by writing the following events on the board: The birth of Jesus, His baptism by John the Baptist, and The calling of Simon Peter and Andrew. Have your students find those events in the first four chapters of Matthew. Then have them begin reading in Mark 1and compare how many verses it takes Mark to tell about these same events. (Note: Mark does not include an account of the birth of Jesus.)
To show Mark’s emphasis on the miracles of Jesus, tell students that Matthew does not tell of Jesus performing a miracle until Matthew 8:2–3. Have them continue reading in Mark 1until they find the first miracle mentioned by Mark (see Mark 1:23–25). Point out to students that Mark emphasizes the actions and miracles of the Lord, while Matthew places more emphasis on His teachings. Explain that even though much of the material in Mark is also in the other Gospels, Mark does provide a unique perspective in his testimony of Jesus Christ.
As students enter class, “disable” them with a physical disability. For example, put a blindfold over students’ eyes, put one of their arms in a sling, bind their legs together so they can’t walk, or bandage their mouths so they can’t talk. (Be sensitive to those who may have an actual disability. Ask any of your students who have disabilities beforehand what would be offensive or embarrassing to them. Note however that their answers to the questions in this lesson may be especially meaningful.)
After allowing students to experience their “disabilities” for five to ten minutes, ask:
How did it feel to be physically “disabled”?
What difficulties did you experience as a result of your “disability”?
How might you feel if you had this disability your whole life?
Have the students write “Mark 1:23–2:12” at the top of a sheet of paper. Tell them that these verses contain accounts of people who were disabled in various ways. Have them read the verses and write the answers to the following questions about each afflicted person they read about:
What disability afflicted this person?
What miracle did Jesus perform to help the person?
What, if anything, did the person do to aid in the miracle?
Do healings happen today? (Help students understand that Christ is able to heal physical disabilities today; see Mormon 9:15.)
What blessing might be greater than having a physical disability healed?
Write the following statement by President Harold B. Lee on the board:
“The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 178; or Ensign, July 1973, 123).
Ask students what they think President Lee meant.
Why would the healing of sick souls be greater than the healing of sick bodies?
Do you believe the Savior has power to heal us from spiritual disabilities?
Reread Mark 2:5–12 and have students look for evidence of Jesus’ power to heal people from sin. Help students compare spiritual infirmities with physical disabilities by asking the following questions:
What would it mean to be spiritually blind, deaf, or lame?
How do spiritual weaknesses or sins “disable” us?
If you had both a physical and spiritual disability, which one would you most want to have healed? Why?
Read Alma 7:11–13and help students know and feel that the Savior has power to heal our physical and spiritual disabilities.
As a class, sing a hymn about prayer, such as “Sweet Hour of Prayer” (no. 142) or “Did You Think to Pray?” (no. 140). Ask students to explain the message of the hymn. Invite students to think to themselves whether they prayed this morning. Ask:
Why do people choose to pray?
What are some reasons people neglect to pray?
Invite one or two students who would like to share their testimony of prayer to do so.
Invite students to read Mark 1:35and consider the following questions:
How does the message of the hymn we sang apply to this verse?
Why do you think Jesus prayed?
What blessings could come from getting up “a great while before day” to pray?
How does it help you when you pray in a “solitary place”?
What other people in the scriptures do you know who sought a quiet place so they could pray and be alone with God?
Read the following statements or give them to students as a handout.
President Spencer W. Kimball, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:
“Solitude is rich and profitable. When we pray alone with God, we shed all sham and pretense, all hypocrisy and arrogance. The Savior found his mountains and slipped away to pray. Paul, the great apostle, could not seem to get into the spirit of his new calling until he had found cleansing solitude down in Arabia. He went into solitude a worldly man and came out cleansed, prepared, regenerated. … Enos found his solitary place in the forest. Moriancumer went to the mountain top to ask the Lord to touch the stones to light his people’s way. And Nephi learned to build a ship through communication with his Lord on a mountain far from human ears. Joseph Smith found his solitude in the grove with only birds and trees and God to listen to his prayer. In solitude we, too, may pray with greater depth and fervor” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 209).
Bishop H. Burke Peterson, who was then a member of the Presiding Bishopric, said:
“As you feel the need to confide in the Lord or to improve the quality of your visits with him—to pray, if you please—may I suggest a process to follow: go where you can be alone, go where you can think, go where you can kneel, go where you can speak out loud to him. The bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet will do. Now, picture him in your mind’s eye. Think to whom you are speaking, control your thoughts—don’t let them wander, address him as your Father and your friend. Now tell him things you really feel to tell him—not trite phrases that have little meaning, but have a sincere, heartfelt conversation with him. Confide in him, ask him for forgiveness, plead with him, enjoy him, thank him, express your love to him, and then listen for his answers. Listening is an essential part of praying. Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 13; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 19).
Encourage students to improve the quality of their prayers by seeking a time and place daily where they can be alone and commune with the Lord through prayer.
Before class, list on the board some popular teenage activities that are within Church standards, such as soccer, swimming, reading, basketball, dancing, working, studying, singing, shopping, eating, and sleeping. Review the list with the class and ask if the Lord approves of each of these activities.
Write the heading Sabbath Guidelines on another part of the board. Have students read Mark 2:23–3:5looking for what the disciples did that led the Pharisees to accuse them of Sabbath-breaking. Ask: What did the Savior teach in these verses about the purposes of the Sabbath? (List responses on the board under Sabbath Guidelines. )
Tell students that Jewish tradition added so many restrictions to keeping the Sabbath day holy that instead of a day of rest it became a great burden. Jesus taught, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). In other words, the Lord established the Sabbath for our blessing.
Stress to students that the phrase “the sabbath was made for man” does not mean we can do anything we choose on the Sabbath. That would mean disregarding others of the Lord’s directives given in the scriptures (see Exodus 20:8–11; D&C 59:9–14) and through His modern prophets and apostles. Read the Joseph Smith Translation of Mark 2:26–27. Tell students that these verses give two additional purposes of the Sabbath: to rest and glorify God. (Add these to the “Sabbath Guidelines” column on the board.) Explain that since Jesus made the Sabbath day, He has authority over it.
Invite a student to read to the class the “Sabbath Day Observance” section in For the Strength of Youth ([pamphlet, 2001], pp. 32–33).
What other guidelines are given in this pamphlet for the Sabbath?
How can these guidelines help us gain spiritual strength, rest from our labors, and glorify God?
Add some of the guidelines from For the Strength of Youth to the “Sabbath Guidelines” column on the board. Refer students to the list of activities. Tell them that although all these activities are appropriate for six days of the week, some may not be appropriate for the Sabbath.
Which of these activities would be appropriate for the Sabbath?
What else could we do on the Sabbath to help glorify God?
Discuss with your students some of the blessings of keeping the Sabbath holy by reading any of the following statements you feel would be helpful.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“As we move forward into a wonderful future, there are what some may regard as the lesser commandments but which are also of such tremendous importance.
“I mention the Sabbath day. The Sabbath of the Lord is becoming the play day of the people. It is a day of golf and football on television, of buying and selling in our stores and markets. Are we moving to [the mainstream] as some observers believe? In this I fear we are. …
“Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow the Church across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. He has so very clearly spoken anciently and again in modern revelation. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69).
Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
“In this day of increasing access to and preoccupation with materialism, there is a sure protection for ourselves and our children against the plagues of our day. The key to that sure protection surprisingly can be found in Sabbath observance” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 47; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).
Elder John H. Groberg, a member of the Seventy, said:
“There is power in keeping the Sabbath day holy—power to help others as well as ourselves. If we would have God’s blessings and protection as individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, we must keep His Sabbath day holy” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 81).
Conclude by bearing testimony of the blessings that have come to you from following this commandment.