A purpose bridge helps bridge the gap between the Bible and your lifestyle. It’s where faith intersects life.
Sometimes it is a huge challenge to figure out how a text applies to life. Other times it is fairly simple if you put in just a little effort. But either way, the important thing is to get all that you can from it.
Remember that there are 3 levels every lesson should have.
- The facts. What is the text saying? What does it mean?
- The beliefs. What am I supposed to think, believe, or do based on this text?
- The motives. Why should I think, believe or do this? What benefit will I see if I follow through on these things?
The best lessons address all three of the above.
We’re looking at Mark 1:16-39 and the heart of that text is this: Jesus’ leadership, authority, compassion, and focus expressed Deity.
That sentence represents the facts and purpose of the verses. As far as I can tell, that is what Mark intended to communicate when he wrote this part of the book. You can listen to the previous episode to see how I came to that conclusion.
And now we have to find application for ourselves.
Bible study without application is a waste of time. And I think it is why people do not spend time studying the Bible. Too many people have treated the Bible as a book of trivia or something that has no real value in life. But the more I study and the deeper I go with those studies, the more tools and helpful information I find there.
I also think that sometimes we come to the Bible with opposite expectations. We hear that it has the meaning for life and that it can transform us, so we go to it and read to find that transformation. Then we get disappointed because we don’t see what we thought we would see.
Where’s the explosive transformation everyone talks about? It just doesn’t happen. Certainly there are Aha! moments, but they tend to be small victories in little battles. It is the summation of those battles that bring about the great changes in people. The Bible can transform you in ways you cannot comprehend! But it does not happen overnight. It takes time. Thankfully, it does not take a lifetime to start seeing results! But you can spend a lifetime learning it and never get all you can out of it.
God is patient with us. And His word is patient also. Put in the effort and let your faith continue to grow. Soon you will see that you have come a long way! It’s an exciting and fulfilling journey!
Let’s jump into what we can learn here.
The basic approach I take for getting application from the text revolves around one simple question. “So what?” I find the heart of the passage and then ask that question.
So Jesus’ leadership, authority, compassion, and focus expressed Deity. So what? What does that mean? Why is that something important? These are valid questions, but many people in the religious world are told never to ask such things. Maybe you’ve been told directly or indirectly that it is not polite to question the relevance of religious ideas. Well, it doesn’t offend me to hear honest questions! I welcome them. I welcome them because I am also asking them! It’s all about finding the truth and applying it.
I couldn’t care less what some man or woman thinks about the world and religious matters–unless they are proving to me that their thoughts are coming from a place of seeking truth from God’s word. Then I will listen. But if they prove to me that they are not willing to learn and grow, or even if I suspect it, I am much more likely not to care about what they have to say. Are you that way?
Well, as long as we are being honest and fair, I think that is a healthy attitude to have.
So, answer that question for yourself.
What does it matter that Jesus expressed deity in the ways mentioned? What does it matter that Jesus expressed Deity at all?
From the standpoint of an atheist, the significance is found in the fact that DEITY was expressed. If it can be proven that Deity was expressed, then that would have a strong impact on him. But Mark was not primarily aimed at the atheists. Those have always been relatively rare in the world, and still are even though their numbers are growing. No, Mark seems to be writing to the person who already has some belief in God, at least to some degree, even if that belief is pagan. The things he says about Jesus is enough to make a person sit up and take notice.
6 Goals Involved in Going From a Text to a Lesson
- Share purpose. This relates to the 3 levels of a lesson cited in the top of this page.
- Approach the lesson from the perspective, foundation, and motivation of love. Never create a lesson for others so that you can “get them” or to convince them to do something in order to fulfill some selfish desire you have. (For example, don’t teach on giving just so you can hit the budget.)
- Consider your lesson preparation a service that you provide. Spend time thinking about them and how your message can help them in some way. If it cannot help them in some way, why are you teaching it to them? Find a way to help them through your lesson, or find another lesson.
- Make the invisible visible. Illustrations and examples are powerful. Try to pain pictures. Explain concepts in a way that helps people understand what is happening.
- Consider the source. Your purposes in developing a lesson from the text should compliment the intentions of the author. For example, if Samuel wrote to teach us how God develops leaders, we ought to keep that in mind when developing a lesson about David and Goliath.
- Consider the ‘before’, ‘during’, and ‘after’.
- Before: What can you do to help prepare your audience for your lesson? That could be as simple as having a good introduction. But be creative. Is there something that you could give them before they even receive a lesson from you?
- During: The reason you are teaching is to serve them. What is the best way for you to teach this lesson so that your audience has a better chance of understanding and remembering it? Creative approaches should be the norm, but often we simply rely on the common approaches.
- After: Follow up is part of serving. You are trying to help them. If you care about them as people, you might be concerned about whether they put your lesson into practice. As much as possible, try to plan out some way of doing a follow-up with them to reinforce your lesson.
These goals represent the starting point of a plan to get all you can from the text and have it make as large an impact as possible whether on yourself or others.
I began by looking at the pieces of this puzzle.
The sections were outlined in the previous episode and this is how I found the parts of the heart of the text.
Leadership refers to the fact that Jesus convinced these fishermen to give up all they had and follow him.
Authority refers to the teaching He did in the synagogue and casting out demons like it was no big deal at all.
Compassion relates to Jesus healing the sick.
Focus is about His priorities in going to other villages to preach when people sought Him where He was.
In meditating and praying about these facts, I eventually started to realize that Mark put these here to build faith, and that faith is not just a belief but a belief that results in ACTION. This helped me put together a picture in my mind–a picture of the responses that Mark’s message ought to generate in me.
When I look at the powerful leadership of Jesus, I think that it must be there to teach me to put my trust in Him. When I see men abandon their jobs and follow Him, I know that there is something here and it encourages me to trust in Him as well.
When I look at the authority of Jesus in teaching and His authority over the demonic forces out there, my trust grows more, but it also makes me recognize that I have good reason to submit myself to his instruction. I want even more to follow Him and follow His directions as He leads me in life.
When I look at His compassion, my devotion increases all the more. I know that He cares, that even with all of His power and authority, He is not a tyrant. And this pulls me along, more willing to submit to His leadership and authority.
And when I see His focus, I understand where He is leading me and I have purpose and a mission in life. This purpose beings more fulfillment and reminds me the compassion He has, not just for me but for others. And this makes me want to be even more dedicated to following Him.
And it all starts by recognizing the expression of Deity that caused a few men to step off their boats and learn more.
Mark beautifully outlines a progression for us.
Isn’t it fascinating that these are the exact steps our faith takes as it develops and grows? Isn’t it fascinating that the end result of this process is mission? And that mission is finding and helping lost souls like He did? And isn’t it fascinating that this is the VERY thing Jesus said He was going to do with those 4 fishermen who first followed Him?
Do you think this is all a coincidence? It can’t be.
So, for a purpose bridge, I want to show and encourage this process of growth–this development of faith in Jesus. And it begins with recognizing the expression of Deity from Jesus.
As I develop a lesson for myself, and eventually for application to other people, I need to focus on bringing out the expressions of Deity that Mark describes here. In doing that, I can help myself and others participate in the same process that developed faith in the early Apostles.
Once again, God’s Word proves itself to be powerful and alive! Now if only I can adequately represent what is so fascinating here!
Would you add to this? Have an opinion about any of this? Let me know in the comments below!