1. What subject guarantees to spark the greatest debate in your family or circle of acquaintances?


This story takes place during a heated debate between several religious groups and Jesus. Earlier in Mark 12 we see: 1) The Pharisees — who accepted the written scriptures as well as the hundreds of oral laws, traditions, rules, and regulations. 2) The Sadducees — a small aristocratic, wealthy group who accepted the written law only. Most of the priests, including those in the office of High Priest were Sadducees. Typically, they supported and worked with the Roman government. 3) The Herodians — Jewish supporters of Herod Antipas, a Jewish political leader who collaborated with the Romans. This collaboration would require a compromised observance of Mosaic law. 4) The teacher (scribe) — (the one asking the question of Jesus).  The role of the scribe was to interpret the law with its many rules and regulations, know and apply the oral law.

All these groups argued among themselves, but they had one thing in common—Jesus’ message of grace was upsetting, so they wanted him gone. The one question that often came up in these debates was the one the teacher asked Jesus.

God’s Story

Before reading this part of the story, silently review verses 1-28. Imagine the banter and noise all around as you observe this scene from behind a large column. Now read Mark 12: 28-34. Before continuing, take a 30-second pause and listen to the deafening silence after Jesus’ response.

Finding My Story in God’s Story

2. As an outsider, filming this debate, what do you think would make your video go viral?

    1. The religious and political leaders trying to out yell each other.
    2. The one wise guy who asks, “Of all the commandments, which is most important?”
    3. The crowd’s response.
    4. Jesus’ response to the teacher.
    5. Other __________.

3. In your most honest moments, which of these groups do you relate to most?

    1. The Pharisees — I love God’s law and try to follow it to the best of my understanding, but sometimes I’m judgmental.
    2. The Sadducees — I’m a Christian, so I expect more privileges.
    3. The Herodians — God and country, my faith and politics go hand in hand.
    4. The teacher (scribe) — I ask the right questions.
    5. Other __________.

4. What have you argued about when it comes to religion?

    1. The way worship is done.
    2. Church politics.
    3. Decisions made by a church leader.
    4. Who and what we accept and don’t accept.
    5. Other __________.

5. Why do you think no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions?

    1. He had the perfect answer.
    2. After all the arguing there was nothing left to say.
    3. This guy Jesus is scary.
    4. He just might know more than the rest of us!
    5. Other __________.

6. As you ponder Jesus’ response, where do you need the most help?

    1. My heart — to pour my life out for others and be playful.
    2. My soul — to focus on the Spirit and be unafraid to risk for Jesus.
    3. My mind — to be wise and full of faith.
    4. My strength — to be the fox hole buddy others can depend on.
    5. Other __________.

7. How do you know when love for your neighbor and yourself is in balance?

    1. When I am not judging.
    2. When I’m free to not think of myself first.
    3. When involvement with others is mutually beneficial/satisfying
    4. When I realize that someone who I was helping has helped me
    5. Other __________.

Our Story

8. Who is that person (no names, please) you find challenging to love as much as you love yourself? What are you willing to do for/with them this week?

9. What makes it a challenge for you to love yourself? How can this group help?

    1. Challenge — Give me a kick in the pants to get me moving.
    2. Encourage — Give me a pat on the back and a word of courage.
    3. Instruct — Give me guidance to set me straight.
    4. Pray — Cover me with God’s grace.
    5. Other __________.

10. How can this group pray for you and support you this week in your next steps toward loving the “difficult” person you described earlier?