Once again, there is a whole lot here. I am going to concentrate on the parable of the sower and soil while providing more questions than you can use with the rest of the passage. Pick out what your group needs to concentrate on and touch lightly on the rest. Concentrate on one issue for the day.
1. These lessons are used under a licensing arrangement with Lifeway Resources. To learn about many of the fine products that they have available, call them at 1 (800) 458 2772.
2. Mark 3:13-4:34
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.  He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach  and to have authority to drive out demons.  These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter);  James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder);  Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot  and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."
 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.  I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
 He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
 "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
[4:1] Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.  He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:  "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
 Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables  so that,
" 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'"
 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?  The farmer sows the word.  Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."
 He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
 "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
 He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
 Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."
 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.  He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
3. Heavy, long term accountability doesn't work in an open, Sunday School type group, but you can do some light, week-to-week accountability.
4. Jesus came for a purpose. That purpose was to be betrayed, turned over to the authorities, crucified, resurrected, and in doing so to pay the penalty for our sins. Judas was part of the plan.
5. I don't mean for these lessons to replace good study in quarterlies, teaching helps and commentaries. A lot of guys smarter than me have written some good stuff on this. I trust you are doing some reading during the week to inform you on this. Good Sunday School is more than pooled ignorance. You make sure you are bringing some clear thinking truth to the table. Life way resources offers a good number of helpful products.
6. Another difficult passage to understand. Again, consult the commentaries.
7. I have in minds something like this:
|Type of Soil||What happened|
|Soil on the path||Satan takes the seed away.|
|Rocky soil||Receive it with joy. Trouble or persecution come, the fall away.|
|Thorns||The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.|
|Good soil||Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."|
8. Probably for most of us it happens several times a month. We hear sermons that warm our hearts, but they do not change our lives.
9. Jack Taylor did a series of messages once on praise that I was privileged to enjoy. My life has never been the same.
10. This is the verse I call the most convicting verse in all the Bible. But, through the process of reproduction and multiplication, it can be achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.
11. By working together in groups to double every two years or less. Not personal reproduction, group reproduction. Each one using their gifts to grow their group to double every two years or less and doubling the church in our countries every 20 years or less. In many parts of the world, this is already taking place. My father estimates that the work in the Philippines where they served our Lord as missionaries has doubled every ten years. The gospel should grow rapidly.
12. What an opportunity to do some vision casting around the goal of doubling your class every two years or less. Explain how you can use the ministry of hospitality. Explain about inviting every member and every visitor to every fellowship every month. Invite a team to help you by serving as inreach leaders, outreach leaders and so forth.