Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Challenge of Difficult Passages

It is a very interesting day today but for some reasons, I cannot disclose it. Just take it that God does have a sense of humour, a big one and a dry one at that.

What was exciting though was the Take up the Challenge session we had during the Youth bible study in the afternoon. I challenged them to take on 2 difficult, really difficult passages from the Gospel of Mark.

Mark 7:26-30
The Syrophoenician Woman
Mark 11:12-14
The Cursing of the Fig Tree

I broke them into 4 groups of 5 each. Got them to read each one of the 2 passages, and the verses surrounding it for context. Their challenge was to ask 20 questions and if they can, to interpret the passages as well. But time ticked on, and so I gave them a discount – 10 questions would be good enough.

The purpose of the exercise was to get them to think and think actively about the passages, to have them realise that we must ponder and agonise over God’s word and the outcome will be awesome.

The results?

An intriguing and beneficial one and a half hours of questions and answers I must say (but with 2 “bobbing” heads as well since it was held during the dead of hour from 2-4 pm.)

Questions asked include:

The Syrophoenician Woman
· What does the bread, children and dog represent?
· Why wasn’t the woman angry?
· Why should the children eat all they want?
· Why didn’t Jesus just heal?
· Why is it not good to throw the bread to the dogs?
· How was the demon driven out of the woman’s daughter?
· What is the significance of the crumbs?
· Why did Jesus say “because of this answer”?
· What does this have to do with the clean-unclean debate that happened before this?
· Why were the disciples regarded as “dull” in the passage before this and what was the connection?

The Cursing of the Fig Tree
· Why the mention of the fig tree “in leaf”?
· Are there any emphasis to it not being bare?
· Why did Jesus curse when it wasn't a season for figs?
· Why didn’t Jesus “forgive” the tree?
· Why didn’t the tree die immediately?
· Was it important that the disciples were listening?
· What was Jesus thinking when he was cursing?
· Why did Mark use the Sandwich Technique?
· Where’s the meat?
· What has the cursing and dying of the fig tree got to with faith and prayer?

Did it make you think as well? The youth thought hard and they listened hard, which was no doubt a hard thing to do at four in the afternoon. The results amazed me - they were engaged, they were interested, they suggested meaning, and they asked more.

Learners do desire some challenges once in awhile.



  1. hey!! Impactful! I've learn alot.. both from the stories - MORE Faith in God and being Fruitful like The Fig Tree ;)

  2. :) glad you learnt a lot and at the same time enjoyed it, you did right? =)