Mark 2:1-12 | A Humble Door to Experiencing God | Outdoor Bible Study

Renewing Your VISION in the Wilderness (a VISION Inductive Bible Study on Mark 2:1-12)

How Repentance and Confession of Sins is the Doorway to Experiencing God…

Biblical Literature Genre: Gospels

Age Group: Any

Setting : 1) River Crossing (where the group is helping one another across the river), 2) A difficult day of climbing or paddling where people are aware of carrying the weight on their back or feeling the burden of paddling a heavy load or against the wind, etc…. When we feel physically stretched we are often more open and desire to experience God and his closeness.

Timing: 1) If someone in the group is struggling and others begin carrying some of their weight to help out, 2) Any time the group is feeling heightened emotional or physical needs…

Set up: 1) Stop the group along the journey and ask some questions of the group about how they are doing so they become aware of the setting and their state of being, 2) Hand out the following questions or read a few of them to have the group write them in their journal for study during quiet time, 3) Send out the group for 20-30 minutes of time alone with God… encourage the group to find some space away from other people to consider the following questions… 4) An alternative would be to lead a 45 minute inductive study with the whole group using the same questions but you facilitating the discussion.


V: VERSE: Mark 2:1-12

When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,”Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”


•           Make a list of the people involved in this story?

•           What are some things we learn from the text about each of them?  (Or have individuals in the group pick a person in the passage and focus on what they learn about them).


•           What are some reasons why Jesus might have spoken to the paralyzed man about sin before dealing with his physical need?

•           Why do you think Jesus might have had for also healing the paralyzed man?


•           Jesus talks about his ability to forgive sins.  Do you think forgiveness of sins is a need that people have today?

•           Is forgiveness of sins a need you have experienced in your own life?


•           How, if ever, has forgiveness been important to you?

•           Do you extend forgiveness to other people who sin against you as freely as Jesus extended forgiveness to the man in this story?

•           The people in the story thought the man’s physical ailment was his biggest need, but Jesus did not agree—he saw his need for forgiveness of sins as a much greater need because it has such long-term consequences.  Which of your personal needs occupy most of your time and energy worrying about? Could it be that repentance of your sins is a much more important need than the things that occupy your mind and cause you to feel anxious?

N: NUISANCE (anticipated obstacles)

•           How might I be distracted by focusing on my immediate physical or emotional needs today rather than on my daily need to repent and confess my sins to Christ. If humility and brokenness are the doorway to experiencing God and his love, then what stops me from daily confession and repentance?  Focusing on my temporal needs can produce bitterness and entitlement, whereas focusing on humbling myself before Jesus through confession produces a grateful attitude and the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Followup: At lunch or dinner have the group bring their journals to the meal and have everyone sit in a circle and have a discussion.  Ask the questions and invite people to share what they wrote down.  Make sure to wrap up the discussion about what they learned about experiencing God with ideas how we can apply what we’ve learned to our individual lives as well as to our whole group and/or church, etc….

by Ashley Denton

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12 thoughts on “Mark 2:1-12 | A Humble Door to Experiencing God | Outdoor Bible Study

  1. The question, “What are some reasons why Jesus might have spoken to the paralyzed man about sin before dealing with his physical need?”, made me think about my motivations for desiring physical health and ability. When I first read this passage, it seemed silly that Jesus, who had the power to heal this man, first declared forgiveness on Him. In a situation where so many people were watching, why wouldn’t Jesus show his glory right away by healing him? But this is why Jesus came: to forgive. Healing without forgiveness would have gotten the paralytic nowhere. Although he would have been able to take care of himself, he never would have been able to take care of his sin without the power of Jesus. In a physically taxing environment, like the setting suggested to do this Bible study in, it’s easy to focus on your weakness and think that if it was improved, everything would be peachy: If only I was stronger, or tougher, or taller, or smaller…everything would be easier. In these moments of weakness, we realize our weakness in other areas of life and our need for a savior. We can fix ourselves up outwardly by other means, but without the forgiveness and love of Christ, this change will mean nothing.

  2. Mark 2:1-12 is an excellent look into community and friendships. What really stands out to me is the way that the paralytic man’s friends did something inconvenient and difficult in order to care for him. It would not be uncommon for a disabled person to be left to fend for himself. But his friends decided to share in his physical burden. An amazing part of this is that they not only cared for his physical needs, but they also enabled him to be cared for spiritually. This led to both physical and spiritual freedom. True community and evangelism should look like this.

    I think this passage has deep implications for the group dynamic, especially when used at a time that some members may be struggling. Just as we can care for and empower each other in the outdoors, we can care for and enable them to experience Christ and His power of forgiveness. Using this type of study and technique allows students to discover principles such as these on their own and apply them to the outdoors. I would to try using
    this study and see the variety of life and spiritual lessons that were discovered in allowing students to experience and ponder this alone, and together.

  3. The beginning to any good Bible study is to dive right into scripture. The VISION technique described in this post gives the members of a study group a chance to experience the hermeneutical circle first hand. That is, after reading the text, the reader then makes contextual connections and further applies them as they re-read the passage. It is key for a study group leader to encourage the members to read, read, read, and read the text again and again so that when they use the VISION technique, they can fully grasp the glory in God’s truth. Not only would this guide work for a Bible study in an outdoor context, but this could greatly benefit even those of boring indoor studies. Joke. But seriously, I can see wonderful things coming out of a study like this. Out of the two teaching options provided, I believe the solo experience would be the most impactful for a group mostly because the quiet motions of God while someone is in solitude really pushes them to apply themselves into the word. Plus, I imagine that anyone who goes through this study alone would be ridiculously eager to get back to the group and share what God revealed to them, which in turn makes for some excellent group discussion! I will certainly be looking forward to the next time I have the opportunity to share the VISION study method with my bible study.

  4. The VISION technique is a great way to truly gain an understanding of the passage. For outdoor leaders, it provides a a thorough but practical understanding of God’s teaching. The part that I most appreciate about this is the very beginning when the setting and timing is looked at. I feel that I’ve learned many Bible lessons but I have no idea when to apply them. Thinking ahead of time of when to apply such themes will make the study more effective and realistic. I also appreciate the anticipated obstacles section as I do not usually consider them within a Bible study. It would also greatly benefit groups by encouraging them to think about future issues. This strategy would get the lesson to stick better when teaching it.

  5. Thanks for this post, it is definitely important to realize that we are a broken and fallen creation that needs God’s grace. Like you were talking about in this post it is important to bring our problems to God whether it be physical like a paralytic or mental like fear or just everything. That is why this post reminds me of God’s faithfulness to His creation just like how the paralytic and his four friends that lowered him down had faith Jesus was faithful to healing the paralytic because he had faith that Jesus could heal him.
    Thanks also for showing us a better way to inspect scripture and be able to see how people interpret different verses in scripture. It was a genius way to make bible reading into steps called “VISION” because this allows people to remember the steps and be able to implement it in their own teachings of scripture to groups as well. I feel like this would be good for people in any leadership or bible groups to know so that they can get people to think about what the scripture is saying to them. Even though this is very helpful, how would you go about talking to the outliers of a group who may not want to participate in the group questions or is struggling with the questions or the verse or if someone is too afraid of saying what he/she thought? The reason why I ask this is because if someone was to lead a group with some people that have accepted Jesus in their lives and people that have not I would think that people that had not accepted Jesus possibly would not be willing to participate in “VISION” and possibly want to spend their time drawing in their journals or something along that nature. What would you do to allow people that have not accepted Jesus yet to understand the verse if they are not willing to participate in “VISION” or how would you show them the importance of participating in “VISION?”

  6. I admire the way you implement the importance of forgiveness. Jesus taught on the importance of it and forgave those in need of it, which we all have need of it. I am personally reminded by God that forgiving is essential in order grow in Him. If you cannot forgive it shows that you think that you deserve justice or deserve something from the person you cannot forgive. The problem with this is that we are not entitled to anything in the first place, we are all sinful and deserve hell. being able to forgive shows that one understands the Lord has forgiven them of their sins. chains are broken, bonds are no more and you are free to live, free to run! Forgiveness is very important to show and to receive! This post has helped me understand how to give others experiential learning rather than just lecture. People will receive things more personally when forgiveness, boldness, love, support, or any noble characteristic is acted out rather than talked about. Thank you for showing how much you care for experiential learning while knowing the importance of digging deep into topics as well!

  7. I appreciated the way this post leads people to a deeper understanding of the word because it forces people to think critically over a piece of scripture. I got hit in between the eyes about the fact that I deal and think so much about my own physical needs that I forget that my biggest concern should be the health of my soul. One of the most important things is that man realizes that lessons throughout scripture can be applied to everyday life. So I love the idea of making them processes that after the facts have been laid on the table. The idea of the n in the vision study is important because so much is taken away from the truths of the gospel because of all the distractions that society has to offer. Nuisance is what the everyday grid is so I believe getting away and soaking up the peace that I found in the wilderness is a strong value that more people need to be exposed to.

  8. God always sees our hearts. He sees past what is on the outside and looks deep within our souls. It is in this place, in the deepest caverns of our hearts, that Jesus meets us and ministers to us. This post was such a great reminder of this fact. After reading this post, I found myself comforted by this truth that God, in His perfect love, will first minister to my heart before He answers my prayers for other requests. Indeed, this post helped put God’s agenda of answering prayer into perspective for me. With this, I was also reminded that Jesus is perfectly consistent in knowing what is truly best for my heart and soul. In fact, He knows what my soul needs more than I do. I am so glad that His nature is one in which pursuit of the spiritual need of the individual is greater than the desire to be recognized and praised by a crowd of multiple individuals. I think that others will be comforted by this truth as well. I also think that this post will teach other people something different. For example, I really think that this post will help others gain greater insight on how to lead an inductive Bible study. This post prepares leaders in how to ask inductive questions, and also in how to recognize the ideal set ups, settings, and timing for a specific Bible study. Thus, this post is a good tool in teaching leaders how to facilitate a contextually appropriate Bible study in the wilderness. For future blog posts, it may be interesting for others to provide insight on what yielded more fruitful results- the group journaling approach or openly discussing the mentioned questions. This information may allow leaders to better assess their group’s needs in relation to the presentation of the Bible study.

  9. I think this is a great outdoor bible study that utilizes the true meaning of this Bible passage. It is easy to read the Bible and pick out the surface level truths, but the VISION model, and these specific questions would help guide any person to dig deeper. As a whole, it is a great reminder to all to look inside ourselves beyond our human needs. The spiritual need for forgiveness is greater than any of us realize, but I think it is also important to speak of the difference between forgiving and not guarding your heart and doing the opposite. For me, I used to forgive others easily, but I forgot to look at the important factor of giving the person an opportunity to do the same thing again. It is also important to hold others accountable. But, in the end, the need to reflect on your own life is the importance of this Bible Study and passage. Thanks for posting!

  10. I like the way you set up this discussion. It is very clear, easy to remember, and applicable. The worst part about studying scripture in a group, I think, is having a bad leader who does not know how to lead the discussion. This VISION tactic, allows the group to read scripture, understand what it is trying to say, and apply it to their lives. I also appreciate how the first part of this strategy is to see how to group is doing. There may be some days where you won’t be able to get to a Bible study and people will just crash as soon as they set up camp. I think all leaders who plan on incorporating a Bible study to their day should read this article and incorporate this tactic.

  11. I like this set up as a time for guided reflection. Most of the quiet times that were “assigned” to me when I was younger were unguided and I was left fiddling with blades of grass or day dreaming because I didn’t know where to begin. I think I could picture myself and many of my friends who are youth leaders applying this to future ministry. I think the best reminder that this post could have given me is how simple the Bible can be if you read it the right way and ask the right questions. I would love to see some other questions that might be useful for walking through a passage as a group or even specific words or phrases that are key in understanding the passage.

  12. The method laid out in this post for studying the Bible and digging into a passage is intriguing to me. I appreciate how it comes at the passage from different aspects as well as endeavors to take all it can from it. This is a useful method to inductively study the Bible, and one that I can see myself using in the future. Since God reveals himself in the details as well as in the larger picture, it is helpful to examine the setting to find revelations of God’s character and/or deeper meaning. The Bible is complex as well as simple, and I think this method endeavors to look into both aspects. Additionally, the method is straightforward, and I think that people will find it easy to understand and track. Studying the Bible is essential to for a Christian to grow in one’s faith, and also for unbelievers to do in order to gather information about God and allow themselves to be influenced by His word. Additionally, since studying the Bible makes an outdoor adventure go smoother and increases the learning level, I would be interested to know the changes that accompany it and how the trip is adversely affected without the study. Also how one could integrate a quick Bible study into other activities, and what those activities could/should be.

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