Sudden Impact: Powerful Encounters with the Real JesusSudden Impact: Powerful Encounters with the Real Jesus
Mark Ashton
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Men left their careers to follow him. Prostitutes and extortionists reformed their ways. Grief-stricken women regained lost loved ones. One religious leader sought his wisdom while others sought to kill him. Taking a compelling look at six very different encounters with Jesus and their impact on real, flesh-and-blood people, Sudden Impact helps you consider how you might respond if Jesus entered your world and turned it upside down. Six lessons with icebreakers and a leader's guide are included.

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Discussion 2



Gather together a small stack of Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, or other news magazines. Page through the magazines and look for evidence in ads, articles, or pictures that we live in a messed-up world.

Read Mark 2:1—12

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying. “We have never seen anything like this!”


1. By this point Jesus is already getting a reputation as a great teacher and healer. How do the people of Capernaum respond to him when he arrives?


2. Imagine you are a person in the house where Jesus was teaching. Describe the sights, sounds, smells, and emotion.


3. What extreme lengths were the paralytic’s friends willing to go to in order to get him to Jesus? What does this tell you about their attitude toward Jesus?


4. Judging by Jesus’ reaction to the paralytic being let down, what did he see as the paralytic’s greatest need, and why?


Today we often overestimate our own righteousness because we compare ourselves to other humans. But if we were to compare ourselves to God’s moral perfection, we might grade ourselves a little lower. In order to understand something about God’s standards, take a look at this “sin list”:1

Lack of Love

Is there anyone against whom you hold a grudge?
Is there any person against whom you are harboring bitterness, resentment, or jealousy?
Do you quarrel, argue, or engage in heated discussion?
Are there people whom you deliberately slight or discount?
Do you have a complaining spirit?
Are you irritable, cranky, or impatient?
Have you recently been harsh or unkind?
Do you carry hidden anger?
Do you speak unkindly concerning people when they are not present?


Do you have a critical attitude toward any person, thing, or group?
Are your statements mostly about “I”?
Have you made a pretense of being something you are not?
Do you have a stubborn or unteachable spirit?
Do you insist on having your own way?
Are you more concerned about what people will think than what will be pleasing to God?


Do you have any personal habits that are not pure?
Do you indulge in any pornography?
Do you allow impure thoughts about sex to stay in your mind?
Are you addicted to anything—food, television, pleasure, alcohol, drugs, sports, the Internet, etc.?
Are you in any way careless with your body?
Is there anything (or anyone) you are jealous of?
Have you recently lied, exaggerated, or embellished the truth?
Do you follow through on your promises?

Spiritual Apathy and Laziness

Who is at the center of your life—you or God?
Is there anything in which you have failed to put God first?
Do you waste time or procrastinate?
Do you do your work “with all your heart”?
Do you have a thankful heart toward God?
Are you unwilling to obey God fully?
Is your life marked by too much busyness that keeps you from hearing or responding to God?
Are you honoring God with your finances?
Have you recently extended yourself in any way toward the poor, the imprisoned, the sick, or the elderly?
Are you getting enough rest, and practicing a day of rest and worship?
Do you have a heart of love for those you know who are far from God?
Are you filled with anxiety and worry?
Have you been a joyful person lately?

5. Compare your character to God’s high standards. How do you measure up in each of the areas?

• Lack of love


• Pride


• Impurity


• Spiritual apathy and laziness


6. Jesus forgave the paralytic before he healed him, perhaps because he thought this was man’s greatest need. Do you think forgiveness is everyone’s greatest need? Why or why not

7. Why were the teachers of the law irritated by what Jesus said?

8. Jesus asks a rhetorical question: “Which is easier to say . . .“ Of the two options, it’s obvious which one would be easier to see whether it came true or not. So why do you think Jesus poses this question at this point?

9. In what ways was Jesus convincing—or not—in demonstrating his authority to forgive sins?



Have you—or anyone you know or have known—lived up to God’s morals for your whole life? For the past year? For the past week? If not, how close are you?

All of us have sinned in some way or another. (That’s why we get that guilty feeling when we read over the “sin list.”) But there’s good news: Jesus did not come to beat us up over our sins. As a matter of fact, Jesus saw the forgiving of people’s sin—yours and mine—as his greatest mission on earth.

During the next week, remember the list of God’s standards. Keep track of how your life compares to them. And then imagine how refreshing it would be to have them all wiped out of God’s record book through Jesus’ forgiving power.


1Adapted from a message by Nancy Beach, New Community, Willow Creek Community Church, 2000.