Joshua 4:1-9; Mark 4:56

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you. Spend some time in worship.




Joshua 4:1-9
The crossing of the Jordan River on dry land was a new experience for most of the Israelites who walked into the Promised Land on that day. As a result of the people’s doubt when Moses had sent the spies into the Promised Land forty years before, God told them none of them who were living at that time would actually enter the land He had set aside for them. Only Joshua and Caleb had believed the land could be taken – and only these two survived to make the crossing. Whilst the people there on the day the Jordan stopped flowing would have known the stories of the way their families crossed the Red Sea as it dried up to enable them to do so, the event they now witnessed was a miracle.
For now – so many years later – it was evident that God was once again acting again on their behalf as He stopped the flow of water in the Jordan when the priests, carrying the Ark went into the river, and enabled all of His people to cross.
It would have been a ‘no-brainer’ for the Israelites to rush ahead and take Jericho as the people in the city were terrified of them. But God had other plans, and He told them to stop for a time. He gave them specific instructions. One representative from each of the twelve tribes was to gather a stone from the dry river bed, and then to take that stone and together build a memorial of the event on the banks of the river where they were camping. The stones would not have been pebbles, but would have been large enough for a substantial memorial to be built.
This memorial would cause future generations to ask their parents why it was there, and so enable each generation to teach those who followed about the great things God had done as they had entered the Promised Land. It was important for the people to pause and to ensure they would never forget God’s work on their behalf.
When this was done, Joshua himself gathered and built a memorial of the event in the riverbed, so that whenever the level of the waters of the Jordan dropped in times of drought, the memorial would be seen and people would remember God’s faithfulness.
Mark 15:46
The thirteenth stone was intended to stop anyone from stealing the body of Jesus and then claiming that He had risen from the dead as He had said He would. No one – not even the disciples – actually
believed this would happen. They could not imagine it in their wildest dreams. Joseph had closed the tomb with a round stone, like a cartwheel, that was commonly used for that purpose and that ran across the tomb’s entrance on a groove carved out of the rock. Matthew records that the High Priest gave
instructions for the tomb to be sealed with a large round stone so no such rumours could develop
(Matthew 25:66). Yet here was this stone, on the first day of the week, rolled to one side.


What family event do you commemorate each year? Why is it so important to you? How do you remember?


  • Have you ever explored a graveyard or garden or remembrance and read the epitaphs? How did you feel when you were doing it? Why is it important to remember those who have gone before us?
  • What story/stories did your grandparents tell you that are precious to you? Which ones will you pass on to future generations of your family – whether they are your own children or other young relatives? How will they know their history if you do not tell them? How can you help them to grow deeper roots in your shared family?
  • Looking back, to the good times and the bad, how can you see God’s hand in your life? How has He used your scars to mould you into the person you are becoming? Have you grown more during the good times or the painful ones? How can you use these experiences to encourage those who are going through hard times now?
  • When we pause, we create a space for God to heal our pain. What drives you forward? How often do you stop and just allow God minister to you – whatever the pain is that you are experiencing? Do you think you would benefit from such a time or miss out on life as it rushes past? Why do you think this? Are you willing to step aside for an hour, a day, a weekend, and spending time with God? What stops you from doing so?
  • The 13th stone stops light and life. It seems to be permanent. There is no hope with that stone in front of you. Yet the 13th stone across the entrance to the tomb was rolled away as Jesus rose to life, letting in life, hope and joy. What 13th stone are you facing at the moment that prevents you from being joyful? How would you feel if Jesus rolled it away?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?


Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.



If possible, arrange to spend some time with members of your family, especially over this Christmas season. Ask the older generation to share some of their stories with you. Why do you spend Christmas the way you do? How do you remember members of the family who are no longer with us? Pass on some family stories to the younger generation, and help them to know they too belong. Share any feedback you may have with the group next time you meet.


Barclay, William, The Gospel of Matthew, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1975
Barclay, William, The Gospel of Mark, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1975
Barclay, William, The Gospel of Luke, John, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1975
Barclay, William, The Gospel of John, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1975


Joshua Chapter 4

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