Lesson 10: Mark -Chapter 9
First read Mark 9 all the way through.
The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 9
Things you don’t see everyday:
-Jesus- The Transfiguration
-Elijah and Moses Show Up
-Voice From Heaven
-Jesus Cast Out Demon
-Jesus Foretells Death and Resurrection
Notes and Commentary:
I. The Kingdom of God…Comes “with power” –Verse 1
This verse has been debated over the years. Does it mean that some of the Apostles would still be alive when Jesus established his Kingdom? The disciples are all long gone and yet we are still waiting for the appointed time when history will be consummated and Jesus comes again to completely establish his Kingdom on earth.
Some scholars believe that the “Transfiguration” that follows these verses logically fulfills and demonstrates that the ‘The Kingdom’ or ‘Rule’ of God has come in power in the person and divinity of Jesus Christ. Others hold that the Resurrection demonstrates the ‘Kingdom power’ of Jesus.
Myself, I believe that all of these are partial fulfillments of this verse, but I hold that ‘The Day of Pentecost’ is the best demonstration of the ‘Kingdom’ coming in ‘power’ and authority. This is really the beginning of the Church, which is the major representation of the Kingdom of God in this age.
At the Ascension (Acts 1:8), Jesus told them that they would receive ‘power’ when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and then they would take his message to the world. Pentecost was a life changing event for everyone present. Just look at the boldness in Peter’s address, no more denials there. After Pentecost, the Apostles picked up the mantle of Jesus and took the good news of the Kingdom to the ends of the Earth.
It should be noted that a few Christians over the years and a number of cults have speculated that the Apostle John never died based upon John 21:22-23. However, there is really no historical evidence to support such a claim and the Biblical reference cited does not actually confirm it.
II. The Transfiguration of Jesus –Verses 2-13
Here, the divine character of Jesus is displayed to Peter, James, and John. They were in the manifest presence of God–the ‘Shekinah-glory’ that use to fill the Temple and the old Tabernacle at times.
The typical human reaction to a major religious experience is to do something religious or form some kind of institution in memory of the event. Christians like to make new denominations or associations in the wake of almost every revival. Peter and the boys were awe struck with the presence of Elijah and Moses. But soon The Father made it quite clear who the real VIP was on the mountain that day.
Verses 9-10: Jesus tells them to tell no one until after the resurrection. They do not understand at this point what the ‘rising from the dead’ might mean.
Verses 11-13: Jesus interjects into the ‘Elijah’ conversation that it is also written that he (The Son of Man) would “suffer many things and be treated with contempt.” He also informs the three, that an ‘Elijah’ figure had already come implying that it was fulfilled in the ministry of John The Baptist who had been beheaded through orders of Herod.
III. Healing of a Boy with An Unclean Spirit –Verses 14-29
Jesus and the three come back to a scene of pandemonium. A large crowd, the 9 remaining Apostles, some opposing religious leaders, a father and a sick boy that the disciples were unable to heal–were all arguing. The condemnation that Jesus gives here is probably a paraphrase of Psalm 95:10.
Verses 22-24: In the end of explaining to Jesus about his son, the father says: “If you can do anything…”. Jesus picks up on the unbelief immediately and questions: “If you can!”? Finally the father says: “I believe; help my unbelief!” The father realizes that he lacks faith and asks Jesus to help him believe.
This was a great move and one we all should remember, particularly when we are down and really have little hope of resolution. We can always pray for an increase of faith. Greater faith brings greater results. In this case, Jesus heals the boy.
Verses 28-29: The disciples ask Jesus why they could not cast out the evil spirit. Jesus responds by telling them that they needed to be fortified by prayer, and some manuscripts add fasting also.
A good message for us today. The disciples probably did pray but Jesus is indicating that they needed to go beyond the perfunctory traditional kind and actually ask God for greater preparation and spiritual power in order to deal with the evil spirits. Also it would be a good idea to ask God for greater faith like the father of the boy did in this story.
IV. Again, Jesus Foretells of His Death and Resurrection –Verses 30-32
The disciples did not understand what he was speaking of and they were afraid to ask or pursue the issue. After all, Jesus had condemned Peter when he contradicted him earlier on this issue.
They were so convinced from their traditions that the Messiah was supposed to take over and rule the entire nation and eventually the whole world defeating the Romans in the process. The traditions that they were raised upon did not allow for the possibility that the Messiah would be betrayed and rejected by his own people much less that he would be killed and later resurrected.
Their hopes remained in the traditions taught to them as children. What Jesus was trying to teach them made no sense at all in the context of the common traditional cultural views about the Messiah. Nevertheless, it was important for them to know what was going to happen.
It was going to be difficult enough for the Apostles to live through what was coming. They were going to need some foreknowledge of the events whether they believed them or accepted them or not. Later, they did remember that Jesus said he was going to rise again after 3 days. But they had a hard time believing it until the tomb was empty and he was standing right in front of them!
V. Who is The Greatest? –Verses 33-37
The disciples revert to their favorite pastime, arguing over who was the number one disciple. Again this continuing argument was based upon their traditional understanding of what the Messiah was supposed to do. After all, when Jesus became King, the number one among them might become the Prime Minister, like Daniel or Joseph did, and the number two ruler in the kingdom and eventually the whole world.
Notice, that they won’t admit to Jesus what they had been talking about. Obviously they did not accept what Jesus had taught them about his coming betrayal and death. Nevertheless, Jesus knew, and confronted their attitudes: The first must be last and servant of all. They need to accept and treat even a child like they would treat Jesus the Messiah.
VI. One Who is Not Against Us is For Us –Verses 38-41
John and other disciples observed someone ministering in Jesus name. They were bothered by this, after all, this person was not part of their club or denomination. However, Jesus gives it the green light. It is a matter of faith and action in the name of Jesus. Even if someone gives just a cup of water in his name will be rewarded.
VII. The Consequences of Sin –Verses 42-50
Here, Jesus talks to his disciples about the seriousness and consequences of sin. If one causes or teaches a child to sin, it is a very serious offence according to Jesus. Jesus uses hyperbole here in order to demonstrate the seriousness of sin. It is better to lose ones foot, hand, or eye–to suffer serious loss–and still enter the Kingdom of God than to be thrown into hell.
Verses 49-50: Salt is good, but if it is no longer salty, it has lost its purpose. In ancient times, salt was a preservative. Here Jesus is telling his disciples to stop their quarrelling and to maintain their purpose. The disciples were supposed to be good examples to all they came in contact with as representatives of the Kingdom. It would be well for them to cut out and cast off their competitive spirit.
-Read: Mark 10 for the next lesson.