Greetings! This reading is Mark 9.
I am trying a new format. You can still click the link above to read the whole passage separately, but I thought I would try pasting the verses below then commenting in between passages. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a preference. It seems like this method would be more readable, but I’m open to suggestions.
The first passage is an excellent example of how to use one of the most important Bible study tips: Always read a verse in the context of what is in the whole passage. If you just read a single verse you may not get the meaning that was intended for it.
Some people find the first verse below to be a mysterious prediction that may or may not have been fulfilled. However, the story of the transfiguration of Jesus that follows is told three times in the Bible – here, in Matthew and in Luke. In each case the quote that “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power” immediately precedes the transfiguration story. While it is possible that the quote doesn’t tie to the story, it doesn’t seem likely. After all, what happens next? Some of them see the Kingdom of God come with power.
Mark 9 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
See what I mean? It seems obvious to me that the prediction was immediately followed by a description of its fulfillment.
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him.
When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
One of my favorite Bible verses is where the father says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” We may have faith – and a little faith in the right source of faith is what really matters. But strengthening our faith helps us live more peacefully and victoriously.
They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
This is one of the three times that Jesus clearly predicts his death and resurrection. However, the Apostles were expecting him to be a different kind of leader, so they couldn’t make sense of what He was saying or they just didn’t want to believe it.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Jesus often turns the wisdom of the world upside down. We struggle to be the greatest, but it is by serving that we experience real joy.
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
The Bible mentions rewards many times. It can be confusing, because our salvation has nothing to do with our actions (or “works”). We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus. But after we are saved, the good we do in Christ’s name does earn us heavenly rewards.
“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
The one true God is revealed throughout the Bible, but sometimes people think the “Old Testament God” was mean and the “New Testament God” was nice. But you need to read the Bible to get a better understanding. These people overlook the fact that in the Old Testament God showed his mercy and forgiveness many times, and that in the New Testament Jesus speaks of Hell twice as much as He speaks of Heaven. And there is much more talk of Hell and judgment in the New Testament.
When Jesus mentions cutting off your hand or gouging out your eyes, he is using hyperbole (extreme exaggeration). At least I hope He is! Seriously, He is pointing out just how serious the problem of sin is. Notice how many times He refers to Hell and its horrors. Some people question what the exact properties of Hell are, but a couple things are clear: Jesus says Hell is a real place and He warns against going there in the strongest possible terms. He lived the perfect life in our place and took our punishment on himself so we could be spared an eternity in Hell. All we have to do is confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.
The next reading is Mark 10.
Filed under: Mark