Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mark 9 - Lessons for the Disciples . . . and Me
LINK: Mark 9 

111. Jesus is Transfigured on the Mountain: Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36


Matthew and Mark say that this took place "six days" and Luke says "some eight days," but apparently "some" connotes "about a week" in the Jewish equivalent. 

The disciples had so much to think about in that week! Peter verbally acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. Consequently, Jesus introduced them to the concept of "church" and predicted, for the first time, His death and resurrection. What a prologue to the Transfiguration!

Traditionally, the mountain has been believed to be Mt. Tabor (near #2 on the map), but there are two reasons this is unlikely:

1) It is too far from Caesarea-Philippi (#13) where they were previously located and Capernaum (#15) where they will be going. 
2) It is unlikely Jesus would have gone up to a place of heathen worship.
Mt. Hermon seems to be a better choice because it is a "high mountain" and it is closer to Caesarea-Philippi and Capernaum/Galilee. 

The Greek word for transfigured is metemorphōthē. It is where we get our English word, metamorphosis. I encourage meditating on the description of Jesus here and basking in His light as part of your application today. 

The appearance of Moses and Elijah are significant because Moses represented the Law and Elijah, the prophets. Jesus, after His resurrection would explain to the two on the road to Emmaus, "all the things concerning Him beginning with Moses and with all the prophets" (Luke 24:27). Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law (by being all-righteousness) and the prophecies concerning Him! If you have not joined us for the Bible Book Club, I encourage you to do so in order to see how The Scarlet Thread of Redemption about Jesus is woven throughout the Law and the prophets!

Peter wanted to build tabernacles to extend the visit for Moses (lawgiver), Elijah (prophet), and Jesus (Messiah). God's intervention tells us that Jesus fulfilled all of this. and all they needed to see was Jesus. Plus, now was not the time for building tabernacles because Jesus had to go and finish His work by going to the cross. 

Many years later, Peter (one of three eyewitnesses), tells us the significance of that high mountain miracle:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:17-18) 
In faith, Peter had made profession of Jesus as Messiah, and this experience confirmed it!

 Another eyewitness, John, wrote:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) 
Jesus unveiled His glory and gave a sneak peek into heaven, the glory of the kingdom, and even the glory of the cross (Luke 9:31)! 

112. Jesus heals a demon-possessed boy: Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43

Jesus came down from the mountain top to deliver this boy. Why couldn't the disciples drive out the demon?  That is the beauty of studying all three accounts!

According to Warren Wiersbe, there were two things lacking in their lives:
First on the list was faith (Matt. 17:19–20); they were part of an unbelieving generation and had lost the confidence that they needed in order to use their power. But prayer and fasting were also lacking (Mark 9:29), which indicates that the nine men had allowed their devotional disciplines to erode during their Lord’s brief absence. No matter what spiritual gifts we may have, their exercise is never automatic.  (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 9:37)

113. Jesus predicts his death the second time: Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:44-45

From the region of Caesarea Philippi and northeast Palestine, Jesus began to head through Galilee and Perea to Judea and into Jerusalem where He would face His crucifixion and resurrection six months later. He needed to prepare His disciples now, even though they would not fully comprehend it until later.

115. The disciples argue about who would be the greatest: Matthew 18:1-6, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48

Rank was important to the Jews, but Jesus taught that the essence of true greatness was learning to be a servant of all. The Greek word here is diakonos which means "one who attends to the needs of others freely" as opposed to doulos which means a slave who is in a servile position.  The road to glory is via service not self-exaltation. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of this. 

116. The disciples forbid another to use Jesus' name: Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50

Most commentators believe the disciples were jealous of the man who healed in Jesus' name when they could not, and he was doing it in an unauthorized way rather than the man misusing Jesus' name. (see Acts 19:13-16 for an example of this).  Even though the verses involve different events, Mark 9:40, "For he who is not against us is for us" can be compared to Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me." If you are working for Jesus, you cannot be working against Him also. The man may have not done it the "right" way according to the disciples, but he did it for Jesus, and that is all that mattered. Boy, this is such a lesson for today when established patterns of doing things in the church do not make way for new ways!  

117. Jesus warns against temptation: Matthew 18:7-9, Mark 9:42-50

"Woe" refers to the judgment of God being upon anyone who causes another believer, especially immature ones, to turn away from believing and following Him.


All Things Are Possible to Him Who Believes 

Are you lacking faith?  Been there!

I shared this story in the Genesis 17 & 18 Bible Book Club blog, but God reminded me of it as I was meditating on Mark 9 last Saturday while listening to a speaker at a conference. So, I will share it once again:
I was at Multnomah School of the Bible at a training program back in 1981. Every morning, all the people in the program had half an hour to spend time with God.

One particular morning, I was up in a spartan attic bedroom in one of the rental houses near campus peering out the window located at the peak of the roof. It was summer, but, not unusual for Oregon in June, it was raining cats and dogs. My passage for that morning was Mark 9, where the man brings his demon-possessed boy to Jesus to heal. After some dialogue with Jesus, the boy's father said to Jesus:
". . . if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"
Jesus responds:
"'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:22-24)
Then Jesus drove out the demon.

I sat there in that attic bedroom, and I audibly laughed and said, "I don't believe this really happened, Lord! In fact, I don't believe you turned water into wine either or healed all those people. I don't believe it!!!!! It is too impossible."

Then, I realized the import of my words, and I cried out to God, "I want to be like that man. I do believe Lord, but my faith is so small, help my unbelief! Lord, could you show me Yourself by stopping the rain?" (I know, what was I thinking to pray such a crazy prayer in OREGON of all places? But He allowed a 90 year old woman to get pregnant; so, why not?)

Immediately, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun beamed through that window blinding my eyes, and I said, "OK, I believe it all."
It was a defining moment in my journey.
The conference speaker's talk was entitled "A Vision for the Possible." He stated that the goal of Jesus was to teach His disciples that the impossible was possible. The speaker shared stories about God accomplishing the impossible in his work overseas, and he referred to this same story in Mark 9 about a father who asked for help in his unbelief. I realized I had slacked off a bit in believing God for the impossible since He parted those clouds for me so many years ago, but his talk and this chapter inspired me to believe God for big things once again!


All things are possible to Him who believes.
(Mark 9:23)

Do you believe this? What is your deep down answer to that question? Journal and talk with the LORD about it today. Mull over this question for a while.


Lord, we do believe, help our unbelief. We praise You that You can do anything! Do the impossible through our lives. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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