Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mark Chapter 9

The first part of this chapter follows up Peter’s confession of Faith from back in chapter 8 (v. 29). This chapter starts with the Transfiguration (vv. 1-8) of Jesus in front of Peter, James and John.  This Transfiguration happens on several levels. There is Jesus’s bodily transfiguration with his body being lifted up, his face glowing and him appearing with Moses and Elijah.  On another level, Jesus is, in a way, transfigured in his own calling: he is lifted up with Moses and Elijah- he is the fulfillment of both the Old Testament Law (Moses) and the Old Testament Prophets (Elijah). Thirdly, his had to have caused some kind of transfiguration in the three apostles that were gathered with him on the top of that mountain. Finally, Jesus’s full identity is revealed by the Voice from the Cloud (i.e. God) who reveals to all the world, “This is my beloved Son.” And then the command, “Listen to Him.” Can’t get much clearer than that!

Also included in this chapter is a fascinating healing episode (vv. 14-29). Jesus has an altercation, and depending on how you read it, a not so pleasant altercation, with the father of this boy who is possessed by a demon. The boy is in terrific pain and his father asks Jesus to heal him. However, Jesus seems to put the onus back on the father. Notice the dialogue between Jesus and the father (vv. 22-24). But the father is further to the true Faith than he might at first have realized. That beautiful verse of surrender and abandonment: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

Jesus offers a second prediction of his own death (vv. 30-32), followed quickly by a teaching episode that spans 18 verses (vv. 33-50). This teaching episode seems to follow up the teaching that Jesus offers in verse 29- the necessity of prayer and discipleship. These verses seem to spell that out even further by describing the order of things in heaven in that it is the poorest, sickest and worst sinner that has pride of place in Heaven after the Redemption of their souls. Jesus is really laying it all out here. Read those verses slowly and maybe twice to get the fullness of what he is saying.

Notice the hyperbolic example that Jesus is offering in vv. 42-48. (BTW- DO NOT CUT OFF YOUR HAND!)  Jesus is using overstatement and a tongue-in-cheek figure of speech to get his point across.  And that’s where our point for prayer is.

Point for Prayer
Read verses 42-48. What is Jesus really saying about sin? About avoiding vice? How hard should we try to avoid putting ourselves in a place of temptation? After praying with these questions, make of prayer of surrender to God. Ask Him to help you avoid the temptations that can lead to sin.

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