The Way - Day 100 (Mark 9)

Daily Reading:
Mark 9
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Look at verses 30-32.  Has your walk ever been hindered by something you were afraid to ask or was too difficult to look into?  Reflect on this and share if you are comfortable.  Would you be willing to make a decision to begin studying it today?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 33:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:34
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:40-42
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 9 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 9:1-13
After speaking about the cost of following Him, Jesus turns to His disciples and says, "There are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power" (9:1). Jesus was referring to an event which has been termed the "transfiguration." Although many have interpreted Jesus' words here in various ways, the best way is to understand it is that He is referencing what is about to happen to Peter, James, and John on the mountain. Of His twelve disciples, Jesus takes three with Him to the mountain to experience the kingdom of God prior to its establishment. The kingdom of God will finally be established in the future and begins when Jesus Christ returns to earth following the seven-year tribulation period (also known as the second coming of Christ). All believers will be taken from the earth prior to the seven years of judgment which is unleashed on all those who reject God. Immediately after this judgment, Jesus will establish His kingdom on earth for 1,000 years and those who have believed will reign with Him. His kingdom will be one of righteousness, goodness, and holiness. Peter, James, and John were receiving a glimpse of Jesus' rule on earth.

With all these things in mind, let's return to the event. When Jesus and His three disciples arrive on the mountain, Jesus is "transfigured before them" (9:2). This phrase means that He was changed in form. Mark goes on to write, "His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them" (9:3). They were able to see Jesus in His divine glory, as He would be during the millennial reign on earth. Elijah (an Old Testament prophet) and Moses (the recipient of God's law) appear with Jesus, Peter, James, and John (9:4). The appearance of Elijah and Moses with Jesus implies their acceptance of Him being the Messiah. Both God's law and the prophets pointed to a coming Messiah. Peter finally speaks up and asks if they should build tabernacles for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses (9:5). Mark records that Peter said this because he didn't know what to say, but it probably implies that he thought Jesus' rule would be established right away (9:6). A cloud then comes over them and God the Father says, "This is my beloved Son. Hear Him!" "Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves" (9:8). They began their descent down the mountain and Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone until He had risen from the dead, even though they did not fully understand what He meant by coming back from the dead (9:9-10).

This event was a confirmation of a future kingdom being established and that Jesus would rule over it. All believers can look forward to this future kingdom knowing that God will return for His own and establish a righteous kingdom.

Mark 9:14-29
Jesus returns from the mountain with Peter, James, and John and they meet up with the other nine disciples who had been left behind (9:14). A group of people had gathered around the nine disciples who were engaged in a dispute with the scribes. The conflict had probably arisen because the disciples had been unable to heal a boy who had been demon-possessed since birth. When the multitude who was gathered saw Jesus, they ran to greet Him and He asked the scribes the nature of the discussion with His disciples (9:16). A man from the crowd speaks up and tells the story of bringing his demon possessed son to be healed by the disciples, but they had not been able to cast out the evil spirit (9:17-18). A bit frustrated, Jesus responds by saying "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear [put up] with you?" Jesus' words seem to indicate that he was disappointed by their lack of faith in the power of God to heal. Even Jesus' disciples had failed to heal this boy, maybe because their faith was in their own power instead of God's. So, the boy is brought to Jesus and He converses with the boy's father about the son's possession (9:20-22a). The father says to Jesus, "But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us" (9:22b). Jesus responds by saying, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (9:23). The father quickly admits his lack of faith and desperately cries out for Jesus to help his faith be strong (9:24). Obviously Jesus provides faith to those whose faith is weak because He heals the boy of this demon which had tormented him since his birth (9:25-27). Jesus possessed all power over the supernatural realm. Mark continues to write about the happenings following this healing, "And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' So He said to them, 'This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting'" (9:28-29). The emphasis of this account is not the healing by Jesus, but the lack of faith by the disciples. They may have become secure in their ability to heal and failed to have faith in the One who was able to give them power. Whenever we do something in the name of Jesus, our faith must be in His power alone. We must never become arrogant and think our talents or abilities are what make God's work happen. It is only through the strength of God that we are able to carry out His work. Jesus indicates that the most important way to receive power is through prayer. By design, prayer is an act where we admit our helplessness without God. When we pray, we are admitting that we need God and cannot do anything without Him. Notice Jesus told the father of the boy that "if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." The object of faith is not in ourselves, but in God. He is able to do that which we cannot!

Mark 9:30-50
Jesus and His disciples now begin making the long trek to Jerusalem where Jesus would eventually be crucified. It seems Jesus is taking more chances to be alone in order to prepare His disciples for the events which would transpire in a few months. While they are traveling, Jesus taught His disciples that He would be "betrayed into the hands of men and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day" (9:30-31). The disciples didn't say anything because they lacked understanding and were "afraid to ask Him" (9:32). The group arrives in Capernaum and Jesus asks them what they were arguing about on the road. Although Mark does not specifically mention the argument, but he does reference Jesus' inquiry and that the disciples were in a dispute about "who would be the greatest" (9:33-34). They were ashamed of their argument and therefore did not answer Jesus' question. So, Jesus sits them down to teach a lesson and says, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (9:35). In contrast to the examples of leadership around them, Jesus taught that true greatness is found in serving others first. There is a child nearby and Jesus takes the child in His arms and says, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him [God the Father] who sent me" (9:36-37). This child represented the very least respected person in the culture of their day where age and maturity were honored, but youth was ignored. Showing kindness to this little child was Jesus way of telling the disciples that everyone should be loved equally, regardless of their status or respectability. When they love and serve others, they are loving and serving God.

John speaks up and asks Jesus about a man who was casting out demons in His name. The disciples had apparently confronted him and informed him he could not do the work they were doing. Since this man was casting out demons, he was probably a believer in Jesus Christ but not one of Jesus' twelve. The disciples thought they were better than everyone else because of their close association with Jesus. Jesus answers John's question by saying, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side" (9:39-40). Jesus declares that anyone who does a good work in His name is, in essence, doing the work to Christ and will receive reward in the kingdom (9:41). Jesus then warns anyone who would contribute to a person's unbelief or their turning away from God. The disciples were not to discourage people, whether an exorcist or little child, in their work for Jesus Christ but rather encourage it (9:42).

Jesus ends this teaching session with a command for His followers to guard themselves from sin. The illustrations He uses are graphic but remind the believer of the importance of keeping sin out of their life at any cost. Following Christ meant forsaking earthly desires so that we may pursue holiness and walk in God's ways. Anything that would distract from this pursuit must be removed (9:43-50). "It is better to be a disciple and to enter eternal life maimed, minus earthly possessions that have been renounced, than to be an unbeliever. An unbeliever retains his allegiance to this world, refuses eternal life with God on His terms, and so will be thrown into hell" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B Zuck, p. 147).

Dear God, help me to be a servant to all and guard against sin in my life that I may be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.