Review: 8:34-9:1 He teaches not only the disciples, but the crowd that has followed them at a distance while they walked. He calls them all together because He has a message for everyone – not only for His disciples. Denying self means to live as an others-centered person. Parents do this all the time for their children. Jesus would carry a cross, and walk down death row; so must those who follow Him.
- Are we willing to deny ourselves and put following Jesus first and foremost in our lives?
- Are we willing to take up our cross and follow Him day in and day out?
- Are we so enamored with the world we cannot follow Him and will lose our eternal soul?
- Are we ashamed of Him and what He teaches and what His word teaches that we will deny Him?
Leonard Ravenhill said If Jesus preached the same message minister’s preach today, He would have never been crucified.. What message will we carry forward? Will it be Christ’s message?
If it comes to us being rejected, outcasts, persecuted, even hated, we would do well to remember Jesus’ words in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
9:1 Recall Jesus’ words in 1:15 “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Now He says “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Taste death was a Hebrew idiom for physical death. But what was He speaking about specifically? Possible answers: Jesus’ resurrection and ascension or the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost or the transfiguration or miracles or … no one knows for sure, but in Matthew and Luke as here in Mark the transfiguration followed these words.
9:1-8 A overwhelming glimpse of the kingdom of God is certainly provided for the three disciples Peter, James, and John. There is a transfiguration noted here, but it is not as we imagine it. Instead look at Philippians 2:6-8 to reference the true transfiguration. It is here in Mark (and in Matthew and Luke) we see Jesus return to His true and natural state. Compare the change in Jesus’ appearance in Matthew 17:2 and Luke 9:29. Why were Moses and Elijah there? There are all kinds of conjectures, but no one really knows. However, Moses maybe because he was the one who received the law from God and Elijah because he had not died as noted in 2 Kings 2:11. Also the Greek translated as talking indicates a lengthy conversation. The cloud that covered them was the Shekinah glory or actual presence of God mentioned numerous times in Exodus – one example is Exodus 16:10. But what was important was what God said, “This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” or Hear Him! The disciples might forget the vision they were seeing and experiencing, but they were to always know Jesus’ words! Listen to Him! Hear Him! We could not have a better direction for our study or prayer – Listen to Him!
9:9-13 The question about Elijah arises from Malachi 4:5-6. Many offer that John the Baptist came in the spirit and role of Elijah. The actual return is the belief he will be one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3-5 which ties in with Jesus’ 2nd coming.
9:14-29 This all occurred at the foot of the mountain and the crowd was the result of people always looking for Jesus. Just seeing Him they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him. Wanting to know what they were arguing about He discovers His disciples could not cast out a demon. You know this had to please the teachers of the law and they were likely arguing all the power of Jesus had departed. They, His disciples, and everyone else were about to learn a major lesson. While miracles are not dependent on faith – only on the will of Jesus or His Father. Still where the crowds were hostile and unbelieving few if any miracles were done as they would be wasted on such people. Why do you think the demon was always throwing the boy into fire or water? Answer: To distort or destroy the image of God in man. This is the purpose of all sin. Of course the disciples wanted to know why they couldn’t drive the demon out. Jesus’ answer makes it clear a committed prayer life was lacking in the disciples in general, especially in these nine. Likely they had taken their spiritual power for granted, after all it had always been available. They, very much like us, had forgotten their ultimate dependence on God.
Jesus’ emphasis on prayer shows that faith only works in the context of a relationship with God. We can’t make a single decision to follow Him and then forever enjoy the benefits of His empowerment. We don’t have the capacity to hold that much strength, like some kind of spiritual battery. We must be recharged frequently, daily.
- Are we willing to deny ourselves and put following Jesus first and foremost in our lives through prayer?
- Are we willing to take up our cross and follow Him day in and day out with prayer and action?
- Or are we so enamored with the world we cannot follow Him and will lose our eternal soul?
- Or are we ashamed of Him and what He teaches and what His word teaches so that we will deny Him?
How important is prayer? Chuck Smith said “Prayer is the most important activity a born-again Christian can engage in. It should head your list of priorities, for certainly the world around us desperately needs prayer.” It is in prayer, with prayer, we remain in touch with God with Jesus with the Holy Spirit.
Prayer gives us the strength to carry forward Christ’s message and not the world’s message? In doing so we may become rejected, outcasts, persecuted, even hated, and if this happens we would do well to remember Jesus’ words in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
Or are we merely listening to the Word, but not putting it into practice as those in Ezekiel 33:30-32 As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
Put Jesus’ words into practice! Put your faith into practice!
Start by praying and reading His word!