It has been a lot of fun studying through the Gospel of Mark. I have been studying this Gospel with my preschool teachers on a biweekly basis. So far, we have covered 8 chapters. It is amazing to see how Jesus transforms people through the power of His Word. His message is for the entire world. In case you have not been studying along with us, here is a list of the previous lessons.
- Jesus: Experiencing His Life and Ministry
- Jesus the Rescuing Teacher
- The unpardonable sin
- The parable of the sower and the seed
- Failing Faith needs a Faithful Friend
- Jesus serves individuals
- Discipleship according to Jesus
- Genuine faith honors Scripture over Religious Traditions
- The teachings of Pharisees vs. The teachings of Jesus Christ
In Mark chapter 9, we are going to discover the transforming power of an encounter with Jesus Christ. Just meeting Jesus is not enough.
I. Encountering Jesus
In verses 1-27, we discover the power of encountering Jesus Christ in His glory.
1 And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
Some people misunderstand this verse and claim that there are errors in the Bible because, the kingdom of heaven has not yet physically come to this earth, yet, all of those who were present to hear what Jesus said in verse 1 are dead. What did Jesus mean by this? Peter, James, and John were present when Jesus said what He said in verse 1. They were also there for the transfiguration of Christ.
2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;
3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.
Peter, James, and John all saw the power of the kingdom of heaven when Christ transfigured. The words of Christ took all of 6 days to come to pass. Jesus uses the moment to teach about the fact that He, being the Messiah, must suffer death for the payment of sin and that He will resurrect to overcome sin and death. The disciples just could not accept the fact that the Messiah was going to die and be raised from the dead. According to the Old Testament, Elijah had to come first and then Christ would come to establish the kingdom. What they did not realize is that Elijah had already come once, then the Messiah came, in the person of Jesus Christ. In His first coming, the Messiah would die and rise again. Elijah will come a second time, preceding the 2nd Coming of the Messiah. When the Messiah comes the 2nd time, He will establish a kingdom on the earth. The full power of the kingdom will finally be revealed. The disciples were not the only ones who encountered Jesus and experienced a life changing event. There was a man with a demon possessed child who came to Jesus for help. As he encountered Jesus, he believed. Christ healed the man’s child, releasing them both to follow Him.
The disciples are still confused about the fact that the Messiah is going to die and rise from the dead. Jesus has been trying to explain it to them from the Old Testament. They still do not understand. As I wrote earlier, the encounter is not enough. In order to experience life transformation, we have to hear and understand the message of the Gospel.
II. Understanding Christ death and resurrection
The disciples encountered Christ and they heard the message of the Gospel from the mouth of Jesus. Yet, they still did not understand that the Messiah first had to die and rise from the dead before the 2nd coming would usher in the kingdom of heaven on the earth.
28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?”
29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9)
The disciples had learned that when they did not understand something, they were to come to Jesus and ask Him for an explanation. He would give it to them. They had done the same thing when Jesus taught the parable of the sower and the seed to the crowds and no one understood what He had taught. He explained the interpretation to them. James echoes this in his epistle when he writes:
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1)
If we need understanding, we need to ask for it and God will give it to us. He gives generously, literally, with an open hand. He also gives without reproach. He will never say, “why are you asking for this again?” In Mark 9, Jesus answers their question and then turns the discussion back to His death and resurrection because He knows that the disciples still do not understand.
30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.
31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.”
32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.
In this case, the disciples were afraid to ask and Jesus anticipated this so He continued to explain the crux of the Gospel to them. Once this understanding is attained, the next phase is able to be accomplished. As we apply this understanding, it leads us to service.
III. Practical Application: Serving others
As always, Jesus is seeking opportunities to teach practical, life changing lessons. The disciples offer another opportunity with the private discussion that they are having among themselves.
33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”
34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. (Mark 9)
Instead of discussing the meaning and implications of the death and resurrection of Christ, something that they clearly did not understand, the disciples are arguing over who will be the greatest among them. They are still seeking to be served instead of seeking to serve one another. This reminds me of the time when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the upper room. Not one of the 12 saw himself as the servant of the others. No one picked up the bowl of water and towel to wash the feet of the rest of them. That was a job beneath their status as the 12 disciples. Since no one else did it, Jesus took the bowl of water and the towel and went to the leader, Peter, and began to wash his feet. As the leader, Peter should have been the first to serve the rest of them. Instead, he waited to be served. When Jesus humbled Himself to serve, each one realized that he should have been the one to take the initiative to serve everyone else. This lesson impacted the disciples profoundly. This helped the disciples understand that Jesus came to serve instead of be served. This paved the way for them to understand that Jesus came to serve humanity by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. In the Mark 9 passage, Jesus uses a different angle to teach the disciples.
35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
Jesus uses the example of a little child to show the importance of humbleness being manifested in servant leadership. The disciples were to have the innocence of a child when dealing with each other and with others. There is a clear pattern here that we see.
- Seek to serve
- Build relationships through service
- Set an example of servant leadership
- Seek to live in peace with each other
My dear friend, I have to ask, have you ever encountered Jesus Christ? Do you understand the message of the Gospel? Do you realize that Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of the world, came to this earth to serve you, His creation? Do you realize that His death on the cross paid a debt for you that you could never pay? Do you realize that His resurrection from the dead opened the door for you to connect with God, be transformed, and live a new life of service to Him by serving those around you? May we all encounter Jesus through His Word, seeking to understand the message of the Gospel, the message of servant leadership that revolutionizes the way that we interact with one another!