-Chapter 9 continues the ministry of Jesus Christ with more incredible theological discoveries for the reader. The Lord had remarked that there were some of His disciples with Him that would not taste death until they had actually seen the Kingdom of God come in Its power. Six days later, the Christ took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, to a high mountain (I believe it to be Mt. Hermon in northern Israel near Caesarea Philippi), and He was transfigured before them. The Bible says His garments became radiant with exceeding whiteness that no launder on earth could perform. Elijah and Moses appeared on the mountain and were talking face to face with Jesus. Peter spoke up in a daze of trepidation and humbly offered to build them three tabernacles. Then a cloud formed to overshadow the scene, and a Voice was heard, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one but Jesus anymore. Coming back down the mountain, Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what they had seen and experienced until He was resurrected from the dead. The disciples seized upon that statement and discussed what they might mean. They also entertained the prophetic question about Elijah’s appearance before the coming of Messiah (Malachi 4:5). The Christ explained to them that this had indeed happened. He doesn’t discuss it Mark’s text, but John the Baptist had already come and suffered in the Spirit and power of Elijah, the Spirit of prophecy and repentance as a forerunner (Matthew 11:10-15; 17:12-13, Mark 9:1-13, Luke 1:13-17).
-Upon coming back to the rest of the disciples, they observed a large crowd with the scribes arguing with them. When Jesus was recognized, people were again amazed and began running up to Him to greet Him. He was still a very popular figure at this point of His ministry. Jesus basically asked what was going on, and found that they had come upon a difficult situation in trying to cast out a powerful demon from a boy. His father was desperately trying to get help in this situation. The boy was stricken with muteness and seizers of fits that would slam him down on the ground making him foam at the mouth and grinding his teeth all while stiffening out. The convulsions from the demonic influence would often attempt to kill him when they were near fire or water. The father was understandably begging for help and pity. He asked Jesus IF He could help the situation. Jesus rhetorically replied, “If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately and spontaneously the father cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” This honest contradiction of statements moved Jesus to quickly help his son as He saw a large crowd beginning to gather. He rebuked the unclean spirit of deafness and muteness. He commanded that it never enter the lad again. The demon cried out and threw him down one last time in terrible convulsions before leaving. The boy became so dysfunctional that most thought him to be dead at this point, but the Christ lifted him up by the hand; and he got up. As Jesus went into the house, His disciples beseeched Him as to why they had no power over this particular unclean spirit. He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (some manuscripts and translations include fasting here too as a prerequisite, Mark 9:14-29).”
-The theme of Christ’s death re-enters the narrative as the chapter proceeds. The group of Christ’s followers went out and had begun to go through Galilee again, but Jesus did not want anyone to know about it this time. This was a teaching mission. He began to say unto 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.” The disciples didn’t really understand these statements, but they were too afraid to ask Him for further clarification at that point (Mark 9:30-32).
-As they came to their home base of Capernaum once more, the Lord questioned His disciples as to what they were discussing on their way. In His omniscience He knew that they had been arguing with each other in pride about who was the greatest among them. Who was the alpha disciple, if you will. He explained before the twelve, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. Then taking a child that He set before them, He illustrated, “Whoever receives one child like this in My Name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him (the Father) who sent Me (Mark 9:33-37).” John speaks up at that time and wonders if they should continue trying to prevent those that were not of their group who were casting out demons in the Name of Jesus. The Lord matter of factly stated, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My Name, and be able soon afterword to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us (Mark 9:38-40).” Jesus then returns to the child who is present to teach more lessons to His disciples. Giving is extolled, as well as not becoming a stumbling block to people’s, especially children’s, spiritual growth in faith. Jesus has hard words for those who disrupt another’s progress in the gospel. Then He goes back to individual responsibility. He lists a series of things that could cause a person to stumble, and warns that getting rid of those things for spiritual purity in the Kingdom of God is the primary concern. His warning is precise as He begins to teach on the awfulness of being separated from the Father in Hell, “where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” He goes on to say that everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good” He says, “but if salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another (Mark 9:41-50).” In other words, keep an eternal perspective on all that you do in this life.
-*Application* Have we seen the Kingdom of God with all Its power in our lives? It really can when we believe and receive Him and His Holy Spirit that desires to indwell us. This is how Heaven comes to earth and manifests His presence most powerfully, a changed and contrite heart bent on an eternal perspective that loses everything to follow Jesus. Be transformed and transfigured.
Verses to Memorize: Mark 9:23-24