The first verse of Mark, Chapter 9 is a continuation of the conversation with Jesus at the end of Chapter 8.

What?  What did Jesus mean He told the disciples that some of them would not die before they saw the Kingdom of God arrive in “great power”?  When I first read this, I thought it meant some of the disciples would still be living when Jesus returned for His second coming and they would be swept up to heaven with Him, but Jesus’ second coming still has not happened, so did Jesus lie?  Was He mistaken?  Or was He referring to something else?  Reading the verse again very carefully, I realize that I was mistaken.  The Kingdom of God is not necessarily referring to heaven, but to the state of “Kingdom” that Jesus is striving for here on earth that will lead the way to the heavenly Kingdom of God.  Further, Jesus is predicting that some of the disciples will witness the arrival of that Kingdom, and that the arrival will happen in “great power.” 

Mark then tells us about the transfiguration of Jesus up on the mountain.  The transfiguration was something that only “some” of the disciples witness, as stated in verse 1.  The transfiguration is also a display of “great power”, so perhaps the transfiguration was part of what Jesus was talking about in verse 1. I say part of it because these same disciples would also witness the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.  These things are open to interpretation, so you might have other ideas about what Jesus was talking about in verse 1.

The transfiguration (111 in the Harmony of Gospels)  During the transfiguration, Jesus becomes dazzling white, and then Moses and Elijah appear with Him.  They don’t just appear as images, they talk with Jesus!  Can you imagine witnessing such a site?

So what just happened?   My Bible commentary (Life Application) says that the transfiguration displayed the divinity of Jesus, his divine nature.  It also brought together Moses who represented the law, and Elijah who represented the prophets, showing Jesus to be the fulfillment of both the Old Testament law and prophetic promises.

We say Old Testament now, but keep in mind that there was no such thing in Jesus’ day.  The Bible wasn’t yet in existence, so the law was the law of Moses.

Jesus is affirmed by God  God affirms Jesus again, much like He did at the time of Jesus’ baptism, this time saying, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”  (Mark 9:7)

Peter   Personally speaking, Peter’s remark speaks to me.  Peter, being Peter, is astounded with fear, and doesn’t know what to say, but speaks up anyway, feeling the need to say something.  Oh, I am such a Peter at times, speaking up or sharing thoughts when it would be best to stay quiet and keep my thoughts to myself! (Not criticizing Peter, but myself.)  Often it’s best to just observe what is happening, take it in, and prayerfully allow the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and responses (or lack thereof).  I’m trying to get better at that.

Social Location   The term “social location” refers to how we see and perceive things based on who we are, where we’re from, and the experiences we’ve had.  Our social location guides our perspectives and the positions we take on issues.  For instance, if someone offers $10,000 to help others in need, members of a group will respond in different ways depending on their social location.  Those who have observed suffering will want to relieve those who suffer.  Those who have benefitted from education will want to help others receive a good education.  Those who are hungry will want to provide food and help others in practical ways.  When we read the Bible, we need to consider the social locations of the people we read about.  Keep in mind that the disciples and crowds who hear Jesus teach don’t have the benefit of reading about these things from a Bible.  Bible didn’t yet exist.  Some were hearing the Word of God for the first time, while others had been raised with Jewish teaching. Still others had followed pagan ways.  Some were educated and people of higher status, while others were uneducated.  Some lived lives of luxury while others struggled to get by.  Still others were outcasts who had been marginalized by society.  All of these things contributed to the social location of the people and affected the ways they responded to Jesus and the culture of their time.

Think about the social location of the disciples, a diverse group of men from varying backgrounds.  None were prepared for what they found themselves experiencing as disciples of Jesus. They had as much to learn as the crowds around them.  Knowing that His time was limited, Jesus was urgently trying to teach them, but often the disciples didn’t understand what they heard because they didn’t have a base of reference to help put things in perspective. The Gospels provide reference for us today.  Praise be to God for that!

Key verses

Mark 9:24  “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!”    Doesn’t that still ring true for us today?  We do believe, but in times of fear or uncertainty we are prone to fall prey to doubt.  When that happens, repeat this verse to God, claim it to seek His help for overcoming doubt, helping you grow stronger in faith.

Mark 9:23   Jesus said:  “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Mark 9:29   Jesus said:  “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”   This is a verse where we fill in the blank.  In the passage Jesus is talking about a demon.  We have many demons in our lives – fear, greed, lust, temptation, depression, and addiction, just to name a few.  This verse reminds us that we might have faith, but there are things we are not capable of conquering on our own.  We need to turn to God in prayer, seeking the power of God.

Be the salt of the earth  We will close today’s notes with the closing verses of Mark, Chapter 9 when Jesus talks about salt.  Salt has three properties:     1)  gives seasoning/flavor   2) has healing properties   3) preserves       (You can read more about salt in Matthew 5:13 and Luke 14:34.)

As Christians, we are to be the salt of the earth by living in a way that our faith seasons our lives and shares flavor with others, that we find ways to bring healing to those in need, and help preserve love, goodness, joy and other good things God gives us, not to mention the ultimate preservation of life through salvation in Christ alone.

Dear God, Thank You for another day of reading about Jesus.  Please bless our studies and help us hear how the Bible is speaking to each of us.  Please help us grow in wisdom and understanding so that we can help flavor the earth with the salt of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  In His precious name we pray.  Amen. 

You might want to check out 2XSalt ministries!  This is an awesome ministry based on the teachings about Salt. I love the name because it can be read as “To exalt (the Lord)” and “2 x’s the salt”.   For info go to http://www.2xsalt.org

Tomorrow’s reading will be Luke, Chapter 9.

Want to read the Bible online?  Go to http://www.BibleGateway.com

 

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