Mark 9


The disciples are beginning to understand Jesus identity, but they are still struggling to understand his mission. Jesus clarifies his mission, explains the cost of following him, and declares that some of his followers will not die before they see the kingdom of God come with power. The disciples may have been struggling to comprehend all that was revealed to them in such a short period of time, so Jesus takes Peter, James, and John away from the group to join him for an excursion that would help them begin to grasp the beauty and glory of Jesus. They travel up a mountain and Jesus is transfigured before their very eyes. Jesus' glory is partially revealed as he begins to shine and his clothes turn intensely white. The group is soon joined by Elijah and Moses who appear and talk with Jesus about his ministry and his imminent departure. Peter, James, and John are terrified, but Peter feels an obligation to address Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, so he suggests that they construct three tents for these men. Suddenly a cloud descended, and a voice spoke from the cloud declaring Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father and instructed the disciples to listen to him, but when they looked only Jesus was there. The group begins to descend, and Jesus tells these three disciples not to tell anyone about what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The disciples kept the matter to themselves, but they are confused by what Jesus meant when he spoke of rising from the dead. They finally ask a question on their way down the mountain about why the scribes taught that Elijah had to appear. Jesus affirms the teaching of the scribes, but explains that Elijah had come, referring to John the Baptist who had come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). John the Baptist had been rejected and killed which was what awaited Jesus as well. 

Help My Unbelief

When the disciples return, they find the disciples surrounded by a crowd and arguing with the scribes. The crowd sees Jesus, and they went to greet him. He insures about their argument, but before they give the details a man from the crowd explains that he brought his son to Jesus because of a spirit that tormented him. This boy suffered terribly becoming mute, being thrown down, foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth, and becoming rigid. This father asked the disciples for help when he discovered that Jesus was not there. The disciples tried to free the boy from his demonic prison, but it was to no avail. Jesus responds with a lament over the lack of faith demonstrated by his disciples, and he tells them to bring the boy. As the boy nears Jesus, the spirit responded in rage or terror and convulsed the boy who fell to the ground and begin to roll about and foam at the mouth. Jesus asks the father how long he had suffered from this evil spirit and the father explained that he suffered from childhood and the spirit had sometimes thrown him into water and fire to destroy him. The man begs Jesus to show compassion and help if he can. Jesus calls the man to belief and faith. The man declares his belief in Jesus and asks him to help him with his unbelief. Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit, commanding it to come out and never enter him again. The spirit convulsed the boy terribly before it left and the boy was so still that the crowd thought they had just witnessed the boy's death. Jesus takes the boy by the hand, lifts him up, and gives him back to his father. When they returned home, the disciples wanted to know why they could not cast the spirit out and Jesus remarked that prayer was the way to contend with that particular spirit. 

True Greatness 

Jesus tries to avoid the crowds because he was teaching his disciples and reminding them of the reality that he would soon be killed and raised after three days. The disciples struggled to understand, but they could not wrap their minds around Jesus' mission and were afraid to ask, so they remained silent. As they arrive home in Capernaum, Jesus asked them about their discussion on the way back. Everyone went silent because they had been arguing about who was the greatest. It would not be difficult to imagine their conversations moving in this direction since the three were given a moratorium concerning the transfiguration. This must have irritated the disciples, not in attendance. Jesus gives the disciples an object lesson. He explains that the higher value in his kingdom is to be a servant and he brought a child into their midst to teach them that gentleness and humility should be the way we receive one another. John tells Jesus that they observed someone performing an exorcism in Jesus' name, but they tried to stop him because he was not part of their group. Jesus seeks to correct their thinking and calls for unity with those who claim the name of Christ. Jesus cautions those who would mislead others causing them to stumble and sin. The metaphors and examples that follow point to the danger of sin and the reality of judgment and hell. God is holy and just, and he will punish sin in eternal torment. 

Things To Consider:

  • What other significant events occurred on mountains in the Bible?
  • What did the disciples see when Jesus was transfigured?
  • Why is it significant that Jesus was with Moses and Elijah?
  • How does God the Father affirm us as his children?
  • How does one listen to Jesus?
  • How does Jesus answer our questions today?
  • What do you think was the emotional state of the father of the boy with unclean spirit after Jesus' disciples had failed to free him from his suffering?
  • Why do you think Jesus rebuked the lack of faith?
  • Have you ever asked God to help your unbelief?
  • Do we overlook prayer as we seek to minister?
  • Why are kingdom values so difficult for us?
  • Are you pursuing greatness the kingdom way?
  • Why is following Jesus the way of death?
  • Why did Jesus talk about hell more than heaven?
  • Why don't we talk about hell?