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MARK CHAPTER NINE
9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
This passage has puzzled many due to the fact that most that feel the kingdom is yet future wonder why He would declare that some would see it come before their death.
The answer is located, as is usual, within the direct context. The next thing that occurs is the transfiguration. This must be the kingdom coming in power some declare, however this is not necessarily a good explanation. Only three people saw it, so how could this be the kingdom coming? Actually He did not declare how many and three fits well "some of them" and may well be the answer to the question.
Some could well suggest that this was the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to inaugurate the beginning of the church. Of course others, the amillennialists, would declare these positions incorrect and declare themselves correct within their own position. Their position, the teaching that the kingdom is going on now and has been since 70 A.D., would place the coming at the 70 A.D. point when the temple was destroyed. This is a possible position, but to declare that the kingdom is going on now is to deny Scripture. Many passages in the Old Testament describe occurrences in the Kingdom and this day and age certainly does not fit into our own day.
Add to that the fact that Revelation speaks of the Devil being bound for the 1000 years of the kingdom and one must wonder at their position. How can anyone look our corrupt and evil world and suggest that the Devil is bound? Revelation 20:4-7 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,"
It also amazes me to hear those that suggest 70 A.D. is what was spoken of in the Old Testament as the coming of the kingdom - the Old Testament speaks of a glorious return, not the destruction of the temple and the further subjection of the Jewish people. Ezekiel speaks of the raising of dry bones and the flesh returning to the bones which pictures the returning of Israel, not its destruction. Ezekiel 37:4 "Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones , and say unto them O ye dry bones , hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones ; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD." That just does not sound like the destruction of Jerusalem.It would seem that the transfiguration was looking forward to the coming of Christ in the future when He would come to set up His kingdom on the earth for 1000 years.
9:2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 9:4
And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 9:5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 9:6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 9:8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 9:10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
"Transfigured" is the Greek word "metamorphoo" meaning transformed. It is the word we gain our word metamorphosis from. It is the idea of a complete change. This verb is in the passive thus this was a change that came from without Christ. This is not something that He did under His own power, but it was done to Him from the outside. The change was complete, it was from one thing into another.
Luke gives a slightly different view of the occurrence. Luke 9:28 "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering." Luke goes on to say that the three disciples were asleep and they awoke to this transformed Christ.
Can you imagine the shock of the apostles when they woke to such a site? One might wonder if Christ knew this was going to occur. Since He singled out the three to go with Him it might well be that He did. Take them with you to experience something super special and they go to sleep on Him - about par for mankind.
Not only was his being transformed, but even His garments. Some might suggest that the change was due to the glory of God shinning forth as with Moses in the cleft of the rock and this is a distinct possibility. However the use of the word transformed in Mark seems to call for something more than just the reflection of some glory.
Luke contains a small phrase that is of great importance to the whole situation that we have at hand. 9.31 "Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem."
Two things to consider - the fact that the three spoke of His coming crucifixion, and second, that HE would accomplish the deed. This goes to the passage in John 10:15 "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." This idea is related in otherpassages as well --Christ took it upon Himself to die for the lost of all generations. It was His doing, and His timing and all was under His control. Yes, of course the Father and Spirit were involved, but the point is that God controlled the situation, not the Jewish leaders, not the Roman leaders, and not one of the human race had any control over these occurrences.
Back to the first item, why did Moses and Elijah come to speak with Christ at this time or at any time? What did they speak to Him about? What items of discussion were available?
It crossed my mind that in the pre-incarnate days Christ and the duo might have been "friends" or close in some manner. Since Christ was the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament Moses may have had a special relationship with the Lord. I have no idea what kind of relationships we will have with the Lord but it seems that some people are closer to God in a special way due to their close relationship in this life, but there is no teaching on the subject in the Word.
We might remember that Elijah was translated without death (2 Kings 2:11) and Moses, though he died, was buried by God. We also know that there was a great angelic fight over the body of Moses (Judges 1:9), thus these two men were very special to the Lord even before this time. Enoch was also translated (Genesis 5:24) by God but he is not mentioned here. The reasoning is left to the Lord since we are just not told the why of this meeting.
There is the possibility that the discussion of Christ’s coming death (Luke 9:32)may well have related to Elijah and Moses and their interest in the complete work of salvation that Christ was committed to conclude. The pair would have known that their salvation was not yet complete in reality even though it was complete in God’s mind and plan.
These two that appeared with the Lord both had special items relating to their death, as would Christ. Whether there is a direct link between the three is not stated nor should it be assumed.
Gill suggests that this meeting was to show the apostles that Christ was there to put an end to the Law and the prophets. That His coming death was the completeness that the Old Testament saints were awaiting in Sheol (Luke 16:23).
The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Matthew 17:3 mentions the possible thought that Those present were representative of the categories of people who will make up the kingdom. Moses represented those that have believed and died, Elijah represents those that believe and do not die but are raptured, and the Apostles represent the living. It is also pointed out that Christ will be as Himself, the glorified Christ.
There is one obvious question - how did the apostles know it was Elajah and Moses, were they told or did they know or did they guess/assume due to the thinking of the Jews that the two would appear one day? Several commentaries mention that the Jewish leaders taught that the two would appear one day. If this were true it would be likely that the apostles knew it and this would have been quite a sign to them of the importance of the Lord.
Just a side note to the transfiguration, since the apostles were asleep (Luke 9:32) it is quitepossible that this was at night. Imagine waking to the brilliance of glory in the midst of blackness! We can understand why Peter was a little rattled at the time of his hoof in mouth disease.
Continuing with the passage, we see that Christ must have asked Peter something for Peter answered. Peter states that it is "good" that the disciples were there. The term relates to valuable or virtuous and seems a little more that just Good. A cup of coffee is good, but a Starbuck’s coffee is valuable - at least they think so from the prices that they charge.
9:5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 9:6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
Now we get to Peter’s hoof and mouth disease. He blurts out that they should build three tabernacles for the trio and it is mentioned that he was "sore afraid." Strong states that this word means scared out of one’s wits. They were in a world of hurt to know what was going on.
Luke may give us a little insight into Peter. Luke mentions that Elijah and Moses were moving away from the Lord. It might be that Peter wanted to make shelter for them all for the night thinking that the two were going to have to go quite a way to find shelter. This may have been the thinking/speaking of a man who had compassion.
Many suggest that Peter’s comment was inappropriate and this is probably noted due to the Gospel writer’s comments about him not knowing what he said or that he didn’t know what to say. Note should be made that there is no rebuke of Peter nor his offer thus we might assume that it was a natural reaction to the situation. His comment may have been off the mark due to his misunderstanding of the situation, but I am not convinced that it was inappropriate.
There are some differences between the accounts.
9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Matthew mentions when the others do not 17.6-8 "they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid."
Luke 9:34 mentions "and they feared as they entered into the cloud." Yet all three accounts mention the cloud overshadowed them. I would assume that the cloud came and enveloped them. The coming would be the overshadowing while the enveloping would be the entering.
The "voice" that came from the cloud is the word we gain "phone" from.
All three mention that God told them to hear His son, while Matthew adds "beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" and Luke 9:35 mentions "my Son, my chosen;"9:8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
Evidently Elijah and Moses were still there when the cloud came and then they suddenly disappeared as God spoke his Message to the three apostle.
It seems the sequence of events is that the two Old Testament saints appeared to the Lord, the apostles woke up, the cloud came, the apostles feared, Christ calmed their fears, God spoke and the two Old Testament saints disappeared.
9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 9:10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
They see Christ in glory or great brightness, they see Elijah and Moses, and they hear God speaking from a cloud and they spend their time wondering about what Christ meant about being raised from the dead. As humans we don’t seem to be able to focus on the important, but get lost in the detail.
Even today one might wonder at someone saying that he is going to be raised from the dead. The apostles indeed would have wondered at such a statement from the Lord. They would have been wondering but you would think that seeing Christ in the glorious way that they did that they would have wondered at that as well.
In the next verse we see confirmation that the Jews were looking for Elijah to appear. These three apostles were the only witnesses of that occurrence. One might wonder if they had an real grasp of the significance of all of this and that they alone had seen what the Jews were looking for.
It is quite possible that this was the sign that the Jews asked the Lord about in our previous studies. If it was, then the apostles alone saw the sign and then only three of them.
Verse 9 mentions that the Lord charged the three not to tell anyone of the transfiguration until he had been raised from the dead. "And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead." That would have been difficult for the three to rub shoulders with the other disciples and not speak of the occurrence.
There are times in ministry and in the congregation that not speaking of something is the required format of life. Be sure that you honor this requirement. If you do not you will most likely cause yourself much trouble and probably others along with you.
Silence is the only way to go - talking is never an alternative to not speaking of something that is to be kept quiet.
9:11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
9:12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 9:13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
It seems that this is still just the three apostles that had witnessed the transfiguration. Gill agrees with this assessment.
This passage states clearly that The Jews believed that Elias would come and Christ confirms that it was a correct belief on the part of the Jews, but also reveals that Elias had already arrived on the scene and the Jews had treated him in some manner.
Gill mentions that the Latin Vulgate Bible adds Pharisees to the mix by translating it scribes and Pharisees. I wouldn’t wonder if the term "scribe" wasn’t a broad term for all of the leadership since they were so closely related to one another.
Is Elias Elijah? Is Christ speaking of the transfiguration? It would seem that this is not the case since it looks as if Elias had arrived in the past at some point.
Is Elias speaking here of John the Baptist? Is Elias speaking of the Lord Himself? Let us see if we can determine this.
Gill lists a number of Jewish scholars that mention that Elias would come before the Messiah. Christ seems to be speaking to this belief and it would indicate that He was speaking of John the Baptist.
Some indicate that they feel that the transfiguration appearance was the appearing of Elias though the Jews had nothing to do with that so how could they have treated him in a poor manner as verse thirteen mentions? "and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."
Indeed, this may have been in the apostles mind as they spoke to Christ, but He makes it clear that the transfiguration had nothing to do with it.
Here is a prime example of the need to look at all the gospel records to gain the full accounting of facts. Matthew makes it clear that Christ was speaking of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:12
"But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
This would indicate that the three apostles did in fact think that the appearance of Elias/Elijah at the transfiguration was the appearance that the Jews were looking for. It also indicates that Peter’s offer to build tabernacles might well have been based on his belief that he two Old testament saints were not going to be leaving.This conversation brings to mind two previous discussions in Mark. One is when Herod was trying to figure our who Christ was when He heard of his fame. Mark 6:14 "And king Herod heard [of him]; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said That it is Elias . And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard [thereof], he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead."
The other comes when Christ asked Peter who people thought that He was. Mark 8:28 "And they answered, John the Baptist: but some [say], Elias ; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ."
This makes one wonder, with all of this information and all this commotion about who different ones were, how the Jews could possibly have missed the implications of John the Baptist and Jesus. It seems to me that only their blindness could have allowed them to have missed all this that had been laid our so clearly before them. This blindness came from God Himself. We know that Christ spoke in parables to keep the Jews from understanding. I personally would add that the blindness may well have been brought to the Jews even more completely by the Father as He did unto Pharaoh. (Romans 9:17 "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh , Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy] and whom he will he hardeneth.")
Another passage that makes it clear that God has repercussions for those that reject him is Romans 1:20. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."The clear implication of these passages is that if a man turns against God, at some point God will turn the man’s heart even further from God and that there will be no cure for the turning. The application of this is related to the lost when they die. They are clearly without excuse and they clearly will reap that which they have sown. Their final destiny is far from God and of their own choice.
When someone dies and the relatives morn the loss, if they question the eternal state of the person you can, in clear conscience tell them that God gives choices in life and each person must choose their own way to walk. If they are in heaven it is because of a clear choice for God. If they are not in heaven it is also because of a clear choice against God.
It is not our place to assume that we can tell if a person was a child of God or not, it is their own choice and unless they made that choice known we cannot know what it was nor their placement in eternity.
This, in my mind, allows us to have peace after the loss of a loved one. We need not worry whether we lived correctly before them, we need not worry whether we witnessed clearly enough to them, and we need not worry about their eternal destination. It was between the person and God. There was little we could have done or say that would have changed things - it is simply a decision the person made when confronted with the revelation of God in nature and to any revelation that they might have received in life.
Their decision, not God’s, not yours - THEIR DECISION.
9:14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 9:15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 9:16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 9:17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 9:18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
We see in Christ confronting the Scribes a concern for His apostles as well as a watchfulnessover them. He confronted those that questioned them to head off any problems that the questioners might have wanted to raise. Christ was showing a protective stance over His own.
Pastors and teachers, this would be a good standard to set for yourselves in relation to your people. They need some watching over and concern. Your protectiveness is a part of your ministry. Be sure that you have a concern and protective attitude. If you do not there might be something missing in your ministry.
Recently I read a post on an Internet forum from a pastor that had been at his new church for three months. He was already looking for a way out and wanting people to give reason to move on.
He had wanted to change some things in the church and presented his changes to the board. They said okay and he instituted the changes. People did not like the changes and were complaining. He was afraid that he was in the wrong church.
He was more interested in changing what was working for the church rather than being interested in watching over the flock that God had placed him over. His concerns were for his own style of church rather than the peoples wellfair.
In verse fifteen it mentions that the people were amazed. Some suggest that they were surprised that He came to the aid of the disciples since the Scribes were getting the better of them. In the first place there is no indication that there was a dispute going on, nor that the scribes were getting the better of the apostles.
The amazement might, but we have no real indication of it, be that Christ had an afterglow of sorts from the transfiguration much as Moses did when he came down from Sinai when God passed him by. This was my first thought though it would be pure speculation.
Since Christ had been trying to remain out of the limelight it may have been that the people were just surprised to see Him in public.
16 "And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?"
If there was a dispute it was probably over why the apostles could not heal the person. The Scribes undoubtedly knew of the miracles of the Lord as well as probable miracles of the disciples when Christ sent them out. Indeed, they might even, forgive me for questioning their motives, have brought the problem man to them when the Lord was not around to test them, or try to cause problems for them or the Lord. Now, I just never question other peoples motives - well not all the time - well, yes most of the time, but the Scribes just ache for our doubt don’t you think?
17 "And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;"Whether this man was a Scribe or whether he was just one seeking assistance with his child we are not told. It would seem easiest to see him as just one that came to seek help with his child though it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Scribes brought him with them. (The preposition "of" is related to origin thus one from the multitude.)
Luke 9:38-39 mentions the fact that this was the man’s only child, one most precious to his father to be sure.
This man was answering Christ’s question as to why the Scribes were asking questions of the disciples. This is why we might suspect that he was a plant of some sort, though I would doubt he was a knowing participant if he was a part of the Scribe’s plan.
The father now expands upon the condition of his son. Matthew mentions that he was, as Robertson has it an "epileptic" but Mark’s record just concentrates on the spirit that was present.
(The King James uses the term lunatic) "dumb spirit" is the comment of the father.
Matthew records that the father knelt indicating that the man had some understanding of the importance of Christ - He was one to be honored when making a request.
The church has lost something in the area of prayer. In all of the churches that I have attended over the near fifty years that I have been regular I have only been in one church where people prayed on their knees. If you study the term worship in the Bible you will find that often it is used in the context of someone kneeling or prostrate.
This is God that we are approaching and it is due respect that we owe Him. Yes, He will allow you to approach Him in any manner you wish but in my mind you show Him what level of respect that you give by your appearance, actions, words and position.
Just read through the throne scene accounts in the Bible, this is the scene right now before God and how do we approach His throne. Revelation speaks of the elders throwing their crowns before Him. Is that the approach you have in your church? (4.24 "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, [Thou] dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And [the spirit] cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.")
I must wonder at some of the "worship" that I see today. People on stage swinging and swaying and waving their hands in the air as if to try to get a disinterested God’s attention. This is not the action shown in the Word, but rather God’s people on their knees before their God. Even Christ is shown to be in a prostrate position when going to the Father in prayer. Matthew 26:39 mentions Him on His face.Now let us move on to the unfortunate person who is being tormented. The word translated "teareth" is a much stronger than our idea of tear. It is a word that relates to smashing into small pieces or shatter. More the idea of a Corel dinner dish that shatters into minute shards and some larger pieces. "Gnashing" or grinding of teeth is the idea. In fact Robertson mentions of the word "Old word for making a shrill cry or squeak." It actually relates to the sound that this makes rather than the action itself.
"Pineth" relates to a wasting away or drying up. Barnes mentions "haggard, and emaciated" in relation to this word. This devil was causing great physical trouble for the man’s son. In later verses we see even more description of the son’s condition.
The disciples were asked to bring the devil our or cast him out. This word differs from the one in verse twenty-nine which is one related to our word exorcism though the meaning is similar.
18 "And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not."
"And they could not." Is of great interest to me. Some speak of the ease with which demons come out and they seem to do it as if on a whim in services, yet the apostles could not throw out a real devil. Would make you wonder of the validity of today’s easy healing services.
Casting out demons, if there is such a thing today, is serious business and should not be taken lightly. Accounts coming from China and some of the island countries would seem to indicate that such things are still going on. Said reports seem to indicate the fact that you had better be in great spiritual shape to enter into such dealings with the spirit world.
A dozen praise songs with swinging and swaying would not seem to be proper preparation. It would be suggested that only mature and spiritual believers become involved in such things. Someone that knows the Lord very well and someone that knows the enemy.
19 "He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me."
A little disappointment with the apostles it would seem. And since he mentions the demon would only come out with fasting and praying later, we know what the disciples had not been doing.
If such preparation is needed for the disciples and the Lord it would seem good preparation for such activity today as well.
20 "And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming." 21 "And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child." 22 "And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us,and help us.
It crossed my mind that there seems to be more detail given about this man’s son than other healings and encounters. It is not clear as to why more detail, but it might be assumed that it was because there were some present that might have needed that information to really understand what was going on. Possibly there were doubters present that did not really know if this boy was really problem riden.
It may have related to setting the father at ease though the man seems to be more emotional in the next verses than others in our studies.
23 " Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things [are] possible to him that believeth." 24
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
Christ declares that correction of the problem is as simple as believing. Indeed, all that relates to our association with God is based on belief. Nothing more and nothing less - simply believe.
Of course, simple belief requires, in and of itself, a turning or changes, so all you repentance buffs rest your knife sharpening arms and relax for there will be no carving up of Derickson this day.
25 "When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, [Thou] dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." 26 "And [the spirit] cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead." 27 "But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose."
First, the demon had attempted to kill this boy thus he had power over life as did the demons that killed the swine. Not that they could kill outright, but that they could cause circumstances that would cause death.
Second the text is quite clear as to the physical toll that was taken on the boy. He was as if dead - total fatigue and exhaustion.
Some might suggest that since the cross the demons might not have such powers over people. While this might be true, the reports that have come forth from areas where the Devil is quite active might make one wonder. We are not told definitely one way or another and the book of Acts, a post cross record, has accounts of demon activity (Acts 16:16).
Mark 9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
We see an interesting point of information relating to demons in this passage. The apostles hadfailed to cast the demon out of the boy and now they are interested in knowing why they could not. They had seen the Lord do the work quite easily and since they were His followers it would seem obvious that they could do the same, after all He had given them power over the spirits before He sent them forth earlier. Mark 6:7 "And he called [unto him] the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;"
The Lord answers them that "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." He tells us here that there are different kinds of spirits. We have little information about this but we do know that the good angels have a hierarchy of some sort since arch angels are mentioned as well as just angels. Some evidently have either more prominence, position or power - most likely in my mind all three.
The one in the boy was one that was more powerful in some manner it would seem if it would take fasting and prayer to cast this particular one out of the boy.
The thought occurred to me that since this spirit had been present for a long time, possibly the son was just too weak of spirit and body to resist the demon any longer. We are not told of the powers of the demons nor of their characteristics. We know that there are differences of power or cunning since we know the Word tells us of God’s angels having victory over other powers of the air.
Whether this "difference was related to acquired strength or positional strength we do not know. All we know is that this one required fasting and prayer to be cast out. We know from this that the apostles were not up on their personal prayer lives - ahem, how about us?
One must remember that it was the nine apostles that were not at the transfiguration that were powerless in the situation and asking the question. It is not known whether the other three would also have been powerless over the demon or not.
Now in the area of speculation can you imagine the Devil at this point? One of his demons(or himself is a possibility that has not been mentioned) has resisted the powers of the Lord’s own apostles. Wow what bragging rights to thumb his nose at God and say, "Hey I told you so!"
It occurred to me that this might have been part of the Lord’s sharp rebuke - a frustration of allowing the demons bragging rights, if you will, over the Lord
Just a side note, "fasting" is not present in some translation. Robertson tells us that the two best Greek manuscripts do not contain fasting. Matthew adds the idea of faith to the mix. He gives the Lord’s comments of the mustard seed and tells the apostles that their failure is a lack of faith.
Now, we won’t take time to study the relation of faith to prayer but it seems to be an obvious relationship in the area of faith to do the works of the Lord. I’ve read that the average pastor spends eight minutes a day in prayer - no wonder the church is powerless before the world. I’m sure many do much better than this and I’m sure that many church goers do much better as well but if you see your church as weak and powerless before the world, find a soft pillow to rest yourknees on and see if you cannot change things for your Master and Lord.
Mark makes no mention of faith and Matthew makes no mention of prayer, thus both must have had an understanding that the one was closely related to the other. That would make a very interesting theological study for someone to do.
Robertson also mentions that the spirit discerned the lack of power of the disciples and refused to come out. This idea of the spirit not coming out due to the disciples lack of power is of interest. They were using the power they had but it was not enough. Possibly were they relying on their own power and not the power of the Lord? Might we bee doing the same thing at times in our own ministries?
Robertson further suggests that the spirit was responding to the lack of "moral power. This is of interest to contemplate for awhile as well.
The People’s New Testament notes mention of Matthew’s account of Jesus telling the disciples that if they had the faith of a mustard seed they could move a mountain, that Christ may well have been pointing to Mt. Hermon.
One side note, both authors mention "it" in some translations when speaking of the demon. We know that the Devil is a person as God is a person in the spirit world. We do not know a lot about personality relating to the Devil/demon world but to use "it" to describe one is of interest. It is also probably an unfortunate choice since "him" is an alternate translation for the word in the Greek.
The point being that this is not just an "it" but a thinking rationalizing being that the disciples were dealing with - someone that could certainly determine their power or authority over him.
Now when we are in the area of spiritual warfare we should know our own limitations/possibilities due to our lack of or abundance of prayer. We should also be knowledgeable of our adversary - not some stupid spirit that we can order around at will. It is the power of faith that will cause us to be victorious, not our own self-importance and self worth or some other worldly concept.
Verse nineteen mentions the faithless generation. Thus we might note that lack of faith and the closely related prayer was the cause of the powerless disciples.
As to faith there is real faith and there is false faith. A good illustration of the two types of faith is Carey and one of his associates. They were off to the mission field and even boarded their ship, but as the ship was about to break into open water it was stopped and his associate was taken off to face charges for trying to leave his bad debts. Both going on faith, but only one faith was solidly founded on godly principles.
We all must walk by faith but faith in God and not in ourselves. Carey knew that God wouldtake care of him and He did though out his life. His azsociate forgot to live his life by God’s principles and was hindered in what he wanted to do for God.
As we pray and walk with God we know His leading and have the faith that is needed for our walk with Him, however if we are not praying and not wallking with Him we cannot know the peace that He can give.
Faith can indeed move mountains. Hudson Taylor took one step of faith after another until he was trusting God for the financing of hundreds of missionaries with his mission. He knew his God and he knew his God would provide.
We have some simple statements of occurrence in the next passage.
30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
It would seem that He wanted some time with the disciples to concentrate on teaching them of coming events. He tells them of His coming death and resurrection though they did not grasp what He was talking about.
Matthew mentions that they were sorry relating to their not asking Him for clarification, and Luke mentions that the real meaning was hidden from them 9.45 "...it was concealed from them that they should not perceive it:"
It would seem that it was hidden from them, and they did not understand it and were afraid to ask Him about it. Part of the fear may have been from the situation where they could not cast out the demon. Part of it might have been that they had heard all this before and didn’t understand it then. (Mark 8:31"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.")
This is a good illustration of the relation of a person’s perception when something has been hidden from them by God or parables(as we have seen in the Gospels). It is hidden, but it is not hidden in such a way that they seek and seek till found. They do not know, they may even wonder, but they do not seek to conclusion.
Just why it was hidden is not revealed but one might surmise that had they fully understood what was coming the disciples might have removed themselves from the Lord’s company. It would not be a far jump to understand that they were in danger had they known what was coming. It may relate some to the fact that if they had known that he was going to be raised from the dead that they would have talked up the subject to others to the over exposure of the truth coming in the near future.It certainly would have messed up their concept of their Messiah that was going to be freeing them from government oppression to know that he was going to be killed and buried, even if He told them that He was going to raise from the dead it would have totally messed up their concept and expectations.
Okay he teacher caught you talking in class and is about to make you tell what you were talking about - oh, maximum embarrassment.
Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
He asks them what they were talking about, they refuse to tell Him, so He gives application to the topic of their discussion. At least they were trying to settle this among themselves, now days we just assume that we will be first and we all work, scramble and claw toward the top not paying too much attention to others we are climbing over to get there.
Christ tells them that the principle is that they must be servants if they want to come out on top. If you want to serve Christ to the best possible, you must be a servant. Servant of Christ would be my thought, rather than serving others, though serving of others is often a part of being God’s servant.
Oh the need of servants hearts in God’s pulpits today. Too many are in the pulpit and in their position as dictator or at least as head honcho. Servant is not a concept that is overwhelmingly accepted today.
Matthew mentions that the disciples asked Christ who would be greatest while Mark and Luke mention them reasoning among themselves. This is not a problem, only that there were reasonings and at some point the disciples actually asked the Lord to settle the question.
Matthew mentions "In that hour" and would seem to tie the occasion to his preceding context while Mark indicates there was some time between verse 32 and 33. It would seem quite adequate to say that they ask the Lord, then later were reasoning together. This would indicate that the Lord did not answer their question.
Luke mentions "reasoning of their heart" which might indicate that there was a question, some disputing among the twelve and then some internal reasoning on the part of the twelve as they continued thinking on the subject.
Matthew alone ties the discussion to the Kingdom. Evidently they thought that they were going to be special in the kingdom but one might be more special.
This also adds weight to the thought that they were looking for an earthly kingdom immediate,rather than later as was the plan of God.
To settle the subject He took a child and laid it out in plain, simple and understandable language.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Luke adds "for he that is least among you all, the same is great." Note "is great" not will be great. Do your works here and you will be what you will be seems to be the idea. In short, do not worry about then but do now.
Matthew adds that if you humble yourself here you will be greatest in the kingdom.
Over all being accepting of a child is to be accepting of the Lord and that act relates closely with your position in the kingdom.
This whole concept of humility is a close relative of what has been mentioned of pastors/teachers in our pulpits today. Where is the humility? Pastors are to be accepting of the children, and accepting of being humble like a child. What a goal to set for one’s self.
It almost seems as though John takes the Lord’s words of being accepting of a child to heart and wonders aloud of someone they had seen ministering. It might well relate back to the whom will be greatest however since he seems to be looking down his nose at this one that had been ministering.
It seems from the text that John was answering a question or was responding to something the Lord had said. I probably is that he understood the Lord in his illustration of humility and serving and wondered at the man under discussion. This man was doing works in your name, but we told him to stop. The indication being "Were we correct in doing so?"
We want to see if we can find some principle for our own time here.
Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
This passage has perplexed many over the years. Just what are we supposed to make of such statements by the Lord. Are we not to speak against anyone that operates under the name/guise of the Lord Jesus Christ? How about the Mormons, the Roman church, and other isms that name the name of Christ.
Lightfoot suggests that this man may have been a disciple of John. It could also have been one ofthe thousands that had followed and heard Christ. Possibly one that had seen Christ casting out demons.
The first principle might be that one must mind the context of the comments. They are in Christ’s own time and there were no cults or isms as such yet. Thus this must guide our interpretation.
Second, the man mentioned was casting out demons in the Lord’s name. They named Christ as their authority and they were capable of casting out the demons, which would indicate they had the power and authority in some manner.
Next we see that the Lord mentions that the one could not "lightly speak evil of Me." Thus we might apply this to the group we might want to speak against does not speak evil of Christ.
To recap, this man most likely was a disciple of the Lord that was out doing the work of the Lord. He spoke with authority, he seemed to have the power over demons and he was not speaking evil of the Lord.
From this we can surely speak out against cults and isms of our own day if they do not give evidence of miracles or works of God, or if they speak evil of Christ. Now, we have some latitude in the final item. They may uphold the name of Christ, yet if their doctrine varies from the Biblical doctrine of Christ in my mind they are speaking evil of Him.
Any group or person who detracts from the character or message of the Lord might be spoken against without causing damage to this passage. If a group says He was the brother of the devil - that seems evil to me. If a group says that He was not a man - that seems evil to me. If a group says that He was not God -that seems evil to me.
The discussion at hand may have related to the apostle’s inability to cast out the demon just previously. John may have wondered at the qualifications of this man in comparison to the apostles inability to do the same thing. There may have been a lot of underlying things in the minds of the apostles relating to humility and service. Just where were they in relation to Christ if they could not cast out a demon.
Whether this was a disciple of John or whether a listener to the teachings of the Lord we do not know, but we do know that the Lord taught the apostles through the experience.
Matthew does not cover this and Luke only mentions it briefly ending with the comment "Forbid him not: for he that is not against you is for you." This seems to be in keeping with our observations from Mark.
We now launch into a rather dark section of do’s and don’ts even though do’s and don’ts are anathema in our church culture today. Christ mentions several things, all of which will gain the person either good or bad depending on their action. Hummm, consequences for your actions what a novel concept and to think that the Lord had it first, not the hyper fundamentalist right ofour society.
So many today look down upon consequences as something that will hinder the full potential of the person. True, they do hinder them from reaching their full evil potential. Our society is lacking in every religious social grace there is. Ethics is an unknown in business, in life and often in church life.
Our school system has taught our newer generations that what you want is okay, just do it. No consequences, no repercussions, and no guilt if someday you find out you caused someone harm - it was their fault not yours is the attitude that they are taught.
Recently it has been revealed that many in the mortgage industry had been telling people to lie on their applications so they could get their home loans. Bad enough that the financial folks have no qualms about dishonesty, but the other side is that thousands of applicants also deemed it correct and proper to lie.
The moral fiber of America has been eaten away by the moths of immorality. And what is worst the church seldom raises a voice of concern. Where is the moral outrage? Where is the preaching of moral principles? When church boards purposely decide to deal with the lost community with the community’s standard of conduct rather than Christ’s how can it stand against immorality? It cannot because it dare not draw light upon itself.
Years ago I was in a church office in a large church waiting to speak to someone and I overheard the receptionist and a member of the staff arguing very loudly about whether the church should deal with businesses with Christian standards or with worldly standards. The staffer was quite pointed in telling the woman who the church would use the world’s standard and that it was church policy.
We will break this section up, but do not forget to understand it as a whole. Christ is laying some serious stuff on the apostles at this moment in time.
Mark 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
Good works assures the retention of rewards.
It is a bit foreign to my own thinking to be concerned about the gaining or loosing of reward. I have always served the Master to the best of my ability with no thought as to what reward might or might not exist. I serve Him out of love and a response to what He has done for me, not out of fear or response to what He might yet do for me. Salvation was the gift, and servant hood was the response.
42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
It is clear that one that offends a child, physical death is the better result for the offender. And our Supreme Court just said that death for a child rapist is cruel and unusual punishment. Any guesses what God thinks of our judicial system?
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Several points here. It is better to cut off your hand if it offends you.
1. Not responding to your own sin can result in hell. If your hand offends you cutting it off is better than to allow it to cause you to end up in hell. Now, this is not literal - if your hand is offending you don’t chop it off, your insurance may not cover it. However if your hand causes you to sin, it would be better to cut it off than to allow its action to cause you to end in hell.
It would seem that God is quite serious about sin. Not like so many preachers of today that speak of missing the mark, or of disappointing God, but sin is wrong and it can cause you to go to hell. Our watered down preaching of today is a shame upon the church of our generation.
The current church is more interested in entertainment and numbers than in telling people of their sin.
Recently I read of some people’s concern about the denominational VBS materials they had used this year. Several observed and agreed that it presented a very watered down Gospel. They noted that "sin" was not discussed in their materials and that they were very disappointed. Several others on the forum were rather incensed at the accusations and thought that the material did a good job.
Some are discerning and others are enablers of the system by their acceptance of the norm.
2. Hell’s fire is never quenched.
A simple yet so misunderstood statement. We ran into a young man who told me that hell’s fire and torment was only a temporary thing, that after you were purified you would be transferred to heaven - yea, right as if the Lord Jesus Christ did not know what He was saying.
Now a bit of irony here, my wife had a rich relative that always said that he was taking his money with him. He declared boldly that he had an asbestos coffin. Now we all know asbestos relates to an insulating material that insulates against fire, however in our text the phrase "that shall never be quenched" is the translation of one Greek word which just happens to be "asbestos" which means not to be quenched or unquenchable.
This fire is definitely not something that will go out just as you get uncomfortable; it is a fire that will continue on for your eternal existence. Gill points out that this fire refers to the valley of Hinnom that was actually the Jerusalem city dump where the fire was continually burning to destroy the polluted animals and trash of the city. You can imagine the Lord using such a visual to illustrate His comments.
Robertson adds a little further information about the valley, "The Valley of Hinnom had been desecrated by the sacrifice of children to Moloch so that as an accursed place it was used for the city garbage where worms gnawed and fires burned. It is thus a vivid picture of eternal punishment."
I recall as a young boy, my father taking me to our city dump in a small town in the Midwest to shoot our little twenty-two rifle. I liked going out to shoot rats, but I can, to this day, remember the smell of burning garbage and furniture etc. I really disliked that end of the time with my father. I know, quality time with your son - going to the city dump to shoot rats - well in the forties that was a splurge for many families when it came to "bonding" time.
3. Hell is not annihilation. If, as we have already seen, the fire is non ending, then the existence there most likely is also non ending. Hell is not a temporary stop-off or transfer station for the lost it is a destination.
I have always played a little game with my mind relating to just who gained eternal life through the shed blood of Christ. I am almost persuaded that all gain eternal life, both the believer and the lost. He paid the price for all, all is available to all of mankind. The fact that they reject His gracious invitation to heaven is their own fault and of their own doing, not God’s. If they choose to spend their eternity in hell, in darkness, in fire and in eternal torment so be it. They were given opportunity, they were given revelation, yet they rejected that revelation and chose their eternal destination.
If this be true, can we ever give witness to the Gospel without a clear understanding of hell also being given? To share the love of Christ without the knowledge of hell is to share only part of the message. Our church today is so tied up in anti theological rhetoric that they fail to teach their congregations that the loving God is also a just and vengeful God that has set the standards and will enforce them no matter if we give a Reader’s Digest version of His message or not.
Accepting Christ must be based on understanding who we are in our lost condition, where we are heading due to our lost condition and that Christ can remedy both conditions through a proper understanding of Who He is and what He has done.
4. Just in case you missed it, the fire is never quenched. Need we say this? Probably not, but let no one suggest that fair warning was not given.
We have another very similar illustration. This time it is the foot that might offend. These are not to be taken literally, or the thought of really cutting your hand or foot off, but rather just the realization of just how serious sin is for the believer.
Indeed, if you cannot control your body then loosing part of it would be the more preferable. Theconclusion might be that we are able and capable of controlling our bodies and keeping them from offending us.
45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
It might be of interest to understand how the hand and/or foot might be an offense. The hand might offend by reaching and/or doing something that is improper while the foot might carry you to that impropriety.
Next we see the eye mentioned and we all know how the eye can find its way into wrongdoing. Using it in the viewing of improper subject matter. I would classify most television in this area. We are to think on things that are good, but too many sit in front of the television absorbing smut at a very high level.
One might observe also that it is really the mind that is the true culprit in all of these. The hand the foot, and the eye really have nothing to do with it other than being a helper to the minds indiscretions. They are the enablers if you will.
47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another.
We all know that we are to be the salt of the earth and this reference just adds to that line of thought. We are to have salt in ourselves and peace with one another. This might be one of the clearest indications that Christians should get along that the Scripture relates to us.
Not that we closely associate with false doctrine, but we ought to get along with others that name the name of Christ.
Years ago I was told by a missionary to South America that he had set up a small church in his home. The charismatic missionary in the same town rented the building next door and set up loudspeakers to transmit his wild and noisy services to the neighborhood. It was completely disruptive of the services next door.
This sort of thing is obnoxious and totally uncalled for. I would be quick to submit that there are probably similar stories of the non-charismatics actions as well. We all need to understand what the Lord was trying to do in this passage - have peace with one another and all be salt to the society that we live in.One must remember the context of this passage. The disciples had been discussing who would be first, they then discussed one casting out demons in the Lord’s name, and we remember that the Lord introduced them to the child. In this context He calls us to have salt within and unity without. Sounds like a very tall order to me for the believer.
Being first is not relevant, being salt is. Being the true follower is not relevant but unity is. Indeed, who is the true follower? Yes, we fundamentalist/evangelical folks believe we are but then so do all the others that name the name of Christ. All of us being salt is the key. All of us living in unity is the other key.
Verse forty-nine introduces us to an interesting phrase. "For every one shall be salted with fire and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." Just what might the Lord have meant by this statement?
Fire often relates to judgment or trial but in the case of a believer, trial would be more fitting. Is there a possible answer in the fact that the salty believer will be tried by fire?
It can be observed in most of history those movements that were doing great things for the Lord have found persecution. Even today in the world motivated and committed Christians find trouble for their cause. In America we are even beginning to see this coming. Those children/teens in our public schools that would take a stand for their Lord often find themselves ridiculed if not discriminated against by zealous teachers/administrators that think the federal government has given them authority to indoctrinate in the cause of secularism.
On the other hand Barnes mentions that many take it to mean that the salt preserves those in hell so that they do not putrefy as meat would without salt.
He comes to another conclusion. "Probably the passage has no reference at all to future punishment; and the difficulty of interpreting it has arisen from supposing it to be connected with the 48th verse, or given as a "reason" for what is said in "that" verse, rather than considering it as designed to illustrate the "general design" of the passage. The main scope of the passage was not to discourse of future punishment; that is brought in incidentally. The chief object of the passage was -
"1. To teach the apostles that "other men," not "with them," might be true Christians Mark 9:38-39.
"2. That they ought to be disposed to look favorably upon the slightest evidence that they "might be true believers," Mark 9:41.
"3. That they ought to avoid giving "offence" to such feeble and obscure Christians Mark 9:42.
"4. That "everything" calculated to give offence, or to dishonor religion, should be removed Mark 9:43.
And "5. That everything which would endanger their salvation should be sacrificed; that they should "deny" themselves in every way in order to obtain eternal life. In this way they would be "preserved" to eternal life."
The context seems to be the apostles, their place in the kingdom and others doing work forChrist. Thus we should find some understanding within that context.
He mentions that this is a difficult passage and that there are many theories as to its meaning so we may not answer your questions here either.
Verse 49 seems to speak of the sacrifice that one might make for the Lord in His service and in humbling ourselves by controlling our members. That sacrifice will be salted or shown to be properly prepared for the Lord and your offering of it to Him. (Leviticus 2:13 seems to be the thinking behind what the Lord said relating to sacrifices and salt.)
Verse fifty seems to relate to the thought of unity which has been mentioned. That we that serve Him should be properly prepared and that we should have unity of mind with others that are doing His work.
And just a comment or two about the worm that we were introduced to. "Worm" means that crawly thing or a maggot. Ever hear the comment of "such a worm as I" in a hymn - this is probably the thinking of the writer.
In Isaiah’s closing words in 66.22ff we read "22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 24 And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
Two items should be noted here. First of all this is in the context of the new heavens and new earth yet the redeemed can look upon the lost in their torment. What an awesome line of thought this is. We will agree with God in His justice and His disposition of the lost and can agree with Him on their eternal condition.
But more to the point of our text it speaks of the same thing that Mark introduced us to - the worm that will not die.
The worm seems to relate to their life rather than their situation for the situation is described by the fire that will not be quenched.
Barnes takes a little different look at the passage and may be right when he suggests that the worm is like the worms that feed on dead bodies after a huge battle. The worms will continue on as long as there is flesh to feed upon. The failure of his illustrations seems to be in the eternal end of things and the fact that the worm seems to be a part of the person rather than something coming upon the dead person and beginning to feed.
Some mention that verse 44 and 46 are not in a lot of manuscripts and the Net Bible omits both verses, but verse 48 reiterates the thought so we miss nothing either way.The worm is described as "their worm" thus something possessed by the person or indeed some integrated part of the person’s being might be the thought in my mind. This thinking is not seen in the commentaries that I looked into. All speak of the symbolic worm and that it related to the flesh eating worms of death.
If this was the case I must wonder why the Holy Spirit through Mark included the pronoun indicating ownership or possession.
Psalms 22:6 Pictures this closer relation to the worm and it does not seem to be something eating upon the body but rather symbolic of the being. "But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people."
Isaiah 14:11 seems to be more to the point of the commentaries. When speaking of Lucifer Isaiah mentions "Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee."
Also of interest is the fact that Mark is alone in his descriptiveness and mention of the worm. One might think that his descriptiveness is to bore into his readers mind as a death worm one day will and convince them of their final and ultimate end if they reject this Jesus to which he is giving witness to.
The thought of giving a cup of water in the Lord’s name is of interest and should be noted. Serving Christ is not the dedication of going to deepest Africa as a missionary to reach the tribes of the jungle, but it is the giving of a cup of water. Not to detract from the thousands of committed missionaries that are doing a fine work, and are serving their Lord in far-off lands but all of us can serve Christ right where we are.
So often people get into the I’m going to be a missionary/pastor mode and they commit themselves to study to do so. Christ says giving a cup of water is important as well. While you are preparing for ministry be sure to prepare for eternity by giving water to those that you meet.
No, water is not the issue, it is the giving in Christ’s name. Be sure to serve in whatever small way you can no matter who you are or what you are doing.
One item that many Bible colleges have allowed to go by the wayside is "Christian Service." When I was in college we were required to put in 15 hours or so of Christian Service. This included anything OUTSIDE of the school that we did for the Lord. If we would go door knocking for an hour that would count. We were held responsible for this service so that the school knew that we were doing it. Most of the Christian service projects had to be cleared by someone at the school.
The point was that even though we were in school preparing for the Lord’s work we were out in the world doing something for Him. It is sure that if we had not been required to do the service we would have found reasons not to in our busy lives of working for a living, raising families and of course church, school and everything else in life. No matter how busy we were we foundfifteen hours a week to serve Him that we serve.
Assure your reward by serving the one that will reward you - Christ.
I’ve related before in my notes that while working for J.C. Penney I went a year without absence. At the end of the year the manager took all of us that had good attendance out for a nice lunch. As we were leaving I thanked the manager and said, "This is neat, to get rewarded with a great lunch for doing what we are supposed to do." He smiled recognizing my insight.
We are supposed to serve the Lord, but when we do we get rewarded for it - how great does it get?
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension