Lesson 9 w/AnswersMark Chapter 9
In this lesson, we will be studying Mark Chapter 9. Jesus continues to teach both his disciples as well as the crowd that has been following them in the area of Caesarea Philippi. Confirming Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus is now completing his teaching on what is required to follow him. We will observe many amazing things in this chapter, including Jesus telling the disciples for the second time that he will be crucified and will rise from the dead. In this chapter, Jesus will tell us what true discipleship means, and the battle that we are to wage against allowing sin into our lives.
Let’s read through Mark Chapter 9 and consider the following questions.
- Mark informs us that after six days, Jesus took only three people—James, John and Peter—up into a high mountain with him where they were all alone. On the seventh day, Jesus was transfigured before them. What does the word "transfigured" mean? (see Mark 9:1-3, Romans 12:2, and 2 Corinthians 3:18)
- ANSWER: The word comes from a root word meaning metamorphosis, which means to be changed into something completely different. Just as Paul teaches us in the Romans and 2 Corinthians references, we are to be changed and transformed into something completely different. That change occurs in us when we invite the Holy Spirit to come and live within us. Jesus was changed that day so that the disciples could see that he was indeed the Messiah, and that he was the One anointed by God.
- Jesus’ transfiguration showed the disciples in a physical way what Jesus will be like when he comes again in glory—his body had been transfigured into that glorified body. They saw him as he will be when he returns in power and glory to establish his earthly kingdom. During this event, two men miraculously appeared with him. Who were they, who tells us who they were, and what might we be able to tell about heaven as a result of this event? (see Mark 9:4-6)
- ANSWER 1: Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, appeared during the transfiguration event and were talking to Jesus. We know this because Peter identifies them.
- ANSWER 2: In addition to the obvious implication, i.e., that the presence of Moses and Elijah attested to the disciples that Jesus was the Messiah; I believe that we can learn something else about heaven from this event. Specifically, that we will be able to recognize people in heaven in their heavenly bodies. We see in the transfiguration event that both Moses and Elijah had physical bodies—heavenly ones for certain—and that they were able to speak as they talked with Jesus. Even more interesting is that Peter recognized who they were immediately without needing any introduction. He also saw them physically, as referenced by his desire to build tents for each of them. I think this scene reassures us that Jesus is truly the Messiah, Elijah and Moses indicate to us that we will have heavenly bodies until we are resurrected, and that we will be able to recognize all those in heaven with us. Won’t that be an amazing day?! From heaven, we will then return with the Messiah, receive our resurrected bodies, and then reign with Christ. What a glorious day that will be, as Jesus establishes his kingdom on earth. Imagine all that was running through the minds of the disciples on that day of transfiguration.
- Did God make it abundantly clear that Jesus was his only son, that he was the true Messiah? (see Mark 9:7)
- ANSWER: Yes, God made it crystal clear to these three disciples: "This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!" God could not have been more clear. Now, not only had these disciples seen all of the miracles that Jesus performed, but they had also heard the voice of God telling them to listen to him.
- Following God’s command to "Listen to him!," Moses and Elijah disappear; and the disciples stand alone with Jesus. As they head back down the mountain, Jesus instructs them not to tell anyone what they had seen. He had said this before, but this time was different. When did Jesus say that they would be allowed to talk about the transfiguration event? Since they believed in a future resurrection, why were they discussing what "rising from the dead" meant? (see Mark 9:8-10)
- ANSWER 1: Jesus told them that once "the Son of Man had risen from the dead," they could tell others what they had seen on the mountain when he was transfigured. Jesus knew that they and others would not completely understand the transfiguration event until after his resurrection.
- ANSWER 2: The disciples still did not comprehend Jesus’ telling them that he would be crucified and then resurrected—remember his teaching at Caesarea Philippi? The disciples are discussing this resurrection: What did it mean?, Why would Jesus have to die and then be resurrected?, etc. Clearly, they still did not completely understand Jesus, and the sacrifice he would suffer to redeem all of us.
- In Mark 9:11, it may seem strange to us to observe that, while the disciples are descending the mountain with Jesus and wondering amongst themselves about him being resurrected, they would ask a question about Elijah coming before the Messiah. But upon further reflection, we need to put ourselves in their place. They have just witnessed an unbelievable event, an event where Elijah himself was present, God declared Jesus as the Messiah; and, following that, Jesus began talking about being resurrected. Why do you think they associated these events with the coming of the Messiah to set up his earthly kingdom? Read Malachi 3:1-4 and Malachi 4:5-6. Both of these passages would have been well-known by the disciples.
- ANSWER: The disciples knew that, prior to the Messiah coming to set up his earthly kingdom, Elijah would return as "the messenger" to prepare the way. Clearly, they are now confused, because Jesus is already present with them; and God has declared that he is the Messiah. So it was logical that they would ask a question around how Elijah fit into all of this.
- Jesus understood his disciples’ question and he answered it with one of his own. First, Jesus confirmed that their understanding was correct, i.e., that Elijah would come first with a message that would prepare the way for the Messiah, He followed up by asking them a question aimed at getting them to understand that rejection and suffering would follow—long before the Messiah returned to establish his world wide throne. He asked them, "Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?" (see Mark 9:11-13)In other words, if Elijah has already come and that prophecy has been fulfilled; then what about the other prophecies concerning the Messiah that tell of suffering, pain and rejection? Read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, again, two passages the disciples would have been familiar with. How do they apply to this question? How does Revelation 11:3 also apply?
- ANSWER 1: Both Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 speak to the rejection and suffering of the Messiah. Some believe that when Jesus was dying on the cross and said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" that he was actually drawing the crowd’s attention to this prophetic Psalm.
- ANSWER 2: What the disciples did not understand was that, between the messenger’s role of preparing the way, and the actual coming of the Messiah, would be much suffering and rejection, just as prophecy was calling out. In spite of all that the disciples had seen and experienced, they still did not comprehend that Jesus would be sacrificed for the sins of all, and then crucified and resurrected on the third day—also spoken of in prophecy.
- ANSWER 3: It is also clear from Revelation 11:3 that upon the return of Jesus as the Messiah, preceding him will be two witnesses, two messengers. Just as the disciples understood prophecies from Old Testament scripture, we see in the prophecies of Revelation in the New Testament. Specifically, before Christ returns, two messengers will send out a worldwide message speaking of repentance and announcing the coming of the Messiah. Some scholars believe that these two witnesses may even be Moses and Elijah, just as they were present when God declared Jesus His Son; so too, they will be present then, preparing his way when he returns.
- As they finished their descent from the mountain and caught up with the remaining disciples who had stayed behind—remember, Jesus only took three with him up the mountain—Jesus sees that a large crowd has gathered around the disciples. What on earth are they arguing about? Read Mark 9:14-29. The actual miracle is that Jesus once again casts out a demon, this time again from a child; but there is so much more in this passage. What can we learn about demons in general from this passage, look carefully at all of the details we are given, what can we learn?
- ANSWER 1: There are different "types," or "kinds," of demons.
- ANSWER 2: They can possess someone continuously for very long periods of time.
- ANSWER 3: They can do physical things, like throw the child to the ground.
- ANSWER 4: Their intent is to torment and cause physical harm.
- ANSWER 5: Demons recognize Jesus; they know who Jesus is and that he has power and authority over them.
- ANSWER 6: This particular spirit is "deaf and mute," meaning that there are all kinds of demons, some of whom are deaf and mute.
- ANSWER 7:They make sounds. For example, this one shrieked; so we see that, even though they are spirit, they can make noise and sounds.
- ANSWER 8: Not all of them are driven out in the same manner; this "kind" can only be driven out by prayer.
- As Jesus continued along their journey back to Capernaum, he once again predicted his death and resurrection. Again, the disciples did not understand; but, unlike for Jesus’ previous prediction, this time they chose to not say anything. (see Mark 9:30-32) Arriving at Capernaum for the last time, we now find Jesus in the house; and he asks them what they were arguing about as they traveled on the road. What did they tell him that they were talking about, and what was his answer to them? (se Mark 9:33-37)
- ANSWER 1: They told him that they were arguing about who was the greatest among them—a clear indication that rank meant something to them. Perhaps it was even driven by the fact that Jesus had taken Peter, John and James alone up the mountain when he was transfigured. Or perhaps they were simply trying to figure out what their position would be in his kingdom.
- ANSWER 2: Jesus replied by teaching them an important principle, which was that, in order to be the greatest in his kingdom, we are to be the least, we are to be servants. Christ’s kingdom is not about position, wealth or influence; it is about serving. He further illustrated this by bringing a little child into the room and showing them they must serve everyone, even this little child. He showed them that when they do this, they are also serving Jesus and God.
- John now reports to Jesus that someone, a disciple—a follower of Jesus but not one of the chosen twelve—was driving out demons in Jesus’ name; and they had rebuked him for doing so. How did Jesus respond, and how does it apply to our work as servants of Christ? (see Mark 9:38-50)
- ANSWER 1: He told them that anyone doing good in Jesus’ name was not against them. He told them that there are only two types of people: (1) those who are for Jesus and follow his teaching, and (2) those who are opposed to Jesus. He wanted them to see that not only the twelve appointed disciples could do work in the kingdom; and that all who do this work are for him, not against him. More broadly today then, it does not matter what church or denomination you belong to; it only matters that you have Christ living in you and that you are actively serving in his name. We should never believe that somehow only one group has a special calling or rank when it comes to following and serving Jesus.
- ANSWER 2: He also went on to teach them, and us, that we are not to put up stumbling blocks, i.e., self-imposed rules and principles that run counter to serving Jesus and actualy prevent the lost from being saved. Rather, we are to serve all who want to follow him.
Having taught the disciples about his coming kingdom and their role in it, Jesus now prepares to begin his journey to Jerusalem. He will continue to teach the disciples about many things over the coming days, as they head toward his eventual death and resurrection. In our next lesson, we will study his teaching on the subjects of divorce and wealth, as well as his third and final prediction of his death and resurrection. We have much to learn as we strive to be faithful servants, in the coming segments of our study, Jesus will teach us much. May our hearts be open to his teaching.
In His Name,