QUESTIONS

Mark 9:9-13

BRIEF INTRO: Peter, James, and John were taken up to a high mountain with Jesus, where He was transfigured before them. These three men, out of the twelve that Christ called unto Himself, were the closest to Him, the “inner circle” that witnessed many things that the others did not. This was one of those times. 

To these three disciples, Jesus gave a special privilege of previewing His kingdom. But in this case, it wasn’t a repeat of the view presented in Matthew thirteen (“the kingdom of heaven is like). Rather, “it was a glimpse of the kingdom as it will be when it has been completely established, and Jesus is revealed to all as its King.”

These men were the key disciples that Jesus would use to motivate and encourage others. To these men, all twelve, the gospel would be entrusted. The gospel was to move forward and be proclaimed throughout the world. I think this goal, at least in part, was to encourage and motivate these three men. We have witnessed their doubts along the way, so something as grand as this would increase their faith and understanding of who Jesus is and why He came, lived among them, and would ultimately die and rise again!

As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, [a]until the Son of Man rose from the dead.”

FOCUS ONE: What happens on the mountain. . .

The central theme of this vision is Jesus, the king! He is the whole point. These men have just been given a glimpse of the divine nature of Jesus. Some of His glory radiated externally (that was within shined through) for them to see who He truly was and in such a powerful and memorable way so that they would understand more wholly why He would have to suffer and die. 

Can you imagine yourself witnessing such an event and then being told to keep it to yourself? Would you be able to? Jesus instructs them “not to relate to anyone what they had seen.” But this instruction or exhortation was limited in time. It was not to be kept a secret forever, only until “the Son of Man should rise from the dead” (v. 9). 

“Only from the perspective of the resurrection would they understand the transfiguration and thus be able to proclaim its meaning correctly.” It appears that they believed in a future resurrection (John 11:24), but their misunderstanding of His messianic kingdom’s nature was evident. And so…

10 “They [a]seized upon [b]that statement, discussing with one another [c]what rising from the dead meant.”

FOCUS TWO: Healthy dialogue 

They “seized upon” or kept those words to themselves. This “keeping” is similar to what Mary did (Luke 2:19) after she heard so many good things about her baby boy. One exception would be that while Mary kept those things to herself (pondered them in her heart), they kept discussing what Christ’s words meant with one another. Especially His statement regarding rising from the dead. What does rising from the dead mean? 

Again, it is clear that they were perplexed by Jesus’ words. What is instructive for us is that they wanted to understand what He was saying to them! They kept on discussing His words together. The dialogue and possibly debates about what He meant continued for some time, most likely even up to the events at Gethsemane, the trials, and then the cross.

I love their zeal to understand! I love the discussion, dialogue, and debates that ensued over His words. I am excited that they wanted to know truth, understand theology (although they may not have viewed it that way at the time), and even their willingness to engage in thoughtful debate over the issue. We can learn much from this observation. We are witnessing the demise of such things in our society. Rather than polite, thoughtful discussion to know the truth, we resort to yelling, canceling, and even violence. God help us.

What does rising from the dead mean? One commentator points out: “The disciples did not understand the distinction between “the second coming” (8:38) and “the resurrection” (9:9). The Jews of Jesus’ day expected only one coming of the Messiah into history and this coming was related to the military victory and supremacy of national Israel on a global scale.” 

11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does come first and he restores all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has [a]indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wanted, just as it is written of him.”

FOCUS THREE: The authority of scripture

It is not odd for the scribes to come into the conversation. However, it is a bit unusual that the Pharisees are not mentioned with them. But it is rather insightful, especially when we notice Jesus’ response to the question. The Scribes and the Pharisees sat in “Moses’ seat. That is equivalent to a university’s “chair of philosophy. “The expression here may be translated as “[they] have seated themselves in Moses’ seat”-stressing the fact that this was an imaginary authority they claimed for themselves. There was a legitimate sense in which the priest and Levites had authority to decide matters of law (Deuteronomy 17:9), but the scribes and Pharisees had gone beyond any legitimate authority and were adding human tradition to the word of God (Matthew 15:3-9). For that Jesus condemned them (Matthew 23:8-36).”

Jesus, in this case, does not invalidate their teaching regarding Elijah. He clarifies it! The word “must” is a verb (dei) that in Greek speaks of the absolute necessity that this must occur. So this is a logical question being asked of Jesus in light of Malachi four and their recent experience on the mountain.

The question seems to be, how does the appearance of Elijah on the mountain relate to the scribe’s teaching? Let me sum up Jesus’ answer in this way:

“The sequence of thought is as follows: (1) Elijah is coming as the restorer (Malachi 4:5); (2) he came, unrecognized, in the person of John the Baptist, and was killed; (3) the Son of Man faces a like fate. The disciples seem to grasp only the first two points.”

We will witness these very words of Jesus coming true as we continue moving forward in our study of Mark. 

One last observation for our consideration. Did you notice the statement “just as it is written of him” in verse thirteen regarding John the Baptist, and again in verse twelve “how is it written” concerning the Son of man? Those statements should encourage our study of scripture and equip us in our daily walk and ministries because they reveal Jesus’ high view of scripture! He believes it to be authoritative, and so should we!

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg. 143

Preceptaustin commentaries, online

Macarthur Study Bible, pg. 1436

God without passions

Sometimes we shy away from theological terms that we do not understand. We find them “uncomfortable” or even “unimportant” in our daily Christian life. We need to rethink such fallacies. I think that when we take the time to study such terms, we’ll find greater encouragement to walk with God. I also believe that a better understanding of who God is and why He functions or operates the way He does will fill us with a greater sense of joy in our daily walk of faith.

Case in point: The impassibility of God.

To use such a term concerning God is to say that He is impassible or “without passions.” In other words, God is not moved by something that would provoke a change in Him. We are the opposite. You and I are “passible” creatures, susceptible to a constant shifting, up and down, regarding our emotions and choices. All types of outward forces motivate, unmotivated, or cause us to choose one thing over another. God is NOT like us!

“God is never moved by something that would provoke a change in Him. The creature (us) does not exert a force on the creator that changes Him and causes Him to move toward a perceived good or away from a perceived bad” (Dr. Samuel D. Renihan).

This should be fantastic news! It means that God’s love and mercy, for example, are constant, not fluid, in His dealings with us. To say it another way: “God is love” (1 John 4:8); he is not moved to love. “Because God’s love is not a passion, he can no more cease to love than He can cease to be (exist).”

This is why “God relates to His creation and loves His people with an everlasting love precisely because God loves us from His own ‘infinite fullness’ and not based on perceived goodness in us.”

His mercy is similar. God is not moved to compassion by something He perceives in us. “Unlike God, our mercy towards others depends on “feeling our heartstrings being pulled toward someone.” You and I can find great encouragement in this truth, knowing that we can always confidently call out to God, knowing that He is not merciful BUT mercy itself! Praise God; His mercy is not a passion like ours.

THE COMING KINGDOM

Mark 9:1-8

NOT SO BRIEF RECAP: In our previous study, we saw Jesus healing the blind man, which was assuredly for his good, but it also served as a very vivid object lesson for the disciples. Remember, they didn’t quite understand who Jesus was (cr. v.17; 6:52), and so after the doubt expressed by them when Jesus spoke about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (v. 15-17) was addressed, He healed a blind man that was brought to Him differently than He usually did (vv. 22-26). It was in the way that Christ healed the man that the “slowness” of the disciples to “see” who Jesus was in truth was portrayed.

Jesus then asked them specifically who they thought He was; at last, we witnessed some progress! “Thou art the Christ” (v. 29)! But quickly after that divine wisdom was imparted to Peter (Matthew 16:17), we saw him rebuke Jesus when He spoke of His suffering, death, and resurrection. “Suffering precedes exaltation.”

Peter appears to hear what Christ said in bits and pieces. He doesn’t seem to hear more than he wanted to hear. He heard that his friend and teacher would die, but the resurrection part was apparently missed! So, what does he do? Like us, Peter acts hastily on the incomplete information he heard and rebuked Jesus. Jesus, never missing a valuable teaching moment, proceeds to instruct the disciples and the multitude with them (vv. 33-34).

Most bible translations link 9:1 with the previous verse (8:38) ending that chapter. My translation is one of them. It makes good sense to do so because it naturally gives a reasonable conclusion to the discourse Jesus began in verse 34.

So, what does Jesus mean when He speaks of some not tasting death until they see the Kingdom of God? What aspect of the domain is He referring to?

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God when it has come with power.”

FOCUS ONE: Kingdom of God (with power)

Some questions seem necessary at this point in our study. When will this Kingdom arrive? What aspect of the Kingdom is in view? What does Jesus mean when He states that some “standing here shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power?”

Let’s begin by answering the question regarding what He is referring to; the rest will naturally follow. Many commentators address that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this remarkable promise immediately before the experience of Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration, indicating that they understood the experience to be the fulfillment of the promise. We see the three disciples being translated six days later in a vision (Mt 17:9) to the glory of the future Kingdom.

For example: “Jesus’ words assert that the arrival of the Kingdom of God in power will transpire within the lifetime of the persons addressed (again, the crowd and the disciples in Mark 8:34). So this is a future event. While a number of possibilities have been mentioned, if one lets the context rule in interpretation, it would seem clear that this refers to Jesus’ transfiguration as described in the following passages, the three disciples saw the King of the Kingdom of God in His glory.”

Jesus is very directly making a promise that the power and glory of His Kingdom would become evident soon, and some there would see it! Because Jesus Christ the King is present, the Kingdom of God is at hand. “And when His glory is seen by a few who are present, they will get a glimpse at the glory of the divine, the God-man, Jesus Christ as He will be forever” (Hill). 

And six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter, [a]James, and John, and *brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was [b]transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

FOCUS TWO: The transfiguration (2-8)

If you have been studying this on your own, you most likely have been reading the parallel accounts in Matthew 16:28-17:3; Luke 9:27-36. One of them records the days differently than the others. Luke states in his account that it was “about eight days after these sayings” (Luke 9:28), while Matthew and Mark state that it was “six days later.” What are we to make of this apparent contradiction?

I do not believe that these accounts contradict one another. We must remember that in the Gospel narratives, we hear from several witnesses regarding the events. Each has a different group they are writing to; each has a different perspective that they are writing from, but with one goal: to reveal who Jesus is! And, never forget that they are being divinely led in what they report (2 Timothy 3:16-17)!

So, with all that being said, how do we explain the difference? It seems logical to conclude that while Matthew and Mark only count the days between Peter’s confession and the transfiguration happening, Luke includes both days in his numbering.

So, six days later Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain (v.2). This unnamed location, according to many bible scholars, was probably a southern ridge of Mount Hermon about 12 miles northeast of Caesarea Philippi (8:27; 9:30). These three men are part of the “inner circle” of disciples that Jesus allowed to witness things the others did not (Mark 5:37; 14:33). MacArthur points out that “Jesus took them with Him in accord with the Law’s requirement that two or three witnesses confirm truth (Deut. 17:6; cf. Matt. 18:162 Cor. 13:11 Tim. 5:19Heb. 10:28).

“And He was transfigured before them.” What does that ten-dollar word mean? Transfigured in the original Greek is (μεταμορφόω, metamorphoó). It means “to be changed into another form, not merely a change in outward appearance. For a brief time Jesus’ human body was transformed (glorified), and the disciple’s saw Him as He will be when He returns visibly to establish His Kingdom on earth (Acts 15:14-18; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).”

 The word “Before” is essential to defining what took place on the mountain. It is “ἔμπροσθεν-emprosthen,” which means in front of them. Luke 9:29 indicates the transfiguration took place “while He was praying,” “In the transfiguration, Jesus exhibited a change on the outside which came from His inside, His true nature, His divinity. Christ’s nature, of course, could not change; only His appearance. Jesus’ glory shone through His humanity and His garments demonstrating to the disciples what Jesus really was on the inside. The glory which was Jesus’ essential and eternal divine nature, shone outward, for a brief time and to a limited degree.”

This HAD to be a fantastic event to behold! His garments were becoming so white that they could never be whiter, purer. His facial appearance changed! 

David Garland – “The Transfiguration, therefore, serves to confirm that (what)the suffering Jesus will endure is not incompatible with his glory. The scene functions like a hologram. For a brief moment, the disciples glimpse the truth as divine glory shines through the veil of suffering. It foreshadows the time when God will gloriously enthrone Jesus after the degradation on the cross. This white flash of the splendor to come brightens the dark cloud of tribulation that presently hangs over Mark’s first readers and confirms Jesus’ promise that those who follow and suffer for him will not have done so in vain.”

Elijah and Moses appear, and they are both walking with Jesus. In the role of Israel’s deliverer and law-giver, Moses represented the Law. Elijah represented the prophets. But why are they here? What’s the significance of their appearing on the mountain? One commentator writes: “If what the disciples saw was a glimpse of Jesus’ final state of glory, then Moses and Elijah’s function is to announce the end.”

Even more interesting is that both of these men had ended their lives on earth in mysterious ways (Deuteronomy 34:6; 2 Kings 2:11). “It adds to the appropriateness of their mysterious reappearance in this preview of the glorious climax of Jesus’ ministry.”

Peter responded and *said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here; let’s make three [a]tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For he did not know how to reply; for they became terrified. Then a cloud [b]formed, overshadowing them, and a voice [c]came out of the cloud: “This is My beloved Son; [d]listen to Him!” And suddenly they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

FOCUS THREE: THE FATHER SPEAKS (7-8)

Here again, we witness impetuous Peter speaking when he doesn’t know what to say! His response is impulsive and based on fear, “for he didn’t know what to answer; for they became terrified.” This experience deeply moved Peter, but he was unsure how to react. It seems like he wanted to prolong the event, so he asks to make three tabernacles (tents of meeting, booths- Leviticus 23:33-43), one for each of them- Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.”

On the surface, it seems like Peter regarded all three as being equal (v. 5). “Unwittingly or not, Peter was again resisting the suffering which Jesus had said would precede the glory” (8:31).

 But, God’s response from the cloud would make clear the true meaning of the event (v.7)! This cloud formed almost out of nowhere. It dominated the mountain! It “overshadowed them” or, in other words. The cloud appears to have cast a dark shadow over them.

And then God’s voice Emanates from the darkness with unmistakable clarity “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” Like at Jesus’ baptism, the Father places His “unqualified” endorsement on His beloved Son. God tells them to “listen to Him,” but it is written in the present imperative in the original language and means to “be obedient to Him.”

“The uniqueness of Christ is highlighted by the fact that suddenly-as suddenly as they had appeared-Moses and Elijah were gone.” And the three disciples no longer saw anyone but Jesus.

Some food for thought:

  1. 1. Apparent contradictions are only that. Further study allowing scripture to interpret itself reveals the answers.
  2. 2. Jesus, the god-man, never ceased to be God but veiled His glory for a time. Imagine how limited this revealing of His glory must have been to them. No human being on this side of heaven could handle the complete revelation of His glory! Imagine your response if you were there.
  3. 3. Like Peter, we often “don’t get it.” We are slow to hear and even slower to comprehend. Often we speak when we should remain quiet. What have you learned from Peter that might help you in your struggle to walk by faith?

Bible Knowledge Commentary

Preceptaustin (verse by verse)

Moule, Gospel of Mark, pg. 70

Noses, anger, and Christ-like-ness

In my most recent readings I came across an article in Tabletalk magazine that I found to be very interesting. It was an article entitled: Being slow to anger.

What drew my attention immediately was this sentence:


“From the perspective of the Bible, however, a long nose is in fact a desirable trait for the disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Get your attention? What does our nose have to do with anything related to living the Christian life?

The article continues- “This is because the Hebrew phrase “long of nose” (APH, strong’s # 639) describes one who is slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). “It is possible to understand this image in the sense that long nostrils take longer to “grow hot” and explode in burning anger. . . Nostrils are a tube through which air moves, and the longer the tube, the more gentle and controlled the air flow.”

Oddly enough, I later read this news item:

Scat spat: Argument over dog poop
leads to Lebanon woman’s arrest.

LEBANON, Ind. — “What began as an argument over dog poop led to one neighbor allegedly pointing a loaded gun at another in Lebanon.

The woman told police Ray’s dog had defecated on her porch, and the man was yelling at Ray about the poop when he decided to move the camera.

Ray got out of her car to scream at the man, then went inside the house to call 911 and came back out with a gun, according to court documents.”

Apparently no long nose here! Seriously though, we can learn a lot from these two articles. For example, anger can quickly lead to costly consequences.

“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (Proverbs 29:22).

“A hot- tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger (long of nose) quiets contention” (Proverbs 15:18).

The positive aspect of being slow to anger is that when we are such, we are being most like God! “To walk in wisdom is to reflect God’s character, most beautifully revealed in His Son.”

SELFISH INTERESTS

Mark 8:31-9:1

BRIEF INTRO: Throughout this chapter, we have witnessed a build-up of tension regarding who Jesus is. Actually, that tension began with the disciple’s lack of understanding regarding how the kingdom is built (Mark 4:13) and escalated into what we saw in our last study in chapter 8 -“who do you say that I am” (v. 29)?

With such a bold, honest confession by Peter, we would be led to think that the disciples finally understand fully who Jesus truly is and what He came to do. Their role to play in the immediate future after His ascension.

But, in this study, we will observe that this is not the case. So boldly, Peter’s confession quickly betrays his still-lagging understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead32 And He was stating the matter plainly.

FOCUS ONE: The self-denial of Jesus

After that fantastic confession from Peter (v. 29), Jesus begins to explain what that means. The main avenue of thinking in Christ’s day regarding the messiah was that He would come and overthrow Rome and establish an earthly messianic kingdom. What Jesus teaches these men is contrary to that vain of thought! Instead of a mighty, warrior-like earthly king conquering armies in battle, He declared that the Son of man must suffer many things, be killed, and rise again in victory (Isaiah 52:13). This was a different perspective of Christ’s mission then they were used to, and most likely not prepared for. 

“Though Peter identified Him as “the Christ” (8:29), Jesus did not discuss the title or the issue of His identity.Rather, He focused on His mission, and used the designation ‘the Son of Man’.” Mark uses this title to show the importance of an event for his Christian readers (Mark 2:10, 28).

How significant an event is this? Extremely significant! Only through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus can anyone be declared forgiven, justified, cleansed, and redeemed (Romans 5:8-10)! The resurrection is our assurance that God the Father was pleased with and accepted the sacrifice of His Son in place of sinners. 

Our text reveals that Jesus was not speaking in parables or using some form of illustration. Instead, He “stated the matter plainly” (v. 32). This statement marks (no pun intended) out for us a new shift in Christ’s focus from this point forward. Jesus wants these men who will continue the mission of “proclaiming” such good news, to understand His purpose for coming and what that means for all who believe in Him. He wants them to be encouraged by the fact that His coming death will not be the last word; rather, they will see Him again in Galilee!

And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 

FOCUS TWO: The self-centeredness of Peter

Contrary to Christ’s self-lessness, we find Peter again focusing on the physical aspect of things rather than the spiritual. Peter did not fully comprehend who Jesus was; I would imagine he would not have felt bold enough to rebuke Him!

Peter does exhibit some sense of décor in that he takes Jesus aside for a more private chat, away from the others. “Peter clearly understood Jesus’s words but could not reconcile his view of the ‘Messiah’ with the suffering and death Jesus predicted. So, Peter began to rebuke Him for His defeatist approach.”

We will observe something rather uncomfortable in our next focus point. We will witness Peter becoming an unwitting spokesman for Satan.

3 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on [a] God’s purposes, but on man’s.”

FOCUS THREE: The self-denial of true disciples

That first sentence powerfully affects me. In my mind, I envision our Lord, standing beside Peter, who had just pulled Him aside in rebuke, turning His head for a moment and seeing the rest of the twelve close by, confused and wondering what Peter was saying to Him. 

Jesus, seeing His disciples, returns the favor and rebukes Peter in their hearing! Why wouldn’t he try to be more discreet about it like Peter was? Because Peter, along with the others, needed to understand that these things must come to pass. They needed to understand what He was telling them because what He was saying was a big part of their preparation for ministry after He ascended to be with the Father. This is the Father’s will for the Son to complete, resulting in salvation for those who are lost.

34 And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his [a]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?37 For what could a person give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

FOCUS FOUR: The willing submission of Christ’s followers

Jesus’s previous teaching regarding His death and resurrection in fulfillment of God’s divine plan ought to lead those who benefit from it into a life of self-less-ness or self-denial. The cross and empty tomb should be a GREAT encouragement to those who have been forgiven much. No sacrifice is too great because we know we can NEVER out-sacrifice Jesus!

Faithful followers of Jesus will count the cost of following Him and deem it worth whatever it costs. They will be willing to obey His commands and receive His counsel. They must not be living for this life and its temporary pleasures BUT for the kingdom of their Lord who reigns forever and ever!

Faithful followers of Jesus Christ understand that death is not the end, only the beginning! They need not fear it because “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:3).

Such a life is possible but plausible when a follower of Jesus picks up their cross (the burdens, afflictions, and persecutions that come from following) and follows Him.

These words “relate to a situation in which Christians faced the alternatives of confessing Christ or denying Him. Jesus warns that by denying Him, one’s physical life may be saved; but one’s eschatological life- i.e., his eternal life, will be lost. Conversely, to lose one’s physical life by remaining true to Christ-i.e., by confessing Him under duress-is to be assured of eternal life and salvation.” 

Some thoughts to consider:

  1. 1. Is your understanding of the gospel accurate? Why would God the Father give His ONLY Son as a substitute for sinners?
  2. 2. How important is the resurrection in God’s salvation plan?
  3. 3. Is your life one of self-interest or self-denial?
  4. 4. What picture of Jesus do we get in this text?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Expositors Bible Commentary

A SUBSTITUTE

Several years ago I needed to find a coffee “substitute.” Caffeine was causing me various issues and I needed to reduce my intake of it. So, I started looking for something that could “take it’s place.”

I found Postum! I enjoyed that drink sooo much, well, that is until it disappeared off the shelves. In every way Postum made me feel like I was having a good cup of coffee. Its texture, taste, and aroma all made me feel like I wasn’t missing anything by not actually drinking coffee. It was great while it lasted!

Part of the salvific work of Jesus in being our sin-bearer, was that of being our substitute. A SUBSTITUTE is one that takes the place of another. That is what Jesus became for us!

Unlike Postum which only satisfies temporarily, The substitutionary work of Jesus Christ brings results that satisfy eternally.

Because of Jesus believer’s have “become dead to sin and alive to righteousness” (1Peter 2:24). God is NOW for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). These are only two of many benefits believers receive when they trust Him as their substitute!

No one else can be such a substitute for us. God had placed that work on Christ alone. Jesus, in all ways, met and settled, for all time, the charges God had against sinners. Because Of Jesus we can have peace with God!

Friend, you don’t have to pay the debt you owe for your sins. Jesus paid it for you! Turn to Him in repentant faith and you will find His forgiveness.

LIFE APPLICATION

Mark 8:22-26

BRIEF INTRO: 

The correct application of knowledge in our lives is essential. Our days are filled with many issues, challenges, and temptations that require a certain level of wisdom to work through in a healthy, God-honoring way. 

In our study, we have witnessed the disciple’s “lack” of understanding of who Jesus truly was. We observed some “mountain top” moments in their lives, such as their success in ministry when Jesus sent them out to “preach and have authority to cast out demons” (3:14) and when Peter walked on water (Mark 6:45-51; Matthew 14:29). 

And we will hear Peter’s amazing confession of Jesus as the Messiah in our next study (Mark 8:29). But along with these moments, we witness many others that are not so positive! We constantly observe their lack of comprehension relating to spiritual truths (Mark 4:13; 6:52; 7:17,18; 8:1-5, 15-21).

These men seem to take one step forward, only to take two steps backward a little later. Can you relate to them? I sure can. Their understanding of spiritual things is gradual, not immediate. Their ability to get past previously held presuppositions is limited, so they desperately need Jesus to come alongside them and patiently teach them about the kingdom and its King, King Jesus! And this is what Jesus does. So far in our study of Mark, we have observed the fantastic patience of Jesus with these men that He called unto Himself. The patience of Jesus! That, dear reader, is something to be thankful about. 

22 And they *came to Bethsaida. And some people *brought a man who was blind to [a]Jesus and *begged Him to touch him.23 Taking the man who was blind by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting in his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he [b]looked up and said, “I see people, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

FOCUS ONE: Do you see anything?

The two-step method of healing the blind man seems odd, as Jesus’ healings are usually instantaneous. We must never forget that Jesus, as God in the flesh, still maintains His sovereign choice to heal according to His timing. But along with that, we can also understand that it would be very reasonable for Him to use this miracle of healing as another teaching moment for His disciples. (assuming He took some with Him outside cr. 5:37). 

Our previous study ended with Jesus asking the disciples, “Do you not yet understand” (8: 17,21), and in the account that follows what we are discussing in this post, Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is, and Peter expresses boldly that He is the Christ (8:29).

We can see a bit of similarity in Marks writing between the disciples and this blind man. The blind man is like the disciples; at first, he sees only dimly, then when Jesus again puts His hands on the man’s eyes, he sees everything clearly! 

“1The disciples still have much to learn about Jesus after the disclosure at Caesarea Philippi. The difference between Jesus’ self-disclosure to His disciples before the healing of the blind man (vv. 15-21) and afterward at Caesarea Philippi (vv. 27-30) is as great as the two seeings of the blind man who is healed in stages.”

The similarities in the account regarding “seeing” or understanding are apparent. From all we read leading up to this point, we notice that the disciple’s spiritual eyesight is gradually being healed. These few verses about this man’s healing seem to serve as a bridge between Jesus’ “Do you not yet understand?” and Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah! Which then is followed by Jesus foretelling His coming death and resurrection!

Outside of the obvious healing of the blind man, there is another object lesson for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus completely transforms people’s lives!

Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

FOCUS TWO: Seeing clearly

The blind man’s life would never be the same again! I can imagine that he would not go through a minute, a day, or even a year, without thinking about the compassion and kindness shown to him on that day from Jesus. But what we don’t want to miss in this object lesson to His disciples is that “transformation” spiritually is also a work done by Jesus: the most critical work.

Do you remember these words from the grand old hymn Amazing grace: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see?” How did that happen? It happens because of Jesus Christ! Jesus is not only the “way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), but He is also the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Light reveals things previously hidden by darkness. Jesus opens the eyes of sinners to see His truth and experience His wonderful redemption.

Physical transformation is a great gift that we shouldn’t take for granted. How much more so spiritual transformation? The disciples were being transformed in the “renewing of their minds,” but it was not an instantaneous event. It was more like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park! Just as this man received his sight back in stages, so will the disciples grow in understanding and see Jesus for who He truly is!

FOCUS THREE: Go on home

In verse 26, the man was sent home but warned, “Do not even enter the village.” Why such a warning? It appears evident throughout Mark’s writing that the multitudes were not yet ready to “see everything” clearly. This isn’t the only time Jesus gave similar commands to others. He told some not to tell anyone about what He had done for them (Matthew 8:4; Mark 3:12; Luke 5:14). 

“2There were certain points in Jesus’ ministry when He purposely tried to keep the crowds following Him from growing to large. Overly large crowds tended to be more disorderly and sometimes hindered Jesus from His more in depth discipleship and teaching ministry.” 

After sending the healed man away, Jesus and His disciples head to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way, Jesus questions them about who the people say He is, but more directly, Who do you say I am? This is where I believe all the things we have been meditating on are headed.

1 Evangelical Commentary on the Bible

2 Studyandobey.com