NEW BOOK REVIEW: A GOSPEL PRIMER FOR CHRISTIANS BY: Milton Vincent

Learning to see the glories of God’s love

I had recently been looking through my library and found this long forgotten gem of a writing by Milton Vincent. I quickly skimmed through this one and decided that it would be helpful for my son to go through as a part of his schooling.

I was correct thinking that way but incorrect in assuming that this little primer had nothing of value for myself.

I had some free time the other day and saw this book laying on the shelf so I picked it up and read through it. I was happy that I did.

All of 97 pages, this gospel primer was a great source of encouragement, reflection, and motivation for me, an older man, in my walk of faith.

Endorsed by godly men such as John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and Jerry Bridges, who’s own estimates of the primer saw it as a ” small but meaty overview of the gospel,” and a ” practical tool with a powerful effect.” Which can be ” literally life changing.”

As I read through the forward at the beginning of the book I was happy to read that the author wanted his readers to take their time with it. ” This book was written slowly. It savors of a slow cooking.. . Let it’s truths drip down deep.” In other words this book and the truths contained within will be found to be a spiritually useful book!

With that exhortation in mind, I continued. The introduction lays out the main purpose of Milton’s effort: “This book is a handy guide to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves each day.”

What a much needed exhortation. We often think the gospel saves, but struggle with knowing what to do with it once we are saved! I appreciate Milton expressing that fact because it truly is meant to be more than a once embraced truth to be converted, it actually is “offered to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.”

Briefly in the introduction and then with greater detail in part IV, the writer shares how he came to the conclusion that the gospel is a much needed focus in the daily walk of a believer.

The first part of this book contains reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. In fact, he gives thirty- one of them designed to remind the reader of some valuable blessings which the gospel can render in the life of the believer who rehearses the gospel in faith each day.

The second and third parts contain: A Gospel Narrative in both a prose and poetic format. Both formats are written in a way that facilitates memorization and smooth recital of the gospel.

I really enjoyed how Milton wrote everything in sections I -III in the first person (I, my, me), because it helped me relate these truths to myself on a deeper personal level. I think it was very wise of him to do so because the truths he is relating come off the pages then as not only relating to his own experience, but also to the daily heart experience of others who meditate on what God in Christ has done for them as well.

I am thankful that the writer mentions often that this book is only a tool to “get you launched in preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing it’s benefits.” It is not meant to be a substitute for the gospel.

In part one he gives the thirty -one reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. Here are just a few headings:

1. The New Testament model
2. My daily need
3. The power of God
4. My daily protection
5. Transformed by glory
6. A cure for distrust
8. Freedom from sins power
11 Loving my brother and sister
12. My inheritance in the Saints
15. Cultivating humility
18. Perspective in trials
26. Hope of heaven
27. Mortifying the flesh with fullness

With each one of these headings the writer opens up how the gospel is affective in our lives in these ways. I also must note that every page has all the scriptures cited in which the truths expressed are located!

Part two offers A Gospel Narrative in prose. I found the layout of this very helpful for my own comprehension and application. He begins with our sin against God than moves forward discussing God’s work on our behalf and the resulting salvation that comes from it.

I personally think this section would be helpful in our prayer time. We can use one or two of these truths to pray different things than we normally might. We can pray biblical thoughts by using the scripture citations on the bottom of the page.

Part three offers A Gospel Narrative in a poetic form. I truly appreciated this section. It read smoothly and was greatly appreciated and encouraging to my soul. This section, like the others, has all the scriptures used on the bottom of the page. Not only the reference, but the verse written out as well!

Part IV ends the book with the authors story behind this book. I appreciated his honesty and transparency in sharing his “backstory.”

In short, most of his life was lived by trying to maintain his justification status through his own works. Then one day, alone with his Bible turned to Romans five, the Lord “stirred my soul,” with the truth of my justified status before God, which led Him into a fuller, more meaningful walk of faith!

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting, perhaps needing, a richer, fuller, more practical understanding of the gospel, that not only saves but satisfies our deepest longings each and everyday afterwards.

Humility

Mark 9:30-37

BRIEF INTRO: We now find Jesus and His disciples traveling through northeastern Galilee (1:9), heading toward Capernaum (v. 33). Mark reveals that the Lord did not want anyone to know about it. Why? As we move forward in this study, we will again observe the incredible lack of understanding the disciples had regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, their Messiah. 

We see that the Lord taught them the very same things He had taught them before, i.e., what is about to happen to Him to fulfill prophecy and to be the propitiation for sin. They fail to comprehend His teaching, which leads to the discussion they have together when they arrive in Capernaum and are in “the house.” 

30 And from there, they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be [a]handed over to men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they [b]did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

FOCUS ONE: Time alone

First, we should notice the secrecy that Jesus sought in His travels. He was a prevalent figure, and as we have seen in our study, the multitudes sought Him out (Mark 9:15,25; 6:34,54; 5:21; 4:1; 3:7; 2:1-2). It was not uncommon for Jesus to want secrecy (7:24). Perhaps He wanted some rest before He engaged with the multitudes again. Maybe He sought an opportunity to be alone with the Twelve to prepare them for His coming crucifixion fully. Whether or not it was one or the other or both, it is clear He desired this time alone with them. 

As they traveled through Galilee to Capernaum, Jesus taught them about the coming suffering that He would endure. His teaching is consistent with all His previous teaching regarding His crucifixion (9:9-12; 8:31). Similarly, their lack of understanding (6:52; 7:18; 8:17, 21, 32; 9:10, 32). 

It appears that the disciples are possibly gaining an idea of how woefully ignorant they remain after repeated teaching from Jesus (v.32). This time, they are afraid to ask what He means. We shouldn’t be quick to judge these men because we are like them. How much teaching have we received from the Lord through scripture and His pastors and teachers that He placed in our lives? How often do we scratch our heads in uncertainty and doubt? 

Information overload. I have acted just like this in the workplace as well. Maybe you can relate to me. I am thinking of the new job and the training that begins on day one! Remember how much information is meted out to you in big chunks, more on top of more on top of even more. Some of which are not grasped. And some things are a bit more uncertain, so we ask our trainer the same questions repeatedly until we become self-conscious about it and then become afraid to ask our trainer again for fear of making them angry with us.

A lack of understanding at times is part of our human condition.

33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them: “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.

FOCUS TWO: Who’s the greatest?

If ignorance and fear aren’t enough, now we read that the twelve our discussing which one of them was the greatest. John MacArthur points out that the dispute could have resulted from Peter, James, and John’s privilege in witnessing the Transfiguration. Reading through the New Testament, you will find that matters of rank were essential to the Jews (Luke 14:7-11). So this was possibly a genuine concern for these men in light of the coming messianic kingdom and their part in it.

Whatever the reasoning behind the discussion, one thing is sure: They did not understand the scope of what was about to happen and what it meant. Jesus asks them about their conversation, but they “kept silent.” I would venture to guess because of embarrassment. Think about it; the greatest among them is Jesus, their rabbi, friend, and Messiah! Which one of them could ever come close to Him? So, since they chose to remain silent, Jesus sat down (normal posture for a rabbi) and began to teach them.

35 And sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And He took a child and placed him among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever [a]receives [b]one child like this in My name [c]receives Me; and whoever [d]receives Me does not [e]receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

FOCUS THREE: Humility

In this teaching of Jesus, we find that “the disciples concept of greatness, and leadership, drawn from their culture, needed to be completely reversed. Not those who lord their position over others are great in God’s kingdom, but those who humbly serve others” (10:31, 43-45; Luke 13:30; 14:8-11).

Notice the opposite way of thinking about such things: “if anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” And then Jesus, to illustrate what “servanthood” is, uses a little child demonstrate.

The meaning of the illustration seems clear. “True greatness entails caring about people-insignificant people like children-because Jesus Himself is concerned about them.” In doing so, we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him, the Heavenly Father (v. 37). 

Followers of Jesus Christ should be known for their selflessness, not selfishness. They should be known for their humility, not pride. They should be known for their fellowship with Christ, not men’s praises! These are three things I know I need to be more prayerful about. How about you?

MacArthur Study Bible

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF SELF-RELIANCE

Extended reading: 1 Chronicles 10:1-10

Devotional reading: v. 4

“Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “take your sword and run me through before these pagan Philistines come and humiliate me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.”

Here is a horrifying account of personal defeat. Saul had started out well. He had so much going for him. He was born into a wealthy family (1 Samuel 9:1). He was tall and handsome (9:2). He was chosen by God to be Israels’ king (9:16), and he had a heart that was changed by God (10:9)! At first, he was humble; he was willing to follow the leadership of the prophet Samuel. But then he began to take matters into his own hands. And that is when the name of Saul was turned into a synonym for “bad king.” 

Once he started on the downward spiral, he added rebellion to rebellion. But what led to his fall from glory? “His fall from glory can be traced to a single problem that many men face even today: fear of what others think.” First, Saul let his fear of a dangerous enemy lead him to disobey a clear instruction from God (1 Samuel 13:8-10). Second, he let his fear of his own people’s disapproval nudge him to disobey yet another clear command from God. He spared the life of a man God commanded him to kill (1 Samuel 15:9).

Fear of others led directly to Saul’s ruin and to this sad Old Testament judgement: “Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul” (16:14). The final outcome was the defeat described in these verses. We need to be careful! The fear of men can be a powerful driving influence in our lives. We are capable of starting down this same pathway toward complete disaster. We must seek God daily. And no matter how we may go astray, He can redirect our courseback to His ways and redeem us.

Adapted from Every man’s Bible NLT

UNBELIEF VERSUS FAITH

Mark 9: 14-29

BRIEF INTRO: You might remember that the several previous chapters in this writing revealed a sense of doubt and unbelief in who Jesus was, not only by the multitudes but, sadly, the disciples as well. In our previous study, the Lord was transfigured before the disciples, an act of tremendous patience and kindness shown by Christ to, once again, help these men (Peter, James, and John) understand more fully who He truly is.

These three men were part of the “inner circle” of disciples and needed to grasp the truth that Jesus, the kingdom’s King was teaching them. They had to comprehend and believe that He would die and rise again, so sinners could be forgiven and enter His kingdom! These men needed to help the other disciples understand that as well. Together they would be sent into the world to proclaim these truths to people who desperately needed to hear them.

“1The transfiguration is a revelation of the glory of the Son of God, a glory now hidden but to be manifested completely and openly at the end of the age, when the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father to render judgement on the world” (Mark 8:38). But, we read how they left the mountain discussing with one another what “rising from the dead might mean” (v. 10), clearly still struggling with doubts, questions, and a lack of faith.

14 And when they came back to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you disputing with them?”

FOCUS ONE: What are you talking about?

As they were coming down from the mountain, they saw a “large crowd” gathered around the other disciples in the distance. They notice some scribes around them as well, arguing with them. What were they arguing about? Mark doesn’t tell us, and neither do the other gospel accounts. I speculate that if we stick to the immediate context, we’ll have our answer. They appear to be arguing with the disciples over the fact that they couldn’t heal the man’s son (v. 17). Notice that Jesus asks them, “what are you discussing with them?” And then a man from the crowd “answered Him.”

The scribes always seem to monitor Jesus. “1If the transfiguration took place on Mount Hermon, the presence of the teachers of the law [scribes] so far north in Palestine indicates their concern in monitoring the teaching and preaching of Jesus.” 

So Jesus’ inquiry about the heated discussion was answered by a man whose son was demon-possessed. “2The boy had a demonically induced inability to speak,” and the nine disciples left behind when they went on the mountain could not heal him. 

So why would the scribes be arguing with them over that? Perhaps they viewed them as fake, impotent, wannabes of their rabbi, Jesus. Maybe they just wanted to “rub-it-in.” Whatever their reason, Jesus’s rebuke of the situation was meant for all. The crowd, the scribes, and even the disciples. “O, unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you” (v. 19)?

We also notice in these verses that the crowd ran up to greet Jesus as He approached. “They were amazed” (v. 15). Amazed at what? He hadn’t said anything. Nor had He done anything. Were they amazed at an afterglow that resulted from the transfiguration that just occurred? Most commentators do not think so. “Was this the afterglow of the transfiguration lingered on His face? This is unlikely, especially in view of His instruction for the disciples to keep the event a secret.”

Most likely, they were amazed because His presence was unexpected, creating a sense of wonder about why He was there.

17 And one person from the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, because he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18 and [a]whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes stiff. And I told Your disciples so that they would cast it out, but they could not do it.” 19 And He answered them and *said, “O (unbelieving) generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20 And they brought [b]the boy to Him. When he saw Him, the spirit immediately threw him into convulsions, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to kill him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 But Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible for (the one who believes.”)

FOCUS TWO: Help my unbelief

Jesus is met by this man who describes what his son has been going through. This young child has been suffering from this from childhood. The father realized that what his son was going through was much more than a common sickness; he understood it to be demon possession. How did he come to that conclusion? Is he the appropriate authority to determine what demon possession is? I think so. After all, he states from childhood, “(it) has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” That certainly is evidence enough to any reasonable mind that something very odd, even evil, is taking place.

This is quite a list of symptoms the child is struggling with:

Speech loss

Seizures

Foaming at mouth

Grinding teeth

Rigid body

All of which points to demon possession (v. 17).

The man explains to Jesus how he brought his son to the disciples, in his absence, for them to heal him, but they couldn’t (v. 18). This man exhibits faith by bringing his son to these men. His appeal to the disciples was legitimate because Jesus had given them such authority (6:7). 

The disciples, the nine that did not go up to the mountain, could not heal the boy. They tried, probably several times (v.28), but to no avail. As I previously mentioned, they had been commissioned and empowered to do this (6:7), and they were successful at it (6:13)!

But this time, they failed. Why? Why was this time any different? According to Jesus, they failed to cast it out because of their lack of faith and prayer (vv. 19, 29). “Apparently they had taken for granted the power given them or had come to believe that it was inherent in themselves. So, they no longer depended prayerfully on God for it, and their failure showed their lack of prayer.”

So the boy is brought to Jesus, and instantly the evil spirit throws him into convulsions, rolling around and foaming at the mouth. This must have been a scary sight for the other parents in the crowd. The father, helpless and struggling to maintain some sense of hope, says to Jesus,” if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v. 22)!

Jesus responds, “If you can, all things are possible to him who believes.” The point is not about Jesus being able to heal (v. 22) BUT about the boys’ fathers’ ability to trust in God to heal (10:27).

And that is where the “rubber meets the road,” isn’t it? How do we respond when someone we love is seriously ill? When hope seems lost and the worst outcome inevitable? We need to be reminded from this event that the issue IS NEVER about whether or not God can heal; we certainly have enough evidence that shows He can. But it IS ALWAYS about our ability to trust Him, even if He chooses not to heal in His providence.

What was the father’s response? “I do believe” (v. 24). Now, take notice of the rest of his declaration: “help my unbelief.” I think he said this loudly (cried out) and honestly. Some may surmise that this man contradicts himself, but I think that would be a poor interpretation of what’s going on in his heart. Jesus elicited faith in this man, but at the same time, he recognized that his faith was far from perfect. Have you ever experienced that in your own heart? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that there isn’t one of us that has not experienced this in our own lives.

I love the honesty and simplicity of his cries. He has been facing terrible, heat-wrenching things in the life of his family and his child. He is growing weary, but as we see here, he has not given up what little bit of hope he still clings to. His faith is small, but it is still alive!

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was [a]rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I [b]command you, come out of him and do not enter him [c]again!” 26 And after crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him, and he got up. 28 When He came into the house, His disciples began asking Him privately, “Why is it that we could not cast it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything except prayer.”

FOCUS THREE: The authority of Christ

With the crowds rapidly increasing, Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit. It appears that the crowd mentioned in verse twenty-five would be in addition to what has been mentioned in verse fifteen when they came down off the mountain. A more literal reading of “rapidly gathering” would be “running together.” So we have many people quickly encircling Jesus and this man. It doesn’t take much wisdom to understand how forceful and energetic the crowds probably were.

Some people may credit this boy’s sickness to some disease, not demon possession. Epilepsy is one such disease that is noted in some commentaries. That might be helpful to us if it wasn’t for the fact that Christ Himself understands the child’s problem to be demon possession (v. 17 He does not refute it; In v. 25 He rebukes the unclean spirit, and in vv. 28-29, in His discussion with the disciples, He continues to affirm the demonic cause).

The demon that appears to have always wanted to destroy the child (vv. 21-22) is cast out. But not without a last, horrific display of his evil motivations. Why didn’t the demon kill him at some point over the years? He couldn’t. God is sovereign over all and everything; therefore, the demons can only do what God allows them to do (read the book of Job for clarity on this topic). 

The effect of the demon being cast out is such that the boy’s body lay lifeless on the ground in front of all the watching eyes (v. 26). But who has the ultimate authority over life and death? Jesus! He takes him by the hand, and the boy “got up.”

Now you can speculate how all of this has been working on the disciples’ minds. Notice how short yet direct Jesus replies to them: “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” It is paramount in their thinking (v. 28). Why couldn’t we do that? 

These men cast demons out before under the authority of Christ, but not this time. Why? What was different? The context suggests that they failed this time because they didn’t prayerfully depend on God for His power. Perhaps they trusted in previous successes. Maybe they figured that the power was given to them and is just innate within them now to use as necessary. It is easy to see how quickly they would fall into a place of not seeking God’s power for His work when they believe it is already a constant within themselves.

Jesus, with direct brevity, and great patience, reminds and reinforces the seemingly simple truth that they need God to do His work. So do we. How often do we move forward in our Christian walk living off of our past victories, bible reading, and church service, assuming they will be effective for our present experience? How often do we move forward without praying and seeking God? How much do we need direct patient reminders and rebukes from the Lord?

Nothing else is said about the conversation after Jesus’ reply. We are left to surmise how His words affected their hearts and minds. But we know by reading through Acts and the Epistles that it had a lasting impact!

  1. The Expositors Bible Commentary
  2. Macarthur Study Bible

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

27 “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

Have you ever thought about how what we hear affects us? So many things these days gain our ear’s attention. From radios blaring music to anything and e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g on our phones. Listening is an activity that we are actively engaged in daily. So, what are you listening to?

According to one article, I found in my studies; sound affects us in four ways:

  1. 1. Physiologically (It affects our bodies)

For example, Our hearing is an immediate warning sense; sudden sounds start the warning process.

  1. 2. Psychologically (It changes our emotions and moods)

For example, the sounds of music, nature, and heavy equipment affect our emotional state, sometimes very intensely.

  1. 3. Cognitively (It affects our thought processes)

For example, when we try to listen to loud music or television while doing homework). 

  1. 4. Behaviorally (Sound causes stress and make us behave differently, positively or negatively).

For example, those gentle, soothing sounds contrasted with loud, piercing ones.

We know these things are true. It makes sense to consider the types of things we give our ears to.

Sometimes hearing God gets complicated with the plethora of other things that fill our ears. These things affect us and often move us away from opportunities to listen to Him.

Listening to the “right” things will affect us in all those ways previously mentioned-But in a much healthier way! How often do we listen to sound, biblical preaching? God-honoring music? Other godly people, and especially the Word of the living God? I expect our answers to these questions will determine how affected we are by His truth.

4 ways sound affects you, Julian Treasure (web)

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

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

THE NAME OF JESUS

These are the lyrics to a new song I wrote for playing on my ukulele. I wanted to share them with you.

                                               The name of Jesus 
                                         Lyrics by:  Larry Stump Jr.

How can I explain the Un- explainable?

How can I define the un-definable?

How can I describe the un- describable?

In a name. The name of Jesus!

How can I express the in -expressible?

How can I resist the irresistible?

How can I present the most presentable?

In a name. The name of Jesus

CHORUS

The name above every name

That forgave my life of shame

The name that bore my sin and pain

The name. The name of Jesus

How can I forget the unforgettable ?

How can I surmise the unsurmisable?

How can I access the most accessible?

In a name. The name of Jesus

How can I afford the unaffordable?

Why should I deserve the undeservable?

How can I foresee the unforeseeable?

In a name. The name of Jesus

Repeat chorus

GHOST ON THE SEA

Mark 6: 45-52

BRIEF INTRO: As the crowds are disbursed and the disciples are sent off in the boat, the twelve still did not get the rest they needed (v.31)! Ironically, these men are tired and hungry from their mission, in much need of rest, but the multitudes kept encroaching; kept invading their space if you will, and so rather than rest and food for themselves, they are kept busy feeding well over 15-20 thousand people (when you add the women and children).

Verse 45 is the 16th “immediately” that I counted in Mark’s writing. This reminds us of how “fast paced” his account is.

Why does Jesus make the disciples get into a boat and leave (immediately)? Why does Jesus go into the mountain to pray rather than joining them? Why do these people keep following after Jesus? Do the disciples comprehend who Jesus truly is? Let’s jump into it and see if we can find the answers.

45 And immediately Jesus had His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He Himself *dismissed the crowd. 46 And after saying goodbye to them, He left for the mountain to pray.

FOCUS ONE: Crowds disbursed

In Mark’s fast paced accounting of events, he gives us little explanation, actually he gives none, as to why Jesus sends His disciples away so quickly. Some assume that it is because He is compassionate and understands that they still have not received ANY rest since He sent them out. Others, lookin over the other gospels think a bit differently: “But John says that after He had done the miracle, the people wanted to take Him and make Him a king, John 6 verses 14 and 15. They were ready to start a revolt, a revolution.You have to understand that the Kingdom at this point, as we look at it here, the Kingdom at this point is all in one little boat. This is not very impressive. This Kingdom is not at all impressive. It is a poor Kingdom by any human estimate. A wooden boat in the middle of a storm, and the vice regents and future rulers and proclaimers of this King and His Kingdom can’t control the boat.


This is a very dangerous moment for the Kingdom. Nazareth has rejected Him. Galilee has rejected Him. Herod wants to kill Him. The Pharisees and scribes want to kill Him. The leaders in Jerusalem want to kill Him.

And now, even those who are His apostles, first generation of gospel preachers, the ones who will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, these men are in a dire situation. Their rescue is essential and so is their complete devotion to Him. Future hope for gospel preaching depends on their survival and it depends on their faith.” Sure, Jesus is compassionate, BUT there is more at stake here than these men eating and resting, as important as that is.

MacArthur writes: “They (the multitudes) were sure of His amazing, miraculous power. They knew now that He would not only heal their bodies, deliver them from disease, raise their dead, but He would be the source of permanent food supply. And so, they were ready to make Him a king. They were certainly ready to have Him overthrow Herod and all the other petty Herodians who had pieces of Israel over which they ruled under the allowances of Rome. They were ready to take on Rome itself with Jesus as their leader. This was the crowd’s response to the massive nature of this miracle and what it demonstrated about His power to provide for them.”

Jesus, knowing that these men could easily be influenced by the crowds and perhaps get swept away with the excitement that filled the air, quickly sends them away from the multitudes to the other side of the sea.

Jesus then goes to the mountain to pray (often goes here). Jesus is very busy and normally does not get alone time; but he makes time! Jesus knows the will of the people and He knows the susceptibility of the twelve men He chose to the electricity in the air of a long awaited “messiah,” king. He knows the future kingdom work rests organically in these men, so He prays!

47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them [a]straining at the oars—for the wind was against them—at about the [b]fourth watch of the night, He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.

FOCUS TWO: Disciples in fear
The twelve are in the boat for several hours, many of them spent straining at the oars in rough waters. Mark says that it was evening when they were in the boat and about “the fourth watch” Jesus came to them. How long is it between “evening” and the 4th watch? Approximately six hours!

Imagine that. Jesus sees them “straining at the oars” (v. 48) and yet does not go to them for several hours? And then we read that He walks on the water to them “intending to pass by.” Those two facts together tell me that these men, especially Peter, were about to have their faith in Christ tested!

Why pass by?

  1. 1. God does not always deliver from trials but uses them to produce (endurance, humility, dependence, how to ask for help).
  2. 2. Test of faith (how do we act when God does not answer immediately (bitterness, anger, impatient)?

These men were terrorized at what they saw. You would think that after all they had seen being accomplished by Jesus, and all they had done recently by His power, they would instantly recognize and appreciate Jesus walking on the water to get to them. Instead, they were in great fear thinking it was a ghost and they were astonished that He stopped the wind!

That statement makes sense only in light of what we read later in verse 52, which we’ll talk about in our next focus!

49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought that it was a ghost, and they cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were [a]terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they [b]had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but [c]their hearts were hardened.

FOCUS THREE: Jesus is divine

Can I say it? These men are slow to gain wisdom or insight as to who Jesus is and what He can do! BUT, I am too and so are you. We most likely would have reacted the same way if we were in that boat.

Mark reveals that these men were:

  1. Afraid (terrorized in the greek)
  2. And ignorant
  3. And tired

“So when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost and screamed.” These are grown men who probably have been doing a lot of yelling up to now anyway. But this is the shrieking scream of someone who is just in panic. They thought He was a ghost. The Greek word is phantasma, phantom, fantasy. Popular belief at the time was that spirits of the night brought disaster. That was hanging around in the superstitions of that time and that place. Maybe all of a sudden it was true in their experience.”

“For they all saw Him and were terrified,” tarassō that word means to throw into panic. They were literally thrown into panic. There was no – there was no way to process what they saw, a person walking on water. Well, the Lord didn’t let their shaking terror last very long – I love this. ‘He spoke with them and said ‘Take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid.’” Easy for you to say, right” (Macarthur).

So we see Jesus as:

  1. Encouraging
  2. He did not rebuke them
  3. And He gave them hope

This was a miracle that again reveals His deity:

  1. Power
  2. Authority
  3. Sovereignty

And all that He did was get into the boat and it stopped!

“The OT provides an important background for understanding Jesus’ action of walking on the water. Jesus is acting with divine power (2:7), because it is God alone who walks on the waves of the sea (Job 9:8), who makes His way through the sea and His path through mighty waters (Isaiah 43:16). The OT also makes sense of the otherwise puzzling note that Jesus wanted to pass by His disciples. The language is similar to that used of God’s revelation of His glory to Moses (Exodus 33:17-34:8). . . For Jesus wanted to pass by His disciples, therefore, means that He desired to reveal His glory to them” (Exegetical guide to the Greek New Testament, pg. 116).

But they missed it. Their hearts were hardened (v. 52).

The Synoptics show us that the disciples understood only by degrees. Therefore their statements must not be interpreted as if they had a “post resurrection” understanding of Him. They always seem to come around to the same point over and over again, each time at a deeper level of understanding. But always with a mixture of apprehension! They haven’t arrived yet, AND neither have we!

That night they went from fear to faith. That night they went from confusion to confession. That night they went from wondering to worshiping!

TRUTH FROM THE PAST

“ Prayer that affects one’s ministry must give tone to ones life. The praying which gives color and bent to character is no pleasant, hurried pastime. It must enter as strongly into the heart and life as Christ’s ’strong crying and tears’ did; must draw out of the soul into an agony of desire as Paul’s did; must be of an in-wrought fire and force like the ’effectual fervent prayer’ of James; must be of that quality which, when put into the golden censer and incensed before God, works mighty spiritual throes and revolutions.

Prayer is not a little habit pinned on to us while we were tied to our mother’s apron strings; neither is it a little decent quarter of a minute’s grace said over an hour’s dinner, But it is a most serious work of our most serious years.

E.M Bounds