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Bible Commentaries
Mark 9

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-29

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week we had the radical revelation that Jesus was the Christ/Messiah (8:29)
      1. 6 days have passed since Peter tried to barricade Christ from His Cross, now we have before us the Dress Rehearsal of Jesus’ 2nd Coming, in all His splendor.
    2. Show Ladovico Carracci Transfiguration Painting.
    3. This week we get to experience a mountain high & valley low.
      1. The Christian life is full of hills & valleys - Deut.11:11 the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven.
        1. If you want to share in the glory of Christ on the mountain top, we must be willing to follow him into the sufferings of the valley below.
        2. Mountain top experiences are great, but remember no fruit grows up there; all the fruit is grown down in the valley.
    4. Title/Outline: Mountain Top (2-13) & Valley Flop (14-29)
    5. Prayer: Moses asked, Please, show me Your Glory.
    6. I went to Mammoth on Mon, got acclimated, did a 10 m. hike on Tues, to 10,700’.
      1. Explain: times I had to slow down(oxygen); thrill of being alone w/God in His backyard; the time when I found out I wasn’t alone(dog) Slide#5; ominous clouds rolling in Slide#6; most beautiful trout (browns/golden’s).
      2. Just as high altitude transforms a landscape in the physical world, so does real prayer in the spiritual realm.
        1. You climb to the top, & things you thought so massive, are now so puny. Other objects you greatly underestimated look very impressive now.
      3. So spiritually, this morning we get a God’s-eye view of life, of death, & of glory.
      4. From the mountain-top of secret prayer, we gain insight of the hardships & frustrations of Valley life.
  2. MOUNTAIN TOP (1-13)
    1. THE MOUNTAIN (2)
    2. (2) Which mountain? – Mnt’s were often special places of revelation in Scripture.
      1. Tradition says Mnt.Tabor – but it is a low mountain, 1,843’.
        1. Plus at the time their was a Roman fortress during this period at the top.
      2. A more likely location Mnt. Hermon – it’s the highest mnt in the whole region 9,400’.
        1. It also sits just north of Caesarea Philippi where they are traveling from.
        2. So 6 days travel & they find themselves “on top of the world looking down on creation.”
    3. THE GLORY (3)
    4. (3) His Transfiguration – Here Jesus’ 3 closest disciples are given a brief glimpse of His glory.
      1. Matthew & Luke say his face changed. All 3 recognize the clothes.
      2. Transfigured = a change on the outside that comes from the inside.
        1. The opposite is Masquerade = outward change that doesn’t come from w/in. (www)
      3. Here comes dazzling proof that God indeed does transform suffering into Glory.
      4. It was an experience given to strengthen Him & them for the dark days to come.
        1. How does your Sunday Worship experience prepare you for the frustrations & challenges of weekday life?
    6. (4) Why Moses & Elijah? [Moses had been dead 1400 years; Elijah 900 years]
      1. Both these men had previously conversed w/God on mountaintops.
        1. Moses on Mnt. Sinai (Ex.31:18); Elijah on Mnt. Horeb [Sinai’s whole mnt range] (1 Kings 19:9).
      2. Both had been shown Gods glory.
      3. Moses represented the Law, & Elijah the Prophets.
      4. Both had amazing departures from earth.
        1. Moses died & was buried by God; Elijah was raptured up into heaven in a flaming chariot.
        2. When Jesus returns He will raise the bodies of the saints who died, & will rapture the living saints.
    7. They were talking w/Jesus about His decease (death/departure) Lk.9:31.
      1. I used to think, “what a theological conversation that must have been?” Now I think, “what a relational conversation that must have been?”
        1. When facing the hardest thing in your life, you want perseverance, encouragement, hope, promises, not terms & definitions.
        2. His Suffering would not be an Accident, but an Accomplishment.
        3. They came to encourage Him to “Go On!
    8. THE SLEEPY TRIO (5,6)
    9. (5) The 3 disciples fell asleep(Lk.9:32) & almost missed Moses & Elijah, & Jesus in His glory. Can you imagine missing that?
      1. But, with the altitude, long walk, & long prayer meeting…they were tired.
    10. 3 Tabernacles - Peter may have been thinking of the Feast of Booths/ingathering, long associated with the coming kingdom. Peter seemed to have assumed that the kingdom had arrived.
    11. (6) Peter wakes up & didn’t know what to say…so he said something???
      1. Ever fall into that trap?
      2. If there was a time to be silent it was now.
    12. THE CLOUD COVER (7)
    13. (7) Cloud cover – This was none other then the shekinah glory, that manifestation of the presence of God. (Heb. Kabod - Gk. doxa)
      1. The cloud by day, fire by night in the wilderness. That cloud that passed by Moses in the cleft of the rock.The same cloud that filled the Tabernacle, & filled Solomon’s’ Temple.
        1. It has been 600 years since anyone has seen the shekinah glory.
      2. One day we will be in this same cloud…Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thes.4:17
    14. Hear Him – Peter spoke out of turn…the Father cuts him off.
      1. Listening involves obedience.
        1. When your mother used to ask you, “Did you hear me?” she wasn’t asking a question about your hearing ability, but about your obedience.
      2. What happened on the Mnt. of Transfiguration was a confirmation of Peter’s testimony…“You are the Christ!”
        1. Confirmed: by who showed up, Moses & Elijah; by Jesus’ glory; by the Father speaking.
        2. But also it was a revelation of the glory of the cross.
      3. Here the Father focuses not on the vision, but on the Word of God…hear Him!
        1. Peter never forgot that voice – 2 Pet.1:16-18 NLT For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
    16. They saw no one anymore, but only Jesus – That’s key.
      1. This is the test of any vision.
      2. Virgin Mary sightings? One question Who does it promote?
        1. Most often, Mary/the Rosary/praying a certain prayer regarding her esteem.
      3. This is what all our experience, all our theology, all our work should come to – seeing only Jesus!
    17. THE COMING OF ELIJAH (9-13)
    18. Seeing Elijah it hastened a question about him(11).
      1. i.e. How did You(Jesus) show up before Him?
      2. Elijah is coming – Mal.4:5.
      3. Elijah had come – in the person of John the Baptist (Mt.17:13).
    19. Peter, learned he couldn’t camp out there in his mountain top pup-tent…there was work to be down in the valley.
      1. As I said, If you want to share in the glory of Christ on the mountain top, we must be willing to follow Him into the sufferings of the valley below.
  3. ​​​​​​​VALLEY FLOP (14-29)
    1. ​​​​​​​THE CONTRAST (14-16)
    2. What a contrast we have here.
      1. From Glory to Shame; Mountain top to the Valley floor; Light to Darkness; Power to Helplessness.
    3. See Raphael’s Transfiguration Painting
      1. Raphael captured the overwhelming contrast between the glorious Mnt of Trans & the troubled world waiting below.
    4. (15) Greatly amazed – Was his countenance different like Moses when he came down from Sinai w/face aglow?
    5. THE BOY (17,18)
    6. (17,18) Poor young boy – He was deaf, mute, epileptic, & demon possessed.
      1. “A cruel spirit lies in wait for him like a bully waiting to pounce on a kid coming home from school. It sneaks up on the boy, jumps him from behind, & mashes his face into the dirt – all the while, delighting in the tyranny.” (Max Lucado)
      2. Like a lion he singles out the youngest, most vulnerable one, & ruthlessly runs him down.
    7. THE FAILURE (18b,19)
    8. Their failure to heal the boy: a) grieved the Lord b) gave support to the enemy c) robbed God of glory.
      1. Their problem was unbelief. They had the tools (6:7 power)
      2. When will you get it? Jesus asks.
      3. Fitting words for the church today – We are so well equipped, rich, instructed…& yet so powerless.
    9. THE FATHER (21,22)
    10. Imagine being in the fathers shoes - While others were teaching their sons a trade, he was just trying to keep his son alive.
      1. He couldn’t leave his son alone for a minute. Who knew when the next attack would come?
      2. His father remained on call, on alert, 24/7. [Caregivers can relate]
      3. He was desperate, tired, & his prayers reflect both.
        1. He drops to his knees (Mt.17:14)
    11. Jesus draws the father out - Allowing him to unburden himself.
      1. Prov.20:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.
      2. This would help him also to recognize the desperate extremity of his boy’s plight.
    12. THE MISPLACED “IF” (22,23)
    13. The misplaced “If” – The tense implies doubt. (i.e.) “this one’s probably a little out of your league…but if you can…”.
      1. Jesus turns it back on the father “If you can believe”?
      2. His unbelief needed to be healed 1st, & thus was more important than the demon possession.
      3. Like this man, we often see an if in relation to our problems. And we too put it in the wrong place. If Jesus can help me overcome this sinful habit.” “If He can change my life.” No, the real issue is, if we can believe, He both can and will respond.
        1. Don’t misplace your if & put it on Jesus, wear it yourself.
        2. Is there something you know is God’s will for your life but you have doubts? Then maybe you’ve misplaced your if.
    15. Lord I believe help my unbelief – 1 of the most honest men in all the bible.
      1. “Help me to understand. And where I can’t understand, help me to trust. And where I can’t trust, help me to overcome my unbelief.” (Ken Gire, Incredible Moments, pg. 78.)
      2. Jesus was saying, “the working of this miracle depends on your faith, not on my power alone.” (other times Jesus just did it not dependent on their faith)
        1. Don’t you warm to this man’s raw honesty, for our faith is always mixed with unbelief.
      3. I agree with Max Lucado when he said, Some of you pray like a Concorde jet – smooth, sleek, high, and mighty. Your words reverberate in the clouds and send sonic booms throughout the heavens. If you pray like a Concorde, I salute you. If you don't, I understand. Maybe you're like me, more a cropduster then a Concorde. You aren't flashy, you fly low, you seem to cover the same ground a lot, and some mornings It's tough to get the old engine cranked up.
        1. Yah, more often we come more like a crippled lamb coming to a shepherd than a proud lion roaring in the jungle.
    16. THE GREAT COMFORT (25-27)
    17. And enter him no more – those words must have brought such great comfort to the father.
    18. (26) The demon put up one last vicious fight & took out his spite on the boy as he left.
      1. The Redeemer returns the stolen goods to their rightful owner.
    19. THE LOST POWER (29)
    20. The 9 disciples had neglected their spiritual disciplines & lost their power. (see 6:7)
      1. Maybe they thought since they were given the power they would just do this in their own strength? Thus they didn’t think to pray.
      2. Jesus was teaching them that the faith which brings power is a faith that prays.
      3. Prayer is the vital link (fasting is not in most manuscripts) between the transforming power on the mountain top & the desperate needs in the valley.
      4. For them as for us…“Prayerlessness leads to Powerlessness.”
      5. Do you spend too much time in discussion (14) & too little time in prayer? (29)
    21. An organist was getting ready to play as the service began. When he put his hands in the keys there was no sound. Everyone knew something was wrong, so the preacher quickly got up and led in a prayer. The janitor was aware of the fact that they hadn't plugged in the organ. So we went over there during the prayer, plugged in the organ, wrote a note, and handed it to the organist. The note said, "after the prayer the power will be on."
      1. ​​​​​​​Slide#25 That's right, isn't it? "After the prayer, the power will be on." (Vines, Mark)

Verses 30-50

  1. Intro:
    1. Despite Christendom’s frequent failures we can have a healing, preserving influence on our city, on our society & on our world.
    2. Whatever or whoever we are, whether in the military, in business, in education, on a campus - Christ calls us to have a preserving influence.
      1. We as Christians can bring flavor to life & make the world salty for the Savior.
      2. Our presence in our world ought to quicken the conscience, elevate conversation, restrain ethical corruption, promote honesty, & raise the moral atmosphere of society.
      3. This portion of Scripture, Jesus lays down how we are to Cultivate our Saltiness.
        1. See vs.50...then we’ll back up & see how we can Cultivate this Saltiness.
        2. In Mt.5:13 it doesn’t say we should be the salt of the earth...it says we are - “You are the salt of the earth.”
          1. We can’t change what we are, but we can waste what we are. [don’t loose your flavor]
    3. Title: Salty Saints. [NaCl Saints - Periodic Tables formula, Sodium Chloride Saints]
    4. Outline: Don’t Think My Mission is w/o Suffering; Loose the Cape; Your Church isn’t the best...Mine is; Free Cement Shoes for Tripping Kids; Don’t Coddle Sin...Crucify it; Be a Sensational Salty Saint.
    1. ​​​​​​​This is 2nd time to share this prophecy w/them.
    2. Didn’t understand it. Didn’t ask. I wonder if they should have? Would He have expounded on it?
    3. Jesus said, Don’t think my Mission is w/o suffering.
  3. LOOSE THE CAPE (33-37)
    1. ​​​​​​​Did Peter, James & John, receiving the prestigious pick to go up on the mountain w/Jesus, stir up this question & debate among the 12? - Did this fuel the fire of competition?
      1. I picture from God’s vantage point this discussion being like...all the crystals inside a salt shaker discussing who’s saltier?
      2. Come on guys stand together, no matter who is greatest.
        1. It’s serving your superiors & your inferiors.
        2. This is the way to true First-ness.
      3. Don’t aim for human greatness; aim to be more like Jesus Christ.
    2. I’m going to show a 1 minute clip from Pixar animation The Incredibles.
      1. Reminded of this excerpt from Bob Goff’s book, Love Does (ch.24).
      2. Backstory: Mr. Incredible is the super hero dad in the movie, and he's tired of this job. He sells insurance, but he knows that's not the real him. So he starts doodling on his sketchpad, drawing different superhero suits because he wants to go back to being who he knows he really was meant to be. Most of the outfits he draws have cape's because that's how most superheroes dress, and he wants to be the same as them. He has a friend, Edna, who makes superhero uniforms, and every time he shows her a design, she keeps telling him to lose the Cape.
      3. Isn’t this whole humility thing, God telling us to “loose the cape?”
        1. ​​​​​​​Can we just be Secretly Incredible?
      4. Humility means, “knowing yourself, accepting yourself, being yourself, your best self, & giving of yourself for others.”
    3. (37) Children were not given much recognition in NT time.
      1. He probably grabs one of Peters kids? (he’s in a house in Capernaum)
      2. The test of greatness is being ready to serve other people even if they are as ‘unimportant’ as a little child.
        1. Jesus turns every day values on their head.
      3. We are to receive all of Gods people as we do children, w/no thoughts of their accomplishments, their influence, their fame, or their gifts, but simply because they are His children.
    4. Jesus said, Loose the Cape.
    1. ​​​​​​​How many churches/groups have thought this same thought...We have the special relationship with You Jesus. NLT“we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
      1. ​​​​​​​They gave them a Cease & Desist order - but Paul said, Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Rom.14:4
    2. What’s really funny is this no name guy was successful in his exorcism & the 9 disciples weren’t.
    3. Such exclusivism & narrowness sickens God.
      1. The criterion for ministry is not style or tradition or denomination, but Jesus’ name being lifted up & glorified.
    4. One put it this way, “We’re all branch offices of the same business; when one branch prospers, we all prosper.”
    5. Jesus said, your church isn’t the best...Mine is.
    1. ​​​​​​​Don’t cause a child of God to trip up.
    2. Millstone – The upper millstone that took a donkey to rotate.
      1. This was historically the fate of some.
    3. These little ones refers to all Gods children who follow Christ & seek to serve Him. (Warren Wiersbe; BeDiligent; pg.92.)
    4. Make sure in your life there is nothing to make young believers to stumble.
      1. But what about my rights to drink, smoke, & chew, & run w/girls who do?
        1. All liberties stop at the door of stumbling.
    5. Christian know this…someone is watching you. Walk your talk.
    6. Jesus said, free cement shoes for tripping young believers.
    1. ​​​​​​​The last section, don’t stumble others...Now, don’t stumble yourself.
    2. Don’t pamper sin in your life.
      1. Here Jesus puts personal holiness in the most dramatic & drastic terms…in the whole bible.
      2. Deal drastically with sin like a surgeon going after the cancerous tumor; like a shark after its wounded victim.
      3. Billy Sunday, “One reason sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake.”
    3. Of course the Lord is not commanding literal physical surgery. [spiritual surgery]
      1. He had already made it clear sin comes from the heart. Mrk 7:20-23
      2. Unfortunately, some in the early church took this literally. Origen of Alexandria castrated himself in an attempt to overcome sensual desires.
        1. The Council of Nicea finally outlawed this practice.
        2. Why, because you can hack off your hands, chop off your feet, & pop out your eye balls…even go get neutered...& still be the most vial of sinners.
      3. Jesus didn’t want physical mutilation but spiritual mortification.
      4. Hand, foot, & eye maybe representing the totality of life (i.e. Hand/what we do; Foot/where we go; Eye/what we see) Kent Hughes
    4. What harmful practice does He want you to cut off or out of in your life?
      1. Half-way measures just won’t do. And, no one can do it for you.
    5. Hell – Gehenna. [ge=valley - henna=hinnom]
      1. An actual valley just outside of Jerusalem. Where king Ahaz worshipped Molech, the fire god, & even sacrificed his children in the fire.
    6. Jonathan Edwards said it so well, “There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of, there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.”
      1. Jesus believed in a place called Gehenna. It was a place of eternal torment & righteous punishment. Wait, doesn’t that make God mean?
        1. No, A loving mother isn’t mean giving her child honest warnings, “don’t go too near the fire or you might get burned”, “Don’t play in the road or you might get run over.”
          1. These are not idle threats but realistic warnings. Part of God’s love for us is the honest warnings He gives.
    7. Jesus said, Don’t coddle sin...crucify it.
    1. ​​​​​​​(49) Embrace the salt of a sacrificial life & the fire of persecution which comes with it.
    2. (50) Don’t lose your salty character.
      1. Once you’ve lost that precious Christian character, how will you restore it?
    3. Salt - Many analogies. Most sacrifices were seasoned w/salt. Salt was used for cleansing & preserving meat thus hindering corruption. Salt seasons whatever it touches. Salt stings when it touches a wound. Salt makes people thirsty.
      1. Christian, be a preserving influence in a decaying world.
    4. Don’t Think being on Mission is w/o Suffering. Loose your Cape. Your Church isn’t the best...Jesus’ Church Is. Still free Cement Shoes for Tripping young believers. Don’t Coddle Sin in your life...Crucify it. Be a Sensational Salty Saint.
    5. End: A famous king, depressed by circumstances in his realm and feeling rejected by many of his subjects, called for his 3 daughters to comfort and reassure him. After they had talked awhile, he asked how much they loved him. 2 of them answered that they cared for him more than all the gold and silver in the world; but Mary, the youngest, said she loved him like salt. Slide#27 The king wasn't pleased with her answer, for he considered salt to be of very little value. The cook, who overheard the conversation, knew that the child's reply had more significance than the father imagined. She dared not speak to the monarch about the matter, but devised a subtle way to emphasize the true meaning of the young girl's words. The next morning at breakfast she withheld the salt from everything she served, and the meal was so insipid that the king didn't enjoy it at all. Then he realized the full force of his daughter's remark. She loved him so much that nothing was good without him! With a smile he said, "I understand now, Mary. Your love is the greatest of all!"
    6. ​​​​​​​Jesus said, be a Sensational Salty Saint.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/mark-9.html. 2017.
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