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the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-50

Chapter 9

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power ( Mark 9:1 ).

Now what did He mean by that? Because those disciples have all died, and we have not yet seen the kingdom of God come with power. Was Jesus mistaken? Well, first of all, no. Jesus was not mistaken. If my interpretation of a scripture would make it appear that Jesus was mistaken, then my interpretation is wrong. If my interpretation of what Jesus said would make what Jesus said ridiculous or foolish, my interpretation is wrong. And many times people misinterpret the words of Jesus.

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James and John, and leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller [launderer] on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus ( Mark 9:2-4 ).

Now, Peter, James and John were taken up into this high mountain, Mount Hermon, which is just there at Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi is just right at the base. So Jesus, six days later, took them on up into this mountain, and there He was transfigured before them. His raiment did shine. And while He was there in this transfigured state, Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Him. Jesus said, "There are some standing here that are not going to die until they see the kingdom with power." And there, God took them, I believe, into a time chamber. And they saw Christ in the glory that He will have and the power when He comes again to the earth, talking with Moses and Elijah. So they were taken out of this time zone, into the eternal, and they actually saw the kingdom of God coming with power and glory. Or they saw the kingdom of God coming with power, as He declares.

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah ( Mark 9:5 ).

And there was the beginning of the desire to create shrines in the Holy Land to commemorate the sites where the exciting things happened. Poor Peter. If he only knew the mess that he made of the Holy Land. And why did he say this?

For he wist not [didn't know] what to say ( Mark 9:6 );

Now, if you don't know what to say, it's probably better to say nothing. There's some people that say, "Well, you know, you better say something." And so, what you say is foolish because you just don't know what to say. It's really better to keep your mouth shut. Better keep your mouth shut and let people think you're a fool, than open it and dispel all their doubts. They were afraid, he didn't know what to say, so he makes this stupid suggestion.

And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him ( Mark 9:7 ).

We read in Hebrews chapter one, "God, who in different times of history and in different ways spoke to our fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His own dear Son." Now, here was Moses. What does Moses represent? God speaking to man through the law. Here was Elijah. What does Elijah represent? God speaking to man through the prophets. How is the Old Testament usually divided? The law and the prophets. You remember, so often Jesus would say, "In this is all the law and the prophets." That's how the Old Testament was divided. God, in various times and in various ways, spoke to the fathers through the law and through the prophets. But in these last days, He's spoken unto us by His own dear Son. So, here Moses who stands for the law, Elijah who stands for the prophets, are there talking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and God says, "This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him, hear ye Him." For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. "Hear ye Him." There are still some who would like to go back under the law instead of living in that grace and truth through Jesus Christ, but God is saying, "Look, this is My beloved Son. Hear ye Him."

Now, He did not say anything contrary to the law and the prophets. "I did not come," He said, "to destroy, but to fulfill." And He fulfilled the law and the prophets. His life was a fulfillment. But in the fulfilling of the law and the prophets, He brought to us this glorious grace of God whereby we have our relationship with God today, our standing before God through grace.

And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save [except] Jesus only with themselves. [Moses and Elijah disappeared.] And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things that they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean ( Mark 9:8-10 ).

They just could not understand this.

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elijah must first come? ( Mark 9:11 )

Now, you see they've recognized that, "You're the Messiah." "But the scribes say that Elijah has got to come before the Messiah."

And he answered and told them, Elijah verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things ( Mark 9:12 ),

"Now, you're saying, 'How is it that the scriptures say that Elijah has to first come?' But how is it that the scriptures say that the Son of Man, the Messiah, is going to have to suffer many things?" He's pointing out another aspect. Yes, the scriptures do say that Elijah will first come, but it also says that the Son of Man, or the Messiah, is going to suffer many things. Therefore, there are the two aspects of the coming of the Messiah: He will be coming in power and glory, and prior to that, Elijah will come and restore all things. But Elijah has come, for John the Baptist actually fulfilled that ministry of Elijah as the forerunner. And so, He said,

But I say unto you, That Elijah is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed [desired], as it was written of him ( Mark 9:13 ).

So, even the word was fulfilled concerning John the Baptist.

And when he came to his disciples [back down from the hill now], he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes [were] questioning with them. And straightway [immediately] all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him [and greeted him]. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? ( Mark 9:14-16 )

Oh, here now is the shepherd, and He sees His sheep in trouble. These scribes are there talking with them, and He's going to go right to their defense. "What were you talking to them about?" A true heart of the shepherd to protect His sheep from the wolves.

Here at Calvary Chapel one evening when we were in the other chapel, and we were conducting at that time the Monday night studies, many had come forward to receive Christ. And I was back in the back room ministering to them, and when I came out from the back room, having ministered to those who had come to receive Christ, I saw these guys in suits, and that's the first thing that made me suspicious. Because in those days, nobody wore suits, especially on Monday night. And they had little groups of kids around them and they were talking a mile a minute. And I said, "Romaine, get 'em!" And Romaine and I went out and we began to tap these guys and say, "Come over here, we want to talk to you." And so, we gathered these guys in suits together. I said, "Okay, who are you guys?" I mean, I saw them and I saw them talking to these kids. You know, many of the kids were just a week or two weeks or a month old in Jesus, and when these guys were all there and talking so fast, you just knew that they were trying to lay some weird trip on them. And I mean, I was ready to make a whip and drive these guys out of the temple, and I was really hot. I said, "What were you talking to them about? Who are you guys? Where did you come from?" "Oh, brother, bless God, praise God, hallelujah, oh, brother, bless God, oh, brother, brother, brother..." I said, "Wait a minute! Don't 'brother' me! Who are you? Where did you come from? What are you doing here?" "Oh, bless God, brother, hallelujah..." I said, "You're not answering my question." And by their very actions, I had natural discernment, not spiritual. I wasn't in the Spirit at the moment. I said, "Are you guys from the Witness Lee group?" "Oh, bless God, brother, praise the Lord, brother, hallelujah, oh, bless God, brother.....yeah!" And Romaine says, "Out!" "Oh, but brother, bless God, we're brothers man. Why don't you become the local church of Santa Ana? You can be the local church here." And I said, "You've got to be kidding! For me to say that we are the only true church in Santa Ana, the only true representation of Jesus Christ and the unity of the body of Christ in Santa Ana, is ridiculous. There are many excellent churches in Santa Ana and we are not the only true church. And we could never take that type of a position or title for ourselves." Romaine says, "Out!" And they went out doing the whole "oh, brother, brother, hallelujah" bit as Romaine was getting them to their cars. And he followed them all the way to the car, and said, "I'm going to stand here, and I want to see you out of that driveway and never come back here again."

I understand how Jesus felt when He saw the scribes having cornered His little sheep down here who were not yet that far along in their understanding. And He moves right in and says, "Alright! What were you questioning them about?"

And one of the multitude [one of the men in the crowd] answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth [at the mouth], [he] gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway [immediately] the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he [Jesus] asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child [Oh, when he was a child]. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway [immediately] the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief ( Mark 9:17-24 ).

A picture that just moves with paithos??. You can imagine the feeling of this father to see his son in this condition, unable to speak. But worse than that, going into these fits where his body is writhing, where he begins to foam at the mouth and gnash his teeth, where oftentimes he would be jumping in the fire and going through the fits or jumping into the water and going through the fits. And how it must have just really ripped on the heart of this father. And in desperation, he's brought him to Jesus. And Satan is taking his last fling. Even while he's coming to Christ, the spirit takes hold of him, begins to tear him; he falls on the ground and he's wallowing there and foaming at the mouth. And the father in desperation says, "Oh, Lord, if you can do anything, please, please help us. Have compassion." And Jesus said, "If you believe, all things are possible to him that believes." Oh, what a glorious promise. All things are possible to him who believes.

"And immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'Oh, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!...God, help that area of my life where there's still unbelief.'

When Jesus saw that the people came running together ( Mark 9:25 ),

And of course, for something like this, the crowd would come running out of curiosity.

he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him ( Mark 9:25 ).

Now, interesting that Jesus would make that second command, "enter him no more." Jesus said, "When an evil spirit goes forth out of a man, he goes through the wilderness areas looking for a house to inhabit, and if he finds none, he'll come back to the house from whence he was driven. And if he finds it all swept and clean and garnished, he'll go out and get seven other spirits that they might come and abide in that house. And the last estate of that man is worse than his first." That's why Jesus said, "Don't enter him again."

One night I'm going to talk about demonology. I don't want to get into that tonight. It's a subject I really don't like to talk about, but we probably should know about it. Fortunately, here in the United States, there is not really much true demon possession; there is a lot of imagined demon possession, but not much true demon possession. All kinds of demon oppression. I mean, as a child of God you're wrestling against these principalities and powers. We are in a spiritual warfare. But because of the strong Christian influence, we do not see much actual demon possession here. Not nearly as much as you see when you go into some of the pagan foreign countries where the light of the gospel does not shine bright; there you see actual cases of demon possession, many of them. We are seeing more here. As the occult and the eastern mystic religions are developing and growing in the United States, we are beginning to see more demon possession. And as a result of that, I will be talking about it some night. But I really don't want to get into it tonight.

So the spirit cried, and rent [tore] him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead [lying there like he was dead]; insomuch that many [of the people around] said, He is dead [Oh, he died]. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? ( Mark 9:26-28 )

Good question. They were powerless in this case.

And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting ( Mark 9:29 ).

Now, it would appear that there are rankings of demon spirits. And the Bible does definitely speak of the rankings, principalities, powers, which are all rankings; and there are some that are more powerful than others and are more resistant to exorcism than are others. And this was one of those more powerful demons; the disciples at this point weren't able to handle it. Jesus did. And His answer to them is that this kind can only come out by fasting and prayer. We'll be talking about the various kinds of evil spirits when we do talk about that.

And they departed from thence, and passed through Galilee; [and he tried to do it secretly] and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is [to be] delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day ( Mark 9:30-31 ).

Notice He's emphasizing this; He's trying to prepare them now. They know now He's the Messiah, but He's trying to prepare them for a different Messiah than what the people were actually looking for.

But they understood not that saying, and [they] were afraid to ask him ( Mark 9:32 ).

They did not understand how He was talking about His death and resurrection. And they were just afraid to question Him about it.

And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? [What were you fellows arguing about back there on the path?] But they held their peace [they were ashamed to tell him: they were silent], for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest ( Mark 9:33-34 ).

And they were embarrassed to say, "Well, we were, you know...Peter said he's going to be the greatest, and I know I am. And we were arguing about that." They were embarrassed to confess to the Lord the petty argument that they were in about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom. Saying things, that when Jesus said, "What were you saying?" they were ashamed to tell Him; they were embarrassed to tell Him.

We have all been in that position. We've said things that we would be embarrassed to tell Jesus what we said. He should say, "Well, what did you say?" "Well, nothing Lord." We've all done things that we would be embarrassed for Jesus to know that we did them, as if He didn't. That's what we need to know; Jesus knows everything we say; He knows everything we do. The Bible says, "Everything is naked and open before Him with whom we have to do." You don't hide anything from Him. We need to be more aware of that. We need to be conscious of the presence of Jesus at all times, so that we know that we're not hiding anything from Him. And because He knew what they were arguing about, He said, "Come fellows, I want to talk to you." "And He sat down," which is the position that the Rabbi took whenever He was going to teach important lessons. And instead of rebuking them for arguing about who was going to be the greatest, instead of condemning them for this, He told them how they could be the greatest.

You know, Jesus so often has a different attitude towards me than what I anticipate. I've messed up, I've failed. I think, "Oh, man, He's going to wail on me now." Because the Lord says, "Come here, Chuck. I want to talk to you." "Uuuhh." You're expecting Him to really lay it on you, and instead, He's so compassionate. He said, "Now look, this is the way you can be successful. Now you failed that time because..." And instead of condemning me for my failure, He only sits down and points out how I can avoid that failure the next time, how I can be successful the next time. I love the Lord because He has never condemned me. He's always so compassionate; He's always so helpful. Jesus said, "I didn't come to condemn the world, but that the world through me might be saved. And he who believes is not condemned." I believe in Jesus. Because I believe in Jesus, I'm not perfect. I do stumble, I do fall, but I'm not condemned. When I stumble and fall, He doesn't come and condemn me, He only shows me how to walk. So, they're arguing a petty argument over who's going to be the greatest; He doesn't condemn them for that and say, "What a stupid thing to be arguing about!" He says, "Look, you want to be the greatest? This is how: if any man wants to be first, let him be last, and let him become the servant." He said on another occasion, "If you want to be great in God's kingdom, then learn to be the servant of all." He had said before, "If you seek to save your life, you're going to lose it. But if you'll lose your life for My sake, then you'll find it; you'll save it." So, you want to be great? Here's the path to greatness. Not as you think. It's not through ambition and drive and pushing yourself ahead of the others and pulling others down that you might ascend above them; but the path of greatness is by taking the place of a servant and beginning to serve one another. Jesus said, "Whosoever would be the chief among you, let him be the servant of all."

Now, the real position of the pastor of the church is that of the servant to the church, the servant of all. I oftentimes tell the people back in the prayer room who come to accept Jesus Christ, "What are the fringe benefits now of your becoming a child of God is, you just picked up a bunch of servants." For we who are on the staff here at Calvary, the word minister actually means servant. And we are here to serve your needs, and we're available to serve you. That's what it's all about. And Jesus is saying, "Look, if you want to be great, then be a servant."

And he took a child, and set him [the child] in the midst of them: and when he had taken him [the child] in his arms ( Mark 9:36 ),

I love this picture of Jesus. He's takes a little child, and He holds the child. He's sitting there, and probably sets him on his lap and holding him there in his arms.

he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, [actually] receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me ( Mark 9:36-37 ).

Now, Jesus is saying actually, "What you do for a child is being done for me." Now, in that culture the children were considered almost non-persons until they came of age. No one would take time for a child. They were just allowed to grow up until they became of age, and then they lay on them the responsibilities of adulthood. But Jesus is saying, "Take time for the children. Whatever you're doing for a child, you're actually doing for me. If you receive a child in My name, you're receiving Me; and if you receive Me, you're receiving the Father, the One that sent Me."

Now, the disciples are always throwing in things that don't really relate to the situation that He's talking about, because they didn't always understand what He was talking about.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one [who was] casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and [so] we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly [actually] speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward ( Mark 9:38-41 ).

Now, John has interjected this sectarianism, "Lord, he was casting out devils, but he didn't call himself a Baptist, so we told him to stop it." He said, "Hey, learn that you're working together. If he's doing it in My name, he can't be speaking evil of Me. Let him alone." God help the church that someday we might wise up to the fact that we're all serving the same Lord. May God help us to identify the enemy. It's not the church down the street. We should be working with them for the cause of Jesus Christ. But the church is so busy competing and fighting with each other, that we're really not doing much to damage the enemy's territory. God help us. May the church of Jesus Christ really get together and learn to love one another, and learn to get along with one another.

We were down in Mexicali this week visiting with the fellowship that is there in Mexicali. God is blessing the fellowship there in a tremendous way. Over 900 people were out at the banquet where I spoke on Friday night. We loaned the people down there several thousand dollars to buy a building that they might worship there. Because their fellowship was growing so rapidly, they had to have a place to meet. And so, there was this place for sale that was an ideal location for them. So, we...Calvary Chapel, that's you...we loaned them the money so they could purchase this church. Well, they made arrangements to pay off the loan and the people had pledged the money over a period of time to pay off the loan to us. But in the meantime, this peso devaluation thing has hit. And when we made the arrangements, there were twenty-five pesos to a dollar. Now there are seventy pesos to the dollar; and though they've paid us back $150,000, they owe us now more in pesos than what they owed when they began. And it's a very sad thing for the church. And also the government has put a freeze, and you can't get dollars down there and all. And so, they were all worried because they didn't know how they were going to make their payments to us. And so they had a meeting and I was sitting with them in the meeting, and they said, "Now, we don't know; what can we do to make the payments?" And we said, "Forget it. We're all one body. We're not worried about the payments. We're all one body in Jesus. And so, as long as this situation exists and there's a problem, just forget it. We're not concerned; we're not worried. Because you're doing the work of the Lord here, and we're all one body in Jesus." We loaned the U.S. World Mission Center in Pasadena $300,000 to buy their facility up there. And that was supposed to have been paid off two years ago in October, and they were unable to pay it off. And so, they sent their committee down here to tell how sorry they were and what they were going to try to do and all. And I said, "Hey, we're all one body. It's the Lord money. You're doing the Lord's work. Don't worry about it. Forget it. We're not worried about it. It's God's money." We're all one body; we're all the church. God help us that we can see that truth; that we are all serving the same Lord, one body in Christ.

Now, Jesus has this little child in His arms, and He's talking about receiving a child and ministering to a child, "and you're ministering to Me," and John throws in this sectarian bit and Jesus throws it back out. But then He comes back to the child and He said,

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones [these little children, whoever would offend one of these little ones] that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea ( Mark 9:42 ).

I love the spunk of Jesus. "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon this little child..." And He's saying, "Take a millstone, tie it around his neck and toss him out into the sea." Hey, that millstone...you ought to see the millstone there in Capernaum. It's about as big as this pulpit, with a round hole in the middle. And it is a round stone, sort of a lava stone. I mean, if that thing were hung around your neck and you're tossed into the Sea of Galilee, you're going to go down fast. How evil it is to plant doubt in the heart of a child. How evil it is to destroy the faith, that beautiful faith that children have. You know, whenever I'm sick, who do I call to pray for me? Children. I love the children to pray for me. I don't want any doubts. Call my grandkids, "Pray for Grandpa." The beauty of that faith, the simplicity of that faith that they have in God. What kind of a twisted mind would try to destroy the beautiful faith of a child? Whatever type of twisted mind it is, Jesus said, "It would be better for that person to take a millstone and hang it on his neck and toss him on into the sea, than to destroy the faith of one of these little children who trust in Me."

If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched ( Mark 9:43-44 ).

Now, this is Jesus talking, friend. There are a lot of modernists today who say, "Well, hell isn't hell. There is no hell."

There were a modernist minister and a Unitarian minister and a Christian Science practitioner going down the road together. They ran into a concrete abutment and all three of them immediately were in eternity. The modern minister says, "I can't be here; this place doesn't exist." The Unitarian said, "It's only a state of mind." And the Christian Science said, "I'm not here and it's not hot."

But this is Jesus talking, and I am afraid to add to or to take away from His words. I think He knows more about it than does Herbert W. Armstrong, or the Jehovah Witnesses. And rather than listening to what they may say, it is better to just listen to what Jesus says. According to Him, it is a real place. A place to be avoided at all costs. "Better to live a life in a maimed condition than to go into hell whole, where the fire will never be quenched, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched."

And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life [into life lame], than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched ( Mark 9:45 ):

The word translated hell here is not the usual Greek word translated hell. The usual Greek word is hades, which does speak of a temporary abode for the unrighteous dead in the heart of the earth. But this particular Greek word is gehenna. This is not a temporary abode; this is the place of the final consignment to Satan and his angels. And it was prepared for Satan and his angels. And those who choose to cast their lot with Satan and his angels, God will grant them that choice. And this is where they are consigned for eternity.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell [gehenna's] fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, [or the salt was used as a purifying instrument, so purified by fire,] and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another ( Mark 9:47-50 ).

Heavy words Jesus said them. I dare not tamper with them. I will not tamper with them. I will not try to modify them. I refuse to tamper with them. It is better to believe and find yourself wrong, than not to believe and find yourself wrong. Shall we pray?

Father, we thank You for the opportunity of studying Your Word. And now may Thy Spirit hide it in our hearts that we might not sin against You, Lord. May Thy word be strength to us. May we feed upon it, and may we thus grow strong. In Jesus' name. Amen. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/mark-9.html. 2014.
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