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May 7 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Meditations In Mark – chapter 9 05/07/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Jim Calhoun

Heavenly Father give us your presence
Or rather, 
give us a sure knowledge 
that you are here already
Near to us, loving us
Concerned for us 
Aware of our struggles
Aware of our troubles
Loving us in our messiness
Loving us with our abundant flaws
Loving us knowing the truth of us
Care for us, Lord
Provide for us
Heal us
Teach us
Help us
Hold us up
Make us whole 
Please Lord be patient with us
Don’t give up on us
Hold us dear
Make all things well
Thank you
Thank you 

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. Mark 9:1-8

Intro: There are at least two ways to read the Bible

We can dive into it head-first or we can enter with our heart
– of course it’s important to think about what we’re reading
• but it’s also important to feel what we read
◦ to be responsive to the content of the text and how it affects us
• I study Scriptures with my head and meditate with my heart
– my meditations are mostly private
• they consist of what God speaks to me regarding my own issues
◦ so why am I sharing my meditations in Mark’s gospel with you?
• because even though Jesus walked the earth long ago,
◦ it’s possible to know and love him today
◦ how? By immersing ourselves in his story
• if we take our time, and observe him–his way with others
◦ his kindness, his goodness, his strength, his compassion–
◦ we come to know him and knowing him to love him

The story of Jesus’ transfiguration is dramatic and all too brief

It begins with Jesus’ promise, that some of them would
see the kingdom of God after it has come with power
– maybe this extraordinary revelation is a preview
• that this is what the full arrival of God’s kingdom will be like
◦ glory, heavenly conversations, God’s divine presence
◦ and at the center of all of it, there is Jesus
• Mark realizes this event is amazing, yet he rushes through it
◦ his repeated use of the word “and” pushes story forward
– so, like Peter, we realize it’s good for us to be here,
• and we wish we could stay longer, but Mark won’t let us
• Mark knew the event was spectacular, but he does not sensationalize it

My past meditations on this include the following:

“The three disciples didn’t know why they were hiking up the high mountain. Jesus led and they followed. That’s what disciples do, they follow. Did they go in the spirit of adventure? Or were their minds filled with their usual worldly thoughts–as later on in verse 33, when ‘they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest‘? The three had no idea of what they were about to experience.
We are being led by Jesus. We’re not in charge of all the places we must go, all the people we’ll encounter along the way. We may not know the purpose of our going until afterward. Sometimes we feel like we’re blundering forward, but we find out we were being led into a revelation of glory.”

(Regarding Elijah and Moses) “At last Jesus had someone he could talk with who understood him, whose hearts were not hardened. These were also people with whom he could have a meaningful conversation about his approaching death and resurrection.”

“There is a Greek word that occurs at the beginning of this story, and then again at the end. It is the word monos–alone. The three went up the mountain alone with Jesus and came back down alone with Jesus. While there, two long-gone biblical characters arrived and spoke with Jesus. Then God manifested his presence and spoke with them. But afterward, they were looking around and saw no one except Jesus alone. All that they needed to take with them from that experience was Jesus.”

The next story contains contrasts and comparisons with the first

The first occurs on a mountain with a Father and his beloved Son
– the second took place down the mountain, with a father and his troubled son
• the Father in first story expresses pleasure in his Son
• the father in second story expresses desperate concern for his son
– the climax of both stories is each son’s transfiguration

The heart of this story is Jesus’ interaction with the father
– there are two key statements the father makes
• first: if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us
◦ Jesus was apparently offended by that
◦ he throws it back on the father: If you can! All things are possible for the one
“Jesus says this as if faith were natural and easy, but it is neither. Like the father, my faith needs help. In verse 19, Jesus bemoans this ‘faithless generation’–a people characterized by their lack of faith. Now he suggests that if there is just one person who truly believes, ‘all things are possible.’”

the second key statement: I believe; help my unbelief!
Imagine the suffering of both the father and the son as these attacks have been going on ‘from childhood.’ The father’s ‘help us’ is sadly compelling.
Jesus does not appear very cooperative at first. Twice he asks ‘How long’ –‘am I to be with you’ and ‘am I to bear with you?’. Then there’s Jesus sharp response to the father when he says, ‘if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Not being able to hear the Lord’s tone, I imagine irritation in his voice. He sounds upset that he might have to put up with people and their ongoing ignorance and lack of faith. He sounds offended that the father would assume there is an ‘if’ in Jesus’ ability to do anything for them. Of course, I may be wrong. There are other ways of hearing what Jesus’ voice.
That the father had some faith is evidenced by the fact that he brought his son to Jesus. But isn’t this our cry? We cannot deny the weakness of our faith, we can only confess that we do have some faith. We need God’s help to deepen and empower our faith.
I cannot help but feel the father’s desperation and helplessness. In situations like his, it’s difficult to believe there is any hope for a real change. Unfortunately, at this critical moment when it seems Jesus may take the opportunity help the father with his unbelief, they were interrupted. ‘And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again”’ (v. 25). But maybe driving the spirit out of the boy was the answer to the father’s prayer. Seeing the miracle would certainly help him overcome his unbelief.
Is it okay for us to pray, ‘Help my unbelief?’ Well, of course it is.”

– I have two other thoughts about this episode:
• first, the most important moment in this story is when Jesus says, “Bring him to me”
◦ this is what we need to do with every need, every grief
• second, more important that having faith to work miracles, is having day to day trust in God
◦ it is not miracles that carry us through life, but trust that helps us to accept life as it is

When Jesus and the disciples move on, something is different
And he did not want anyone to know (Mk. 9:30-32)

“This reveals a personal side of Jesus. In the story of Jesus, it seems that, normally, he exists only for others and never has a life of his own. His needs and desires did not matter, the desperation of others prevailed. He could try to find peace and quiet, but the crowds always found him–even in desolate places. He was like a single parent, who never knows a moment’s rest. Here, however, he wants something for himself. I appreciate this moment, because it gives me the opportunity to move closer to him and empathize with him.”
– the disciples, however, were not able to do that
they did not understand his saying, and were afraid to ask
• but for them it was simply a matter of timing
“Several times I’ve started reading a book that I was not able to understand or appreciate, so I shelved it. Then, after several years, I picked it up again, and this time I had a different experience. It was the same book, but it not only made sense, it was rich in insight and very helpful. The experience of the disciples may have been like that. Each time Jesus made an announcement about the future, they could not figure out what he was talking about. Only later were they ready to comprehend his meaning.
It is alright for Jesus to know things we don’t know and that he won’t explain to us. He is familiar with mysteries that are not only beyond our comprehension but some are also none of our business. He is Lord, the unique Son of God.
If God withholds something from me, then it’s something I don’t need to know. I am given enough to go about my everyday routine. However, if the Lord lets me know that there even are such mysteries as to exist beyond me, it is to deepen my awe and reverence for him and strengthen my trust.”

Conclusion: We will find three “whoever” statements in last three episodes
whoever receives me (v. 37)
whoever gives a cup of water, (v. 41)
whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble . . . (v. 42)

“Why is it, every time Jesus brings up Jerusalem, where he will be rejected and crucified, his disciples get into discussions regarding which one of them is the greatest? Jesus’ response is worth coming back to regularly. Greatness is not about lots of money, influence, or fame. It is not about hanging out with powerful and well known people. Greatness is not being too important to care for the weakest, poorest, and neediest people in the world. And that is pretty much what the remainder of this chapter is about.
Whoever receives a child receives Jesus. Whoever gives a disciple of Jesus a cup of cold water, because that disciple belongs to Jesus, will not lose their reward. Whoever causes a small or insignificant person to stumble will pay a heavy penalty for it.
‘Whoever’ is a big word. It crosses boundaries, disregarding social circles, a person’s age, friend or stranger. ‘Whoever’ is more universal and more inclusive than many religious people are willing to accept.”

There is another lesson in the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, and it is BIG
We learn, there is one thing that a disciple must do, and do well
and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”
We must listen to Jesus
All the time and in everything
And for as long as I live, I’ll do my best to help us do that

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