Mark chapter 9 begins with a stark reminder that the chapter divisions of the Bible, unlike the scriptures themselves, are not divinely inspired. In point of fact, like many other chapter beginnings, verse one clearly should have been the end of chapter 8. But the fact that it was made the first verse of this chapter instead has resulted in a plethora of misunderstandings and theories. Here is what the verse says:
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.”
The first five words indicate that Jesus was still talking to the same crowd that He had called to Him with His disciples in Mark 8:34-38. But alas, some scholars have still tried to link the meaning of the verse to the Transfiguration that follows in the chapter. Frankly, that explanation of “seeing the kingdom of God come into its power” seems the most ludicrous of all the explanations that scholars have offered. Well, perhaps not. Some have offered that it refers to His second coming. That certainly cannot be the case because He has not yet returned, and none of that crowd still lives today. It is the opinion of this writer that the kingdom of God that He refers to is Jesus’ church.
Jesus goes on to cast out a demon that the disciples could not deal with. Jesus makes it pretty plain in verse 19 that it was a matter of faith on their part. A few verses later, they are arguing about which one of them was the greatest. The lesson Jesus tries to teach them is that serving in His kingdom is not about being the greatest. It is about serving.
In verses 42-50, Jesus talks about cutting one’s hand or foot off, or plucking out one’s own eye if they cause you to sin. This is not a literal command obviously — any more that He is saying that they are literally salt in verses 49-50. The point is that one must make big changes in their life in order to avoid temptations. Sometimes that mean removing one’s self from the company of those who would tempt them, or avoiding places and things that cause temptation.
Chapter 10 begins with the Pharisees trying to trap Him about divorce. His answer is that God takes the marriage vow very seriously, and just as He says in Matthew 5:32, it is His expectation that they stay married, with adultery being an acceptable exception. But clearly, God would prefer that a man and woman stayed married even then. God can forgive any transgression. So can we.
The rich young man who Jesus spoke to in verses 17-22 was told that what he lacked in order to please God was to sell all he had and give it to the poor. This makes some wonder whether this is what is expected of everyone. Jesus knew this man’s heart, and that heart belonged to his possessions. Many people are rich and serve God well. But this man could not. There are some who probably would be better off if they did not have so much material wealth. No man can serve God and money.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.