When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 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!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 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!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:14-29
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
Jesus, Peter, James and John have finished coming down from the mountain and have arrived back where the rest of the disciples are. They find that the scribes are arguing with the disciples and a large crowd is gathered around them. We are told that when the entire crowd saw him, they were amazed and began running up to greet him. Why were they amazed and why did they run to greet him? Perhaps it was the way he looked. Remember what had just happened to Jesus on the mountain: “He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” We are told in the book of Exodus when Moses came back down from Mount Sinai to the people with the two tablets containing the 10 commandments, that his face was shining. Perhaps, on the arrival of Jesus before the large crowd his garments were still shining.
What is the transfiguration all about anyway? You may recall that Mark chapter 9, which we are covering this week, started out with these words, “‘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 after it has come with power.’ Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves.” When Jesus is transfigured, it is Peter, James and John who get a glimpse of the kingdom of God that is yet to come by seeing Jesus transformed momentarily into the king of glory who will someday come to rule and reign on earth (Revelation 19:11-16).
Later on, this experience on the mountain will be extremely helpful to Peter, James and John and the other disciples as they go on to lead the church of Jesus Christ through increasingly difficult times of persecution. Even at the time when the Gospel of Mark was written, the church was being severely persecuted in Rome. Most of the experts believe that the Gospel of Mark was written for the church in Rome somewhere in the 60’s to strengthen them and encourage them as they faced persecution. The apostles were being martyred and a solid written record (not just oral) of the life of Christ would become all important. You can imagine how much the early church needed help to face persecution and even martyrdom. The reminder that ultimately Jesus Christ will return to rule and reign on earth would do just that.
This experience on the mountain was extremely important to Jesus as well. His own experience of mounting persecution and impending martyrdom weighs heavily. What a reinforcing moment his transfiguration on the mountain was for Jesus. Read through the account again. Now read through today’s passage again. Back to the reality of all the unbelief and lack of comprehension. This contrast for Jesus has everything to do with why he says, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? But there is a glimmer of hope regarding people responding in faith. Notice the exchange between Jesus and the father of the boy Jesus is about to free from the evil spirit, “‘All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’”
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, there is so much to comprehend regarding who you are, what you were doing while you were here, how you have been at work through your people and in the world down through the centuries, and all that is yet to come, particularly at the culmination of things. Help me to understand it all better so that I have a fuller grasp on all that you desire to do with me. I want to follow you faithfully no matter what happens and no matter what it costs. I worship, praise, and love you. Amen!