Mark 9

Teaching on Leadership

Jesus Defines His Coming Glory (1)

Jesus concluded His remarks from Mark 8:38 about the Son of Man coming in glory by alerting His disciples to just exactly what that glory would look like, "the kingdom of God coming in power." Jesus then further alerted His disciples that they would begin to see this before their deaths (1).

The Transfiguration (2-13)

Six days after Peter's confession of Jesus being the promised Messiah and the Son of God, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. There on this high mountain, God allowed the disciples to see heavenly glory and Jesus transfigured temporarily by that bright, glorious, overshadowing cloud into another looking physique (2). Maybe it was His clothes only as they appeared to be bleached intensely white but more likely His whole being was fiercely aglow (3). Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus. Moses because he had predicted a prophet like himself would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) and it was that coming prophet to whom they were to all listen. Elijah because it was predicted of him that his spirit would return before Messiah and turn the hearts of people to God just as the Elijah of old had done (Malachi 4:5-6). There they were, all three standing in the midst of God's glory talking (4). Peter got all nervous, not knowing what he was saying from the fear gripping his heart. He foolishly suggested they built a Tabernacle right there as a first shrine for people to come and worship (5-6). Just then, from the cloud overshadowing the three, came Yahweh's voice declaring Jesus to be His Son and defining their main ambition to listen to Him, not build shrines for Him. As Yahweh was speaking, the two other patriarchs disappeared and only Jesus was left, so there would be no mistake of Whom Yahweh was referring when He said, "listen to Him" (7-8).

As they were making their descent down the mountain, Jesus warned them to tell no one about the experience until after His resurrection. Jesus knew being mobbed by those who were attracted to His personality or miracle dramatizations would be a waste of energy. Turning amusement-seekers into disciples was impossible. Jesus came to find seekers (9).

The disciples did keep quiet about the matter but they could not get their minds around the whole death and resurrection theme Jesus kept pounding during this season of His ministry (10).

The disciples did venture a question, asking why the scribes taught that Elijah must come before Messiah. Jesus told His disciples that the scribes had it right and then went on to tell them Elijah was to come first and when he came he would restore all things before the great appearing of Messiah. Jesus was explaining how the spirit of Elijah would come twice. He explained first how the spirit of Elijah was yet to come when Jesus reappeared a second time. Jesus then explained how Elijah had already come before Jesus first appearing as He revealed Himself as the suffering and resurrected Servant (11-12).

Jesus went on to define the spirit of Elijah as the spirit in John the Baptist who they treated not as an honored prophet of Yahweh but as they pleased (13).   

Healing the Demonized Boy (14-29)

When Jesus came down the mountain, He found His disciples surrounded by a crowd arguing with the scribes (14). When the crowd saw Jesus approach, they shifted their attention from the argument to Jesus running toward Him, greatly excited that He had arrived (15). Jesus was more interested in the argument than the crowd and asked what the argument had been over (16).

We can only imagine the scribes were seeking to discredit the ministry, power, and authenticity of Jesus' ministry with the evidence of a demon-possessed boy who Jesus' disciples could not rid of a devil.

The father of a boy who seemed to have been an epileptic explained the problem. At an early age, a demon had gotten ahold of his epileptic son, making him mute and using his epileptic episodes as opportunities to try to kill him by throwing him into fire and water. His epileptic attacks would make him foam at the mouth and cause him to make the horrible sound of grinding his teeth. He would not merely fall as most epileptics would but the demon would throw him down. Most of all, the father made it clear that Jesus' disciples were useless in helping (17-18).

Jesus seemed to look at His disciples and wonder how long it was going to take to birth genuine faith in their hearts. Then Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to Him (19). As soon as the boy approached Jesus, he fell to the ground and not only foamed at the mouth but began to roll about. Jesus calmly asked the father how long the boy had been this way—Jesus always knowing the right question to bring a heart to faith. The father responded the boy had been that way since childhood and the spirit in him had often driven him to water and fire seeking his son's destruction. The father then pleaded for Jesus to have compassion and help if He could (22). 

Jesus exclaimed, “If I can!" It wasn't a matter even if His disciples had muffed the situation but of "if" all things were possible for the one who possessed faith (23).

The father erupted, "I believe!" but then realized there was still a ton of unbelief within him and asked for help with His unbelief (24). By this time, more people were beginning to gather, so Jesus, by a word of knowledge, identified the evil spirit that was using the boy’s seizures as an opportunity to mute him and destroy him. Jesus commanded a mute and deaf spirit to leave and never return (25). The only one with faith in the entire group was Jesus, and at Jesus’ faith-filled words, the spirit came out with great convulsing, leaving the boy so at rest that he appeared dead (26). Jesus lifted him by the hand, healed (27).

Of course the disciples asked why they couldn't cast the demon out and Jesus told them a secret to power: prayer and, if necessary, fasting. The implication was that the disciples were not given to spending time in prayer before their power encountered with demonic forces. They were not zeroing in and watching what the Yahweh was saying first as was Jesus' habit (29).  

The Suffering Servant (30-32)

Jesus was now moving through Galilee in a more clandestine way, focusing on teaching His disciples His real mission during His first appearing on earth, to be as suffering Servant who would be killed and then be raised from the dead. The more He talked, the more they were confused, so afraid of the talk that they would not ask any clarifying questions.

True Greatness (33-37)

As the disciples were hiking through Galilee, they were having an argument away from Jesus, hearing about who was going to be second chair and third and so on. They finally arrived at Capernaum and Jesus gathered them together and gave them the shocking news. His Kingdom was not like the kingdom of this world—leadership would look completely different. Those who would lead others in the first position would actually do so from the humbled position of a servant, not as one who would seek position and power over others (33-35).

Jesus then took a child into His arms and told His disciples that servant leadership takes the most vulnerable people of society and treasures them, serves them, and cares for them. Jesus told His disciples that every time a servant leader treasures a vulnerable person, a servant leader is receiving Jesus and Yahweh Who sent Him.

If Jesus' disciples wanted greatness, the disciples were told by Jesus that they were going to need to give their lives to serving and treasuring the most vulnerable people in society (36).

Non-Licensed Workers (38-41)

Mark is in the middle of outlining Jesus' leadership training manual.

Knowing Who Jesus Is (8:27-30)
The Cost Of Following (8:31-38)
Prayer Life and Power Encounters (9:14-29)
Suffering Servants (9:30-32)
True Greatness (9:33-37)

He then begins another subject on “non-licensed workers.” John was a bit taken back by non-authorized people casting out demons in Jesus' name (38). Jesus' principle is clear. They were not to stop or forbid anyone from doing great works in Jesus' name. Once they were doing things in recognition of the power and grace of Yahweh at the invoking of the name of Jesus, they would soon be unable to have any evil sentiments toward Jesus at all (39).

The principle was basic and simple: if someone, in their heart, is for what Yahweh is for, then that same person can never be against Jesus, even if they haven't completely began following Jesus and been personally authorized by Jesus. Following Jesus will happen, but in the meantime they are still moving in and receiving Yahweh's grace (40).

Jesus expanded the principle: even if someone were to see and hear the disciples preach Jesus and heal the hurting, yet did not believe but offer the hospitality of a cup of water, the same person would be offering the water to Jesus and would not lose the ultimate reward of coming to faith in Christ. The smallest acceptance of Christ's servants is the evidence that they will some day walk with Jesus (41).   

Being Offensive (42)

Jesus goes on in His leadership teaching by telling His servant leaders they should never cause a vulnerable one, a non-authorized worker who is barely believing in Him, to sin or to become unbelieving. Better to have someone chain a millstone around your neck and throw you into some water to drown. Better to die an anguishing, premature, and improbable death than to mess with another's faith.

No Sacrifice Too Great (43-50)

Jesus then touches on the severity of self-discipline. His principle is pretty clear to comprehend: there is no sacrifice too great, no personal severity of lack too great to endure for the advancement of the Kingdom of God (42). Metaphorically, if one of your works [hands] threatens your faith, cut it off without mercy (43-44). If your way of life [feet] threatens your faith, mercilessly cut the habit out of your life (45-46). If your vision [eyes] threatens your faith, gouge out the vision of where you are headed and do it without compromise.

Jesus taught that it was better to enter the Kingdom all hacked up than to allow personal comforts and ambitions to destroy faith, lead to destroying others’ faith, and ultimately lead to their souls being thrown into hell (47-48).   

Purpose of TriaLs (49-50)

Jesus then uses another parable to try to clarity trials and difficulty by using the picture of fire being rained down out of heaven like salt.

Salt has two purposes: to purify and to preserve. Jesus explains that everyone on earth has fire or testings raining down on them like salt from time to time. These trials were caused by the accumulated sinning of all but can be used not to harm but to purify if they would let the trial lead them to cut off those parts of their lives which did not support faith.

Second, salt preserves, so Jesus tells His disciples to let the salt of trials rain down on them, not only purifying them, but cutting off things harming faith and also to let what the trials have produced preserve peace—everything that was cut away from their lives which would threaten faith and make them unloving. After trials, after they had cut off things threaten to faith, Jesus' disciples were free to be loving and peaceable with all. They would not longer be demanding for their own way but they would be entering the Kingdom of helping all come to trusting faith in Christ (49-50).