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The Transfiguration (Mark 9)

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Mark 9

The transfiguration
And he said to them: Truly I say to you: There are some standing here, who shall in no way taste death, before they see the kingdom of God come with power.
   2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John and brought them to a high mountain where they could be alone; and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his garments became radiant, exceedingly white, whiter than any launderer could whiten them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. 7 And there came a cloud overshadowing them, and there came a voice out of the cloud: This is My beloved Son. Hear him. 8 And suddenly, looking round about, they no longer saw anyone with them, except Jesus.
   9 And as they came down from the mountain, he ordered them that they should tell no one about the things they had seen, until the Son of Man should have risen from the dead. 10 So they kept these words to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. 11 And they asked him: Why do the scribes say that Elijah must first come? 12 And he said to them: Elijah indeed comes first and restores all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man, that he should suffer many things and be set at nothing? 13 But I say to you, that Elijah came, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted, even as it is written of him.
   14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed; and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked them: What are you arguing about with them? 17 And one of the crowd answered him: Teacher, I brought to you my son, who has a dumb spirit. 18 And wherever it takes him, it dashes him down and he foams and grinds his teeth and pines away: and I spoke to your disciples that they should cast it out, and they were not able. 19 And he answered them saying: O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I tolerate you? Bring him to me. 20 And they brought him to him, and when he saw him, immediately the spirit tore at him grievously and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And he asked his father: How long has this been happening to him? And he said: From a child. 22 And often it has cast him both into the fire and into the waters to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. 23 And Jesus said to him: Rather, if you can! All things are possible to him that believes. 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, and said: I believe! Help my disbelief! 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter no more into him. 26 And having cried out and torn him much, it came out; and the boy became as one dead. So much so that the many said: He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him up, and he arose.
   28 And when he had come into the house, his disciples privately asked him: Why could we not cast it out? 29 And he said to them: This kind can come out by nothing except by prayer and fasting.

The importance of humility
30 And they went from there and passed through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said to them: The Son of Man is delivered up into the hands of men, and they shall kill him, and when he is killed, after three days he shall rise again. 32 But they did not understand the saying and were afraid to ask him.
   33 And they went to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them: What were you reasoning about on the way here? 34 But they kept quiet. For they had disputed one with another on the way about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them: If anyone would be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. 36 And he took a little child and set him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them: 37 Whoever shall receive one of such little children in my name, receives me. And whoever receives me, receives not me but Him that sent me.
   38 John said to him: Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in your name and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us. 39 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no one who shall do a mighty work in my name and then be able straight afterwards to immediately speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us, is for us. 41 For whoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, because you are Christ's- truly I say to you, he shall in no way lose his reward.

Teaching about offences
   42 And whoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is good for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having your two hands and to go into Gehenna- into the unquenched fire, 44 where their worm does not die and the fire is not put out. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is good for you to enter into life lame, rather than having your two feet and to be cast into Gehenna, 46 where their worm does not die and the fire is not put off. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out. It is good for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes and to be cast into Gehenna, 48 where their worm does not die and the fire is not put out.
   49 For everyone shall be salted with fire.
   50 Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.



9:7 Hear you Him- Judaism so venerates Moses [symbol of the law] and Elijah [symbol of the prophets]. Peter wanted to build booths so that Moses and Elijah would stay; but God tells him of the need to listen to His Son. The cloud and the voice out of the cloud is similar to what happened to Moses in Ex. 34. The Divine voice in the cloud proclaimed the Name and characteristics of Yahweh; now God proclaims His Son. Because Jesus had a perfect character, He manifested the Name of God completely.

9:22 If you can- The man was unsure about the total abilities of Jesus. ‘Do what’s in your power to do’ was his idea. Jesus replies by saying that God’s action in our lives doesn’t depend upon Him, it depends upon us. If we can believe, then everything’s possible. It is us and not God who have our finger as it were on the volume control.

9:24 We both believe and disbelieve at the same time. We don’t have complete faith. The man’s humility and honesty are impressive. There is no personal Satan figure out in the cosmos; God is in control 100%. But within the human mind, there are desires to do both good and evil. Paul speaks of this in Romans 7. The man here realized this too, by recognizing his belief and disbelief within him. We should recognize it within us, too; and not be phased when we perceive it within others too.

9:34 They argued about who should be the greatest immediately after Jesus had told them of His upcoming death (v. 31). Whenever Jesus told the disciples about His death, they started arguing amongst themselves. They had a psychological barrier to the message of the cross. We tend to also; we would rather become inward looking, compare ourselves against ourselves, rather than against the standard set in the crucifixion of Jesus.

9:38 In your name- A disciple of John the Baptist who for some reason didn’t want to associate with the Jesus’ disciples.

9:40 Here Jesus makes it clear for all time that we should not be exclusive against those who in truth bear His Name (v. 39). If they exclude us, they have made the decision. But we shouldn’t exclude them.

9:43 Whatever causes us to stumble on our path to God’s Kingdom we must cut out of our lives, although this will be very painful and demands an unusual self-possession and strong will.

9:45 Gehenna was the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem, where the fires were always burning because fresh garbage was always being put onto it. But the individual items thrown onto it were destroyed and turned into dust. Likewise Jerusalem was threatened with the eternal fire of God’s anger, due to the sins of Israel: “Then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched” (Jer. 17:27). Jerusalem being the prophesied capital of the future Kingdom (Is. 2:2-4; Ps. 48:2), God did not mean us to read this literally. The houses of the great men in Jerusalem were burnt down with fire (2 Kings 25:9), but that fire did not continue eternally. Fire represents the anger/punishment of God against sin, but His anger is not eternal (Jer. 3:12). Fire turns what it burns to dust; and we know that the ultimate wages of sin is death, a turning back to dust. This perhaps is why fire is used as a figure for punishment for sin.

9:47 Who we will eternally be in God’s Kingdom is a function of the efforts we have made in this life to cut off our sources of temptation and stumbling.