Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mark 9:1-29 - Glory and faith

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Mark 9:1-29 explains how Jesus appeared in glory to just three of his followers - Peter, James and John. These three were special friends, the inner circle.

It was a privileged but frightening experience. Peter always had something to say and on this occasion he just came out with the first thing that crossed his mind. He treats Jesus with the same honour as Moses and Elijah who represent the Law and the Prophets, but the voice from the cloud makes it clear that Jesus, the Son, has the pre-eminence. 'Listen to him' implies 'more than to these' or even 'listen only to him'. The Messiah is the fulfilment of the Law and the greatest of the Prophets; he exceeds both as the sun exceeds a candle.

In following him up the mountain, we need to recognise his awesome glory and majesty. He will reveal great and astonishing things to us, but we can't comprehend how far beyond all of them he truly is.

Returning from the high mountain, they find a bit of a commotion going on. Surrounded by a large crowd, the other nine disciples are having a loud argument with the religious leaders.

As soon as the people saw Jesus they ran to him in wonder. This is just as true today as it was then; whenever people truly see Jesus they are filled with wonder and run to him. We can point people in the right direction; we can tell them the stories about the things Jesus did and said; we can tell them how he affected our own lives. But only the Holy Spirit can reveal the living Messiah to a person. And when he does and they see for themselves they always run to him in wonder.

The argument was about a difficult demon that the disciples had failed to cast out. The accepted way to cast out a demon was to ask its name and then use the name to eject it; clearly this cannot be done when the possessed person is mute. But Jesus doesn't need standard methods and does not need to know the demon's name. Although he says that prayer is essential for this kind of demon, he simply commands the demon to leave.

This truly demonstrates his power to the crowd, to the disciples and to the religious leaders too. Nobody can find fault with him. But if the disciples are to deal with a dumb demon they will need to pray and perhaps fast as well. Then they must command the demon to leave in Jesus' name.

We have no power of our own, but because Jesus made us his friends we can speak and act on his behalf. [Tweet it!]

Notice how, in these twenty-nine verses, we see Jesus in relationship with the Law, the Prophets, the religious authorities, the disciples, the world, and the demonic forces. He is greater than all of them, but only his disciples are invited and commanded to join him in his work. Do we really understand what a privilege that is?

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