We are in the Christ Stream today and reading from the Easy-to-Read Version this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Jesus, the wild and varied road of discipleship with you is as exciting as ever. Thank you for including us as your disciples. Heaven is worth it, and so is each moment with you.
Mark 8:27ff – They are walking north from Galilee to Caesarea Phillippi (21 miles straight, rather longer than that on foot). The discussion that ensues needs to happen: “who is Jesus?” The disciples start quoting this guy and that guy and this guy… This was a trademark of Jewish scholarship. Jesus wanted to know what they thought. Jesus asks us the same question today. And we need to answer it. Our eternity rests upon our answer of this question. Peter and Jesus’ interaction here and in the next story are wedded truths that must both be accepted: Jesus is the Savior and he must be crucified as a sacrifice for us. Learning this –> IS discipleship. It’s not an easy truth to ingest. Peter’s attempt to correct Jesus gets a swift and stinging rebuttal. We are to follow Jesus whole-heartedly, single-mindedly, boldly. Getting “on page” with Him is the issue. We are not to try to mold Jesus to fit our agenda and worldview. He shapes ours.
9 – The disciples would witness the coming of the Power of God – Pentecost is what they being assured of in the opening statement of ch. 9.
-The Transfiguration is a vital lesson in the revelation of paradise, eschatology (end times study), and Resurrection theology. The Israelites had a notion of heaven and the next world but it is an under-developed segment of theology for them. Most of what we believe about heaven/paradise/the next world we learn from Jesus’ teaching. So here are three of the disciples that realize that Jesus has instant access to other worlds. That the prophets are not dead. They see Elijah – who had “died” 700 years ago, and Moses – who died 1300 years ago. What?! You’re alive? You’re here?! Those who work for God and follow His Son do not die. It’s quite a grand testimony, certainly worth telling to the world (when the time is right)!
Upon returning, there is another showdown centered around another demon-possession victim. Matthew and Luke tell of this same story in a much abbreviated 6-verse version. Mark tells it in full. The lynch-pin is that the 9 disciples who didn’t witness the Transfiguration gave it a go to free the youngster from Demons while Jesus was away. They did not succeed. Jesus’ reply to this development was tongue-in-cheek curt response to motivate them to move up to His level. Jesus wants them to be able to expel demons from people. We all hope the reaction was that they insist Jesus teach THEM how to cleanse the demon-possessed and not wither into insecurity because it sounds like Jesus might have insulted them. Following Jesus in not for the faint of heart, btw.
Next, Jesus tells of his crucifixion again. He did so five times between this session in Galilee and the arrival in Jerusalem. [Mark tells us of four of them]. Talk of his Passion during what we call Easter week wasn’t mentioned much prior to this. But Jesus wanted them to be certain of what was coming. However they are still not ‘getting it’ yet.’
-The next verse tale is proof that the gravity of what was coming at Calvary wasn’t sinking in at this point –> They are arguing about who’s the greatest, [as if Cassius Clay was among them as one of the disciples). Jesus teaching about serving and having a child-like heart is perfect timing again. It’s still shaking up the leadership world today. Awesome.
-The word of Jesus and His powerful Name is spreading as someone other than them is ministering in Jesus’ name. The disciples aren’t sure what to make of this. “Jesus” wasn’t going to be a small club of 12 much longer so they best get accustomed to this.
-The final teaching is so needed today. We are to be inspiring and raising up and mentoring eachother. An alarming amount of people today make a living from selling, promoting, and doing things that harm people and leads them into dark and unhealthy things. Jesus asserts that there is a horrid price tag for leading people astray. The part about maiming one’self [if that’s what it takes to stop sinning] is too much to take: the issue is clearly this: SIN is NOT one of your OPTIONS. Dietrick Bonhoffer explains this better than anyone if you care to look up his commentary on these verses. It is vital and beyond that no one is led astray from our example. We are to affect people in the opposite manner.