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Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves:  and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses:  and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here:  and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them:  and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son:  hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias [Elijah] verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. 14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him:  and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away:  and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him:  and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked the father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him:  but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him:  and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum:  and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace:  for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them:  and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me:  and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us:  and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not:  for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part. 41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off:  it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off:  it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out:  it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good:  but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?  Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”


Our Nature Is To Want To Be Recognized, To Be Given Some Respect And Even Some Glory--We Don’t Like To Dwell In The Shade


Good morning. It’s great to see everyone...Let’s open our Bibles to Mark chapter 9.  Last week we finished chapter 8, although the way the chapters are divided in this particular area of Mark, is one of the situations where maybe it could have been divided differently.  Maybe the first verse of chapter 9 should have been included with chapter 8.  We’re gonna start right there at the chapter division.  As I was preparing for this study, you know, I was thinking about this woman’s soccer team, you know, the American Soccer Team there.  Certainly got a lot of headlines lately.  I didn’t realize we had a national women’s soccer team.  Hadn’t heard much about them before.  But we’ve heard a lot about them lately, why all the publicity, why all the glory--well of course they did great in the World Cup Competition, even won the competition.  So they’ve got a lot of headlines, a lot of fanfare.  I wonder how much press they would have received if they'd took 2nd place?  Some headlines, but I would imagine quite a bit less.  Maybe not so many stories on the front cover.  Maybe somewhere in-between, somewhere in the back of the sports page or whatever.  No doubt to man there's a big difference between first and second place.  First place is where all the glory is, and all the recognition.  Second place, well, you’re kind of in the shade of the guy in first place, so second place isn’t so desirable, there isn’t so much glory with second place in the eyes of man. Our nature is to want to be recognized, to be given some respect and even be given some glory. We don’t like to dwell in the shade, as people.  I’ve been talking to some folks in ministry over time, I’ve talked to different people and had the same discussion.  But sometimes it can be frustrating as we serve the Lord and we don’t get a lot of recognition for what we do.  We like people to take notice.  I’ve even had discussions at times in ministry, with folks that, well, they’ve just been frustrated as they’ve served and not really got a lot of recognition, and there’s been others who’ve served less and put in less time but have seemed to get a lot more recognition for what they do.   It can be hard to live in the shade, the shade of someone else, and not be recognized.  But you know, in the kingdom of God, the main, central attitude--is an attitude of humility, of selflessness, denial--not caring about the recognition of men.  We read in Philippians that Jesus made himself of no reputation, had no reputation at all (Philippians 2:3-8).  He’s our example, that’s how we’re to live, not seeking to have a reputation and to be recognized, but to have no reputation, not desiring the recognition of man.  Now why does God desire us to have this attitude?  Well, that is the way of the cross, man.  The way of the cross is the way of no reputation.  The way of the cross is the way of self-denial.  And with this attitude we’re not going to be competing for the glory with God--with that attitude God gets all the glory.  When we deny ourselves and humble ourselves and don’t seek the way of reputation but just the way of the cross, God gets all the glory.  And he deserves all the glory and he wants all the glory [especially because we can't handle the glory yet.  Why?  Because glory often brings pride].  When you compete for the glory with God that’s a dangerous thing to do.  That’s a very dangerous thing to do.  You might be reminded of Leviticus chapter 10 with Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, if you’ve read through Leviticus before.  God went through all this setup of the tabernacle and religious sacrifices with the people of Israel.  And then this great day finally comes where it’s all done and they begin to institute the sacrifices—it’s the first day of worship for the people of Israel [under the Levitical sacrificial system], and this time with God as God has set them apart.  And right off it’s an interesting story, and Aaron and his sons have been set aside and they begin to practice the different things--then two of his sons decided to take a little bit to themselves and take their censors and add some of their own fire to it and begin to just offer incense before God in their own manner, not in the way it was proscribed.  As you read in Leviticus, I mean this worship service just gets started, finally after all this preparation, fire comes out and consumes the two sons of Aaron.  Kind of a heavy way to start your first worship service with God as a community of people.  All the people, as you would expect, are standing there in awe and fear.  I mean, this is how it all started, fire comes out, and two of the priests, there’s five, two of them are consumed by fire.  Well God then states through Moses, he says, “By those who come near I must be regarded as Holy.  And before all people I must be glorified.”  He says, ‘For those that come to me, you must realize that I am Holy.  I’m Holy by just who I am.  I created the heavens and the earth.  I’m separated from the heavens and the earth.  The earth is cursed with sin.  I’m separate of that.  There’s no sin with me, I’m Holy just by who I AM.  You must come to me and realize that I am Holy.  With that type of attitude, and before all the people I must be glorified’ God says.  So he was angry as these two sons of Aaron tried to do things on their own and they thought the position they got was kind of neat, so they were kind of exalting themselves it appeared, and God just instantly consumed them and all the people stood there trembling in fear.  God wants all the glory.  He’s to be glorified before the people.  And we’re to approach him with that attitude, that he is Holy.  And with that attitude, the neat thing is that when you and I have that attitude and that understanding, that he alone deserves the glory, with that I can do anything.  I can serve God in any position.  I can be placed in any kind of lifestyle that God desires, because now I don’t care if I have a reputation or if I don’t get recognized.  I just care about his glory.  So that’s why Paul can say when he writes about slaves and masters he can say to the slaves “Serve your master with fear and trembling, even a bad master, serve him with fear and trembling, do it with all your heart with good will, because he says, ‘As unto the Lord and not unto men.’”  So when I have the attitude, “So God you be glorified, I don’t want any glory.  I just want to serve you and deny myself,” I can do anything in life that God desires.  I can be in any type of situation because I desire that he gets the glory, and not myself.  Although our natural man struggles with that.  Do you struggle when you do not receive recognition?  You know, I do sometimes, man.  That’s for sure.  I don’t like to be looked down upon, I really don’t.  I don’t like that.  Sometimes God just allows it so that I can learn the way of the cross, man.  Is your motive in serving God or in serving in the church, to get the praise of men and the pats of men?  Or simply is your attitude as unto the Lord?  As unto you Jesus.  I want to please you, I want to glorify you, I want you to get the glory and not myself.  Or do you just struggle with the shade, man?  You like to be first, second isn’t so good, you like to be first.  I pray our hearts, as we begin this study in Mark 9, would be like the Psalmist’s “Not unto us, Oh Lord, Not unto us, but to your name give glory.”  Great verse, I love that verse.  Let’s say a prayer together and then we’re gonna start our study in Mark chapter 9.  ‘Lord, in your grace as we begin this time I ask that your Holy Spirit would be upon us, that you would speak to us Lord.  As men and women so naturally, we have our own desires, our own ambitions, our goals.  And we just like to be recognized, like to look good.  But what people need to see is you.  As your children here today, people need to see you, not just us.  So I pray, as we study your Word that you would speak to us about our own hearts, and about what you desire.  And we pray in our lives, all the more as we depart today, that you would get glory. In Jesus name, Amen.’


The Transfiguration


Mark 9:1-13, “And he said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present in power.’  Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain, apart by themselves, and he was transfigured before them.  His clothes became shining and exceedingly white like snow such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.  And Elijah appeared to them with Moses and were talking with Jesus.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here and let us make three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah,’ (because he did not know what to say and they were greatly afraid).  And a cloud came and overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud saying ‘This is my beloved Son, hear him.’  Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one anymore but only Jesus with themselves.  Now as they came down from the mountain he commanded them that they should tell no one the thing they had seen till the Son of man had risen from the dead.  So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.  And they asked him, saying, ‘Why do the Scribes say that Elijah must come first?’  And he answered and told them, ‘Indeed Elijah is coming first, and restores all things.  And how is it written concerning the Son of man that he must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?  But I say to you that Elijah has also come and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.’” [John the Baptist is pointed out by Jesus as being this Elijah in Matthew 11:12-14.]  Now beginning this chapter Jesus says, ‘There’s folks here before me’--really verse 1 should be at the end of chapter 8, and then verse 2 should start chapter 9.   They really didn’t divide this chapter correctly when they did.  But here in verse 1 of chapter 9 going back to the end of chapter 8, Jesus is before this group in Caesarea-Philippi.  He says to them, he says, ‘Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.’  He says, ‘What will it profit a man if he will gain the whole world and yet loses his own soul?’  ‘Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’  So he’s saying these things before this group of people.  And he says, ‘If you're ashamed of me and of my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, the son of man when he returns in his glory will be ashamed of you.’  And then you go into verse 1 of chapter 9, he says, ‘Assuredly I say to you there’s folks here with me that are going to see the kingdom of God with power before they die.’  They’re not going to taste death, they’re actually going to see and be alive when the Son of man comes, when the Christ comes, in his power and in his kingdom in great glory.  Now you read that, and you’re like ‘Wait a minute here...’ Maybe you’ve done this, ‘Well that doesn’t seem to work out, because he prophecied this, but we know the disciples died, they all died, all the apostles, and all the folks that were before Jesus here died--and the second coming, Jesus hasn’t come back yet.  So, this is false prophecy, how does this work out?’  You know, whenever you begin to question the Word of God like that, generally your understanding of his Word and what he’s saying is not correct, because of course the Word of God is always true.  What Jesus is most likely referring to is what follows in those verses that we just read.  There are a few that really get to see Jesus in his glory in his kingdom in a very special way.  The week following, and that’s what follows in those verses, in chapter 9.  That’s probably what Jesus is referring to, of this experience of Peter, James and John.  As you read in verse 2 and on, Jesus takes these three guys alone for some reason, up to the high mountain, probably Mount Hermon.  As you go to Caesarea-Philippi in Israel next year, you’ll see Mount Hermon sits right behind Caesarea-Philippi right behind the archeological dig there.  And probably that’s where he takes them, upon Mount Hermon, and goes up there, and in a radical way, they see Jesus transfigured before their eyes.  When you put all the details of all the gospels together the event kind of goes like this.  I’ll read to you in order, because it helps to know all the different parts.  Jesus goes up there and he goes up there with the intent to pray, and begins to pray.  We don’t have that here (in Mark) but we have that in Luke, that he begins to pray.  While he’s praying, as usual, the disciples fall asleep. They’re very tired. So they’re sleeping.  During that time, while they’re sleeping, while Jesus is praying, Moses and Elijah appear.  This is put in all the gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke together.  And they began to speak with Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  And they began to speak with Jesus about what’s ahead and what lies in Jerusalem in just six months from this time, and that’s the cross.  They began to speak to him, probably to encourage him, and just to comfort him, you know, because of what lies ahead.  [Some denominations believe in soul-sleep, that all the dead, including the righteous dead, remain dead and in the graves until they are resurrected--the righteous to immortality with immortal bodies (cf. I Cor. 15:49-56) and the unsaved dead to the Great White Throne Judgment (cf. Rev. 20:12-13; Ezek. 37:1-14).  This view believes that at death the spirit component of the brain goes back to God, awaiting their respective resurrection, awaiting uniting with their bodies again.  Those that believe this soul-sleep interpretation of Scripture believe Moses and Elijah were only there with Jesus in vision form.  This is an important distinctive between certain parts of the body of Christ.  In the interests of promoting spiritual unity in the body of Christ, these differences should be recognized without condemning people for holding either set of beliefs.]  Well the disciples are sleeping, they wake up and to their surprise here’s Jesus, he’s transfigured.  He’s like light it says in one of the gospels.  And then they see Moses and Elijah.  So you can see they’re at their wits end, you know, especially with Peter’s comment there.  But they’re just in awe of what’s going on.  They’re marveling.  And reading Luke, Moses and Elijah then begin to depart, and it’s then as they begin to depart that Peter belts out this ridiculous statement.  He says, ‘Hey, wait a minute,’ he says, ‘Why don’t we build three tabernacles, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah and one for Jesus.’  You know, ‘Don't go Moses and Elijah, let’s build three tabernacles.’  It’s possible that the Feast of Tabernacles is not too far away [and the Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the coming Kingdom of God], so he’s referring to that, they can dwell there and then go on to Jerusalem.  But it says in Mark that he (Peter) just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  He’s just at his wits end, he’s in awe, he’s kind of losing it there with what’s going on.  So he belts this out.  Peter does that sometimes, just kind of speaks before he thinks.  Some of us do that more often than others.  But he belts out this ridiculous statement.  While he’s saying that, while he’s putting out those words, a bright cloud then appears and begins to move over them.  Luke tells us that as this cloud comes over them, they then hear the voice of God, as you read there in Mark, giving glory to his Son.  And with that, they fall on their faces it says in Matthew, with just great fear and marvel.  Then you read in Matthew, as they’re on their faces, Jesus comes up to them and touches them and says ‘Hey, don’t be afraid, get back up.’  And when they get back up there’s only Jesus.  Moses and Elijah are gone and things are back to normal.  Then you read here that Jesus instructs them not to tell anyone till after his resurrection.  They don’t understand this resurrection thing, but that’s what he says.  And you read in Luke that they’re faithful to that, they don’t say anything till after the resurrection.  So that’s how that event lives out with all the different gospel accounts.  But you know when I read this account of just the glory of God there on the mountain, before the people, and the people are trembling in fear before the three here, I can’ t help but think of the Israelites, again, around Mount Sinai as God appeared to the Israelites, right after the Exodus, on Mount Sinai.  And the people just trembled in fear and just in awe of the glory of God.  And with that you wonder, ‘What's the purpose of this event and these types of events?’  Why would God do that?  Well I believer here, especially that the purpose of this is that Jesus is allowing this before these three men to give them great encouragement for the future, great hope for the future.  You know, the disciples have come to understand, as we’ve been studying, that Jesus is the Christ, he is the Messiah.  They understand according to what the Scribes and Prophets have taught, that Jesus is going to come, the Messiah is going to come with great power and establish his kingdom [cf. Zech. 14:1-15; Rev. 19:1-21; Rev. 20:1-4; Isa. 11:1-16; Isa. 2:2-4; Zech. 14:9.].  That’s what they expect.  But they don’t expect the cross.  They don’t understand the cross.  The cross is foreign to them.  The prophecies about the cross in Isaiah (52 & 53) and Psalms just aren’t quite connecting, so they’re confused about this cross thing.  Every time Jesus talks about the cross, they’re like ‘Wait a minute, you’re supposed to come and establish your kingdom, the Messiah, you are the Messiah, we understand that.  What are you talking about, suffering and death and the cross?’  You read when Jesus does die on the cross that after that the disciples scatter in fear, and they’re in great despair.  But this experience is going to come to mind later.  It’s going to encourage them.  It’s going to bring hope to them later, on the other side of the cross.  Peter declares in the 2nd letter that he wrote after the cross, he says, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to him from the excellent glory.  ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with him on the Holy mountain.”  So Peter even refers to this experience.  He said ‘We didn't follow just some kind of trickery or some cunning fable.  We saw Jesus in his majesty, we saw him, we saw God say to him, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased.’  We saw that when we were with him on the mountain.’  No doubt, later it brought great hope and strength to Peter. Peter then continues a verse later and says, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as light that shines in the dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your heart.”  He says, ‘The prophetic word has been confirmed then.’  And therefore it brings hope, like a morning star that rises, it just brings hope in a dark time.  So it brought hope to Peter later, during a dark time, and especially then as he saw the resurrected Lord.


Moses & Elijah Faded Away, But Jesus Christ Remained


John also begins, one of the other three, also begins his gospel, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  It says, ‘We beheld his glory.  I saw it there on the mountain.’  As I consider that, there’s a truth there for my life, and for our life.  If we want to bring hope, if we want to bring encouragement to people, true hope, true encouragement, the stuff that lasts, we need to point them to Jesus.  [One Christian leader from the WCG, Mr. Bill Sidney, said this about the transfiguration.  “Moses represented the old covenant Levitical system and Law of God given to Moses, and Elijah represented the Prophets.  God the Father was now pointing us not to the Old Testament Law, or to the Prophets, but He said, “This is my Son, hear Him.”  Moses and Elijah faded away, but Jesus Christ remained.”  Quite an observation, and totally true.]  We need to bring glory to Jesus, not to ourselves.  We must glorify him.  That is what is going to bring hope.  That is what is going to bring encouragement.  [And Peter became the lead apostle of the fledgling Church of God, James became the head of the Headquarters church in Jerusalem and John became the last of the 12 original apostles to rule over this first era of the Church of God, the Christian Church.  Jesus chose these three to see the transfiguration because of who they were to become in leadership over the Christian Church, and what they would suffer as a result.]  As people see Jesus in us, as they see his glory, it’ll bring hope to them.  It’ll bring light to them in dark times.  My opinions, my philosophies, my personality is not gonna help somebody very much when tough times really set in.  But as I live Jesus, as I point them to Jesus, as I tell them about Jesus and what he can do, in those dark times, in those challenging times--and the Morning Star will be there, the Light will be there.  The glory of God will bring them encouragement and hope.  Seeing Jesus in his glory was an awesome experience, even a fearful experience for these disciples.  And that’s why Peter’s just out of his wits when he makes this silly statement there.  His suggestion though, it’s interesting that he would suggest ‘Let’s build a tabernacle for each one.’  As you read this you see clearly what the focus of what God is doing, is to bring glory to Jesus.  Even the voice comes from heaven says “This is my beloved Son.”  God doesn’t acknowledge Elijah and Moses at all.  The fact that Peter’s acknowledging the three is in a sense bringing glory to the other guys and kind of putting them on the same level.  And I don’t know about you, we have a tendency to do that sometimes.  God is working in someone’s life, people are ministering around Christ, just God is working, there is power, there is glory--you know I think of my pastor Mike MacIntosh, and having seen God just work through him--and sometimes you begin to look at the person and you begin to, well, exalt them, you know.  Put them in a special place, a place they don’t belong.  H.A. Ironside, about this, he says “The Father will not have others occupying the hearts of his people in such a ways to distract from the glory that belongs to Christ alone.”  We can do that sometimes, you know.  See the glory, see God working, see the power, and begin to say “Hey, Mike MacIntosh, let’s build a tabernacle for him, you know.”  “Chuck Smith, man, let’s build a tabernacle.”  It has nothing to do with Mike, it has nothing to do with Chuck.  It’s Jesus Christ, his glory, that’s what it’s all about.  And that needs to be our attitude and our perspective.


They Were Left With Just Jesus


Well, verse 7, with a cloud over them, they hear this voice “This is my beloved Son, listen to him, to him and what he thinks, his thoughts, no one else’s.”   And then after that, as the disciples fall in fear, and then Jesus comes and encourages them and says, ‘Don't be afraid, stand up.’  They, they’re left with just Jesus.  Elijah and Moses are gone.  You know, when I think of that too, in our lives, what happens in our lives after we’re off the scene, what are the people left with?  Are they left with ‘Well, you know, George is a witty guy.’  Or ‘Not so witty,’ or are they left with ‘You know, Sally man, she’s a trip, you know Betty is...’ Are they left with that?  I think there’s a great picture, because after Moses and Elijah depart the apostles are left with just Jesus, Jesus only.  That’s all they got.  I pray that you and I do that too, by the way that we live.  But you know, you’re with people, you’re around people, when you depart, prayerfully they’re not thinking about you and about what you’ve done, they’re thinking “Wow, Jesus, man--Jesus, Jesus only.  Man, he’s something special.”  There’s something about Jesus, not so much about you or I.  Well may this be true of you and I.


‘Don’t Tell Anyone About This Until After I Rise From The Dead’


As they come down off the mountain, Jesus instructs them, he says, ‘Don’t tell anyone about this till after the resurrection.’  And there’s a purpose in that.  And as they come down they begin to ask him, ‘Well, there’s something that confuses us, Jesus.  We believe you’re the Christ, but don’t the Scribes and the teachers say that Elijah must come first, you know, Malachi chapter 4?  Elijah’s supposed to come first before the Messiah, and you’re here and we haven’t seen Elijah.  We just saw him on the mountain, but you still came first.  We’re a little confused.’  And Jesus in verses 12 and 13 says, ‘Well Elijah is coming first and he does restore all things, that’s what the Word says.  But it’s also written that the Christ is to suffer and be treated with contempt.’  And they’re not quite understanding that still.  ‘But he says to you that Elijah has come, and they did to him what they wished, as is written of him.’  And as you read the other gospels, which you don’t get here, Matthew 17:10-12, says “The disciples now understand he’s speaking of John the Baptist.” And Jesus refers directly to John the Baptist as being the Elijah that’s prophecied in Malachi and Matthew 11, verse 14.  So he’s referring to John the Baptist.  And you get that from the other gospel accounts.  And they understand, ‘Well OK, the Elijah that was to come was John the Baptist.  He came in the heart and spirit of Elijah.  He wasn’t Elijah physically, but he fulfilled that ministry.  So he did come and the Word of God is true.  Now the Messiah is here.’  [I often speculate whether the Christian Church as a whole isn’t supposed to fill that role as well, before the great second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.]


Jesus Casts Out A Demon From A Young Boy


Let’s continue with verses 14-29, “And when he came to the other disciples, he saw a great multitude around them, and Scribes disputing with them.  Immediately when they saw him all the people were greatly amazed, and running to him, greeted him.  And he asked the Scribes, ‘What are you discussing with them?’  And one of the crowd answered and said ‘Teacher, I brought you my son who has a mute spirit.  And whenever it seizes him it throws him down, he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid, so I spoke to your disciples that they should cast it out, but they could not.’  He answered and said, ‘Oh faithless generation.  How long shall I be with you?  How long shall I bear with you?  Bring him to me!’  And they brought him to him, and when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.  So he asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’  and he said, ‘From childhood and often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’  Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe all things are possible to him who believes.’  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord I believe, help mine unbelief.’  When Jesus saw that the people came running together he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘Deaf and dumb spirit I command you come out of him and enter him no more.’  And the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly and came out of him, and he became as one dead so that many said, ‘He is dead.’  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up and he arose.  When he had come into the house his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’  So he said to them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’”  Well Jesus and the three come down from the mountain and they go to see the other nine disciples, and they’re in a dispute.  As they come down, with these Scribes and Pharisees they’re having some kind of argument.  There’s a multitude there.  So Jesus comes to investigate what’s going on, what’s the situation.  And you find there in those verses that this man steps up, and he says ‘Well this is the situation, I came to the disciples.  I have this young boy who’s demon possessed.  And I came to the disciples and I asked the disciples to cast out this demon from my young boy, you know, they're not able to do it.’  And that’s why this whole dispute started between the Scribes and between the disciples.  And then from there you read this man then coming to Jesus and asking for Jesus’ help.  But you know, I wonder why the Scribes are actually ridiculing and just, you know, debating with the disciples, I wonder if it had to do with the fact that the disciples weren’t effective in casting this demon out.  My guess, it probably had to do with that.  This kind of attitude, ‘Look, you guys, you don’t know what you are doing.’   ‘You guys can’t do this, you don’t know what you are doing.  You’re not really what you think you are.  Look, you can’t even get this demon, hey, you say you can do these things but you can’t.’  And with that, I wonder, you know the disciples, they’ve had success casting out demons, as you remember, as Jesus sent them out.  Did they kind of gather a crowd around themselves this time, you know, when this man came with his boy?--just to show that they could do this?--maybe just so confident that they could do this?--cast this demon out? Maybe just so confident that they forgot to include that the fact that the power comes from Jesus and not from themselves.  You know, sometimes when we, when God is working in my life, I see him working and touching lives, I begin to live on that success and think, ‘Well, now I can just repeat that and get to really trust in myself and where I'm at.’  And then I find, not long after that, I’m usually very humbled by that.  Maybe that’s what’s happened here with the disciples.  Just kind of resting on past successes and forgetting that they desperately need the power of God and the power of Jesus to do this.  And that’s what they learn, they’re not getting anywhere unless the power of God is working.  They’re not going to get anywhere unless Jesus is there to do this miracle.  Maybe, maybe they’ve got this attitude that they’re sharing in the glory a little bit, you know.  ‘Here we are, the disciples of Jesus, we’ll take care of this demon-possessed boy.’  And maybe in a sense they’re sharing in the glory a little bit.  Well they’re not going to have a lot of success when they do that, and neither are you or neither am I.  Here’s a family that’s in great despair, and you couldn’t be in any more despair than this father, having this child that just has these epileptic seizures, but it is a demonic type of thing.  This boy just drops and has these seizures and sometimes he drops into the fire, and sometimes into the water, just a demonic element to this epilepsy type of possession that he has, where it tries to just destroy him.  And you can just imagine, just the fear in this family, the despair.  You know, this last Wednesday night we were praying for this one particular family, and this comes to my mind, because a friend of my wife, a good friend of hers, (her nephew who my wife has spent some time with), his name is Brent, and just a couple weeks ago they discovered this lump behind his ear and began to investigate and were told by the doctors ‘Well, it doesn’t look like a big deal, we took it out and it looks pretty good.’  But then on Monday we got a call, this lady Debbie was just weeping and left a message on the answering machine.  She says, “You know, they say it's cancer now.”  Brent, her five year old nephew has lymphoma, cancer in the lymph nodes.  And then by Tuesday he was supposed to go and have some bone marrow transplants and investigative type work, so by Tuesday we got another call from Debbie that it turns out that this little boy has Leukemia.  You can only imagine, right, when that report comes to this Christian mom, Cheryl and her husband (they’ve already got other children, two twins that are two, and I think a four-month-old, and then they have this five year old Brent).  And what really amazed me this week was, by Thursday they were already inserting things into Brent's body and giving him chemotherapy.  He was already in I.C.U. by Thursday evening and had a room where another little boy was next to him and was dying and moaning and Debbie just kept calling in despair for her nephew.  So I was thinking of that when I was reading this, just that family in despair, and that’s what this family’s like, just in despair as their little boy is just demon possessed.  But I’m always thankful when I read the gospels that there’s always hope in Christ.  I’m always thankful.  Here the church, you could say, they fail this family, this family that comes to the church [the disciples], and the church just doesn’t seem to have the faith for God to work.  So the church [the disciples] has failed this family, but not Jesus, man.  This man comes to Jesus, and he’s lacking some faith too I guess you could say, but he’s honest with God anyway, he says ‘If you can do anything, man, have compassion on us and help us there, we need your help God.  Please help us.’  And Jesus says, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible, man.’  ‘If you can believe, man, it’s possible.’  Well, the father in just humility and honesty cries out, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief, man.’  ‘I believe you can do it, I don’t know if you’re gonna do it, help my unbelief, help me.’  And you read there as the people come running now, that he casts the demon out.  And then Jesus ends this section, he says ‘This kind’ to his disciples who wonder why they can't do it, ‘This kind [of demon] can only come out by prayer and fasting.’  


Prayer Says That We’re Dependent On God


And prayer says that you’re dependent upon God.   When I pray, when you pray, when we as a church pray, we are saying “Jesus, God, you get all the glory.”  “We pray because we believe you God can do it.”  So prayer gives God the glory.  And so often we think of prayer just as this little thing, you know. And you tell somebody ‘I'm gonna pray for you.’  And you're like, ‘Well, can you do something better for me?’  But prayer gives all of the glory to God.  So as a church, when we come on Wednesday nights and we get on our knees we go, “God we can’t do anything, God please work.”  “We can’t do it as your people, please do it.  We believe you can do it.  We know you can do it, so we ask you to do it.”  And prayer, effective prayer, is a desperate prayer.  It says “I can't do anything, I am not worth anything myself, I just can’t solve the problem, but God, you can.”  And I believe he can.  And that is effective prayer.  And I am encouraged on Wednesday nights to see the fruit of the prayer as we come together.  But we’re saying in prayer ‘Lord, we can't do it.’  We believe in this ministry that it starts with prayer.  So we’re coming together and saying “God, God please work.  We can’t do anything unless you do it.”  And that's what Jesus says, he says in this situation that it’s gonna take powerful prayer, even fasting.  So maybe you’ve tried different routes, man.  You’ve got a situation that’s beyond you.  You can’t seem to take care of it.  And you’d like it taken care of.  Man, don’t give up.  Pray, man.  That's what Jesus says, “Pray.”  And if you need to, fast. The word “fasting” there is possibly added by scribes.  In the most reliable texts it’s not there.  But pray, man. That’s what he’s saying.  Prayer, it’s powerful, it can take care of even this type of situation of bondage.  Well with prayer God gets all the glory, and that’s the way it should be.


Jesus Going The Way Of The Cross


Verses 30-32, “Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and he did not want anyone to know it.  For he taught his disciples and said to them, ‘The Son of man is being betrayed into the hands of men.  And they will kill him, and after he is killed he will rise the third day.’  But they did not understand this saying and were afraid to ask him.”  They were afraid to ask him, obviously, because the last time Jesus brought this up Peter came and told Jesus ‘Hey Jesus, no way man, you’re not going to this cross thing.  You know, you’ve got to assert yourself.  You’ve got to be strong.  This is too depressing, don’t talk about that.  You’re not going to do that.’  Of course Peter got rebuked for that. Jesus rebuked him, said “Get behind me Satan!”  You can understand when Jesus brings it up again why they’re afraid to say anything, because they don’t want to get, you know, begin to question this and get rebuked by Jesus, because they don’t understand the ways of God.  But this is the way to glory, man.  This is it, the way of the cross.  The way of the cross is glory.  He was the Son of God, he went to the cross and as he humbled himself God [the Father] has raised his name to be higher than any name, and every knee shall bow before him and confess him, that he is Lord.  But you know, I see my Lord, I see Jesus here, see his example, the Son of God, there being betrayed, humiliated, being ridiculed, being put down.  Earlier, verse 12, Jesus says that he must come and suffer and be treated with contempt.  And that is the life of a servant.  And that brings glory to God.  And that’s the life that you and I are to live, whatever the will of God is.  Here the will of God for Jesus is to go to the cross, here the will of the Father is for him to go to the cross.  And that includes rejection and just being spit upon and being beaten and whipped [till he was unrecognizable] and being crucified and mocked and humiliated.  And yet that is the will of God and brings tremendous glory to God.  And our heart is, ‘Lord unto you I do everything. I don't do it unto man.’  ‘Now I can go the way of the cross, I can do these things that are more difficult,’ you know.  Now I can endure those times of rejection or contempt from other people, cause I don’t care what they think anymore, their opinion isn’t so important.  What’s important to me is that God gets the glory.  There’s our example right there.  And that brings him great glory, God great glory, the Father great glory.  That’s what God desires for you and I, just to go the way of the cross, whatever that may mean in our life, seeking his praise and honor, and not the recognition of men.


Who Is The Greatest?  He, She Who Serves Everyone Else


Verses 33-37, “They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What was it you disputed amongst yourselves on the road?’  But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be greatest.  And he sat down, called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’  Then he took a little child and set him in the midst of them.  He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one of these little children in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives not me but him who sent me.’”  You know, I wonder if the three that came from the mountain are ridiculing the other nine.  They were on the mountain, they saw this great thing.  They haven’t shared it with anybody, but they saw it.  They’re thinking they’re pretty special, and here are the other nine, they can’t cast out this demon.  So I wonder if the three, John, Peter and James are kind of, ‘You guys, you guys are cool, but you know, you’re disciple juniors, you know.  We’re the guys, man.  We’re the seniors, man.  You guys can’t take care of that demon.  We could have dusted him--no problem.  But you guys, that’s alright man, you stick with us, you’ll be alright.’  I’m sure that’s this kind of debate as they’re going down the road, you know.  And Jesus, they come to him, they don’t tell him that’s their debate, if you put the gospels together, and they say to him, ‘Jesus, who’s gonna be the greatest?’  They just want to prove their point, you know, Peter wants him to acknowledge that he’s gonna be the greatest, or John or whatever.  But Jesus knows their heart and says, ‘What were you guys disputing on the road?’  And he just gets at the carnality of it, and begins to show them that they don’t even understand the kingdom of God, man.  They don’t get it.  The kingdom of God is not where you and I exalt ourselves.  The kingdom of God is where you and I humble ourselves and exalt God.  That’s the kingdom of God.  These guys didn’t realize the true character, true heart of the kingdom of God.  He who will be most highly honored in the kingdom of God is the one who seeks no honor for himself.  That’s the folks that are going to be really honored in the kingdom of God, are those that have just denied and didn’t seek the reputation but did what Christ did.  Just put that aside, maybe got recognized but just didn’t care.  They sought to bring glory to God and glory to him only. And that is what Jesus says, ‘If you desire to be first,’ well that’s the heart of man, 2nd isn’t so good to the natural man, but he says that the heart of the kingdom is that you’re last.  Just serve, you lay your life down, man.  You know, Romaine, Chuck Smith’s assistant has a book called “SECOND,” it’s about assistant pastors, and I read it recently and you know the cover of the book shows this assistant pastor, you know, dressed, got the suit on, got the Bible, but then there’s a [toilet] plunger.  That’s the cover of the book, you know--the Bible, Suit and a plunger.  [To order a copy log onto and see if it’s still available for ordering.]  And that’s the statement, you know, that’s the life of the servant, man.  You go and clean the johns if you need to go and clean the johns, and who cares if anyone knows that you did.  You go and work in the children’s ministry--people try to avoid that like the plague--but Jesus makes a point here, puts this little child next to him and says “Receive him.”  [And I know of an assistant Calvary Chapel pastor who does just that, teaches a Sunday school class for the little kids, while his pastor gives the sermon.]


Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us, No Middle Ground


Verses 38-41, “‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’  ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.’”  To serve the Lord is certainly to find reward later.  But it’s not necessarily to find reward from man.  But here, the guys are going along and they’re saying, right after this, I guess they’re trying to say, ‘Jesus, we defend you, we’re all for you, man.  Just want you to know that.’  After Jesus shares this little thing, well he rebukes them saying ‘You guys got a carnal heart.’  And now one of them, John steps forward and says, ‘Well, we’re not that carnal, we try to defend you.  This other guy was doing miracles in your name, and we said ‘You're not followers of us, so get lost, you’re not supposed to be doing this, this is for us not for you.’  And Jesus says to him ‘You guys don’t understand, if they’re doing miracles in my name, by my power, they’re not going to speak evil of me.  If they’re with us, they’re with us.  Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a part of the twelve here, they’re not a part of this denomination or part of this group of believers, but if they’re with us, they’re with us, man.’  If they’re for Jesus they’re for Jesus.  Obviously if this man cast out demons in the name of Jesus, this man was a Christian.  But he says ‘He who is not against us is on our side.’  The negative is given in Matthew where he says, ‘If you're not with us, you’re against us.’  Gives you the negative, you know, like the end of chapter 8 where Jesus says, ‘If you’re ashamed of my words, man, I’m gonna be ashamed of you.’  So the negative applies too.  ‘If you’re with us, you’re with us--if you’re not with us, you’re against us.’  That’s what Jesus says there.  But there’s no “us and them” in the kingdom of God, because that just says you want the glory, man.  You’re competing.  You want to do better in the kingdom of God.  You know, if it’s unto the Lord to give him glory, then it’s not this “us and them” thing.  In verse 41 it says, you know, if someone gives you a cup of water, and they’re doing it as unto the Lord, they’re gonna get the reward for it.  But he says, “Because you belong to Christ.”  And that’s the heart, the kingdom of God, belonging to Christ.  So it’s not the Baptist’s and the Assemblies of God, or the Calvary Chapels or Horizon Christian Fellowships [or the Methodist’s or Congregationalist’s or Sabbath-keeping Churches of God], it’s just the children of God, man.  That’s what it is, that’s what he’s saying here.  It’s just the children of God.  There’s a cartoon I read once where there’s a pastor sitting at his desk and behind him on his door is a chart that says “US & THEM,” and the “US” was doing better than the “THEM” by a couple points, and the “THEM” was like the Baptist church down the road.  And that can be the attitude sometimes, that we have.  But that’s carnal, man, because you and I are nothing.  But Jesus is everything.  Let’s look at Isaiah 66.  If you and I have the right attitude, just like Christ, no reputation, seeking the glory of God, then we’re willing to live in the shade.  If someone seems in our eyes to do better, get more recognition, well, that’s fine then. Because what matters is the glory of God.  God says in Isaiah 66, he says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘heaven is my throne, earth is my footstool,’”  He’s so far above me. “‘Where is the house that you will build me?  And where is the place of my rest?’” I mean, he’s infinite.  “‘For all those things my hand has made.  And all those things exist,’ says the Lord.  ‘But on this one I will look,’”  This is the type of person he’ll look upon. “‘On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my Word.’”  He says, ‘That’s the one I’ll look at.’  One that exalts himself, God says in his Word, he hates the prideful, he hates the arrogant.  But the meek and humble, that’s just bowed before him in heart, those are the ones God will look upon.


Be Really Careful About Causing A New-Believer To Stumble


Let’s look at the last section real quickly, in Mark chapter 9:42-50, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.  If your hand causes you to sin then cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed rather than having two hands to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off, it is better for you to enter life lame rather than having two feet to be cast into hell into the fire that shall never be quenched, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye rather than having two eyes to be cast into hellfire where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  For everyone will be seasoned [“salted” k. Js. Version] with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor how will you season it?  Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another.’”  He says now about children, he says, ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble,’ he says, who believe in me--that’s important, that caught my eye this time.  I never noticed that--he says, ‘those that...these little children that believe in me,’  ‘if you cause one of them to stumble, man, it’s better for you’--you know I saw one of those four-foot millstones there in Israel--'better for you to have one of those around your neck and be thrown into the sea than cause one of these young little children that love me to be stumbled.’ [This this particularly applies to causing a new-believer to stumble.  That new believer could be young in age or a 90-year-old.  I once knew a 90-year-old man that God called.  I used to take sermon notes for him because he could no longer write or take notes, wonderful man.  God gave him a least ten years to grow, he lived to be over 100 as I recall, Mr. Eggleston, he’ll be in the 1st resurrection to immortality.]  There’s many ways.  But the main way you get them to stumble is just getting their eyes off Jesus, off his glory and onto something else.  He says, if you cause them to stumble, get off on something else, off of Christ, man, you’re gonna be dealt with.  You know, God, of course, he sees the orphan, he sees the widow, he sees the child.  He says, ‘Be better for you to go without your hand, your eye, your foot, anything that’s keeping you from surrendering to God, your ego--better for you to go without your ego--better for you to go without your own self-exaltation--just go without that and humble yourself, and enter the kingdom of God rather than to take something else in life with you and lose out on life [eternal life].’  You know, three times it’s repeated about this hellfire, about hell itself, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  It’s possible that the oldest text, it’s not repeated three times, it only occurs in verse 48 in the oldest text.  So maybe a scribe repeated it a couple of times, but certainly the truth is there.  And Jesus says that, you know, ‘Better for you to cut off your hand, remove your eye--spiritually speaking--anything that’s keeping you from the kingdom of God, any pride or ego or whatever it is--remove it.  Get rid of it.’  Because if you don’t and it keeps you from going into the kingdom of God, you’re gonna go to hell, [regardless of how you biblically interpret hell--immediate or 1,000 years + down the road at Gehenna fire and the remake of heaven and earth--the result is the same (for differing interpretations on hell see], and hey, maybe you have your hand or your eye or whatever, but you’re gonna be in hell.  You know the backdrop for that is in the Valley of Hinnom, which is right next to Jerusalem that you can see, and it became the garbage dump for the people of Israel.  It was Gehenna, and it became the garbage dump because it was a curse because the Israelites got tied up in the worship of Molech, where they took their own children and they put them on the arms of this altar and they sacrificed their own children to this altar, which was just hideous.  So that valley came to be cursed and it became the garbage dump that garbage was heaped in there and set on fire and burnt [also executed bodies of criminals were thrown in there to rot with worms and be burnt up with fire].  And of course in the garbage you see a lot of worms and just that type of stuff, you know.  And that’s why he uses this type of terminology when he refers to hell, because Gehenna is a great physical type for the Israelites and you and I to know, of just hell, of where the fire and the torment and just all that would go on there, and the worm and all that.  But he says, ‘Better for you to cut off your hand, if your hand or whatever spiritually speaking is going to keep you from God, man, cut it off, because that’s where we go, because the Bible says “All have sinned, and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23) [and I might add that Gehenna fire in Revelation 20:14 is referred to as “the second death”].  Finally, in verses 49 and 50 he says ‘Everyone's gonna be seasoned with fire, every sacrifice should be seasoned with salt.’  That’s according to Leviticus chapter 2.  The offerings were to have salt.  But he says, ‘Salt is good, but if it doesn’t have any flavor anymore, what use is it?  How are you gonna get the flavor back in it?  But you yourselves, man, be salty, man.’  And salt, salty refers to purity.  And H.A. Ironsides says here, he says, “Let there be in your life and behavior a righteousness that glorifies God.  Instead of seeking your own interests, seek the good of others, and thus have peace with one another.”  That’s how he looks at that, that there be spiritual life in our life, righteousness in our life that brings glory to God--seeking the interest of others and being at peace with others.”



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