Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Curt Kregness has provided his reflections on Mark's ninth chapter.
Curtis was born and raised in the Twin Cities, but has spent half his life serving in Brazil with WorldVenture, primarily in literature ministries. He is now an editor for the Vida Nova publishing house in Sao Paulo. Curtis is married to Lalia, an authentic Brazilian and a skilled translator. They have a son, Alan, who lives in the Twin Cities and is currently a technical writer for Toro Company. Curtis graduated from Bethel Seminary in 2012 with an M.A. degree in Christian Thought. He did his undergraduate work in journalism at the University of Minnesota.
What does this chapter tell us about who Jesus is?
Jesus is the unlikely Messiah. He does not fulfill Jewish expectations of what a Messiah should be. Jesus tries to tell his disciples about his betrayal, suffering and death, but they do not understand (v. 32). This depressing talk must have been especially confusing for Peter, James and John, who saw Jesus in dazzling glory on the mountain. Isn’t the idea of a suffering Messiah an oxymoron in any language? For Jesus, however, the greatest people are those who become the servant of all (v. 35). “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45).
What does this chapter tell us about what it means to follow Jesus?
Being a disciple of Jesus means following him on the mountain and in the valley. On the mountain we see that Jesus is the exalted Son of God—greater than Moses, greater than Elijah. He is to be worshipped, heard and obeyed. In the valley we mingle with (and sometimes we are) the “unbelieving generation” (v. 19). Following Jesus in the valley means losing our life so that others might live, just as Jesus suffered and was rejected (9:12, 31) on our behalf.
Mark has a dry sense of humor. He tells us that Jesus’ disciples had given a poor showing of their ability to deal with demonic opposition, yet soon after that incident they were arguing about who was the greatest (v. 34). What’s more, they then stopped a man from driving out demons—the very thing they failed to do—in the name of Jesus (v. 38). Following Jesus means humbly cooperating with faithful people who are not naturally part of our “in group,” but who are also fruit-bearing disciples of the Messiah. It is no coincidence that this chapter ends with Jesus’ words, “…and be at peace with each other.”
What in particular stands out to you from this chapter in Mark?
For some time I have been impressed by the plea of the father of the demon-possessed boy, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v. 24). Perhaps Mark resonated with the transparency of the man (Matthew and Luke do not mention the phrase), and seized on it as a reflection of the disciples’ struggle to wrap their minds around what Jesus was telling them about his upcoming suffering and death.
If we are honest, we would have to agree that the father’s cry sums up the ambivalence of our hearts, also. Our faith in Jesus is always diluted with doubt to some degree (that is part of being human). One of the lessons of this chapter is that our doubt should drive us to ever greater dependence on him. Jesus doesn’t require us to have untarnished faith. He only asks that we have childlike trust in his love and care for us. Indeed, Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question of why they were unable to drive out the demon from the boy illustrates that very point (v. 29). Prayer is ultimately an expression of dependence on God’s grace for everything.