Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Devotional: Glory, Suffering, and Faith, Mark 9:2-32

Mark 9.2-32 outline

In the previous chapter Jesus has unveiled the new and surprising information that the kingdom of the age to come will be brought in through his, and his disciples’, suffering, persecution and death. Does Jesus have the authority to introduce this major innovation into the hope that was prophesied and established in the covenants of the Hebrew scriptures? This is the issue Mark deals with as he presents Jesus, on the mountain and in the cloud of the presence of YHWH, as someone beyond Moses who brings a new and superior revelation. Jesus is the predicted beloved, pleasing Son of God. YHWH verifies Jesus’ authority and trustworthiness when he tells Peter, James and John to “listen to him.” Jesus, with the heroes of the Old Testament around him, corrects their view that the kingdom will come with immediate triumph, but instead will come through his suffering, death and resurrection. The disciples, and all subsequent followers of Jesus, will be called to share in his suffering before they share in his victory.

Jesus, thus gives Peter, James and John, a preview of Jesus’ glory so that they can be sure that the suffering they are called to do will certainly result in the promised glory. Both Peter, “we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:18), and John, “we beheld his glory” John 1:14),  in their writings make reference to this event as being foundational to their faith. However, it will not be until after the resurrection, the coming of the Spirit and much reflection that they understand the full implications of what they experienced on the mountain. The curtain between heaven and earth is pulled back and Jesus' Divine glory is seen in the vision, but he reminds them, like with John the Baptist, it is also seen in Jesus' humility, obedience, suffering and sacrifice. This is the part the disciples refuse to accept and Jesus will need to respond with more teaching. The point here is that, as we trust the sure witness about the glory that is to come, we will have the God-given strength to endure the trials, persecution and suffering.

This is the point of Jesus’ teaching and actions in the next section as he expels the demon from the mute boy. Jesus is able to do it with just a word because of his great faithfulness, connection with, and trust in the Father. This powerful demon could not resist that kind of faith. The disciples, fresh off their successful preaching and miracle tour, had forgotten that this kind of power is a result of the faith and connectedness to God that is seen in a life of prayer. The prayer of the follower of Jesus must continue to be “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9.24). It is from this kind of practical dependence on God that all life and ministry must flow.

Jesus unveils the glory of God on earth even as he suffers and dies. We too, as we stay connected to him, can show his glory in both the good and difficult times we face. Faith grows as we pray and listen. Glory is certainly coming.

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