Mark 9:1-13 Some Will Not Die Before They See The Kingdom of Heaven

Mark 9:1-13 NLTse Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” (2) Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, (3) and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. (4) Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (5) Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials–one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (6) He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. (7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (8) Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. (9) As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” (11) Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (12) Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? (13) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16

The eBook is available here for immediate download.

Before we can understand chapter 9, we have to look back to see how it relates to chapter 8 where Jesus repeated a lesson the disciples failed to learn the first time Jesus fed a large group. To illustrate His point, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NLTse). Observing the blank looks on their faces, Jesus asked, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NLTse). For some reason the disciples were having a difficult time understanding the lessons Jesus was teaching, information they needed to carry on the ministry once Jesus was gone. To show the disciples how much they were missing, Jesus healed a blind man. Sooner or later the disciples were bound to make the connection.

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31 NLTse). Jesus tried to explain the prophecies concerning His ministry in this world, but the disciples could not understand. They had a difficult time putting away concepts taught by the religious leaders. Jesus knew it was time for a change. If He was going to reach His disciples, He had to explain everything in a whole new light. Jesus told them. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38 NLTse). Jesus knew it was time for a new beginning. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLTse).

The lesson Jesus was teaching continued. Jesus was not about to give up. It was time to introduce a new phase, another chapter of their education. Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” To draw attention to the importance of the next lesson, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.

By taking only three disciples, Jesus drew attention to the fact they had to learn how to put away distractions, one of the lessons they should have learned from the parable of the sower and seeds. Jesus needed their undivided attention. He wanted their minds to concentrate on every detail with the understanding they would be teaching the other disciples. The responsibility would help them to remember every detail.

Jesus did not waste any time. Instantly He began to transform. His clothing turned to a brilliant white, a reminder of the parable about the light and how it represented understanding. The disciples noticed the light surrounded Jesus as if it was a part of Him, or radiated from Him. It was a light like no other they had ever seen.

Once Jesus knew He had their attention, the theme was introduced. The disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter continued in his old ways, talking when He should be listening. He suggested they should build a tabernacle for each of them as a memorial. He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. What were they going to build a tabernacle with? There were only three of them. How did Peter, the fisherman plan on accomplishing his idea? It seemed Peter missed the point.

Jesus wanted them to see how Moses and Elijah left the glory of Heaven to comfort Him. There was one point for the disciples to consider, the relationship Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. Jesus spoke with Moses, giving him the ten commandments and the pattern for the Tabernacle. Jesus was with Moses every step through the wilderness, encouraging and testing him. Moses developed a strong relationship with Jesus, praying often, listening, and following instructions to the letter in all but one instance. That one mistake cost Moses the right to enter the promised land until this moment. On this day the disciples saw Moses standing in the promised land with Jesus. He had to wait until now, to show the disciples how to encourage Jesus.

Elijah had his own journey through life to Heaven. He was easily distressed. Jesus was always there to encourage him. Jesus told Elijah about 8000 faithful followers still serving Him. Elijah went from total faith to a complete lack of memory, much like the disciples were experiencing. Elijah’s life was a lesson for the disciples, who also swayed from side to side with their faith. Jesus’ encouragement remained consistent through all of Elijah’s trials. Now it was time for Elijah to encourage Jesus.

This was one of the major lessons Jesus was trying to teach on the mountain. He needed comfort from His friends. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. Like all of us, there is a part of Jesus longing for companionship, a friend, support, an intimate relationship of love, dedication, and mutual support. Jesus already referred to His followers as His brothers and sisters. This is why Jesus left Andrew behind, so Peter would feel the loss, see and understand the lesson in a much deeper and personal manner. Peter could not wait to share every detail with his brother.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” God the Father did not want them to miss the lesson. He was trusting His Son’s feelings and emotions in the hands of the disciples. God wanted them to be as close to Jesus as He and the Holy Spirit were to Christ. God’s heart poured out in ways they could not imagine. He wanted the disciples to feel the same love He felt for His Son. If only they would accept the gift.

In an instant Moses and Elijah were gone, but the image of the meeting was burned in their memories. On the way down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Even though Jesus explained His death to them, they had no idea what He meant by, “rising from the dead.” Jesus was glad to see them discussing it among themselves. They were beginning to form the bond Jesus had been praying for. That was another reason Jesus left Andrew behind. Jesus did not want them to tell the others, He wanted them to review the scene over and over in their minds, going over each detail to help develop their memories so they could see one lesson after another formulate in their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the three disciples to learn to wait for the entire lesson to be revealed before teaching the details. This was the first in a long series of lessons about relationships.

It was already beginning to work. A connection was forming between James, John, Peter, and the Holy Spirit. Questions were forming in their minds, so they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Jesus introduced another important facet in their education process, the scriptures. Without them, they would be lost. Their question showed how they still relied on concepts they had been taught as children. They had to learn to put those concepts behind them and look at the written Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:12-13 NLTse). Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NLTse). This was part of the lesson. The disciples saw how much John’s death effected Jesus. They wondered why Jesus did not visit John in prison. Maybe it was because it was not time for Jesus to appear in Herod’s court. With all the crowds following Jesus, it would have been impossible for Jesus to visit John unnoticed. Not only the crowds, but the Pharisees keeping a constant watch over Jesus. The disciples thought about how lonely John must have been. Suddenly they began to think of how Jesus felt. Was it possible for Him to feel lonely with all the people following Him day in and out? After teaching and healing all day did Jesus need more than what people were offering in return? What could they do to make Jesus feel appreciated?

What did the three disciples learn from this experience? How do we apply it to your walk with Jesus today? Jesus began a new lesson in chapter 9. Jesus is beginning a series of lessons on relationships. He introduced this lesson by showing three disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and God. What do you get out of the lesson when you envision Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on a mountain? What does the mountain represent? What does Moses and Elijah represent? When you envision the scene, what do you get out of seeing Jesus meeting with Moses, Elijah, and God? What does this teach you about relationships?

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8

Mark 5:21-43 Jesus Heals an Issue of Blood and Raises a Girl From Death

Mark 5:21-43 NLTse Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. (22) Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, (23) pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” (24) Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. (25) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. (26) She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. (27) She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. (28) For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (29) Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (30) Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” (31) His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” (32) But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. (33) Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. (34) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (35) While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (36) But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (37) Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). (38) When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. (39) He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (40) The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. (41) Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” (42) And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. (43) Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

This seems like a long day for Jesus, but He is doing what He loves, teaching and healing. The day before Jesus began His journeys and lessons on the shores of the lake. Crowds became so thick, He launched out a short distance in a boat. This also helped call attention to what Jesus was teaching, a parable about a farmer scattering his seed. Some landed on the road. Other seed landed on stony ground and among thorns, and of course the farmer made sure plenty of seed landed on good soil.

Later, the disciples asked Jesus to explain the meaning of the parable. Jesus told them what the symbols were and what they represented. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:15-19 NLTse). Of course Jesus also explained, seed represented God’s Word. He also explained how the good soil produced more seed.

Jesus also explained how important understanding God’s Word was to produce more seed. Jesus told a parable about lighting a lamp. When used properly, light makes everything visible. Light represents understanding God’s Word.

Once His disciples understood they had to understand God’s Word before they could see His Word increase, Jesus told them another parable explaining the process to follow. The disciples did not know it at the time, but the first lesson would be taught while crossing the lake.

In the middle of their trip they were caught up in a vicious storm, so fierce the four fisherman Jesus called cried for help. They found Jesus asleep in the front of the boat. They woke Him, asking if He cared anything about them. The disciples weren’t sure why they woke Jesus with such doubt in their hearts. Did they really believe Jesus was going to save them? Did their faith lead them to Jesus, or their fear? Jesus calmed the wind with His Word, which was part of the lesson. Wind represented ideas, concepts and words people would use against them once they began preaching God’s Word. Jesus showed them how to over come the wind. He also showed them how to handle the wind when it comes. He would illustrate this lesson again in the hours to come.

Looking back at the sequence of this texts and forward to what the disciples wrote in the New Testament, a question comes to mind. The seed of course produces more seed. The seed represents God’s Word in the parable of the sower. In essence the parable shows God’s Word produces more of God’s Word, just as the seed produced more seed. New Testament writers referred to and expounded on Jesus’ parables. The seed Jesus planted produced more seed, just like the parable pointed out.

Once they reached the other side of the lake, a man possessed by hundreds of demons threatened them. As the disciples hid behind Jesus, He stepped forward to confront the evil spirits. Although out numbered, Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine. The scene seemed quite strange in both instances, those with the greater numbers feared the one they out numbered.

Once the demons left the man, the pigs ran off a cliff into the lake Satan tried to control just a few hours before. Once freed, the man, wanted to follow Jesus, who instructed him to return home to his family to explain what happened to him. He became one of the most successful evangelists in the Bible. Jesus links the next lesson to the previous by once again entering a boat. They cross the lake again. This time Jesus meet a rich young ruler.

Jesus could see the man coming from quite a distance. Jairus was dressed in rich robes showing his high status in the synagogue. The disciples looked at him, thinking it was strange for a young man to reach such a high status. They thought to themselves, it was all who you know, not what you know. The little bit of knowledge the disciple were learning was not yet complete. One of the most important lessons was still in the future, which is, when the Spirit provides a message, He also tells who to deliver the message to, when and how to declare the message.

Jairus ran out of options. A few days ago his wife sent a servant to the synagogue with the news his young daughter was seriously ill. He dropped everything and hurried home. Rushing into her room he found his wife kneeling at the bed, tears in her eyes. The physicians paced about with bewildered looks on their faces. The next two days were torture. Jairus could not think of a thing he would not give up as he walked the halls and courtyard of his home looking for peace while praying for an answer. After weighing all the options one of his servants decided to tell him about Jesus. She knew it may cost her a job and living. She knew if she were fired for telling a religious leader about Jesus, no one would considering hiring her. Watching the child suffer was more than she could bear. She decided to take the risk and talk with Jairus.

At first he was shocked to find one of Jesus’ followers working for him. But something touched him. He could see her sacrifice, the risk she took. Maybe there was something to this Jesus he heard so much about. Jairus took her by the hand. They walked to his daughter’s room. Standing at the doorway, he turned, asking his servant where Jesus was right now. She told Jairus, “I heard He was at the lake a few days ago, near the fishing village. Jairus went to the bed, held his daughter’s hand, kissed his wife and quickly left.

He ran as fast and far as he could, walked for a while, ran again past the point of exhaustion. His legs ached and lungs burned. It felt like his head was going to burst. Finally the lake came into view. From the top of the hill he saw a crowd gathered on the shore. “Thank you Lord,” Jairus cried out. He walked to the shore as fast as he could, thinking every moment counted.

Jesus could see the tormented look on Jairus’ face. The disciples also noticed the anguished look that reminded them of the demon possessed man. Jesus went straight toward him. Jairus didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know if it was a combination of exhaustion and the thought of his little girl in bed, or a hope, some sort of faith in Jesus that forced him to his knees. He pleaded with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

Knowing the situation was urgent, Jesus immediately went with Jairus with a number of people following them. Making their way through the crowd a woman began to weep. She suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years. Most everyone knew about her problem because she went to priest after priest, and a number of physicians and other healers. Not one could do a thing for her. Word got around and she was treated much like a leper. All the offerings and payments to physicians left her nearly penniless. Hearing about Jesus gave her a glimmer of hope. Something she lost a long time ago. Now she saw her last hope leaving.

She tried to push her way through the crowd, but it seemed the more she pushed, the further away the crowd pushed her. Her eyes filled with tears to the point she could not see. She wiped her eyes. Her view cleared just long enough to see Jairus pass by. She held out her hand touching a robe for only a moment. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

At the same moment He was touched, Jesus stopped. Jairus also stopped, turned and looked at Jesus. He wanted to ask Him to hurry, but before he could speak, Jesus asked, “who touched me?” Jesus looked from side to side. Jairus was trying to find a way of politely asking Him to hurry. The disciples wondered what kind of an answer Jesus was looking for. Finally the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

For a moment a peace, a bit of security came over Jairus. It only lasted a minute. His servants appeared from the crowd to tell him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” Jesus heard the news and saw the expression on Jairus’ face instantly change. Filled with compassion Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

Jairus wondered where faith fit into the scene. His daughter was dead. At least that was what he was told. His servant would never lie to him. Not about something so severe. Jairus felt like a knife was plunged into his heart. His legs still ached from the run, his head still pounded. He thought his heart was still pumping faster than normal, but now he wished it would stop. Why did God take his daughter? Why didn’t God take him?

Jairus headed home, with his head hung low, his servants arm around him. He didn’t think he could make it on his own. Once his home came into sight Jairus remember his wife. He had to appear strong for her. He knew his pain would be nothing compared to hers. Suddenly Jairus noticed Jesus and a huge crowd was still behind him. The last thing he needed was company. All he wanted to do was be alone with his wife for a time before sorting out the details. Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John. They could hear the screams and cries from the mourners. It seemed word had gotten out and Jairus’ moment of silence would be impossible. As soon as Jairus stopped and turned to disperse the crowd, Jesus walked right past him, went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” Of course everyone in the house laughed at Him. Almost everyone. Jairus’ wife and the servant comforting her held onto a spark of faith, which was dwindling fast. With the help of Peter, James, and John, Jesus cleared the house.

Once the house was cleared and silent, Jesus took Jairus and his wife by the hand, leading them into their daughter’s room. The three disciples followed close behind. Taking the young Girl’s hand, Jesus said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” She immediately stood up and walked around! Nothing could match or describe the joy in Jairus’ joy in him and his wife.

Going from the lowest of lows to a high beyond description is experienced by few. It is nothing short of a life changing experience, not only for Jairus and his wife, but the disciples, and all the people who saw the little girl lying dead.

Why did Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from death? Did Jairus’ status in the synagogue have anything to do with it? What did the disciples learn from this? Was Jesus only displaying His power, or was there a deeper meaning involved?

When we look at all the of events as Jesus crisscrossed the lake, we not only begin to see a small portion of what Jesus was teaching, but the sequence Jesus used to teach. It began on the first journey across the lake. Satan used the wind to threaten the disciples much like he used wind to test Job. Mark clearly notes Jesus slept in the boat while it was tossed by wind and flooded by waves. When we see what wind represents, we understand why Jesus slept.

Ephesians 4:14 KJV That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

When we look at another storm Jesus faced we understand why Jesus slept. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (John 8:4-6 NLTse). When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with doctrine, He refused to debate with them. He refused to fall into the trap they set for him. Jesus knew the Pharisees had their own preconceived idea on every detail of the law and would rather die than concede one point. Changing their mind on any point would be like moving a mountain. Its not much different today. Religions hook members on doctrines, addicting them to the point they feel their salvation relies on not only knowing, but forcing their beliefs on others. They forgot the simple message Jesus gave to His disciples, to teach the prophecies He fulfilled.

When they reached the other side of the lake, they were faced by a man possessed by a legion of demons. This was the last person on earth anyone would have expected to see teaching about and leading people to Jesus. This man lead countless people to Christ.

Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat to cross the lake one more time. This time they met a leader of the synagogue, dressed in his spectacular clothing. At first it appeared to be quite a contrast to the man on the other side of the lake, but each had their problems. Jairus’ daughter was in bed dying. He would have changed places with anyone at that point. The fact Jairus was a leader in the synagogue taught the disciples another lesson. Jesus came to reach out to everyone.

A woman with an issue of blood was also involved in this story. Jesus met her on the way to Jairus’ house. She may have delayed Jesus while Jairus’ daughter died. The woman tried everything to end the dreaded disease before she heard of Jesus. He was her last hope. She touched Him in faith and was instantly healed.

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8 eBook link

All of these teach one lesson after another. Jesus did not stop teaching when he finished His parables. The Holy Spirit established a sequence of events, one after another to fill in some of the details missing from the parables. Jesus taught this application in His parables. First He introduced the parable of the sower. At the end Jesus explained the seed in good ground produces new seed. Later Jesus told His disciples a parable about another farmer sowing seed. This time Jesus added details about the life cycle of the seed, to a plant which produces more seed. “The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:28-29 NLTse). Jesus then began to fill in other missing details from the parable of the sower when He began showing them how far Satan will go to distract people from God’s Word, the seeds planted in their hearts.

Satan tried to destroy Jesus and His disciples with wind. Jesus rebuked the wind with His word. Peter proved he learned the lesson when he wrote: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:17-19 NLTse). By sleeping in the boat, Jesus taught them to ignore people who seek salvation through their doctrines. By rebuking the wind, He taught them to rely on His word.

The man possessed by demons was chained by men, but escaped. No matter how hard the demons tried to hold him, he made his way to Jesus. People have their own way of dealing with demons. In this story they tried to chain him. If they had succeeded, they would have kept him from Jesus. Did the man hold a grudge? No! He went back to show them what Jesus can do. In this lesson the disciples learned not to judge anyone by their appearance. A few words from Jesus changed this man as quickly as the wind changed.

The disciples learned another lesson about judging people. This time it was a leader in the synagogue. The man came to Jesus in faith. He was able to put away his doctrine to come to Jesus. He came to Jesus to heal his daughter, but Jesus provided much more. Jesus provided life.

The woman with an issue of blood faced some of the same problems as Jairus, the young leader. She tried everything to rid herself of the disease, but nothing worked. Man made cures made matters worse. She went to priests, doctors, and who knows what else. She put her trust in everything she knew, spending all of her money until it was all gone. She went to Jesus as her last hope. A quality she shared with Jairus. It didn’t matter to Jesus, as long as they came to Him. Jesus was happy to heal the woman and raise the young girl back to life. Jesus didn’t ask Jairus what be believed. He never questions about the doctrine Jairus believed and taught. Neither did Jesus ask the woman why she put her trust in priests and doctors instead of God. Jesus accepted them where they were when they came to Him.

We can see James understood these lessons when he wrote his letter to the Jewish believers. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-6 NLTse).

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8 Paperback Book Link

Mark 9:1-13 Some Will Not Die Before They See The Kingdom of Heaven

Mark 9:1-13 NLTse Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” (2) Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, (3) and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. (4) Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (5) Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials–one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (6) He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. (7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (8) Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. (9) As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” (11) Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (12) Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? (13) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Before we can understand chapter 9, we have to look back to see how it relates to chapter 8 where Jesus repeated a lesson the disciples failed to learn the first time Jesus fed a large group. To illustrate His point, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NLTse). Observing the blank looks on their faces, Jesus asked, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NLTse). For some reason the disciples were having a difficult time understanding the lessons Jesus was teaching, information they needed to carry on the ministry once Jesus was gone. To show the disciples how much they were missing, Jesus healed a blind man. Sooner or later the disciples were bound to make the connection.

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31 NLTse). Jesus tried to explain the prophecies concerning His ministry in this world, but the disciples could not understand. They had a difficult time putting away concepts taught by the religious leaders. Jesus knew it was time for a change. If He was going to reach His disciples, He had to explain everything in a whole new light. Jesus told them. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38 NLTse). Jesus knew it was time for a new beginning. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLTse).

The lesson Jesus was teaching continued. Jesus was not about to give up. It was time to introduce a new phase, another chapter of their education. Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” To draw attention to the importance of the next lesson, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.

By taking only three disciples, Jesus drew attention to the fact they had to learn how to put away distractions, one of the lessons they should have learned from the parable of the sower and seeds. Jesus needed their undivided attention. He wanted their minds to concentrate on every detail with the understanding they would be teaching the other disciples. The responsibility would help them to remember every detail.

Jesus did not waste any time. Instantly He began to transform. His clothing turned to a brilliant white, a reminder of the parable about the light and how it represented understanding. The disciples noticed the light surrounded Jesus as if it was a part of Him, or radiated from Him. It was a light like no other they had ever seen.

Once Jesus knew He had their attention, the theme was introduced. The disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter continued in his old ways, talking when He should be listening. He suggested they should build a tabernacle for each of them as a memorial. He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. What were they going to build a tabernacle with? There were only three of them. How did Peter, the fisherman plan on accomplishing his idea? It seemed Peter missed the point.

Jesus wanted them to see how Moses and Elijah left the glory of Heaven to comfort Him. There was one point for the disciples to consider, the relationship Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. Jesus spoke with Moses, giving him the ten commandments and the pattern for the Tabernacle. Jesus was with Moses every step through the wilderness, encouraging and testing him. Moses developed a strong relationship with Jesus, praying often, listening, and following instructions to the letter in all but one instance. That one mistake cost Moses the right to enter the promised land until this moment. On this day the disciples saw Moses standing in the promised land with Jesus. He had to wait until now, to show the disciples how to encourage Jesus.

Elijah had his own journey through life to Heaven. He was easily distressed. Jesus was always there to encourage him. Jesus told Elijah about 8000 faithful followers still serving Him. Elijah went from total faith to a complete lack of memory, much like the disciples were experiencing. Elijah’s life was a lesson for the disciples, who also swayed from side to side with their faith. Jesus’ encouragement remained consistent through all of Elijah’s trials. Now it was time for Elijah to encourage Jesus.

This was one of the major lessons Jesus was trying to teach on the mountain. He needed comfort from His friends. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. Like all of us, there is a part of Jesus longing for companionship, a friend, support, an intimate relationship of love, dedication, and mutual support. Jesus already referred to His followers as His brothers and sisters. This is why Jesus left Andrew behind, so Peter would feel the loss, see and understand the lesson in a much deeper and personal manner. Peter could not wait to share every detail with his brother.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” God the Father did not want them to miss the lesson. He was trusting His Son’s feelings and emotions in the hands of the disciples. God wanted them to be as close to Jesus as He and the Holy Spirit were to Christ. God’s heart poured out in ways they could not imagine. He wanted the disciples to feel the same love He felt for His Son. If only they would accept the gift.

In an instant Moses and Elijah were gone, but the image of the meeting was burned in their memories. On the way down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Even though Jesus explained His death to them, they had no idea what He meant by, “rising from the dead.” Jesus was glad to see them discussing it among themselves. They were beginning to form the bond Jesus had been praying for. That was another reason Jesus left Andrew behind. Jesus did not want them to tell the others, He wanted them to review the scene over and over in their minds, going over each detail to help develop their memories so they could see one lesson after another formulate in their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the three disciples to learn to wait for the entire lesson to be revealed before teaching the details. This was the first in a long series of lessons about relationships.

It was already beginning to work. A connection was forming between James, John, Peter, and the Holy Spirit. Questions were forming in their minds, so they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Jesus introduced another important facet in their education process, the scriptures. Without them, they would be lost. Their question showed how they still relied on concepts they had been taught as children. They had to learn to put those concepts behind them and look at the written Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:12-13 NLTse). Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NLTse). This was part of the lesson. The disciples saw how much John’s death effected Jesus. They wondered why Jesus did not visit John in prison. Maybe it was because it was not time for Jesus to appear in Herod’s court. With all the crowds following Jesus, it would have been impossible for Jesus to visit John unnoticed. Not only the crowds, but the Pharisees keeping a constant watch over Jesus. The disciples thought about how lonely John must have been. Suddenly they began to think of how Jesus felt. Was it possible for Him to feel lonely with all the people following Him day in and out? After teaching and healing all day did Jesus need more than what people were offering in return? What could they do to make Jesus feel appreciated?

What did the three disciples learn from this experience? How do we apply it to your walk with Jesus today? Jesus began a new lesson in chapter 9. Jesus is beginning a series of lessons on relationships. He introduced this lesson by showing three disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and God. What do you get out of the lesson when you envision Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on a mountain? What does the mountain represent? What does Moses and Elijah represent? When you envision the scene, what do you get out of seeing Jesus meeting with Moses, Elijah, and God? What does this teach you about relationships?

Mark 2:18-22 Fasting, Old and New

Mark 2:18-22 NLTse Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?” Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

This is another amazing lesson from the Bible. Notice how the words are marked. This is to show which words are repeated and how they are repeated. We find the word, “FAST.” And :NEW,” are repeated five times. The word, “OLD,” is repeated three times. Don’t get tied up with any type of numerology. Simply look at the repeated words and how they are used. In just a few sentences we see:

Pharisees were fasting

Jesus’ disciples do NOT fast

wedding guests do NOT fast

They can’t fast while the groom is with them.

When the groom will be taken away, they will fast.

old clothing requires a patch

old cloth will tear

old wineskins will burst (or tear)

Who would use new cloth as a patch?

the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old

no one puts new wine into old wineskins

New wine calls for new wineskins.

This is what I love about Mark’s style of writing. We can compare so much on a few pages. When we look at the repeated words we ask, what does fasting, old, and new have in common? We travel the wrong path and will always draw the wrong conclusion when we try to answer with our own wisdom. We have to rely totally on God’s wisdom to provide the answer. It is a simple process of looking back over the previous texts.

Jesus begins His ministry by being baptized. He receives the blessing of His Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus begins a forty day fast as He goes into the wilderness alone. While He was alone, He was tempted by Satan. One temptation stands out. Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9 NLTse). Satan showed Jesus some type of panoramic view of all the riches, kingdoms, and glory of the world which he offered Jesus. Of course Jesus turned it down. Satan left and angels came to tend to Jesus.

Next we see Jesus walking alone along the sea shore where He calls Simon, Andrew, James and John. Jesus is no longer alone. They go into a synagogue where a demon possessed man confronts Jesus. “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One sent from God!” (Mark 1:24 NLTse).

After leaving the synagogue, they go a Simon and Andrew’s home where Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. She gets up to feed them. After dinner the whole town shows up to listen to Jesus and brings their sick to be healed.

We can see a pattern developing. Jesus is alone when He fasts, and is tempted by the devil, who offers Him the world. Jesus gains companionship, but again is comforted by an evil spirit inside a synagogue. Jesus leaves the synagogue, goes to Simon’s house where they eat and are joined by many more people.

A little while later we see Jesus at a house so packed with people they lower a paralyzed man down through the roof. After Jesus healed a leper, the religious leaders began following Him. They challenged Jesus. Some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (Mark 2:6-7 NLTse).

Next Jesus invited Levi to follow Him. While dining with Levi and his guests, the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” (Mark 2:16 NLTse).

How does all this fit into the old and new? Who would be the old, and who would be the new? When Jesus was in the synagogue amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” (Mark 1:27 NLTse). To them, Jesus and everything He taught was new. Did this mean everything they heard from the religious leaders was old? Let’s look at this idea and see if it consistently applies.

Jesus is baptized. Is that old or new? Jesus is fasting. Is that old or new? Consider the point, He is alone at this point in His ministry where He is tempted. Satan’s final attempt in the wilderness to over throw Jesus was to offer Him all the power and glory in the world. Is that old or new? Satan is offering Jesus the old, while Jesus is preparing to usher in the new.

Jesus gathering common people as disciples is new. They find themselves confronted by a demon possessed man in a synagogue, which is the old. Jesus preaches and heals in a home, introducing the new. This is mentioned three times in Mark’s early chapters. Twice Jesus is confronted by religious leaders, the old. Look at what the religious leaders were trying to do and see how it applies to Jesus’ parables.

Mark 2:6-7 NLTse But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, (7) “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Their first comment was an attempt to separate Jesus from His Father. The same temptation Satan saved as his last attempt in the wilderness.

Mark 2:16 NLTse But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

When we see the Pharisees showing how they separated themselves from the people, it is not difficult to understand why Jesus used the words tear and burst in His parables. He wanted the Pharisees to understand the problem with the old religious views they taught.

Mark 5 Demon Possessed Man Arrived

Did you ever notice how inspired writers arranged certain words and phrases in scripture in a way that tells a much deeper spiritual story? Mark gives us a perfect example of an inspired writer.

Mark 5:1-6 NLTse So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. (2) When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. (3) This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. (4) Whenever he was put into chains and shackles–as he often was–he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. (5) Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. (6) When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him.

In this case Mark wrote using a list of words related to movement. When we look at that list, they tell a story most people miss.

Arrived

Climbed out

came out from

meet

Lived among

put into

wandered among

some distance away

ran to meet him

When we look at the spiritual application we see the story unfold.

Jesus arrived. This is the beginning of a new life and hope.

Jesus came out of the boat. Jesus moved out of His comfort zone into the the life of the man who needed help.

The man came out of a cemetery, from among the dead. This is a move most people need to make Often they are stuck living and some times worshiping among the dead. People going no where in their spiritual life.

The man moved to meet Jesus.

The man lived among the tombs but knew there was a better life, a better way.

People tried to restrain the man, keep him locked up. They didn’t want him to move to Jesus. But those chains couldn’t stop him. He broke free and went to meet Jesus.

When the man wandered among the burial cave, he knew that wasn’t the right place for him. In the story they used physical chains, but the man could also see and feel the spiritual chains.

When Jesus was some distance away, the man could feel the pull. Without saying a word, the man could hear Jesus’ call. He knew Jesus was what he was looking for. He knew Jesus was what he needed.

The man didn’t waste any time. He ran to Jesus leaving the physical and spiritual chains behind.

When we look back at the previous story, we see how Jesus performed a miracle in that boat by calming a storm. It was as if the man could feel Jesus’ presence while He was still far away in the middle of the lake battling Satan and the storm he sent. The man was only a short distance away and felt that same storm. He felt the wind and rain. The man saw the waves. He saw the storm stop. The next thing he saw was a boat arriving. Then he saw Jesus coming out of that boat. We can see how the man was able to form a spiritual connection of trust with Jesus before he saw Him in the distance.

Mark 12:1-12 Ungrateful Tenants

My book on Mark are a combination of short stories with a few hints on how to get more out of a casual reading of the Bible. Character names are made up to make the stories come alive. Some of the stories are adaptations of real life stories brought together with stories and lessons in Mark’s Gospel. It is a unique style of writing and something worth looking into. Many of the stories in this book series are great for children stories as well as powerful sermon messages.

Mark 12:1-12 NLTse Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. (2) At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (3) But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. (4) The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. (5) The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, (6) until there was only one left–his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ (7) “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ (8) So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard. (9) “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you–he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. (10) Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. (11) This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.'” (12) The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

Was Jesus preparing His disciples for the future by using words like beat, killed, and murdered, or was He only pointing out how the religious leaders treated God’s messengers in the past? Jesus’ parables are designed to point people back to scripture.

After Jesus quieted the priests, teachers of the law, and elders, He knew He had their attention. He slowly moved to take His place among the broken animal pens He dismantled the day before. Jesus was about to answer their question, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16. You can download the eBook here.

It did not take long for news to spread, “Jesus is in the temple.” Some came to listen. Others came to be healed. A few let their curiosity led them. All of them crowded around Jesus, getting as close as possible to hear His words. The enormous crowd caused the workers to stop construction on the pens. The crowd poured out into the street outside the gate, making it impossible for the Levite priests to bring the lambs they had been able to gather back into the courtyard. Soon Jesus motioned everyone to sit. They all obeyed, expect for the priests, teachers, elders and temple guards.

Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower.” Their minds were filled with an image of a fine vineyard. Some imagined a simple farm with a small house just off a road, a barn, a few cattle in one pen, sheep in another, and rows of grape vines in even rows along a hill with fields of wheat and barley along side open pastures of grass. Some imagined an elaborate home with two levels, surrounded by a white plastered stone wall, large barns for storing crops, grape vines as far as the eye could see on one side, fields of golden wheat on the other. Herds and flocks were housed in a valley along with the hired help. Jesus continued. “At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed.” Jesus looked at the reaction of those listening. He could tell how it effected them. Some let out a deep, hollow grown. Others stroked their beards in a manner showing they had sympathy for the tenant farmers. They lived through a similar experience working long hard hours to see the fruit of their labor go first to the dishonest priests, who never seemed to have enough, pay the landlord, and of course taxes. There was hardly enough left to support their family. Jesus looked back at them with sympathy. If only they knew what Heaven had to offer.

The expression on Jesus’ face changed as He told them the next attempt the owner tried. “The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, until there was only one left–his son whom he loved dearly.” This made everyone think. They all waited to see what the out come would be. Was the land owner going to send his son? Some people began catching on to the parable, wondering if the son was Jesus. Some began quietly voicing what they thought while Jesus paused. He gave them the answer as He continued. “The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.”

Groans and mumbles came from the crowd. It seemed no one had any respect for the tenants. Not even those who sympathized with them at the beginning of the story. Jesus gave them a minute to discuss their personal feelings on the story. How could anyone do that to someone? Why were the tenants so ungrateful? As people in the crowd asked questions in their mind, Jesus asked one out loud. “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?”

It seemed everyone forgot there was a price to pay. The entire courtyard remained silent. Every eye was fixed on Jesus as they waited for Him to answer His own question. Finally He spoke up. “I’ll tell you–he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.'” The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.


 

The disciples began to see a pattern emerging, but did not understand it, because it did not seem to identify with the Jesus they knew. Since He rode the donkey into Jerusalem, something seemed to change. One thing that still bothered them was, why did Jesus go to the temple and not Herod’s palace? Taking the throne would have made controlling the religious leaders much easier. If Herod was capable of keeping all the religious leaders under control, Jesus should have no problem once He took the throne. The disciples thought the priests, elders and Pharisees would be loyal once they understood.

There were a number of details that concerned the disciples. At first Jesus cursed the fig tree and seeing it dried and withered seemed to be something they could use to their advantage. That seemed to be the beginning of a change in Jesus. First He killed a tree, then tore up the temple court, sending money and animals everywhere. When the Pharisees ask Him about the authority to dismantle the courtyard, Jesus answered by asking them where John the Baptist’s authority came from. They thought Jesus’ answer reminded Him Herod killed John. They felt sure that would prompt Jesus to dethrone Herod.

None of this seemed to explain Jesus’ parable about the stone the builders rejected. Peter suddenly remembered what Jesus taught them about the scripture He quoted. Jesus always quoted texts with answers around the texts He quoted.

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the LORD. These gates lead to the presence of the LORD, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory! The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. (Psalms 118:19-23 NLTse).

As Peter pondered the texts, he remembered how Jesus made His way into the temple court. Peter wondered how David could see those details long before they happened. It gave Peter a sense of comfort knowing Jesus was right where He needed to be. Peter suddenly felt a pit in his stomach as he realized there was a reason Jesus wanted to explain those prophecies. At the time they didn’t seem important. Maybe this was why Jesus has been acting strange. There is something about the religious leaders he did not understand at the moment. Peter wished he had taken time to listen.

It seems useless to point out how modern religious leaders are making the same mistakes as those Jesus confronted in the temple court. No matter what faith people cling to, they all claim the world is misled, but they know the truth. They forgot, Jesus faced a number of groups, priests, Pharisees, scribes, and others, because disagreements on little details separated them. Small details have always fractured God’s followers, taking their minds off the role God gave them. Instead of listening to God’s messengers, they claim that role for themselves, rejecting anyone not 100% in line with their beliefs. Religions today have more in common with the priests and Pharisees than they care to admit. The fact Jesus’ disciples could not understand prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes is a testimony we need to pay attention to on a personal level. Its not by mistake Jesus combined parables, prophecy, and relationships in His lessons in the temple court.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 NLTse This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. (6) They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. (7) “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. (8) They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. (9) “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (10) But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

Mark 10:17-31 Inherit Eternal Life

Mark 10:17-31 NLTse As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (18) “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. (19) But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.'” (20) “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (21) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (22) At this the man’s face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (23) Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” (24) This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. (25) In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (26) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. (27) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (28) Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. (29) “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, (30) will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property–along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. (31) But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

The lessons moved from defining a relationship to how to act in a relationship and its rewards. Mark already wrote about the relationship Jesus had with Moses, Elijah, and God. Mark also showed how Jesus used children as an example of how His disciples need to open their hearts to what He was teaching. Jesus also answered the Pharisee’s question about divorce, reminding them what God intended the marriage covenant to be. All of these pointed to our relationship with God. Now Jesus is asked how to inherit eternal life. What role does a relationship with God play in receiving eternal life?

The disciples saw a familiar site, a young man dressed in rich robes coming to Jesus. As the young man knelt before Jesus they noticed the man’s numerous and ornate jewelry. Gold chains, rings and bracelets announced his status and love of riches. The disciples wondered what the man wanted from Jesus. They remembered the time Jesus raised the daughter of a young ruler back to life. They waited for the man in front of Jesus to plead his case.

His chains and bracelets chimed as he pleaded with Jesus, calling more attention to his wealth. Jesus could hear some of the comments people made about the young man as he asked his question. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Everyone grew silent, waiting for Jesus’ answer. Jesus gave everyone plenty of time to formulate their own answer before supplying His. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.'”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16 Now you can download this eBook direct from the author.

The disciples thought there was something strange about Jesus’ answer which consisted of five things the man should not do and only one which he needed to do. Looking at the expensive jewelry the disciples tried to see the connection between his wealth and the five, “you must not,” commandments. What connection did expensive jewelry have with murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, and cheating? They began to wonder how the man obtained such riches. There was also the question of honoring his father and mother. Did Jesus know something about this man? Did the methods he used to obtain such riches bring shame to his father and mother?

While the disciples were judging the man, he answered Jesus’ question commands. “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Now the disciples were perplexed. Did they misjudge the man? Is this the lesson Jesus was leading to, holding off judgment until the facts were gathered? Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The thought of such a man joining the group sent a variety of thoughts through the disciples minds. Some looked at the man as a real asset. Having a rich ally would eliminate a lot of worry. All their needs would be met. Think of the fine houses they could stay in and feasts they would attend. Others were afraid such an influence would introduce a temptation they were not prepared for. Jesus looked around at the disciples. He could see some with smiles, others with bewildered looks. Is it possible all the disciples missed the message? Jesus told the man to sell all his possessions. Jesus did not need the type of help money and influence could supply. Finally Jesus looked back at the rich young man. His face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.

Some of the disciples had a look of shock on their faces, others a look of relief. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Jesus’ comment about a camel going through the eye of a needle brought a chorus of nervous laughter from the disciples. No one wanted to comment, based on the fact they all noticed Jesus repeated the term, “Kingdom of God,” three times. They all stood by, waiting for Jesus to explain the subject in depth. Jesus only looked back at them, so finally they asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

The disciples were still concentrating on the Kingdom of Heaven and how they planned to get in. Peter missed Jesus’ answer, “Everything is possible with God.” Peter, like the others were trying to think of what they needed to give up to get into Heaven. If the rich young man had to give up everything, what did they have to do? Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. Jesus knew the disciples had a habit of missing the point because they did not pay attention to everything He said, and did not take time to see how the Spirit lead to this lesson. In another display of His patience, Jesus provided an answer designed for the understanding they had achieved up to that point. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property–along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” Jesus acknowledged their sacrifice at the same time introduced the future He was preparing them for.


 

Did Jesus want His disciples to give up physical houses, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property? Was Jesus referring to a deeper spiritual meaning? Jesus was referring to the influence these things have on people. When we look back to the parable of the sower, we see two categories all these items fit into. They either teach a lesson showing how Satan takes the seeds away, or how seeds mature in good ground. To a degree, the category depends on the individual.

Material possessions can have a negative influence taking seeds way from our hearts. On the other hand, seeds can be planted in the hearts of those same people which can sprout, grow and produce more fruit. This is why Jesus spent so much time teaching about relationships. Material possessions can be used for good or bad. This is why Jesus began his series of lessons about relationships by showing a few of His disciples a vision of Heaven. They had to know there is a difference between the world’s concept of relationships, and Heaven’s perfect reality. Jesus first showed them the reality of Heaven before promising they will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property.

After the lesson of Heaven was introduced, another began. The disciples saw the love of a father for His son, and how an evil spirit tried to sever that relationship. The spirit was difficult to cast out. The disciples could not do it, but Jesus could. Jesus wanted them to see how determined the enemy was. Demons had one goal, to take the seed of relationship from their hearts. Without relationships, people cannot share the blessings they share. They are left with nothing more than self serving greed.

Jesus tied to explain the prophecies He had to fulfill, but the disciples did not want to listen. Jesus was searching for support from them. Instead they argued about who was greatest. They failed to listen to Jesus and learn. Jesus told them another important lesson about relationships. The kind of relationship they needed to build with others to build a successful spiritual life. “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:37 NLTse).

Jesus was showing them, they had to give up a part of themselves before they could learn to follow Him. He used the illustration of loosing a hand, foot, or eye to enter the Kingdom of God. Were the disciples beginning to understand?

The Pharisees then asked Jesus His opinion on divorce. He told them they did not understand. Jesus knew they used divorce as a model for their faith. They placed all the power in the hands of the man, and nothing but obedience on women. This mirrored the religion they followed and taught. They placed God as the head, people as obedient followers, and themselves in the middle, in charge of deciding who was acceptable and who to issue a decree of spiritual divorce. Their image of marriage suited their desires. Instead of attacking their beliefs, Jesus answered by telling them what God intended marriage to stand for, unity between a man and wife, representing the relationship with God Jesus came to teach.

Now the question is, what do people need to give up to enter Heaven? Do they need to give up riches, fame, glory, family, and homes? Is Jesus asking them to give up everything to follow Him, the influences they have on individuals, or are other factors involved? Is Jesus asking to give give up preoccupation and worries associated with riches? Is He asking some to give up the disgraceful means used to obtain riches? Is Jesus asking others to give up the less than noble way they treat their family? What about excess pride in a home or other possessions? Answers like these only come when a personal relationship is established with God’s Spirit, which is the lesson Jesus has been progressively teaching.

How close do you need to get to Jesus to obtain eternal life? Jesus told the man to give up his riches. Jesus also said, “come, follow me!” Is there a balance between the two? How does one influence the other? Why did Jesus go through life homeless and penniless? Was Jesus only referring to giving up material things?

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16

Mark 13:24-27 Sun Will Be Darkened

Mark 13:24-27 NLTse “At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, (25) the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (26) Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. (27) And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world–from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

The disciples asked Jesus when the temple will be completely demolished. Instead of answering their question, Jesus warned them about false Messiahs to come. Which was nothing new. Many already came claiming to be the Messiah. Everyone expected others to follow.

Next Jesus warned the disciples about wars between nations and kingdoms. Still there was nothing new the disciples heard. Jesus included warnings about earthquakes and famines. Earthquakes were rare, famines seemed to come almost every generation. The question still remained, when will the temple be demolished?

At this point Jesus was a little concerned. The disciples asked questions about a stone temple, but nothing about what counties and kingdoms will be at war, and where will earthquakes and famines occur? Showing more concern for a pile of stones that for people showed Jesus He had a lot more to teach the disciples in the little time remaining.

Jesus told the disciples they needed to watch out! He told His disciples they would be beaten in the synagogues, handed over to stand trial in front of kings and governors because they chose to follow Jesus. He told them not to worry about these threats because it was in fact an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. “For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.” Jesus wanted His disciples to know a lot of the battle would be personal. Entire governments would be against His disciples and the message they carried. Jesus led to this point so they would not forget the object lesson. Jesus did not want them spreading their own message, but the message the Spirit gave them to deliver. Jesus told them, “when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16. Now you can download the eBook direct from the author.

It was a personal message with power to unite families. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse). Jesus warned the enemy would come between brothers, parents and their children. Satan will attack the family structure wherever he could. As the disciples listened they looked at one another still waiting for the answer they were waiting for. When will the temple be destroyed? It seemed Jesus covered every subject except for the one they were interested in. Finally Jesus talked about something related to the temple. Jesus told them about, “The day when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be.” The disciples knew Jesus was referring to scripture in Daniel. They know this was one of the major study methods Jesus used to teach, sending them back to the prophets. Some of the disciples began to think this must be why Jesus was not answering the question about the temple’s destruction. He wanted them to find the answer in scripture. They would have to listen closely for other clues.

Jesus’ clues began to make sense. There seemed to be a pattern forming. After talking about the temple walls being dismantled, He warned about false Messiahs. Only a few disciples noticed He returned to the same warning shortly after pointing them to Daniel’s comments about the desecration standing in the temple. This may explain one of the questions; Jesus used not only one, but a series of examples related to fleeing. They wondered what theses people were fleeing from. Maybe they were fleeing wars Jesus mentioned earlier.

Just when everything seemed confusing, Jesus began telling them about signs no one could miss. “At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” How could anyone miss a series of signs using the sun moon? Not to mention stars falling from the sky. The disciples now understood how important the message is. Based on what they heard that evening, it seemed people would not listen to the message, so God will send signs difficult to miss and deny. Realizing God would be there to help them deliver the message gave each of the disciples a warm feeling inside. Jesus looked at their faces while thinking about the end. He knew the message would be ignored, distorted, forgotten, ridiculed, denied, and missed by the majority of the world. Jesus knew how Satan would use divisions to work against His followers to hide the simple message. While His eyes swelled with tears and His heart ached in His chest, Jesus finished His story. “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world–from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” Jesus knew so many would be left behind forever.


 

Jesus looked at the confused faces around Him. This was the first time they heard about His return associated with the end of the world. Popular belief taught the Messiah’s arrival marked a new beginning. It did, but not in this world, not right away. The Messiah’s Kingdom in this world would be established much later. His Kingdom must first be established in Heaven. This was one of the major mistakes the priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees made. All of their interpretations began and focused on earth. They had no desire to look to Heaven, where all events originated. God’s plan of salvation and all its major events begin in Heaven. This was part of the message Jesus was teaching.

Looking into the future, Jesus knew religious leaders would go back to personal interpretations much like Israel constantly returned to pagan gods they were told to vanquish from the promised land. Jesus knew they would return to their beliefs salvation and events leading to the Messiah’s return originated on earth. Jesus knew much of the world would never hear the message because His followers would forget how to listen, read, and understand. Jesus knew the fate of the world was in the hands and voices of the twelve in front of Him, and one of them was about to betray Him.

 

Mark 4:1-20 Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-9 NLTse Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. (2) He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: (3) “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. (4) As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. (5) Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. (6) But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. (7) Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. (8) Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (9) Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Understanding Parables
The eBook available at Lulu.com

The disciples began to see a pattern forming. Every time Jesus was near water, or an open field a crowd would gather. As a matter of fact this happened in homes also. It seemed no matter where Jesus was, it did not take long for word to get around.

As the crowd grew Jesus stepped into a boat. James and John cast it out a little further into the water, each holding an anchor rope. As crowds gather around they welcomed the cool breeze coming off the water. It created tiny waves that rocked the boat at first. James and John walked out a little further, one at the front, the other at the back of the boat. When they pulled on the ropes it steadied the boat, making it easier for Jesus to walk up and down to add animation to His lesson without rocking.

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.” James wondered why Jesus would tell a story about a farmer while he was in a boat. Wouldn’t it be better if He told a story about fishing? Peter thought about helping his mother in the garden as a boy. He remembered how he helped his mother work the ground, carefully planting the seeds in even rows, marking them with sticks. A smile came to Peter’s face as he thought about how his mother explained how water made the plants grow. As a young boy he would run out every morning to see if anything was growing, It seemed to take forever. Then one day he saw the first signs of life. Tiny green plants began poking up through the soil. Peter wanted to help them grow, so he ran back and forth from the lake with buckets of water. He thought if a little helped, more would be better. He was so proud of flooding the small garden he ran inside the house to call his mother. She came out, looked at the garden swimming in water. Kneeling down she gave Peter a hug. She then explained how the plants need air and sunlight as much as water. Peter felt so bad when many of the plants withered and died, but learned an important lesson about not only plants, but life.

We all seem to lead an unbalanced life in one way or another. It may be an imbalance of love and discipline, diet, time between work, pleasure and family, or our spiritual life. Too much water may kill off new believers, like too much doctrine, which blocks out Jesus and the love He gives us to share. Whatever the imbalance may be, Jesus can meet us where we are, offer suggestions, and if we are willing, reestablish the balance God created within us.

One of the farmers listening to Jesus thought how ridiculous His story was. Why would anyone be so careless as to scatter precious seed on the road? He thought about how carefully he plows his rows and watches over the hired help and family to ensure they drop the proper amount of seeds with the proper spacing along each row. There is nothing careless about farming, not if you want to make money. Nothing should be left to chance.

How many of us have seen the same frame of mind in churches? Jesus gives us a parable telling us to freely cast His seed, God’s Word. Jesus tells us He knows some seed will never sprout because it appears to land on hopeless hearts. Although we receive instructions which make little worldly sense, some church leaders want follow their own plans, hoarding all the seed, storing it in barns until the judgment day. How do they hold back God’s Word? By not exploring the messages and lessons given to them as a gift from the Spirit. Some church leaders feel only qualified members should be allowed to study, interpret and share God’s Word, His seed. In effect they are telling other members to hold onto their seed, don’t spread it out. Why? Are they afraid of attracting members who may not fit their concept of the perfect church? Or are they afraid a member may spread a seed that is not in line with their perfect doctrine? In either case, they are not following the instructions of the teacher crazy enough to tell a parable about a farmer from a boat.

Watching Jesus reminded the farmer of his reliance on God. If God didn’t bring the sun and rain, there wouldn’t be any new seed at all. So what is the farmer in Jesus’ story wasting? The seed he has been freely giving as a gift from God.

Other people watched sea gulls running up and down the shore, darting through the sky, occasionally diving into the water. They knew gulls eat anything and everything. If they could they would steal a meal out of your mouth. They were known as winged beggars, scavengers.

Jesus continued. “Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.

James related the shallow soil to shallow waters. They could fish shallow water where they may catch more, but smaller fish. Deep water required more planning, patients, and wisdom. Shallow waters were also safer and took less time to reach. James laughed to himself. Shallow water was really for children.

The same is true when we spread God’s Word. When we are weak in our faith spending little time in His Word and less time with His Spirit, we fish shallow waters, intentionally casting our seed on shallow soil. Do we ever consider turning up the ground in our own hearts? Do we search deep for God’s message, challenging God when we study His Word? Or do we take the easy way out, expecting others to pray, study, talk to God for us, and wait for a brief summary? How much of God’s Word are we able to share when all we receive is a short summary? Are we able to share from a deep, close, personal relationship with God, or do we feel sharing a few seeds in shallow soil is our direction and calling from God?

After bending over the side of the boat, dipping His arm in as far as it would reach and scooping out handful after handful of water to illustrate deep soil, Jesus stood up, smiled and shared His favorite part of the parable. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Jesus knows we are all different. We aren’t all going to spread the same amount of seeds, but we are all going to be given some seeds to spread. If we choose to hang into them and carry them around, do we notice the load? Jesus also taught about a load. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLTse). Does this light load have anything to do with spreading the seeds, delivering the messages Jesus gives us to share? Do we make our own load heavy by hoarding the seeds we are given to spread?

 

Jesus finished His story adding a word of advise to those paying attention. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” This made everyone, especially His disciples think back on what he said. They began looking around. What do the birds represent, the road, the ground and seed? It suddenly dawned on them, Jesus told the story because it had a much deeper spiritual meaning.

Mark 4:10-20 NLTse Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. (11) He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, (12) so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.'” (13) Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? (14) The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. (15) The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. (16) The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. (17) But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. (18) The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, (19) but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (20) And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

The disciples recounted details of the day sitting around a fire after dinner. It didn’t take long for them to begin questioning one another on Jesus’ parable about the sower with seed. Each of the disciples tried to outwit the others, fashioning their questions so they would not let on to the fact they did not know the answers. It soon became evident, no one knew the answers. So they asked Jesus what the parable meant. By the smile on Jesus’ face they could tell He was waiting for them to ask. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.'” They knew it was important when Jesus quoted scripture. Now they were listening. Jesus waited until He knew every eye was on Him, every heart was open. Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?”

This is an important message for us. How do we understand the meaning of this parable? In one chapter Mark records the parable and provides the answer. When we look at the four gospels we find only a handful of parables Jesus explained. Why did Jesus explain only a few parables and not others? Is there a deeper message we see when we understand the reason?

The disciples wanted to understand all of Jesus’ parables. According to Jesus, He was about to reveal the key to understand all of them. They were excited as Jesus began to explain each detail. “The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.” Each of the disciples knew they were being trained to take God’s Word to others. They hoped to one day become a teacher like Jesus, to have crowds follow them, to look at scripture and understand. They understood the meaning of the symbol, but still did not understand the lesson. Jesus continued, “The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.”

They knew Ezekiel and Daniel used birds to represent people, but never heard of birds representing Satan. Maybe it was the control he had over them. After all, not many people are possessed by demons, but a lot of people break God’s law, make life more difficult for others, inflict unnecessary pain and trials, all acting the part of Satan’s agents. Now the disciples were beginning to think they are finally able to understand. People are used by Satan to snatch the seeds away.

Jesus gave them a minute to think about and absorb what they learned so far. He wanted His words to sink in deep. He also know they needed a few moments with the Spirit, so He could explain the details when their heart was open to understanding. When He knew they were ready He added more. “The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.”

They all knew plants would not grow in stony soil. Now they understood why Jesus used it as a symbol. They once again began to think about scriptures describing stones. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26 NLTse). They also saw the pattern developing. The hidden meaning of the symbols Jesus used can be found in the scriptures. It seemed simple enough. No wonder Jesus began His explanation by quoting scripture. It was a hint. More than a hint, a guide!

Once they understood the symbol stony ground was explained by scripture, they could see Jesus was referring to a stony heart. Throughout the parable Jesus was referring to the effect God’s Word has on the heart. This explained why some people understood, while others didn’t. They realized there were two ingredients to understand Jesus’ parables, an open heart, and the scriptures.

Stony ground describes the condition of this world. “They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” Satan does his best to distract everyone trying to accept and understand God’s Word. It is something we need to learn to overcome in our own lives. It is part of the personal relationship we have with God. We decide if we are going to make the time or not. Then there are the distractions in the form of trials testing our faith. Some times when people see a new faith, a new enthusiasm in you, they want you to tone it down, or begin to avoid you. Persecution happens in the church. Many people are afraid to share what they have learned. They may have seen others ridiculed when they come to church ready to share something new they saw while studying at home. Some times leaders discourage personal study and growth in the Spirit. They may be afraid of questions they are unable to answer. They may be afraid of members with a higher understanding then what they have been able to achieve. Then there is the fear of someone questioning their doctrines.

Jesus could tell by the smiles on their faces the Spirit was working on their hearts and they were beginning to understand. Jesus knew it was time to share the meaning of good soil. “And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

When the disciples heard this they wondered exactly what Jesus meant by accept God’s Word. This would mean the other soils, those on the road and with stony hearts did not accept God’s Word. Did Jesus mean they did not accept the parables He taught, scripture which explained the symbols, or everything? Can people accept one part but not the other? What did they have to do to accept God’s Word? Was Jesus willing to teach them everything they needed to know? They knew their goal was to bring more people to Jesus, to help teach God’s Word. Now they knew they had to keep their hearts and minds open, concentrate on Jesus’ parables, and compare them with scripture to be able to learn and share the spiritual meaning of the symbols He used.

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8

Mark 10:1-12 Divorce

Mark 10:1-12 NLTse Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them. (2) Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” (3) Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?” (4) “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.” (5) But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. (6) But ‘God made them male and female‘ from the beginning of creation. (7) ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, (8) and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, (9) let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (10) Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. (11) He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. (12) And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

Understanding Parables
Link to eBook store

 

At this point some Pharisees introduced the subject of divorce. Jesus used this as an opportunity to continue teaching about relationships. Here we see the contrast between the Pharisee’s view of marriage and God’s. The Pharisees favored a system favoring men. Jesus introduced God’s original concept of mutual dedication and equality.

What is Jesus really saying about divorce here? The only way to understand within the proper context is to look back and see how the author, Mark lead into this text. When we look back, we see Jesus teaching His disciples about relationships since the beginning of chapter 9 which begins with Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up a mountain where Jesus meets with Moses and Elijah. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7 NLTse). God wanted us to pay attention and listen to Jesus because He was introducing a new subject, relationships.

Jesus introduced this new course by showing three of His disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and of course, God, His Father. Why did Jesus introduce this subject with these particular people? Moses and Elijah were two of the most respected and better know prophets. The disciples had no problem recognizing them on the mountain. They were names people would pay attention to.

Later in chapter 9 Mark tells us, Jesus wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” (Mark 9:31 NLTse). Jesus wanted to expand and enrich His relationship with the disciples. He longed for their encouragement and understanding. He also longed to share the scriptures telling about His sacrifice so they would pay closer attention to the details. Jesus knew teaching the prophecies He was about to fulfill was going to be one of the most important aspects of their ministry. If they were to become effective teachers, Jesus had to be their best friend. They had to know each intimate detail of Jesus and His life. The only way the disciples were going to start a new religion was to teach the connecting factors, each link in a manner that brought Jesus to life. Mere teaching from a book, memory, or imagination would never do. Their job was to teach everything about Jesus, the prophecies about Him, His life on earth, and His role in Heaven. They had to make it real. People had to believe Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, and lives to fulfill the remaining prophecies from His Heavenly throne.

Jesus used the love of a little child to illustrate the relationship He was teaching them. “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:37 NLTse). Jesus explained the direct correlation between helping a child, or anyone for that matter and how it relates to a close personal relationship with Himself and God the Father. Jesus used the concept of the family to explain the type of relationship He came to offer the world. It was easy enough for the disciples to see and understand love between a father and child. Jesus sitting in front of them with a child in his arms showed how the love He brought from Heaven extended beyond the immediate family to everyone. Jesus hoped they remembered earlier lessons, how He healed and helped everyone who came to Him. Jesus also explained His family extended to all His followers. “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35 NLTse).

Did you notice how Pharisees presented the question to Jesus? “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” They intentionally put the man in charge of the situation. There was no question in their mind how a divorce should be handled. They studied, taught, and lived their interpretation and concept on divorce. That’s why Jesus asked them, “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?” He wanted their concept repeated so it would not be missed by future generations. “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.” There is no doubt, the Pharisees view marriage as an institution where a man is in charge no matter what the circumstances.

Look at how Pharisees view marriage. “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” This is a mindset they taught before committing to marriage. If a man is not happy with his wife for any reason, he can leave. The Pharisees claimed, “a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.” Where was the woman’s input or view? In the eyes of the Pharisees, a woman was little more than a possession.

God has always used marriage as a symbol pointing to something far greater, our relationship with HIM. It was an institution created by God. Jesus knew they rejected God’s concept of marriage. By doing so, they also rejected a relationship with God. This was one reason they rejected Jesus. This was only one subject Jesus came to correct, which did not sit well with the Pharisees. Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. But ‘God made them male and female‘ from the beginning of creation.” Going back to Eden, Jesus reminded them of being created in God’s image and how God showed Adam unconditional love before bringing him Eve. You see how the Pharisees turned marriage into a one sided conditional agreement by teaching, “a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”

Jesus provided a simple response. “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts.” Although a divorce decree was given to Moses, Jesus pointed to their hard hearts indicating men requested the change in God’s perfect order. Jesus’ response not only began His explanation, but pointed to the form of religion they preferred with some on top, others beneath them, and a simple way of rejecting anyone who did not totally agreeing with every point. They turned God into a dictator fashioned after their concept of marriage. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (Matthew 23:15 NLTse).

Jesus explained God’s concept on marriage. “’God made them male and female‘ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Jesus chose His words very carefully. He pointed to the equality God intended in a marriage. His response was a stark contrast to the statements made by the Pharisees. Jesus used a string of related words; joined, united, one, and together. There was no room for error, or false teaching when it comes to the subject of marriage. It was and always will be a symbol of Jesus’ relationship with His followers. Jesus could not afford to loose one of His sheep by teaching any other concept.

Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

How can you divorce God? You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth. Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? (Romans 2:19-22 NLTse).

Why did Jesus enter into a controversy about divorce with the Pharisees? What lesson did Jesus want the disciples to learn? How did this build on the lessons Jesus already taught? Jesus showed the Pharisee’s concept on marriage was as distorted as their concept on the prophecies about the Messiah. Jesus was not only teaching His disciples how God viewed marriage and other relationships, He was also teaching His disciples to question tradition, measuring it against God’s Word.