The first verse of chapter 9 seems better linked to the previous discussion, but it serves well to introduce today’s reading. It is a promise that some who are alive at that moment will witness the power of God’s Kingdom.
Glimpses of this power are offered in the first two episodes of chapter 9. Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a high mountain, where events occur that terrify the disciples. Step back and consider why Jesus took them, and only them, and then told them to keep quiet about it. Upon descending, Jesus enters a chaotic scene, where in all the arguing between a group of scribes and the remaining disciples, a desperate man and his demon-possessed son are almost overlooked. Jesus is annoyed, and you can listen and discern what He is most perturbed about. Also, notice that both the ascent up and descent down the mountain echo Moses on Sinai.
Careful readers will note that three times in chapters 8 and 9 Mark highlights Jesus’ desire for secrecy. When Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, Jesus warns him not to tell anyone. As Jesus descends the mountain after His transfiguration, he asks Peter, James, and John to keep it a secret. And as He’s passing through Galilee, He did not want anyone to know, for He was teaching His disciples.
Jesus has asked others in this gospel to keep knowledge of Him a secret – it’s been a running theme – but these three stand out because each is immediately followed by a remark about His coming death. If these concerns are not linked somehow, then it is a strange literary coincidence.
The rest of this passage holds a series of vignettes focusing on the disciples, on sin, and on Jesus’ death. Pivotal to Mark’s plot are the episodes with the Pharisees and the rich young man. Early in chapter 10, the Pharisees approach Jesus with a legal question: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Mark lets you know this is a test: “Is it lawful?” is different than “Is it God’s will?” Later in the chapter, a rich young man wants to follow Jesus. Jesus uses the opportunity to talk about the burden of discipleship, and, more importantly, about the nature of His kingdom.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 138:8: The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Mark chapters 9 and 10. Now let’s read it!
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.