Monthly Archives: July 2020

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – NOT MOSES OR ELIJAH, BUT JESUS

NOT MOSES OR ELIJAH, BUT JESUS

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. Mark 9:2-8

Once again Peter opens his mouth and blurts out his muddled thinking. He sees Moses. Elijah and Jesus together in conversation and interprets it as together in position and authority so he suggests that they erect a shrine for each of them – Jesus, Moses and Elijah on a par! And so, once again the Father speaks in an audible voice so that none of them would mistake the message. “This is not about Moses and Elijah. This is about Jesus. He is superior and supreme over the greatest of Israel’s leaders. This is Jesus, my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”

Matthew and Luke put greater detail into their descriptions of this event so that we know that the disciples, like John on Patmos, were overwhelmed by this unearthly vision. They fell on their faces before the glorified Jesus. We also read that the subject of the conversation between Jesus and the two great prophets was His exodus in Jerusalem. They knew what was going to happen because, as part of the prophetic order, “…the prophets searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (2 Peter 1:10, 11).

Once more, towards the end of His public ministry and on the eve of His death, the Father audibly affirmed His pleasure in His Son. Everything Jesus was as a perfect representative of the human race, the second Adam, and the prototype of the new race of the redeemed, was packed into those four words, “This is my Son…” His essence, His being, His ECHAD with the Father, His vision, His partnership, His purpose, His mission, His submission and obedience are all packed into that one short expression of relationship.

Jesus’ purpose was to restore us to that same oneness that He shared with God. We cannot share His deity but He has made us partakers of the divine nature. We have the breath of God in us. We have been created in His image to be part of Him. All of His glorious mission on earth would be accomplished in that grand “exodus” in Jerusalem. The law, represented by Moses, and the prophets, represented by Elijahm great as they were, could not do what Jesus was about to do.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – JUST GIVE THEM TIME!

CHAPTER 9

JUST GIVE THEM TIME!

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. Mark 9:2-8

Why only Peter, James and John? What impact did this event have on these three disciples that affected them for the rest of their lives?

Jesus must have taken them up the mountain because He knew what was about to happen. Was this a part of what He referred to six days before – the kingdom of God coming in power, or was He referring to His death on the cross? John was the only one of these three who encountered this same Jesus in His glory, before he, John, died – on the island of Patmos. He referred to this experience in his gospel (1:14).

Peter also testified to the same experience in his second letter (1:16-18). He writes of this event with a deep sense of awe. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, all these things came together into a complete whole which finally made sense to him and he could write with deep conviction about his confidence in the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. When we watch and listen to Peter’s reactions, we realise that it was quite okay not to understand until the picture was complete. Although Jesus was exasperated with His disciples at times, He was also gentle with them because He knew that they would finally get it when they had the full revelation.

The fact that they stuck with Him through thick and thin, even when they didn’t understand, when they were offended by Him or even hurt by His rebukes, meant that they were aware of something about Him that held them in spite of their soulish reactions. It was moments like these that validated their loyalty and perseverance.

Luke tells us that Jesus was transfigured while He was praying. Why is this significant? Moses’ face glowed with the glory of God when he spent extended time with God in prayer. Jesus lived His entire life in the awareness of God’s presence. This doesn’t just happen. The glow of God’s glory increases with the consciousness of His nearness.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – JESUS’ YOKE MEANS SUFFERING

JESUS’ YOKE MEANS SUFFERING

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants o be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 8:27 – 9:1

Why did Jesus confide in His disciples about His impending suffering and death? Was it only to prepare them so that they would not be taken by surprise? It was much more than that. There was something more in His yoke that they had to grasp to be both accurate and powerful imitators of their Messiah. Jesus was alerting them to the very heart of true discipleship. The world hates God but, since it cannot take out its hatred on Him, it chooses to vent its hatred on God’s children. The only way to overcome the world is to let it abuse us without retaliation. “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate. When He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23.

By resisting this part of Jesus’ yoke, Peter was revealing his embarrassment over Jesus’ way in the presence of his fellow- disciples. He was exposing his yet-unrefined and unregenerate heart which relied on violence, force and control to get his own way instead of allowing his Rabbi to lead him.

Jesus warned that an attitude like this would cut him off from union with his Master because he refused to share his Master’s union with the Father. Without that union with the Father and the Son, he would not fit in in the company of the Godhead. No union, no fellowship – it’s that simple.

Jesus concluded by warning them that this whole dramatic saga was closer that they imagined. The natural human inclination is to put off taking action when it comes to spiritual things. There is this inbuilt crazy notion that “I can do something about it tomorrow.” Jesus said, “Don’t do it.” This is all going to happen much sooner than you imagine. Now is the time to determine to embrace the Rabbi’s yoke in its totality, including the choice to trust God when we fall foul of the world because we refuse to avoid suffering the rejection, ridicule and contempt of the world because of our stand for Jesus and for His truth. They were soon to be confronted with their Master’s personal demonstration of His yoke.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – WHO ARE THE REAL DANGER?

WHO ARE THE REAL DANGER?

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:27-38

This incident and its repercussions have opened up to us at least a part of the reason that Christians are the greatest danger and hindrance to the coming of the kingdom of God. Against the backdrop of Caesarea Philippi, representing the way people think and behave when they reject the “tree of life” and eat the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, Jesus asked His disciples the most crucial question they would ever have to answer. “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter’s response was, in essence, absolutely correct but, as he later revealed, its content was way off the mark. It’s the content of that confession that validates or invalidates our confession. From Peter’s declaration, Jesus launched into a revelation of the Father’s agenda for Him, exposing Peter’s contradicting the content of the confession he had just made.

True discipleship not only embraces Jesus’ essence and nature as the Son of God. It also fully embraces the implications of that confession both for Jesus and for himself.

Peter refused to embrace Jesus’ yoke – the unconditional love of God that endures humiliation, disgrace, rejection and ridicule in order to overcome the worst man can do, through compassion and forgiveness. He still espoused violence, force and control as the way of victory. He was embarrassed by Jesus’ revelation of suffering and death as the way of overcoming the world. Jesus repudiated that way as the way of Satan.

God’s love is all-inclusive and all-embracing. He opens His arms to anyone who will repent and return (tefilah, teshuvah). By contrast, Jesus said that discipleship is all-exclusive. He is embarrassed by and repudiates anyone who refuses His yoke and chooses to continue on under the devil’s yoke. Such a person is “anti-Christ”, constituting a danger to the growth of God’s kingdom because he misrepresents his Messiah and brings the spirit of the world into the church, and the name of Jesus into disrepute.82

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – IT’S ALL OR NOTHING

IT’S ALL OR NOTHING

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

This entire incident at Caesarea Philippi was loaded. First of all, it was a shocking visual spectacle for the disciples to underscore the impact Jesus, His kingdom and His yoke will have on the world systems that ignore the revelation of God and set up their own ungodly system. No matter how tenacious the hold that man-made religions has on people, the power of God’s love, demonstrated by Jesus and His true followers, will break it.

Jesus is the pioneer of this way. He had to go before, unmask and destroy Satan’s deception of the whole world by submitting Himself to Satan’s way – power through control – and coming back from the dead to declare that it is a lie and doesn’t work. The only way that works is ECHAD with the Father so that His way of love is channelled through every believer. The only way to overcome this world system is to allow it to do its worst, and to trust and obey the Father by applying Jesus’ yoke in every situation – His gentleness and humility.

If that way causes embarrassment, Jesus said when you are ridiculed by the world, and then you will be an embarrassment to Him in the presence of the Father. The world’s way – the yetzer harah, and God’s way – the yetzer tov, are diametrically opposed to one another. They cannot function together in one life. Only one mind-set, only one philosophy of life, only one passion, will stand in God’s presence – the way of true discipleship – complete abandonment to Jesus as Lord, willingness to embrace the suffering that accompanies fellowship with Jesus, and the lifestyle of denying self, wearing the Rabbi’s yoke and reconnecting with God’s original man created in His image to be ECHAD with Him.

Every believer needs to make a non-negotiable decision that he no longer belongs to himself, that he has chosen, like Jesus, to let himself be nailed to the cross so that resurrection life may be revealed in him, and to allow God-awareness to overtake self-awareness so that his life will bring “up there, down here.”