The Feeding of the Four Thousand
15:32 Then Jesus called the disciples and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days and they have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry since they may faint on the way.” 15:33 The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” 15:34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven – and a few small fish.” 15:35 After instructing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 15:36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds. 15:37 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 15:38 Not counting children and women, there were four thousand men who ate. 15:39 After sending away the crowd, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
The Demand for a Sign
16:1 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 16:2 He said, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,’ 16:3 and in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.’ You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times. 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
16:5 When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. 16:6 “Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 16:7 So they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It is because we brought no bread.” 16:8 When Jesus learned of this, he said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread? 16:9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 16:10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many baskets you took up? 16:11 How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 16:12 Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The Feeding of the Four Thousand
8:1 In those days there was another large crowd with nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples and said to them, 8:2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. 8:3 If I send them home hungry, they will faint on the way, and some of them have come from a great distance.” 8:4 His disciples answered him, “Where can someone get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 8:5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” 8:6 Then he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. After he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples to serve. So they served the crowd. 8:7 They also had a few small fish. After giving thanks for these, he told them to serve these as well. 8:8 Everyone ate and was satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 8:9 There were about four thousand who ate. Then he dismissed them. 8:10 Immediately he got into a boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
The Demand for a Sign
8:11 Then the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking for a sign from heaven to test him. 8:12 Sighing deeply in his spirit he said, “Why does this generation look for a sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to this generation.” 8:13 Then he left them, got back into the boat, and went to the other side.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
8:14 Now they had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 8:15 And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” 8:16 So they began to discuss with one another about having no bread. 8:17 When he learned of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Have your hearts been hardened? 8:18 Though you have eyes, don’t you see? And though you have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 8:19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Twelve.” 8:20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Seven.” 8:21 Then he said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
A Two-stage Healing
8:22 Then they came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to Jesus and asked him to touch him. 8:23 He took the blind man by the hand and brought him outside of the village. Then he spit on his eyes, placed his hands on his eyes and asked, “Do you see anything?” 8:24 Regaining his sight he said, “I see people, but they look like trees walking.” 8:25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. And he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 8:26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Lord, Your compassion is amazing, and Your warning for us to beware those who would confuse Your truth is a kindness. May I have wisdom in consulting Your Word in study and Your Holy Spirit in prayer, in that I may discern Truth no matter who is the mere human teacher.
Matthew and Mark note that the crowd has been with Him for three days. Matthew adds the detail that are were four thousand men, so one must postulate a large number of women and children as well. The precise number is not terribly important, as the point of the story is the miracle of Jesus multiplying a handful of bread and fish out of compassion for the people. God cares and He provides.
The Pharisees and Sadducees challenge Jesus for a sign, presumably unmistakable signs similar to those of Moses or Elijah. Knowing their wicked hearts, He challenges them in the stead, saying that they can not even discern the prophesized “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3) right in front of them, therefore "no sign will be given to this generation" (Mark 8:12). He offers for their consideration “the sign of Jonah” (Matt. 16:4), a parallel to His impending death and resurrection.
Jesus challenges His disciples to “beware the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6) as well as of Herod — meaning they should not permit bad teaching to distort their theology. The feeding of the thousands is evidence that He has the power necessary to multiple so much from so little; anything – good or bad – can multiply.
Jesus performs a two-stage healing of a blind man: First He restores his sight, then makes his vision clear. It may be taken as a parable of salvation — first the freedom to see Truth is restored, then the Holy Spirit brings clarity.
What is the bigger message Jesus intends in the miracle of feeding so many from so little? What are some of the ways that God has shown you that He cares and provides?
Are there areas that inject unhealthy influences and values in your life and in to the lives of others? In your experience, have you seen the good teaching of Jesus being distorted by man's preferences and traditions? How did you overcome that?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are either intentionally not listening to Him or unintentionally not hearing from Him (because you don't care for what He is saying).
Today I will look for one source of unhealthy influence and take control of either my participation in or my reaction to that. It may be in the television programming I view, the music I listen to, the things I read, or the words and actions of a person I have allowed in my life. If I need to set boundaries to protect myself, I will intentionally turn away from an unhealthy influence and do so.
Be Specific _______________________________________________
16:13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 16:14 They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 16:17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 16:20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
8:27 Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 8:28 They said, “John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.” 8:29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 8:30 Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
9:18 Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and his disciples were nearby, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 9:19 They answered, “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others that one of the prophets of long ago has risen.” 9:20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 9:21 But he forcefully commanded them not to tell this to anyone, 9:22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Lord, You are the True God, and You built your Church of Believers upon our faith in You and obedience to Your Truth. May I never take my eyes off of You.
Peter's confession is a remarkable moment in the Gospels. Matthew emphasizes Peter's accurate identification of Jesus as "the Christ" (16:16), in contrast to the speculations of the crowd. Jesus declares that He will build His Church on the "rock" (vs. 18) — that is, faith in Truth as it was revealed to and then professed by Peter.
In Matthew's account, Jesus makes four distinct statements regarding Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ: 1) Peter is blessed to have received such an important revelation of Truth, because "flesh and blood did not reveal this to you" (16:17); 2) the truth spoken by Peter comes from "My Father in heaven" (ibid); 3) the Church Jesus is building is founded on that truth and "the gates of Hades [death itself] will not overpower it" (vs. 18); and 4) He Himself will empower those who receive His truth with "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (vs. 19), a power both alive and active in the spiritual realm.
Luke 9:22 recounts what "the Son of Man must suffer" on His way to the Cross, makes note that He will "be killed" and by whom, and foretells that He will be raised "on the third day."
Jesus warned His disciples "not to tell anyone about Him [that He is the Christ, 'one who has been anointed', NET tn]" (Mark 8:30), because "His time had not yet come" (John 7:30). Just as the disciples had learned of Jesus' true nature incrementally, so it would need be for the general population, and even more so.
The incredible way Jesus has impacted the world is both extraordinary, when His story and Truth are correctly understood and applied, and yet terrible, when misrepresentations of Him and abuses committed in His name have occurred.
In what ways did Jesus build His church on the rock of faith that was the Truth (that He is the Christ) revealed to Peter?
Jesus willingly and voluntarily suffered for us, knowing beforehand the horror of it — that should inform how we approach the challenge to live lives faithfully before Him in gratitude.
When did you first accept the truth of Who Jesus is? How did that change your life?
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the earliest moments following your confession of faith in the Christ.
Today, remembering the early days after my recognition of the truth of Jesus, I will tell someone about my coming to faith. It may be when I was young or when I made a genuine commitment as an adult.
I will identify a place where I have avoided living out who I am in Christ because it is inconvenient or uncomfortable for me to do so. I will remember His willingness to suffer for me and so will choose to endure a little suffering for Him if I am called to.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
First Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
16:21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 16:22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!” 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 16:26 For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life? 16:27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 16:28 I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
First Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
8:31 Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 8:32 He spoke openly about this. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 8:33 But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”
8:34 Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. 8:36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? 8:37 What can a person give in exchange for his life? 8:38 For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
9:1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
A Call to Discipleship
9:23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 9:25 For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself? 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 9:27 But I tell you most certainly, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God.”
Lord, You told us not only what You were willing to endure to make a way Home for us, You also told us what we must be willing to bear to follow You. May I, an imperfect human being, not seek comfort and pleasure in this world when You (holy and sinless) endured insult, torture, and death for me.
When Jesus prophesies His impending suffering, death, and resurrection Peter impulsively "took Him aside and began to rebuke Him" (Mark 8:32), unable to conceive that such a thing could happen. Peter is failing to comprehend the necessary propitiation of Jesus the Christ — the voluntary substitution by Jesus of Himself for us, in order to satisfy the requirement of Heaven's perfect and pure justice.
Peter's "Lord! This must not happen to You!" (Matt. 16:22) reminds the reader that when we place worldly priorities ahead of God's priorities we become advocates for Satan. Jesus' rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23), neutralizes the notion that His "on this rock I will build my church" (vs. 18, italics added) is intended to refer to Peter as the rock or to a unique Apostolic line of succession from Peter upon which the Church will be built. Rather, Jesus' challenge to Peter reveals that his previous moment of clarity as to the true identity of Jesus as "the Christ" (vs. 16) was clearly momentary.
Jesus reminds His disciples that anyone who "wants to become My follower" (Matt. 16:24) must undergo a radical change of perspective and higher priorities will be needed to follow Him: deny self, surrender life, abandon that which the world values.
Jesus declares that He will be ashamed of those who failed to tell His story and behaved as if they were "ashamed of Me and My words" (Mark 8:38) when He returns in the glory of His Father.
[Note: “Some standing here will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28) has raised tremendous speculation as to the exact meaning of the words. Yet the context appears clear: Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, Jesus' prophetic words refer to His return to mete out judgment and wrath, as well as blessing, at the end of time. He intentionally qualifies His prophesy with the word “experience” (Greek, 'will not taste') which NET translators note as meaning 'experience something cognitively'. Thus, some of those present (with the notable exception of Judas) would be absent the awareness of their death — while they may be physically dead, they are 'asleep' until Christ's return.]
Do we challenge Jesus with disobedience or doubt when His Word says something with which we do not want to agree? Perhaps in our wanting to soften the teaching on righteousness or our being convicted that hell is real?
Have you heard people say, “God cannot mean that just because a good person doesn't become a Christian they will go to hell.”? Are they not committing the same error Jesus so harshly chastised Peter for?
Jesus warns us about the cost of following Him in a world that hates Him. Contemplate the sacrifices the apostles made, and so many others since, for Christ — not the appearance of sacrifice for man-made denominations or religious traditions, but for Him alone.
In what ways might you have behaved as if you were ashamed of Jesus? For example, avoiding mentioning His name or giving Him credit for all things good?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where, intentionally or unintentionally, you try to change the intended message of some Biblical passages because you are uncomfortable with the teaching.
Today I will identify a place where I carelessly misunderstand Biblical text because I am uncomfortable with the possible consequences if I don't make myself accountable to that teaching.
I will consider a time, place, or person that triggers in me an ashamed reaction to my self-identifying as a Christian. I will ask a fellow Christian to pray with me that I will have the courage and discernment to know when and how to witness for Christ in word and deed.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
17:1 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. 17:2 And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 17:3 Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. 17:4 So Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!” 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they were overwhelmed with fear and threw themselves down with their faces to the ground. 17:7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Do not be afraid.” 17:8 When they looked up, all they saw was Jesus alone.
17:9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 17:10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the experts in the law say that Elijah must come first?” 17:11 He answered, “Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. 17:12 And I tell you that Elijah has already come. Yet they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” 17:13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
9:2 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John and led them alone up a high mountain privately. And he was transfigured before them, 9:3 and his clothes became radiantly white, more so than any launderer in the world could bleach them. 9:4 Then Elijah appeared before them along with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 9:5 So Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 9:6 (For they were afraid, and he did not know what to say.) 9:7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my one dear Son. Listen to him!” 9:8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more except Jesus.
9:9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 9:10 They kept this statement to themselves, discussing what this rising from the dead meant.
9:11 Then they asked him, “Why do the experts in the law say that Elijah must come first?” 9:12 He said to them, “Elijah does indeed come first, and restores all things. And why is it written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be despised? 9:13 But I tell you that Elijah has certainly come, and they did to him whatever they wanted, just as it is written about him.”
9:28 Now about eight days after these sayings, Jesus took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up the mountain to pray. 9:29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became very bright, a brilliant white. 9:30 Then two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with him. 9:31 They appeared in glorious splendor and spoke about his departure that he was about to carry out at Jerusalem. 9:32 Now Peter and those with him were quite sleepy, but as they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 9:33 Then as the men were starting to leave, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” – not knowing what he was saying. 9:34 As he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 9:35 Then a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him!” 9:36 After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. So they kept silent and told no one at that time anything of what they had seen.
Lord, You are not of this world, but You commune across time and space with the ancient prophets. You foretold that what they had endured and prophesied would also be endured and fulfilled in You. May I never forget that You are the God of prophecy and all-knowing.
The transfiguration presents Jesus in partial glory, with face and clothes "radiantly white” (Mark 9:3) and in conversation with Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are visual parables: Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the Prophets — both offices which Jesus said He came not to replace "but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17, italics added).
When the impetuous Peter interrupts to ask if the apostles could build all three a “tent,” such as was used in the Old Testament for the feast of Tabernacles, he is rebuked by the voice of the Father in Heaven — "This is my Son, My Chosen One. Listen to Him!" (Luke 9:35).
Once again Peter misses the point; in wanting to make three shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, he is trying to drag things down into a human-size box that he can understand and even participate in. The disciples go prostrate in fear after hearing the voice of God, and Jesus comforts them with, "Do not be afraid" (Matt. 17:7).
Are we really listening to Jesus, or are we busy imposing our own agendas on Him?
Do we sometimes sense the Holy Spirit prompting us to listen, yet His message is hard to hear or even difficult to fully comprehend? Do we let Him bring the message and then wait on Him to interpret, or do we dummy down what we hear in our haste to understand?
When Jesus speaks to us, are we sometimes too busy with our work, or our worldly ways, that we miss what He is saying?
Recall a time when the Holy Spirit prompted you to move or act, and you really did not want to go or do — if you chose to ignore Him, what was the result? Recall another time when you chose to hear and obey. Conversely, what was the result?
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you with His firm hand to invest the time necessary, in prayer and the Word, to discern Truth.
Today I will make an effort to listen for and to Jesus — praying before I read His Word that He will show me His will in small or great ways, and that He will find me teachable and obedient.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
The Disciples’ Failure to Heal
17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 17:15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire and into the water. 17:16 I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him.” 17:17 Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him here to me.” 17:18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that moment. 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” 17:20 He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”
The Disciples’ Failure to Heal
9:14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and experts in the law arguing with them. 9:15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran at once and greeted him. 9:16 He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 9:17 A member of the crowd said to him, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that makes him mute. 9:18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they were not able to do so.” 9:19 He answered them, “You unbelieving generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him to me.” 9:20 So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 9:21 Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 9:22 It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 9:23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” 9:24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
9:25 Now when Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 9:26 It shrieked, threw him into terrible convulsions, and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He is dead!” 9:27 But Jesus gently took his hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up.
9:28 Then, after he went into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” 9:29 He told them, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Healing a Boy with an Unclean Spirit
9:37 Now on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 9:38 Then a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son – he is my only child! 9:39 A spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions and causes him to foam at the mouth. It hardly ever leaves him alone, torturing him severely. 9:40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 9:41 Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here.” 9:42 As the boy was approaching, the demon threw him to the ground and shook him with convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 9:43a Then they were all astonished at the mighty power of God.
Lord, You are the source of power that passes through me and in to the world, but I am only a valuable vessel to the degree that I truly believe. May my faith be great, so that I might be a useful vessel.
Mark reports the father of an afflicted child "possessed by a spirit" (Mark 9:17) asking Jesus if He is able to do anything to help them — the man doubts because Jesus' disciples had failed to heal his son. Jesus rhetorically replies, "'If you are able'? All things are possible for the one who believes” (vs. 23). The teachable man replies “I believe; help my unbelief!” (vs. 24).
After His disciples fail to heal and Jesus heals the boy Himself, He declares His frustration with “this perverse generation” (Matt. 17:17) for their lack of faith. His frustration is reminiscent of the Father's with the nation of Israel for their resistance to Truth.
Jesus responds to His disciples questioning why they could not cast out the demon with two reasons: Their faith is even less than that of a mustard seed, and "this kind can come out only by prayer" (Mark 9:29). Only by prayer is important in that it indicates that if one is to remove an evil spirit which has become deeply-embedded (as in a child since birth), one must speak from a mature faith which gives firm instruction to and takes authority over the evil spirit. Prayer is critical to spiritual maturity and spiritual preparedness.
Jesus is frustrated by His disciples ("how much longer must I...endure you?" Luke
God, in the form of mere man, must have felt deep frustration among a people so contrary to the evidence of Who He is and who they are in Him.
God expresses His frustration with His children throughout both the Old Testament and the New. Earthly parents can empathize with this: How often do we say to our children, "Listen to me! I love you. I am trying to help you and know what I am talking about!"
Do we sometimes find ourselves powerless, due to lack of faith, in the face of the evil which we have the authority to overcome?
When have you presented someone with information that would have clearly improved their circumstances, only to be confronted by their refusal to act wisely in response to this knowledge?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you are avoiding a challenge when you have the power to overcome, or tolerating an evil when you have the power to resist.
Today I will neither avoid a challenge nor tolerate an evil simply because I lack the confidence in Christ to overcome it. I will ask a fellow Christian to pray with me for the faith I need to believe in the authority and the power of Christ working through and in me.
Be Specific ____________________________________________
Second Prediction of Jesus' Death and Resurrection
17:22 When they gathered together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 17:23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they became greatly distressed.
The Temple Tax
17:24 After they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Your teacher pays the double drachma tax, doesn’t he?” 17:25 He said, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect tolls or taxes – from their sons or from foreigners?” 17:26 After he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 17:27 But so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a four drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you.”
Questions About the Greatest
18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 18:2 He called a child, had him stand among them, 18:3 and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! 18:4 Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18:5 And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me.
18:6 “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. 18:7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come. 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into fiery hell.
Second Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
9:30 They went out from there and passed through Galilee. But Jesus did not want anyone to know, 9:31 for he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 9:32 But they did not understand this statement and were afraid to ask him.
Questions About the Greatest
9:33 Then they came to Capernaum. After Jesus was inside the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 9:35 After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 9:36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 9:37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Another Prediction of Jesus’ Suffering
9:43b But while the entire crowd was amazed at everything Jesus was doing, he said to his disciples, 9:44 “Take these words to heart, for the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 9:45 But they did not understand this statement; its meaning had been concealed from them, so that they could not grasp it. Yet they were afraid to ask him about this statement.
Concerning the Greatest
9:46 Now an argument started among the disciples as to which of them might be the greatest. 9:47 But when Jesus discerned their innermost thoughts, he took a child, had him stand by his side, 9:48 and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me, for the one who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
Lord, You love those who come to You with the innocence, humility, and trust of a child, and You disapprove of those who come with arrogant pride. May I come to You humbly knowing my need of You.
Jesus' prediction of His death and resurrection causes the disciples angst in reaction to hearing again from Jesus that He will be killed. They fear to pursue clarification from Jesus — "they did not understand this statement and were afraid to ask Him" (vs. 32), presumably because they fear what His answer might be. They also lack in understanding that "after three days He will rise" (Mark 9:31).
Jesus questioning, "What do you think, Simon?" (Matt. 17:25), regarding the temple tax due creates another teachable moment: Jesus informs Peter that "the sons [of the king] are free" (17:26) from obligation, yet should voluntarily submit to worldly authority to maintain a good witness as responsible citizens. Jesus then performs a miracle to provide the coin necessary to pay the tax.
The argument among the disciples, as to who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, leads to two teachings from Jesus: First, that His followers must be as non-presuming and trusting as a young child, versus arrogant and self-sufficient as a typical adult — "become like little children" (Matt. 18:3); and second, that those as innocent as children must never be compromised — "anyone who causes [them] to sin" (vs. 6) will face terrible consequences. The value of humility and innocence are high, as they are critical to being teachable.
Do we sometimes avoid seeking God's perspective, in His Word or from a mature Biblical counselor, because we don't want to be accountable to the answer we receive?
There are many ways that people become arrogant in the world, and in the Church, about their position and knowledge. These distractions may harm and cause the neglect of those who should be served.
Am I in any way supporting a business, media organization, or other venue that may contribute harm to the innocent? I might need to either cause change in that organization or withdraw my support.
When have you discovered that a young-of-age or new Believer, one whom you had been unaware that you were 'teaching' by way of example, had acquired from you a wrong idea about Jesus or an improper way of speaking or behaving? How did you address that?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any way that you may be facilitating harm to an innocent child-like Believer.
Today I will seek, in the Word and through prayer, an answer to a question I have been avoiding, such as: Am I facilitating harm to others through my support of an irresponsible elected official or involvement in a business or organization I support? If so, I will act to avoid or disassociate from that; maybe by writing a letter of rebuke, canceling a membership or subscription, finding a new place of employment.
Be Specific ____________________________________________
On Jesus’ Side
9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, because no one who does a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say anything bad about me. 9:40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 9:41 For I tell you the truth, whoever gives you a cup of water because you bear Christ’s name will never lose his reward.
9:42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than to have two hands and go into hell, to the unquenchable fire. 9:44 [[EMPTY]] 9:45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 9:46 [[EMPTY]] 9:47 If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out! It is better to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 9:48 where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 9:50 Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
On the Right Side
9:49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he is not a disciple along with us.” 9:50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”
Rejection in Samaria
9:51 Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem. 9:52 He sent messengers on ahead of him. As they went along, they entered a Samaritan village to make things ready in advance for him, 9:53 but the villagers refused to welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem. 9:54 Now when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 9:55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 9:56 and they went on to another village.
Challenging Professed Followers
9:57 As they were walking along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 9:58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 9:59 Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 9:60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 9:61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Lord, You teach challenging things about faith in action and the choice to follow You instead of the world. May I be willing to surrender the things of this world, so that I may more closely follow You.
The disciples voice their concern to Jesus that someone is casting out demons "in Your Name, and...he is not a disciple" (Luke
Using the rhetorical illustration of cutting off a hand or foot if it "causes you to sin" (Mark 9:43), Jesus challenges His followers to intentionally choose righteousness and to sacrificially avoid evil. He reminds them to be "salted with fire" (vs. 49), salt being a seasoning and preservative in the world, and to not allow themselves to lose their saltiness by drifting away to where they will become valueless — "If salt ceases to be useful it is thrown away. With this illustration Jesus warned about a disciple who ceased to follow Him" (NET sn).
Jesus set out for Jerusalem and "sent messengers on ahead of Him" (Luke 9:52) to Samaria to prepare for Him, but the villagers refused to welcome Him there. His apostles wanted to punish Samaria by calling down fire from heaven to "consume them" (vs. 54), but Jesus rebuked them. ["The point of the rebuke is that now was not the time for judgment but patience" (NET sn).] As He had instructed the twelve apostles when He first sent them out (to leave a town that does not welcome them and "shake the dust off your feet," Luke 9:5), they went on their way — Samaria missed out on the blessings of their presence.
Jesus challenges His professed followers to put their hands to the plow, not look back, and make their destination in the Kingdom the point of their focus — by walking a straight and narrow path, avoiding sin and temptation, they will then be "fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).
Making personal sacrifice (in what we want or do) is sometimes necessary, especially in order to avoid sin in our lives.
In our lives, our choices are to either keep our eyes focused on God's goals or be distracted by the things of the world, as illustrated in The Pilgrim's Progress by Paul Bunyan.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads nonbelievers to copy Believers, which leads them toward a saving faith.
When have you found yourself distracted by the things of the world, yet something from your Sunday morning worship or time in the Word prompted you to turn your focus back to God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one whom the Lord has led in to your sphere of influence in order to bring them nearer to a decision to be saved.
Today I will seek opportunity to encourage an unsaved person to participate in God's work somewhere (like a soup kitchen), so that a door and their eyes may be opened to their salvation.
I will discern one specific sacrifice I will intentionally make to remove one sinful influence in my life.
I will prayerfully lay out a long-term plan to keep myself focused on God and less vulnerable to the daily distractions of the world.
Be Specific __________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“The Chronological Gospels” – “Week 7 of 12” - prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in July of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.