Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13 - Mark 9

Today's reading in our daily plan is Mark 9. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • The chapter begins with Jesus taking three of his disciples up on a mountain top.  Jesus' appearance radically changes into a radiant, blinding white. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear.  (They are central figures from the Old Testament and had been gone from the earth for hundreds of years!) To make things even more unusual, God literally speaks down from heaven and announces that Jesus is his son and they should listen to all he has to say. The disciples were in such great awe that they didn't want to leave the mountain. But Jesus tells them that they must and, once again, he forewarns them about his coming death and resurrection.
  • We see Jesus healing people again in this chapter. But what makes this story interesting is that some of the disciples had tried to heal the boy and couldn't. Jesus calls the disciples out on their inability to have faith in a miracle and their inability to pray for him. Even the boy's father struggled to believe. 
  • Jesus talks about the reality of hell in verses 42-50.  Although he does not literally mean for believers to cut off body parts, he is illustrating in a vivid manner that we should do whatever it takes to avoid hell.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Wouldn't it be nice if we could always stay on the mountain top? What if we could just have roses and sunshine all the time? That's what Peter wanted.  He got a glimpse of Heaven and didn't want to go back down the mountain. After all, life was harder down there, in the everyday mundane.  But there was work to be done.  Hard times were coming for a very important reason. If they had stayed on the mountain enjoying the view,  Jesus would never have died for our sins. And we would be lost without hope. 
  • Jesus is ultimate. He is God. Although great men like Moses and Elijah came before, they could not save the world. Our lives are meant to be lived for Jesus, and we need to listen to him.
  • We are reminded by the healing of the young boy that the question we should be asking Jesus is not "if," but "when." Jesus is able to help us if we believe.
  • Jesus tells us in verse 35 that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those that serve. This is counter-cultural to the American way of life. But Jesus teaches that we descend into greatness. Instead of seeking to be served, we should serve.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • The disciples lacked the ability to heal a young boy. Apparently it hadn't occurred to them to simply pray! It seems silly, but how often do we try to solve problems without praying? What is a difficult situation in your life that you haven't been praying about? Pray about it today! 
  • Hell is a real place and Jesus doesn't want us to go there. He wants to spend eternity with us.  Take time today to think about those areas of your life that keep you from being close to God.  We all struggle with sin, but Jesus says to get serious about cutting it out of our lives. Be honest today about your struggles.  Are there any creative ways you could get rid of the temptations you face? Ask for Jesus' help today.
  • We often focus on me, myself, and I. But God wants us to focus on serving others first. What is a special way you could serve someone today? Think about it, then do it.