April 11, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Mark 9-10
Click here for the Daily Reading
Context:In the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses and Elijah are present. Why these two? They represent the coming together of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). When the disciples discuss what Jesus meant by the Son of Man raising from the dead, they were not unfamiliar with the phrase, rather they could not comprehend a dying and suffering Messiah. They, like most Jews, believed the Messiah would come as a victorious Earthly conquer. The disciples could not heal the boy with the evil spirit because they failed to recognize that their ability to do so came from God in Heaven. Mark's writing during the first half of his book may not be chronological. The next three divisions of chapter 9 involve Jesus teaching His disciples. The time is coming when Jesus will be with them no more. When the Pharisees question Jesus about divorce, it was a potential deadly trap and a nearly guaranteed way to alienate some of His followers. Remember, John the Baptist was killed for his remarks regarding divorce. Jesus' remarks are similar. Divorce became part of the Law in order to curb behavior that was already happening, however, in God's perfect plan, man and woman are to be together for life. Jesus loved children and did not want to hinder them from learning. When the rich man asked Jesus how he could gain entrance into the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus first inquired about "outward" commandments, that is commandments that could be verified by others. The man, in refusing to give up his money, showed that he had placed another god before the Lord in his heart. When James and John made their request to Jesus, following the prediction of His death, they did not know what they were asking. They failed to realize that service was at the heart of Jesus' ministry. They wanted to be served. Today, as it was then, the more wealth you possessed, the more people you had to serve you. Having people serve you signified status. Jesus turns this idea on its head. Serving is greater than being served. Once again, we see that faith and the willingness to ask for help can reap great rewards.
World History:White was an unusual color and rarely worn in the Middle East during the time of Jesus. You know how hard it is to keep a white shirt or white pants clean today - it was even harder then! White soils easily, especially in such a dusty environment, and they did not have the industrial strength bleach we have. The rich man who ran to Jesus was unusual. During that time, running was considered culturally undignified, especially for the wealthy. He was willing to embarrass himself, yet he was unwilling to part with his money.