Monday, September 14, 2009

Mark 9:3--37: The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Sunday, September 20, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:


30And after they went out from there, they passed through Galilee, and he didn’t want any to know. 31For he was teaching his disciples and he said to them, "The son of man is to be given into human hands, and they will kill him, and from death, after three days, he will rise." 32But they didn’t understand the word, and they were afraid to ask.
33And they went to Capernaum. And when they were in the house, he asked them, "About what were you arguing on the road?" 34But they were silent, for among themselves they were arguing on the road about who was greatest. 35And after he sat, he called the twelve and said to them, "If any wish to be first, then they will be last of all and a slave of all." 36And after took a child and made him stand in the middle of them and after he gave him a hug, he said to them, 37"Whoever might receive a child like this in my name, then he receives me. And whoever might receive me, then he doesn’t receive me, but the one who sent me."


  1. Lectionary Scripture NotesSeptember 14, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    As in Jeremiah 11:18-20, Psalm 54, and Wisdom of Solomon 1:16--2:1, 12-22, there is bad news and there is good news in Mark 9:30-32. The bad news is that Jesus will be tortured and crucified by the Romans; the good news is that three days later God will raise Jesus from the dead. It is the good news of the resurrection of Jesus as Christ for us and as Redeemer of the world that is of the greatest interest to us. Because Jesus as the Risen Christ lives, we too shall live! This is the essence of the gospel as we who are Christians proclaim it.

    Mark 9:33-37 is an indication that during the time of the Jesus of history and in the decades after his death there were problems of jealousy and greed among the followers of Jesus. The problems of jealousy and greed were undoubtedly greatly increased as various groups of followers of Jesus were formed, as this text and the text that we shall have the following week indicate. The solution to that problem during the 1st century, as well as now, lies in service to others rather than in the exercise of power over them. How frequently we are tempted to exercise the power that we have because of our position rather than for us to find fulfillment for our lives in service to God and to other people! The Jesus of history demonstrated service to God and to other people in a remarkable way. It is probable that Mark 9:37 is a statement of the Jesus of history only moderately embellished. Perhaps the Jesus of history took a child into his arms (probably on many similar occasions) and said something such as "Whoever takes care of a child such as this takes care of me, takes care of the whole world, and takes care of God!" (This text provides an excellent example for a "children's sermon" and as an object lesson during a Service of Baptism.)

  2. I would resist the temptation to preach on the latter part of the
    text. I have done that one so many times before.

    My focus would be on the teaching ministry of Jesus. He took time to
    teach his disciples. He tried to keep the crowds away so he could
    focus on the twelve. It is important for a Pastor to do likewise with
    his/her session and deacons.

    What did he spend time teaching about? The text tells that it had to
    do with what was about to happen to him. I would classify this
    generically as "future studies."

    But I can't help thinking there would be other matters that must have
    come up at that time. Look at the context prior to the Gospel for the
    day. First there was the "transfiguration" which the Gospel
    lectionary passed over this cycle. That had to raise questions ---
    first among those who were with him on the mountain top, and second
    among those who did not go up with them. What kind of questions would
    that have generated in your mind were you there with him? What kind
    of questions would that have generated were you one left behind at
    the base of the mountain?

    Then there was another miracle. This one had to deal with casting out
    a dumb spirit.. This one contained the lesson: "this kind can only be
    driven out by prayer." Lots of questions must have followed that.
    What is the place of intercessory prayer in healing and casting out
    demons? What is the place of intercessory prayer in miracles?

    That was the kind of question that was being raised in the nineteenth
    century. Mosley's lectures at Oxford prompted the discussion, not
    only in England but also in America. A man named Tyndall suggested a
    "Prayer Gage." He proposed that they try a scientific experiment.
    Lets get two groups of similar people who are sick. Lets pray
    actively for one group, but not the other. Then let us examine the
    results and see if there is a difference. That suggestion was debated
    for two or three decades.

    The spirit of Tyndall is still alive today among unbelievers. About a
    year ago I was on my way back to Louisville from Wheeling. The
    weather was terrible. It rained much of the way. When I reached the
    stretch of interstate highway (I-71) from Cincinnati to Louisville
    the rain came down in torrents. A long stream of trucks passed me
    throwing large quantities of water up on my windshield. There were
    times when I thought of just pulling off the road. Believe me. I did
    pray. My prayer was specific. "God, please stop theses trucks from
    passing me."

    It was as if Moses had waved his hands and the sea waters parted. The
    trucks stopped coming -- literally. I drove almost all the way to
    Louisville without another truck passing me until I was nearly home
    an the rain had abated.

    In a communication with my brother who is a non believer, I happened
    to mention the terrible trip home and what had happened. His reply?
    Lets you and I meet somewhere out on the highway, and repeat that
    experiment. We will watch the trucks go by and when you are ready,
    pray that God will stop the trucks from coming. Lets see what
    happens. I was not amused.

    I am a believer in miracles. I am not a Cessationist either. (A
    Cessationist is one who believes miracles stopped happening at the
    end of the Apostolic Age.) There may be a natural explanation for
    some of them, but not all of them. I think it may have been one of
    the Archbishops of Canterbury who was talking to someone about prayer
    being answered. A man told him it was just coincidence. To which the
    Archbishop replied. "Yes, but I notice that when I stop praying, the
    coincidences stop happening."

    Let us take time apart from the crowds to discuss important matters
    of the faith, and let us keep praying. God will see to it that the
    "coincidences" keep happening!