Mark 9:30-50

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 6, 2005


Jesus had gone up a mountain with Peter, James, and John in order to pray.  While on the mountain Jesus was transfigured, changed before their eyes.  Jesus was glowing with light.  Moses and Elijah also showed up to talk with Jesus about His upcoming death in Jerusalem.  Peter, James, and John even heard the Father’s voice as He said, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him”.  When they got back down the mountain, the other nine disciples had been struggling with a problem.  A man had brought his son who was demon-possessed.  The disciples had been unable to cast the demon out of this boy when Jesus showed up and asked what was going on.  When Jesus heard what was going on, He rebuked the people and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I suffer you?”  Then He cast out the demon.  Later, the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to cast out the demon and Jesus reminded them that their faith was weak and that some demons will only respond to a person who has learned to live a life of prayer and fasting.

:30-32 Jesus’ upcoming death

:30  …and he would not that any man should know it.

Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds so He could spend time teaching His disciples.

:31 …The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men…

is deliveredparadidomi – to give into the hands (of another); it speaks of His betrayal.  The word is often used to describe Judas’ betrayal.  It is also used of God turning His Son over to be killed.  It is a “present tense”, the process had already begun.

This is not a new idea.  Jesus had already told them that He was going to be betrayed, put to death, and rise from the dead back in Mark 8:31 when they were at Caesarea Philippi.  Peter, James, and John heard Moses and Elijah talking about this with Jesus on the mountain.

:32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

They hadn’t been doing too well lately.  And the last time Jesus told the whole group about His upcoming death, He had rebuked Peter for challenging Him (8:33). After having failed to cast the demon out of the boy, Jesus had rebuked them and the crowd:

(Mark 9:19 KJV)  …O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?

I guess they didn’t want to admit that they didn’t understand what He was talking about.

:33-37 Who is the greatest

:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

They are probably staying at Peter’s house in Capernaum.  This will be the last time that Jesus is in Capernaum before He begins His final journey to Jerusalem.

Apparently as they traveled from Mount Hermon down to Capernaum, there were times when Jesus wasn’t necessarily walking with all the disciples at once.  He knew they were discussing something and it’s time to talk about it with Him.

:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

Could it be possible that Peter, James, and John might have been saying something like, “Well if we had been there, we would have cast out that demon.  After all, we are Jesus’ favorites …”

They held their peace – It seems to me that the disciples know that this discussion is off base.  They know it’s wrong.  They’ve been with Jesus for 2 ½ years, they’ve know they’re out of line.

:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

sat down – this is the position of the Jewish teacher.  The teacher sat, the students stood.


Greatness through serving

Position in God’s kingdom isn’t determined by status but by service.
(John 13:1-17 KJV)  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. {2} And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; {3} Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; {4} He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. {5} After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
After spending the day walking the dusty streets of Israel, it was customary to wash the feet of your guests before dinner.  But it was a lowly job, something left for the hired help.  When Jesus and the disciples gathered in the Upper Room for their Last Supper, nobody took care of washing the feet.  So Jesus did it.
{6} Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? {7} Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. {8} Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.
Peter is humbled at the thought of Jesus washing his filthy toes.
Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. {9} Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. {10} Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. {11} For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. {12} So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? {13} Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. {14} If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. {16} Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. {17} If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
If Jesus came to serve others, we ought to as well.
Happiness comes from serving others.
Judy Rogers (Westerville, Ohio, in Guideposts, Dec. 1988) writes,
In the fourth year of his layoff from his job, Dad gave Mom a dishwasher for Christmas.
You have to understand the magnitude of the gift:  Our old house had its original wiring and plumbing, and neither could handle the required installation.  There was no spot in the small kitchen for such a large appliance.  And we hadn’t even been able to meet the mortgage interest payments for over six months.
But Dad hated the thought of washing dishes; he would rather do anything else.  And Mom had undergone major surgery that spring, a radical mastectomy for breast cancer, and found it difficult to do any work requiring the use of her arms.
No large box appeared, no new plumbing or wiring was installed, no remodeling of the kitchen occurred.  Rather, a small note appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, handwritten by Dad:
“For one year I will wash all of the dirty dishes in this household.  Every one.”
And he did.  He really did.
F. B. Meyer once said:  “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we could reach them.  I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other.  It is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.”
An admirer once asked the famous orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein what was the most difficult instrument to play.  He responded with quick wit: “Second fiddle.  I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second french horn or second flute, now that’s a problem.  And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”
Martin Luther wrote, “God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.”

:36 And he took a child…and when he had taken him in his arms

childpaidion – a young child, a little boy, a little girl

had taken … in his armsenagkalizomai – embrace; to take into the fold in your arms

:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me

shall receivedechomai – to take with the hand; to take hold of, take up; receive

Jesus is still on the same subject of just who is the greatest.

If you want to get a read on your attitude towards being a servant of others, it will have a correlation with your attitude towards children.

Are they a nuisance or a blessing to you?

If you were to consider what the most important ministry in our church was, what would you say?  Would it be the preaching?  Would it be the music?  Would it be the prayer?  Would it be the Children’s Ministry?

If being great in God’s kingdom is related to being a servant to others, and if being a servant to others is related to taking a child by the hand, doesn’t it follow that if we want to be a great church in God’s sight, that Children’s Ministry ought to be a bit of a priority for us?

:38-41 For or against us?

:38 …and he followeth not us: and we forbad him

(Mk 9:38 The Message) John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”

This guy had not only been using the name of Jesus without permission, but he was apparently doing a better job of it than the disciples.  He was apparently successful in casting out demons while some the disciples had been having some problems.

I think it’s interesting that the subject of casting out demons is still fresh on their minds.

I wonder if this might have been some of the fuel to the arguments over who was greater.

:40 For he that is not against us is on our part.


How big is your church?

The Corinthian church had broken up into little groups, little “cliques”.
(1 Cor 1:11-13 KJV)  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. {12} Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. {13} Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

After church, the people would break into their little groups.  Some people thought that Paul was the best pastor in the world.  Others thought that Apollos was a better speaker.  Others felt that the church was supposed to be built on Peter.  And the really spiritual people claimed to only follow Jesus, not men.

(1 Cor 3:1-4 KJV)  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. {2} I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. {3} For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? {4} For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

This kind of divisiveness can sound spiritual.  We can become proud that we go to Calvary Chapel.  But God says it’s simply carnal, it’s fleshly, and it is immature.

There’s a story about the man who died and went to heaven.  After arriving, St. Peter took the new arrival on a tour.  He showed him all the various wonders, the tree of life, the river of living water, all the places where the saints liked to hang out.  When they came to a high wall, Peter lowered his voice a little to hushed tones.  The man could hear noise on the other side.  “What’s that wall for?” the man asked Peter.  “Oh that” replied Peter, “That’s the wall around the Calvary Chapel people, they think they’re the only ones up here.”
People do get saved in other churches.  People do follow the same Jesus as we do and can go to a Methodist church, a Baptist church, or a Presbyterian church, even a Lutheran church.
Now I’m not saying that all roads lead to heaven.  And there are certainly some groups that preach “another Jesus”.  But be careful of thinking that your church is the only church.
When you find out that a friend at work is a Christian, it’s common to ask them, “What church do you go to?”  When they reply that they go to something other than a Calvary Chapel, don’t be quick to change the subject and certainly don’t criticize the other church.  Just talk about Jesus.  We’re all on the same team.  We may do things differently, and we may prefer to do things the way we do them, but we’re all on the same team.

:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ

If the guy isn’t against us, then he’s on our side.  And even if someone gives you a cup of cold water because you belong to Jesus, he will get a reward as well.

:42-50 Offenses and hell

:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones

shall offendskandalizo – putting something in another person’s path to trip them up; This isn’t just talking about enticing a person to sin, but also the idea of causing a person to fall away from trusting Jesus.

little ones – Who are the “little ones”?

Children?  Yes.  Jesus has the child in His arms.

Disciples?  Yes. 

The exorcist?  I think it even included this fellow that was using Jesus’ name, but wasn’t a part of the group of disciples.  I don’t think Jesus is just warning us not to mess with kids, but also to not be a stumbling block to other believers, even if they’re different than us.

:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

offendskandalizo – same word used in verse 42. Jesus is taking this thought of causing someone to stumble and saying, “What if you are the one causing someone to stumble, what should you do about it?”

hellgeenna – Hell is the place of the future punishment call “Gehenna”. “Gehenna” means the “valley of Hinnom”, a valley south of Jerusalem.  It was the trash dump of Jerusalem where worm infested refuse was tossed and burned, with the fires burning continually.

never shall be quenchedasbestos – unquenchable


Hell is forever.

There are some who think that when the wicked die, they just sort of fade away.
The Bible teaches that when a person rejects Jesus Christ, they will have to pay for their own sins, and that means going to hell.
When you as a believer die, there will be a day when you will be given a new eternal body, one designed to handle the joys and pleasures of heaven forever.
But there is another resurrection with eternal bodies.
The unbeliever will also be given a new body.  Their new body will be designed to last forever also.  But instead of being designed to enjoy the joy of heaven, their body will be designed to experience the pain of hell.  Forever.
Hell was designed for Satan and his angels.
And God doesn’t want you to go there.
In fact, God did the ultimate thing to keep you from hell.  He sent His Son to die on a cross and die in your place.
And now the only thing that would cause you to go to hell is if you refuse to trust in Jesus.

:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Some of the ancient manuscripts don’t include verses 44, 46, but the same thought is still expressed in verse 48.

:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out


Stop at all costs.

This is not teaching that if you mutilate yourself, you will go to heaven.  It’s not even teaching that self-mutilation is something we should do.
The point is that when it comes to getting away from sin, you need to do whatever it takes.
It was May, 2003.  Aron Ralston was climbing in an isolated canyon in Utah.  A boulder shifted.  Ralston said he moved quick enough to get his body and left arm out of its path but couldn't get his right arm out of the way of the falling rock.
For five days he stayed trapped with his arm under the bolder.  He tried all sorts of things to get free.  Finally, after having exhausted the little supply of food and water he had, he made the decision that the only way he was going to survive was to amputate his arm.  He got his gear together, prepared a tourniquet and planned his route out of the canyon.  Then he broke two bones in his wrist and used the dull blade of his multi-tool pocket knife to saw through his flesh. Then he lowered himself to the bottom of the canyon and walked until he found a couple from Holland hiking with their son.  They walked until they were spotted by a search helicopter.  Aron was then flown to a hospital in Colorado.  The pilot that flew him said, “If he hadn't helped himself, we would have never found him because of where he was pinned. We went back in there and looked at the spot that he was pinned, and it was in such a narrow canyon and the overlap was so bad that we could have flown directly over it and we would have never seen him down there.”
I have heard so many excuses over the years from people who are unwilling to give up their sin.  They’ve tried this and they’ve tried that.  They’ve tried programs.  They’ve tried treatment centers.  They’ve tried religion.  And now they’ve simply stopped trying.  Don’t stop trying.  Stop sinning at all costs.

:49 For every one shall be salted with fire

What does it mean to be “salted with fire”?

Perhaps here the idea is that we are to let the fire of hell “salt” us.  We ought to be affected by the reality of what hell is.

:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Jesus is saying two things –

1.  Stay useful.  Stay salty.  Affect your world.

(Mat 5:13 KJV)  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

2.  Get along.  The fellows have been arguing over who was the greatest.

Could Jesus be saying that their arguing over who was to be the greatest was a concern to him and that they needed to stop it at all costs?

Perhaps when we argue over who is going to be greatest, we lose some of our effectiveness, our “saltiness”.