Sunday, January 30, 2011

International Sunday School Lesson, Jesus Is the Messiah, Mark 8:27-9:1, for 2-6-11

Jesus Is the Messiah
Mark 8:27-9:1
International Sunday School Lesson
February 6, 2011

Jed Greenough

Mark 8:27-9:1 
Peter’s Confession of Christ
 27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
   29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
   Peter answered, “You are the Christ”
 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Jesus Predicts His Death
 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 9
 1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

Occasionally, I will surf the Internet once I have published a lesson and see what others are teaching on the same scripture that week.  If I were to look this week I will see some will compare the parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke and some might concentrate on a verse by verse lesson where they would tell you perhaps about the geography of Caesarea Philippi proceeding on eventually to the final verse for today where you will learn just what their theory is for what Jesus meant when He said that some who were there with Him would not taste death.

As for me, what stood out is that I felt moved to discuss what I thought Jesus had been thinking about.  I considered each of the accounts of this incident and what I saw was that Jesus was thinking about His mission.

He asks His disciples, “Who do the people say I am?”  He had been traveling throughout the region teaching and healing.  The news of the miracles He performed could not be contained and the people thronged to be near Him, sometimes by the thousands.   Jesus was not making any claims to these crowds, but in hearing what He taught and seeing His power the people would naturally have been making assumptions, assumptions that began with the fact that Jesus was just not like them.  None of them and no one that they knew could do what He was doing.

Next we see Jesus ask the disciples who they say He is.  After all, they were with Him morning and night; where He went they went, what He ate they ate, and everything He taught, and every miracle He performed was seen by them.

The answer He was given was delivered by Peter, “You are the Christ.”

Those that had seen Him from a crowd perspective; perhaps only once from afar or knew of Him through rumors, made suppositions about who He was; but those that knew Him well enough to see the whole picture saw Him for what and who He really was.  Because of this Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

He told them this because of His mission, and that mission had a time table, God’s timetable a timetable that in no small measure was spelled out in the scriptures given in the past.  Being aware of this, Jesus wanted them to know it as well.  What He does next is to reveal to them more about what that mission would entail. The people could think He was Elijah or Jeremiah or John the Baptist but with the things He still had to do, the people couldn’t all be thinking He was the Christ.

First, He must be completely convicted in the minds of the leaders of the people as a threat to their power.  Being convicted in this manner He would be made to suffer and die but miraculously and evidently missed by Peter, He would rise to life after three days.

Peter did not know, nor could He yet conceive, what Jesus’ mission really meant.  How could He have understood that Jesus had to die?  But so that all the disciples would understand the gravity of what He was doing Jesus who was being privately rebuked by Peter turned the conversation to include all the disciples.

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt?  I think all the disciples must have appreciated the gravity of what Jesus mission was about after the words, “Get behind me Satan” were uttered!

He had their attention that’s for sure, but He knew that being men they didn’t understand and by nature had in mind the things of men, not God.  And just what were these things of God?

What Jesus would accomplish was God’s plan of salvation for those who would come to Him and follow Him.

Well, there you go; that in a nutshell is what I want you to come away with on today’s scripture.  Oh wait, should I comment on that last verse? Can I just pretend that the ISSL made a mistake by including that?  Well, I guess I could, but I won’t.  What did Jesus mean, by saying “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power”?

Some will suggest that He was referring to the Transfiguration which would happen in six days.  Personally, I find that weak; after all I would have hoped they would still be alive after only six days and I don’t see how that could have been what He was talking about.

Taken in context, He was just talking of coming in His Father’s glory with the holy angels wasn’t He?

Then that would mean then that when He came in His Father’s glory with the angels some would still be alive at that time.  Quite simply that would mean literally that after all this time maybe He has kept some of the disciples or those in the crowd who came to faith alive.  Perhaps they have played an integral part for the church down through the millennia.  Pretty cool huh?

Could He do this?  Of course He could, but I really doubt that this is what He was saying. 

What I really think is that we have lost or rather added something in translating this because in preparing for this lesson I read the literal translation of the verse in question and it reads this way:

Mark 9:1 (Young’s Literal Translation)

And He said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.’

May not taste of death, remember even Jesus didn’t know when He would come with power and glory with His Father’s angels as we read in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father.”

Regardless of how we come down on interpreting this verse, remember some things are worth getting hung up over, this is not one of them.  What is?  The same thing He was thinking about, His mission, which He perfectly completed.

For Discussion:

1.      I cannot stress enough the fact that Jesus asks the question “Who do people say I am?” as being of vital importance.  In the Signs of the End of the Age in Matthew 24 Jesus stresses the need for even the Elect to not be deceived by false Christs.  Read MT 24:3-5, 10-11, 23-28 or just read the whole chapter!
2.      Discuss why people may have thought Jesus was Elijah.
3.      Consider how difficult it must have been for the disciples not to tell everyone at that time that Jesus was the Christ.  Compare that to how difficult it is for us to tell everyone we know now that we should!
4.      In what way, if at all, are you denying yourself to follow Him?
5.      Discuss all the alternative ideas to what you think Jesus meant in 9:1
6.      From time to time I like to encourage visitors to put this site in their favorites as it’s placement in the search engines changes from day to day and I wouldn’t want us to miss out on our gathering together.  Thanks!

(Join me next week for the International Sunday School Lesson for February 13, 2011, This Is My Beloved, on Mark 9:2-13)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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