My church resumed its Wednesday Bible study, after a three month hiatus. It will not meet next week, though, since the pastor will be at a funeral.
The pastor talked about Mark 9-10. He was arguing that the pericopes in those chapters revolve around Jesus’s teaching that people should become like children. The world has its ideas about status, glory, and power, as people compete to be the greatest. The Kingdom of God, however, has different ideas about these things, as it emphasizes such values as love, service, humility, and grace. Jesus was particularly glorified when he was on the cross, for there he demonstrated those values. By publicly welcoming a child, Jesus was teaching a lesson about grace. Children lacked status in that world, which prioritized adults. Jesus was giving status to one who lacked status. Similarly, Jesus gives status to people who do not deserve it, who have nothing in their hands to offer to God.
According to the pastor, the pericopes in Mark 9-10 relate to these themes as follows:
—-At the Transfiguration, Peter is presumptuous in offering to build a booth for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. The disciples also expected Jesus to enter Jerusalem, not humbly, but in his glorified transfigured state. Jesus was teaching that his mission entailed a cross.
—-After coming down from the mountain, the disciples wonder why they were unable to cast out a demon. They were able to cast demons out before, so why not now? Jesus responds that this kind of demon can come out only by prayer. That does not refer to a magical prayer that can cast out a troublesome demon, but rather a humble, dependent attitude of prayer. Humility, not pride in one’s power, is important.
—-The Pharisees confront Jesus about divorce. The Hillelites held that a man could divorce his wife for any reason, and they thought that their divorces were justified under Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus was telling them that the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was made in light of a fallen world, but that God’s standard was actually higher. Jesus was seeking to humble the Pharisees by showing that they fell short of God’s standard and thus needed a Savior. Jesus was also elevating women, who were largely marginalized in that world. Under Deuteronomy 24:1-4, a man could divorce his wife, but a woman could not divorce her husband. Jesus was leveling things.