Mark 9–10: God’s Kingdom & A Ransom

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 15: Saturday

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and was saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Mark 9:24 LSB

Saturday’s Bible reading is Mark 9–10. These two chapters finish Jesus’ work before he arrives in Jerusalem in Mark 11, on a colt to the acclaim of the crowds.

Mark records Jesus’ Transfiguration and several conversations with His disciples about His death and resurrection—which they do not understand nor do they understand the nature of the kingdom of heaven. Several events found in Matthew are also found here.

The Transfiguration is a passage in Mark. 8:27–9:13, that R. T. France titles, “Learning to Recognize Jesus.”1 It includes Peter’s confession and Jesus’ teaching on discipleship.

There are two miracles that occur. The first is the casting out of a demon from a boy whose father appeals to Jesus for help.

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and was saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Mark 9:24 LSB

I remember reading this passage the summer I became a Christian, and the father’s words gave voice to the cry of my heart. I knew I thought some things were true about Jesus—that He existed and was God’s Son—but I realized I didn’t have the whole picture, and I had no idea what else I needed to believe or what I was even capable of believing.

As they travel, Jesus again tells the disciples what will happen in Jerusalem (cf. Mark 8:31).

From there they went out and were going through Galilee, and He was not wanting anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise again three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.
Mark 9:30-32 LSB

France writes that in Mark 9:30-50,

“The process of re-educating the disciples which began in 8:31 with the first announcement of Jesus’ coming rejection and death is now resumed with a second such announce­ment (9:30-32). As in 8:32-33, the disciples again respond by revealing how completely they have misunderstood the values of the kingdom of God and Jesus offers a further lesson in the reversal of natural expectations ((;33-37). Mark follows this basic lesson with some further teaching on the unexpected dynamics of discipleship.”2

At the beginning of Mark 10, Jesus and the disciples have reached Judea. France titles Mark 10:1–31 as “The Revolutionary Values of the Kingdom of God.”3 Marriage, children, wealth, and position are all topics that come up. From the Pharisees to the disciples to the rich young ruler, Jesus instructs and corrects. This section closes with Jesus saying:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 LSB

For the third time Jesus makes reference to His death. This time He tells the disciples why He will die: “to give His life a ransom for many.”

This middle section of Mark, the road to Jerusalem (8:22–10:52), began with the healing of a blind man in Bethsaida. It ends with the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus. They bookend the disciples’ blindness to Jesus’ teaching (see France’s remarks on the metaphor of blindness).

Despite seeing and hearing the unbelief, the obtuseness and the jockeying for position Jesus sets His face towards Jerusalem. Although I knew that was coming, it was still remarkable to read, to see again the extent to which He was surrounded by people who didn’t understand, and then to see Him still take that road. R. T. France writes:

“The ‘natural’ assumptions and valuations by which people operate no longer apply in the kingdom of God. It is a genuinely alternative society. His own loss of life for the sake of others not only embodies this new scale of values but also offers the disciples a model to follow. And because his death will not be a meaningless loss but the means to a God-given end (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν [lytron anti polon: a ransom for many]), this final pronouncement of Act Two gives at least the beginning of an answer to the question which must have been growing in the mind of any reader who has felt the full force of the three passion predictions: Why must he die? The ransom saying thus brings the central section of the gospel to an appropriate conclusion, and one which prepares the reader for the arrival in Jerusalem and the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ warnings.”4

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 LSB

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
With Passover Approaching, Jesus Goes Up to Jerusalem: James Tissot. Public Domain.
1,2,3,4R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI: 2002) 326, 370, 385.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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