This mp3 covers chapter 9 through verse 37 and includes a discussion of two of the most remarkable miracles so far in Mark’s Gospel. First is The Transfiguration. How could Moses and Elijah appear in their glorified states before the crucifixion? And in the healing of a demon possessed boy, why couldn’t the disciples heal him? What was going on between them and the teachers of the Law? The conclusion is a review of what it means to be a child of God.
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We’re in Mark 9 this time. We actually covered Mark 9:1 at the very end of our last session, because that’s really where verse 1 belongs, it belongs at the end of chapter 8. And the topic shifts now, with Mark 9:2.
And so it says:
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Now, “after six days,” that’s six days after the things that happened in chapter 8, the last of which was Peter’s confession it’s called—Peter’s declaration is a better word for it, I think—when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you think I am?”
And Peter said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” And six days after that, is when the transfiguration took place.
Now, if you were over in Luke 9, Luke says it was about eight days later. If you look at the construction of the language, you’ll find out that in Mark, they just started the day after the transfiguration. They counted off six days, and so there were six days between Peter’s confession and the transfiguration. Luke included the day of the confession and the day of the transfiguration, and that’s how he comes up with eight days. So, there’s no conflict there, it’s just a difference in the way the two writers counted between the two events, and so don’t let anybody fool you on that one.
Also, if we looked in Luke’s version, we would see that—by the way, it’s in chapter 9:28-36—but in verses 30 and 31, Luke mentions that Moses and Elijah also appeared in a glorious, what Luke calls, a glorious format. Let’s go and look at that so you’ll have it clear. Luke 9:30 and 31.
Luke 9:30 says:
Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.
And so, you have this issue now of Jesus being transfigured before them, and Moses and Elijah also appearing in this same glorious form.
And so, this gives some people trouble because they say, “How could this be? Jesus hadn’t been to the cross yet. How could Moses and Elijah be appearing with them in human form, but in a glorified state, more like what we would expect to be in after the Rapture? We’ll be in a glorified form after the Rapture.” And so, they’re saying the cross was still in the future, the sins hadn’t been paid for—how could this happen?
For instance, how could Elijah even have been taken into Heaven in his physical form? Because that’s how he came into Heaven in 2 Kings 2. You see from the songs we sing, we know that the chariots of fire came down and took Elijah up to Heaven in a whirlwind; he’s one of two people in the Old Testament who went straight from this life into the next one. The other one was Enoch. Neither one of them died first, they all went straight to be with the Lord.
And some people say, “Well, how can that be? Because they had a sin nature just like everybody else, and they were sinners. How could this happen?”
People don’t understand this, how this could happen. And of course there are several good answers I can give you for how it happened.
One is, Enoch and Elijah are models of the Rapture of the Church; they just were given to us beforehand. They are the two witnesses, if you will, who demonstrate that some people will not pass death, but will go straight from this life to that one.
The Lord made that happen as a model for us so that we could understand that you can actually do this. And then, of course, when we get into the New Testament, we get up to 1 Corinthians (which was written in about 51-52 AD), Paul announced that for the first time on Earth that there would be a generation of people who wouldn’t die; they would straight from this life into the next one. He said: This has been a secret all this time and I am revealing it to you, this is how it’s going to happen. Some of us will not taste death, we’ll go straight.
Okay, so that’s one answer. What God was doing was giving us a preview, showing us how this can happen. By the way, you go back into the Torah, and you’ll see if you look at the incident called Korah’s Rebellion in the Old Testament, you’ll see that two people went alive into Hell in the Old Testament. And so there’s a model for the negative, and there’s a model for the positive.
And what is Paul saying toward the end of Book of Romans? He said, “All these things were written for our learning so that we could better understand.”
So there’s one. The second thing is God could have moved everybody through time, couldn’t He? I mean, He could have taken Peter, James and John forward in time and showed them Moses and Elijah as if the cross had already taken place. He could do that, because God can do that with people, can’t He? He can take them forward. He took John from the 1st century all the way to the end of the age, and showed him everything that was going to happen.
He is the author of time. He is also outside of time, and so He can do things with time that you and I can’t do just yet. Of course, I believe the Bible tells us that when we’re in our glorified bodies, we’ll have some freedom with time just like those other guys do; we’ll be able to move back and forth too. But that’s just my opinion. Anyway, that’s another thing He could have done.
Let’s look at Isaiah 6, and you’ll see an example of a case where, here’s Isaiah, he’s walking down the road one day minding his own business, and all of a sudden he says in Isaiah 6:1, all of a sudden he says:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Now how can this be? How could a mere mortal see the Lord and live to tell about it? By the way, the year King Uzziah died was 740 BC. So you are 740 plus 30 more; 770 years before the cross and Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord.”
Skip down to verse 5 He says:
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
He’s expecting to die from this! Verse 6:
Then one of the seraphs
It’s only used by Isaiah, I believe they are the same beings that are called “cherubs,” or “cherubim” in other parts of the Bible.
They flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
From the altar in front of the throne of God.
With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Now, could God have done this with Moses and Elijah as well, and just told us about it? Sure He could, because God is the one who does these things, right? God is the one who forgives sins; God is the one who takes care of things like these. And God being outside of time, can see us as if this has already been accomplished for us. Look at 2 Corinthians 5—I realize I’m skipping all around here on you and I apologize for that, but you’re going to get to see the whole Bible tonight, maybe not every single verse, but we’ll get most of them.
Okay 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come!
Now listen to that language: “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.” Not will be, not can be, not should be, he is a new creation. And the old has gone. Not will go, not is on the way, but has gone, and the new has come.
All right, you understand that? That means from God’s point of view, the “you” that existed before you became a believer no longer exists, and the “you” that now exists is just like He is. This is how He sees you, because of the fact that you’ve accepted the Lord Jesus as your savior, you have asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you from your sins, that has literally happened.
The old, as far as He’s concerned, the old has gone and the new has come. And what that means from our point of view, because we’re still down here on Earth sinning,right? Anybody here sin today? Okay one did. Okay. [laughs] We’ll pray for you. Oh there’s two! Okay, all right.
So, we’re still down here as sinners but God sees us as new creations. He says: That old person has gone; the new has come. What is He doing? He is choosing, because you chose to accept the pardon that Jesus purchased for you at the cross, He has now chosen to see you as you will be, not as you are. He already sees you as you will be, you understand that?
As far as He’s concerned, you’re not a sinner, and you never have sinned. And why? Skip down to 2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin
Who’s that? Jesus!
He made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
And so here’s what happened: Jesus is God in human form. Absolutely, totally, purely, 100% righteous. He agreed to become absolutely, totally, 100% sin so that you can be absolutely, totally, 100% righteous. Do you understand that?
And that’s how He can see you that way. Even though you’re still down here sinning, He’s up there seeing you as if you never did. He didn’t just forgive you for your sins, He now looks upon you as if you have never sinned. He looks upon you as if you are absolutely as righteous as He is. You got that? Okay, now that doesn’t mean go run off and go do all the sinning you want, because that would be a very big show of disrespect on our part wouldn’t it, to do that? In fact Paul said, “Our job now is to try and live up to what we already are.”
It doesn’t make sense from a grammatical standpoint, how do you try and become what you already are? What he’s saying is, as far as God is concerned you’re already perfect. Now, try and act a little more like you are. You know you’ll never make it, but out of gratitude for Him seeing you this way, why not try to be a little bit more like that, just because it would please Him?
Now one more, and then we’ll go to Romans 7, because this is a tremendous issue for believers because this is how God could guarantee your salvation the moment you believed; this is the mechanism by which He can do that. You’ll find people who will say, “Well, you were a sinner, and then you got saved, and now you’re not supposed to sin anymore because if you do, you might lose your salvation!”
Well, it’s true you’re not supposed to sin anymore, but it’s not going to cost you your salvation, because God gave you that at the moment you first believed. And He guaranteed it, so that nobody can ever take it away from you. How could He do that? Because He now sees you as if you’re as perfect as He is. You understand? That’s how He can guarantee it, because He now sees you as if you’re as perfect as He is.
Look over in Romans 7. If there was anybody who knew how to please God, if there was anybody who knew what God requires, if there’s anybody who was zealous enough for God to make the absolute maximum human effort to live a sin free life, it would have been Paul, don’t you think? Here he was, he was trained as a Pharisee, he was trained by the leading rabbi of the day, he knew more about God than anybody else probably alive on Earth during his time. He saw clearly both the Old Testament, and the New Testament, because when he went down there into Arabia and disappeared for three years after the Damascus Road he said, “I was taught personally by Jesus these things.” And so he got three years of one-on-one tutoring by the Lord Himself. If there’s anybody who should have been able to do this, it would have been Paul. And look what he says in Romans 7, we’ll start reading in 14.
Romans 7:14 he says:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Now that sounds like me; how about you, does that sound like you? We really don’t do the things we want to do, instead we wind up sometimes even shocking ourselves by the fact that we’re still doing the things we hate about ourselves.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
The law is what shows us the quality, or the level, of behavior that the Lord requires. The law is good—the law is perfect, David wrote in Psalm 19. It’s absolutely perfect. It is designed to be a standard by which we can compare our behavior, so that we can decide that we are sinners and need a savior; that was the law’s purpose.
As it is,
Now listen very carefully to this:
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
This is what God sees. When you sin—notice I didn’t say “if,” when you sin—God looks at you and He says: You know, that isn’t Jack who did that. That’s the sin nature that still lives in Jack, because to Me, Jack is as perfect as I am.
Put your own name in there; it’s not just me, I’m not the only one. But I’ve got to make it sound good to the people on the tape [laughing], so it’s got to come out that when you sin, God says: That wasn’t you who did that, that was the sin who dwells in you.
In other words, He separates the person from the behavior. And He does this because He already sees you as He knows you’re going to be one day soon—perfect in every way, because He’s going to make you that way, all right?
And so we’ll read on a little bit here:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do, no the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living within me.
Now see, that is one of the most important things that you can learn about your relationship with God. He has chosen to see you as if you never sinned, because you have chosen to accept His pardon which has cleansed you from all of your sin.
It’s not just that you’ve avoided a spanking, it’s not that you’ve gotten away with something with God—He knows all that you’ve done and everything—but He has chosen to forget it, and He has chosen not to see it because you have chosen to accept His pardon for it. So while you’re here, hard as you try not to, you will sin. In fact, if you’re like me, the harder you try not to, the more you’re going to do it! Okay? Because we always wind up doing the very thing we say we’re not going to ever do!
You know, this is why I’ve always thought that when God gets the unbelievers at the end of the age and judges them, He’s not going to judge them by His standards, He is going to judge them by theirs. Because, you see, we don’t even live up to our own standards, do we? We continually violate our own principles; we do things we say we’ll never do, we say things we say we’ll never say, we act in a way we say we’ll never act, because we can’t even live up to our own standards!
This is why He had to make you perfect, because if He didn’t, every one of us would by now have destroyed what He gave us. We would have sinned in spite of it, we would have lost the gift, and we would be without hope. And so, in order to save us, He had to make us perfect in His sight from the very moment that we accepted His pardon. From the very moment!
And that’s why Ephesians 1:13 says the moment you first believed, you heard the Gospel of your salvation and you believed it, and He marked you with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit that guarantees your inheritance.
And He did it right at the moment of your belief; not after you had proved yourself worthy, right at that moment He sealed the Holy Spirit within you, guaranteeing your inheritance. He had to do it that way, or else His death on the cross would have been in vain, because all of us still sin. We would all have lost what He died to give us. Now, is that clear? Okay.
So, could then the Lord take two men, Moses and Elijah, take them into Heaven, take them out of time, forgive them for their sins, put them into glorified bodies so that they could appear as witnesses to what’s coming? Could He have done that? Yes He could. And it wouldn’t have violated any of His laws to do so. Einstein says it’s just a matter of speed which is right, you know, the speed of light is what governs time. If you’re not controlled by that, then time has no control over you.
Okay, so let’s go back to Mark 9 now. And we just had a big turkey dinner, I decided to give you the best part of the lesson first, so that when you fall asleep in a few minutes [laughs] you’ll at least have heard the best stuff first.
All right. So here we are, we’re on the Mount of Transfiguration now it’s called, and we’ve got Jesus standing there, and suddenly He changed into His glorified state. Then Moses and Elijah appear with Him in their glorified state, and then we got Peter, James, and John over here still poor old fishermen from the Galilee in their normal state, okay? And they’re all there. But more people are going to show up here in a minute, so just hang on.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
By the way, this is Peter’s account so here’s what he’s saying about himself:
(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
I guess they would be. Verse 7:
Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Now, I wonder who that could be? It’s actually two, because the voice is the voice of God; the cloud is a manifestation of God, which in the Old Testament is called the Shekinah Glory; it’s the Holy Spirit.
So look what we got now: we got Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We got Moses and Elijah, we got Peter, James and John. We have a representation here of the Kingdom, from start to finish.
There are several ways you can look at these gentlemen who were there, but my favorite one is that Moses, who was the giver of the law, and Elijah, who was considered in Israel to be the greatest of all the prophets. The law and the prophets, when you combine them are the Hebrew title, if you will, or name, for the Old Testament.
And so Moses and Elijah represent the Old Covenant. Peter, James and John are soon to become part of the Church, and they represent the New Covenant. And by Covenant I mean all the people who were under the Old Covenant are represented by Moses and Elijah; all the people who are under the New Covenant represented by Peter, James and John.
And so if you want, you’ve got: The Father, Son, Holy Spirit; the law, the prophets; and the Church. All standing there together in one place on the Mount of Transfiguration. And what are they talking about? Well, Peter’s talking about building tents for them all—but the rest of them, Moses and Elijah and the Lord, are talking about what’s coming soon, His departure.
And when Peter wrote about this in 1 Peter 1:16-18, he also said that He was talking about His Coming. Which meant His return, because He was already here the first time, and so if you will, it was kind of like a staff meeting and they were looking at the plan and discussing the details of the plan.
The plan by which Jesus would first die for the sins of the people, go be resurrected and go to be with the Father, and then return. And so we have the representation here of the entire plan for man on top of this mountain in northern Israel.
Now, why did Peter talk about setting up shelters or tents, or booths, some of the translations say? Because in his mind, this was the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles when God comes again to dwell with the people. One of the things they do in celebration in the Feast of Tabernacles is they build little shelters for themselves like little lean-tos and things out of branches and things out in their yards, and they go live in them to try and remember how it was when God’s people dwelt in the wilderness.
And they do that every year in the Feast of Tabernacles, and it’s a memorial of the time when God dwelt with man. And so, Peter’s looking ahead to that, and he knows it’s coming again, and so he’s kind of in that frame of mind when he sees them all together there, he sees them as being together in the Kingdom, and there’s God dwelling among men again. And so, his mind just went to the symbolic things that they did every year, and so that’s what he decided that they could do.
Now, another way to look at all this is that, as we’re going to see in a few minutes, Elijah has a particular project that has been assigned to him, and he could be there giving a report on that project.
Let’s look and see what that project is.
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
See, it’s not just people today who can’t take things literally; Peter, James and John wondered what He really meant by that. Why? Because nobody rises from the dead! At least nobody had at that point.
And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Meaning before; what they just saw.
Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.
Now, that’s the project he has. Elijah is called the Restorer for that reason; his job was to come and restore everything.
Now let’s go to Malachi 4, last verses in the Bible—last couple of verses in the Old Testament, I should say—Malachi 4:5 and 6.
Now here he says in Malachi 4:5 says:
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah
Now, this was written 400 BC. Elijah had been dead for several hundred years by then.
But he said:
I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
Now listen to verse 6:
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers;
That was his job, to bring the people back together under the Lord. He said:
Or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
And of course, what happened was that Elijah came, and the people were not persuaded, and so the “or else” clause kicked in and the Lord struck the land with a curse. Because, let’s go back to Mark now, and verse 12.
Mark 9:12 He says:
“To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
Now let’s go to Matthew 17 to get a little more detail on that. Because you remember, Matthew was writing to the Jews here. Mark’s Gospel is for the Gentiles in Rome, and they wouldn’t care as much about the time of John the Baptist, because they weren’t Jewish, they weren’t in Israel, John was not one of their prophets, all those things.
Matthew 17:11 says:
“To be sure,
This is the same event, but this is Matthew’s version of it.
“To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
All right, you got it? Okay, let’s go to Luke 1 (let’s see if I can find this), okay, Luke 1:13.
Zechariah is a priest in Israel, he was John the Baptist’s father. And about once in their lifetime a priest might be chosen to bring the incense into the incense altar, which was either just outside or just inside the Holy of Holies. Once they got chosen that was it, they could only do it once. Some never got chosen once, but some who were blessed got to do this once, and that was it. One time John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was the priest who was chosen. And he took the incense, and he brought it in to put it on the incense altar, which was right at the entrance of the Holy of Holies, and here’s what happened.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
That was his job; that was his function. He was being sent by God as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 4. He was to be a minister to the people in the spirit and power of Elijah, and his task, his challenge, was just what Malachi 4 said, to bring the people back; to bring them back into obedience, into covenant, if you will, with the Lord your God.
Jesus said that’s what he came to do, but the people did not accept him. And therefore, the “or else” clause of Malachi 4:6 kicked in, the land was struck with a curse, and within 38 years the temple was gone. Within about 100 years, the whole nation was gone. So Elijah is called the Restorer for that reason. And so, this is one of the reasons why many of us think he’s going to have to come again at the end of the age and fulfill His responsibility, and complete the prophecy that he would turn the people back to God.
Many scholars—I don’t call myself a scholar, but I’m someone who believes as many scholars believe, that one of the two witnesses in Revelation will be Elijah fulfilling that final task of his. And once again, he’s going to bring many people to saving faith in the Lord, but once again there are going to be some people who reject him, and once again, he’ll be put to death. But God will raise him up and take him into the Heavens, and consider his mission accomplished. People will have had their last chance.
Back to Mark 9:14:
When they came to the other disciples,
Remember, they’re coming down the mountain (now back down the mountain), and they’re coming into this valley. They’re right outside of Caesarea Philippi, which is in the northern part of Israel up by Mount Hermon. I think Mount Hermon was probably the Mount of Transfiguration. It’s the tallest peak in Israel. The only ski resort in Israel is on Mount Hermon. And I forget what its elevation is, but it’s up 8,000 or 9,000 feet. It’s not a big mountain from where I come, from but it’s a big mountain in Israel. When you got half the land below sea level, you know, 9,000 feet up is pretty high.
Okay so then we go to verse 14:
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.
I want you to pay really close attention to this one, too. This is not the only, or the other one, was not the only good thing about this chapter. I want you to pay close attention to this one, because if you haven’t already, you will have an experience like this.
As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
“What are you arguing with them about?”
Remember, the disciples are arguing with the teachers of the law.
A man in the crowd answered,
[laughs] Not the disciples, a man in the crowd!
“Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.’
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.
Now listen to this poor dad:
But if you can do anything please, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
There is no conditional clause in that, by the way, there’s no “Almost everything.” He didn’t say that. He didn’t say, “Nearly everything.” He didn’t say, “Most things.” He didn’t say, “Many things.” He didn’t say, “Some things.” He didn’t say, “The things that somebody tells you.” He said,” Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Remember that. Everything is possible. This is not the only place He said that, by the way, He said it several times, in several different places, in several different contexts in Scripture. He says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
None of us knows what that means, because all of us have fallen short there, haven’t we? And so, when we fall short, what does that mean? Does it mean that He doesn’t have the power, or we didn’t have the faith? There’s only two choices there, folks. As hard as this is, I know it’s hard, I know—listen, I’ve had as many unanswered prayers as the next guy. But I know there’s only two choices, because everything is possible for him who believes.
So if something was not possible, that must mean that I didn’t believe it was possible, and therefore it wasn’t. You understand that? I’m not knocking anybody’s faith here, I’m not putting anybody down for this, because we’re all in the same boat here. It’s the same for all of us, we all have things that we prayed for that haven’t happened. Am I right? And here is why, now here’s the remedy, that can get you started on a different track.
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
That’s the remedy. We don’t say, “It wasn’t the Lord’s time.” We don’t say, “The Lord doesn’t really heal people anymore.” We don’t say, “We’re just getting what we deserve.” If we got what we deserved nobody would get any prayers answered. We say, “Help me with my unbelief.” That is what we say.
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Now here’s the unanswered, or the unspoken, part of all this. If you study Old Testament tradition, Old Testament doctrine, you will find that in the Old Testament, the priests had a procedure for exorcising demons from people. This is not just something that the Catholic Church invented, or that movies have made popular; this is something that they took for granted in those days, and there was a procedure that the priest had for bringing a demon out of a person.
This procedure, by the way, required that they have a conversation, a verbal acknowledgment, from the evil spirit. When an evil spirit struck its victim mute, there could be no acknowledgment and the procedure failed.
As I studied this passage, I’m of the opinion that the argument that the priests had with the disciples is that the priests wanted the procedure followed, because that’s what they had been taught.
You see, the priests had more faith in procedure than in anything else, didn’t they? That’s why they were so obsessive about the law, because keeping the law was the procedure by which you achieved righteousness, you understand?
This is why they are so obsessive about it, because they believed that the procedure is what saved them. And so, when they came to this case where their procedure couldn’t do it, there was an argument with the disciples. And the disciples, who had spent all of their lives in awe of these teachers, were intimidated. This is my opinion. And because they were intimidated, their faith was not sufficient.
In other words I believe, the priests, by arguing that the procedure couldn’t be followed, and therefore, there was nothing they could do, talked the disciples out of believing that they could cast out the spirit, and that’s why they couldn’t do it.
Because you see, this kind of thing happens through prayer, not because of procedure. In the Church today, there are lots of places where there is procedure that has to be followed in order for something to happen. There are so-called “formula prayers” that you have to give, where you have to speak the right words and speak them in the right order, and you have to do these certain things before something can happen. And if you don’t follow the procedure, the Lord will ignore you.
I don’t believe this, I don’t believe this is the case. But I know people who go to great lengths to try and discover the procedure by which they can make certain things happen. There’s a whole school of thought that says if you speak certain words in a certain way you can speak things into existence. Sometimes this is called the word of faith, there they say that if you say the right words, in the right order, then the Lord has to respond. You can force Him to do what you want Him to do if you know the procedure, if you know the right way to do it.
I just finished reading a book that the main purpose of the book is to learn the procedure by which you can make the Holy Spirit take your prayers to the Lord. It’s not just those people back then that had these things, It’s people now who have them. And how many people, I wonder, don’t pray for things, don’t ask for things, because they’re afraid they don’t know how, and that if they don’t ask in the right way it can’t work, it won’t happen.
You know, the pagans have procedures; incantations they call them. They have so-called formula curses that they issue, where it’s the things they say and the way they say it that gives it power. That’s a pagan thought, that’s a thought from paganism.
You have a Father who has invited you into His throne room, up on His lap, to ask Him anything you want; that’s your procedure. I mean, there He is up there, running the universe. He’s got people going every which way. All of a sudden, you come running into the throne room unannounced, you know like a four year old kid, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! I need this!”
And you know what He says? Do you know what He says to all the powerful angels around Him, all the hierarchy of spiritual powers around Him? What He says is, “Hold it guys. My kid is here. What is it, my precious child? Come and ask Me anything you want, and it’s yours.”
Now that’s not my idea, you know, Paul said it. Paul said we can go boldly into the throne.
Boldly. You don’t need an appointment, you don’t need to get past a secretary, you don’t need to call ahead, you don’t need to do any of that. You can go boldly into the throne of God whenever, and you can jump up on your Daddy’s lap, and you can say, “Daddy, I hurt. Fix me.”
And He says, “My precious, precious child. I’ll give you anything you ask for because if you believe, everything is possible.”
That’s your formula. We ought to stop there and pray! [laughs] But unfortunately we got a little ways further to go here, so we’ve got to stick with “the procedure.” [laughs]
All right. Verse 30:
They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. And they’ll kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
I mean, stop and think—what an outrageous statement that was for Him to make! He has spent all this time showing them these miracles, convincing them that He has power over everything. Remember, He has power over the wind, because He stopped the wind from blowing one night. He has power over the storm, because He calmed the storm. He has power over gravity, because He walked on the water. He has power over physical things, because He multiplied a few loaves of bread into a dinner for 5,000 people. I mean, He has power over demons because He just threw out this demon out of this kid. He has power over illness because He makes people well.
He has all this power, and now He says, “I’m going to be betrayed into the hands of men and they’re going to kill Me. But after three days I’ll rise again.”
You can’t blame them for not understanding that, can you? And besides this, you know, they haven’t been given the Holy Spirit yet, and so they didn’t really have that supernatural wisdom that you and I take for granted.
Now of course what He was really saying is: I have to do this, so that all the other things I’ve been saying can come true; everything hinges on this.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Now you know why I waited and went to get my food last, right? [laughs] That’s right.
He took a little child and had him stand among them. And taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
This again, is a very narrow summary of this teaching, but in the interest of time, I want you to just think about what it means.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
In that culture, children had no rights. None. They were property, and they could be disposed of as property, without consequence. When a boy got to be—in the Jewish culture it was at the age of thirteen, in the Roman culture it was fourteen up to eighteen, and in the Greek culture it was fourteen—when they got to be that age, the father could decide that they were worthy to be adopted by him. Now, these would be his biological children, but they didn’t have any rights in the household. They didn’t have any guarantee of anything, even from their own father, until they reached an age where he could make a decision as to whether they were competent enough, or worthy enough, to be made part of the family. And if he decided that they were, they would hold an adoption ceremony, and he would legally adopt them into the family, and at that point they became his heir. Up until then, they had no right to expect anything from him, not even his attention.
Once he decided they were competent and worthy, he could choose to adopt them, and at that point they would begin to have some legal rights as an heir. But up until then they were nothing.
And Jesus said: If you respect one of these people who has no right to be respected, you are respecting Me. If you are kind to the weakest, you’re being kind to Me.
Remember in the Sheep and Goat Judgment where He says to the sheep, the people on His right: “I was sick and you took care of Me, I was hungry and you fed Me, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.”
And they said to Him: “When did this ever happen?”
And He said: “It happened every time you did one of those things for the least of these brothers of Mine. Because when you did something for the least one among us, you were doing it for Me.”
Because you see, you would have no reason to do something for someone who had no right, someone who could never pay you back, someone who could never return the favor. And so, if you were going to do something for someone who had no rights, and who could never repay you, that means you’re doing it with pure motives, aren’t you? You’re not just being manipulative, you’re not fawning over somebody and hoping that that person will someday return the favor or do something nice for you, or remember you in his will, or things like that. Because you’re doing that for somebody who has no ability to repay you, and so your motive must be pure. It must be a pure expression of love. And so, when Jesus said that “Whoever does this for one of these little children, he is doing it for Me.” He is saying: I know that your motive is pure; this is love that you’re expressing, because the recipient has no hope of responding in kind.
You understand? Now, back to the adoption. I think we’ve covered this once before in here, but go with me to Galatians for just a minute, because it bears repeating. Galatians 4:4, and now you’ll see what this verse means. Let’s start with verse 4:1 because this will get us into it, and it’ll show you that I’m not making this up.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
He’s talking about the son. As long as he’s a child, he’s no better than a slave, because he has no rights. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. Wealthy families especially would hire teachers to prepare the children to become competent and worthy. These teachers were called “pedagogues” and that’s where we get the word pedagogue from, which is a fancy word for teacher.
So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of this world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
This means Jesus came so that we could be adopted into the Father’s family, therefore achieving the full rights of sons.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Now, do you see? When you first came into the world you were a slave, no better than a slave, destined for destruction. And then God sent His Son, born under the law, to redeem us from the penalty of the law. He did that so that God could adopt us as His child, and because we’ve been adopted as His child, we are now His heir.
You understand what that means? We’ve talked about it before, right? God is now legally obligated to share the universe with you. You now own, by right of law, a piece of the universe! I don’t know which piece it is, but you own part of it; it’s yours, you have legal rights to it, it cannot be taken from you. So, stake your claim, pick your spot.
We could go to Romans 8 and see more of this. There are several places in Scripture that tell us that when we accepted the Lord’s pardon, we were adopted into the Father’s family and we became a child of God at that moment. And because we are a child of God, we are now heirs to the inheritance.
Now, what does that really mean? That means that God’s only Son, who was heir to everything, voluntarily gave up His rights of inheritance so that you could have yours. That’s another thing He did for you. He voluntarily gives, because it was all His, right? He was the only Son. He came to redeem everything that Adam had lost, and so now it’s all His, He’s the heir!
But wait a minute, He can’t be the only one, because we just learned that we are also heirs, so He must have given up some of what He had so that we can have what we get. It’s another thing He did for you.
The list goes on. He’s a good guy, this Jesus! He’s done a lot, He’s done a lot for you. I got to follow this through just a little bit more and then we’ll stop here, okay? I’m not going to try and make it to the end of the chapter, because I want you to really get this stuff. Because we’ve been on pretty much the same track all night; we’ve been talking about faith and how everything is possible for those with faith. And how much has come to us simply because of our faith, because we had the faith to ask the Lord to save us from our sins.
We not only have been forgiven, we’ve also been made perfect in every way, and we’ve been made heirs of the universe. And what did we do? How did we get this? How did we earn this? What competence do we have that commends us to this? Nothing! We just believe.
You know, I’ve said this before, the Old Testament can be boiled down into one question. Take the entire Old Testament, 39 books, put them in a pot, boil them all down, take off the lid, one question will come out.
And the question is this:
Israel, are you going to obey Me, or not?
That’s the Old Testament in a question, right? Israel, are you going to obey Me or not?
Now let’s take the same with the New Testament, 27 books, put in the pot, turn up the heat, boil it down, boil it, boil it, boil it, take off the lid, one question will come out.
The whole New Testament, one question:
Church, are you going to believe Me, or not?
Isn’t that something? The whole Bible in two questions. Now the question in the Old Testament so far, the answer’s been no.
What’s the answer to the question of the New Testament? Are we going to believe God or not? Are we going to believe Him, or not? Because if we believe Him, you see, that means anything is possible. Anything is possible for him who believes. Sounds like a hypothetical statement, but I believe the Lord was sincere; I believe He meant this to be taken literally. Anything is possible for him who believes.
Now, if we were to turn to Romans—and see, I’m so far off the track now that it doesn’t really matter where we go [laughs], but this will be a good one I think to finish up.
Romans 8:12, and we’ll read a few verses here.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if we live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
How do we put the misdeeds of the body to death? We accept the life that is offered to us by Jesus. He’s going to say this, so you won’t have to believe me:
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear; but, you received the Spirit of sonship, or of adoption.
And by him, by the spirit we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Now, by the way, sharing in His suffering doesn’t mean you have to go be nailed to a cross and die a painful death. It doesn’t even mean that you have to live a life of misery and poverty and sacrifice. By sharing in His suffering, it means you accept His suffering as payment for your sins. You accept His suffering as payment for your sins. Now you’ve shared in that, and the reward for that is that you get to share in His inheritance. See how that works?
I just thought of one more, John 1:12:
To all who did receive him,
Talking about Jesus,
And to those who believed in his name, he gave the right
The Greek word there says “authority,” as well as “right.”
He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
This is what it means to be born again. When you receive the Lord as your savior, He gives you the authority to become a child of God. And you are now born not of human descent, not because of the biological union of your mother and father—you are born of God; you are born again. And now, you are a child of God, and you are joint heirs with Christ. That’s what’s coming, that’s what you’ve got coming. And it’s coming soon.
And now I’ll tell you again what Paul once said, your job, in the time that’s left to us, is to try and live up to what you already are.
You see, these next few years could be a little different than we’ve had in the past. And I don’t say that as a political statement, I say that as the trends that we see. I don’t care who takes office on January 20th next year, he’s got a job that’s impossible. He’s got problems that cannot be fixed.
But you don’t have to worry about that. You just focus on trying to be who you already are. You’re a child of God; you have an inheritance in the universe. And before you know it, He’s going to take you to see it; and all of this will be something you will wonder why you were ever concerned about it.
Very surely my good friends, you will wonder why you were ever worried about what’s confronting you today. You will wonder what it was that made you so shortsighted and so dull that you could not understand that this too shall pass, and you’ve got an inheritance coming that nobody can even describe.
And you will shake your head in amazement at your former dullness, that you were so concerned about this, so preoccupied with it, so stressed out over it and you will say to yourself, “How could I have wasted all that energy over something that didn’t turn out to be anything?”
And the Lord will say back to you, “I don’t know, Why were you?” [laughing] “Because,” He says, “I put it here in My Word, I put it in plain language so that you could read it, and I made it simple enough so that even you could understand it.”
Well, you’re children of the King. You got a piece of the universe coming. This stuff here doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
In 2 Corinthians 4 I believe it is, Paul said we shouldn’t be worried about the things we can see, because the things we can see are just temporary. What we ought to be focused on is the things we can’t see, because those things are eternal.
And that’s a good place to stop for tonight. Let’s have a closing prayer and then I’ll take all your questions.