Amazing Grace

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

No portion of scripture provides a more succinct view of our need for a savior than Mark 9-10. When praying recently about how to best present this passage in a Bible study, the Lord clearly said, “Get the big picture.” Suddenly I saw these two chapters in a new light … the definitive presentation of the “Mission of the Messiah.” It goes like this.

The Kingdom of God (Mark 9:1-8)

Chapter 9 opens with a promise that some would shortly see “the Kingdom of God come with power.” A week later Peter, James, and John went up the mountain with the Lord and saw him transfigured before them, with Moses and Elijah appearing also. The Majestic Glory (Holy Spirit) was there as well as the Voice of God. (Peter later described this event as involving the Second Coming; 2 Peter 1:16-18).

Elijah Explained (Mark 9:9-13)

When the disciples asked Him about the prophecy that Elijah must return before the Messiah, Jesus plainly told them that Elijah HAD come in the person of John the Baptist. It seems the prophetic requirements for the Kingdom had been met. Or had they?

Satan Bound (Mark 9:14-29)

Immediately upon descending, they were confronted with a situation involving a demon possessed boy and an argument between the religious leaders and the disciples over how to cure him. Jesus banished the demon with a word. A model of Satan bound?

First Things First (Mark 9:30-32)

Then in a private teaching Jesus outlined the coming events that would result in His death and Resurrection. They didn’t understand and were afraid to ask for clarification. Why did He choose to do this here?

Hard Sayings (Mark 9:33-10:31)

Next follows a series of teachings noted for their harshness. Of all His words to us, these contain the clearest description of God’s requirements and offer the least in terms of “wiggle room.”

In Mark 9:33-37 He commands the kind of humility normally expressed only by one without any rights at all, which was the status of a child in that time.

Mark 9:38-41 requires a tolerance toward those whose methods may be different but whose motives are the same.

Mark 9:42-50 speaks of a holiness that would justify the amputation of any part of the body causing the person to sin. Of course He’s speaking metaphorically here because only one organ of the body causes sin, and that’s the heart.

In Mark 10:1-12 the standards are sacrificial love and fidelity, and the only excuse for disobedience in the entire 2 Chapter passage is given. Adultery is an acceptable cause for divorce.

Mark 10:10-16 explains that we must become as little children to inherit the Kingdom. There is ultimately only one quality little children possess that is not automatically found in adults. Children are not accountable in God’s eyes for their sins. He sees them as though they are sinless. Adults must regain this same standing before God to enter the Kingdom.

To unlock the secret of Mark 10:17-21 recall the 10 commandments. Jesus lists six of them, all having to do with the way we should treat one another. The young man claims obedience to these. The other 4 describe the required attitude toward God and this is where the young man was deficient. His wealth was more an object of worship to him than God. By giving it away and joining Jesus, he could try to keep the first 4 commandments.

Amazing Grace

The disciples were shocked by these teachings, and exclaimed, “Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:27: “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

None so Blind as Those Who Will Not See.

Mark 10:32-34. And again He takes them aside to explain His coming death and Resurrection, and I can almost hear Him saying, “Now do you understand?” The fact that they didn’t is clear by the next passage. James and John want seats of honor in the Kingdom. They are still so blinded by the things of this world, that they can’t see the things of God.

The beautiful lesson of the passage is found in the healing of Bartimaeus. It presents a perfect contrast to the requests of the disciples. Being handicapped, he has no worldly position. Unlike the disciples, he’s not a friend or co-worker, nor has he sacrificed as Peter points out they have. Having denied the request of the disciples, based on legitimate merit, the Lord grants the request of Bartimaeus, based solely on his faith.

Here’s the big picture.

So Mark 9-10 offers a view of the Kingdom. The prophetic requirements are met, Satan is bound, the Dead are raised (Moses and Elijah), and some have entered while still alive (Peter, James, John). But first there’s a problem to be solved. It’s the Lord’s standards; way too high for man to meet. The summary of these standards is bracketed by a description of the solution… His Death and Resurrection. That which is impossible for man becomes possible with God. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… not by works.