Mark 9

Mark 9:1

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Will not taste death. All of the disciples, except Judas, would be alive to see the Son of Man ascending into heaven and coming into his kingdom. Peter saw it and later wrote, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).

Further reading: “They will not taste death

Mark 9:4

Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.

Moses and Elijah. The Mount of Transfiguration was like a stage play with three characters. On one side stood Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets.

Mark 9:5

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

The disciples marveled to see these two pillars of the old covenant talking with Jesus. But this was no cast of equals, for the spotlight shone only on one (see verse 7).

Mark 9:7

Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”

My beloved Son. The heavenly voice repeats the message heard at Christ’s baptism. See entry for Matt. 3:17.

(b) Listen to Him. Initially, all three actors spoke. Then the Director of the transfiguration play gave his instruction: “Listen to Jesus.” What happened to Moses and Elijah? They exited stage left, leaving the Son of promise to stand alone. The ministries of Moses and Elijah were glorious, but theirs was a fading glory. They could not share the stage with the more glorious ministry of Jesus. By the mandate of heaven, Jesus, the new covenant messenger, speaks alone.

Mark 9:18

and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.”

They could not do it. The disciples had experience casting out demons (Mark 6:13), but failed to deal with this one. When they asked Jesus about it later, he said “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29).

Prayer reminds us who is on the throne. Instead of lifting up the name of Jesus, these disciples had been arguing with the scribes (Mark 9:14). They had been contending in the flesh instead of walking by faith.

Mark 9:22

“It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”

(a) Pity. The original word for pity (splagchnizomai) is normally translated as compassion. This word appears a dozen times in the New Testament and in every case it is associated with the divine compassion revealed in Jesus Christ. See entry for Compassion.

Help us! Like the Canaanite woman who cried to Jesus for help (Matt. 15:25), this man knew that God sent Jesus to help us. See entry for Heb. 13:6.

Mark 9:24

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

(a) I do believe. This man was a believer. He had either seen or heard accounts of the Lord’s healing and deliverance ministry. Yet his faith was being rendered ineffective by unbelief.

(b) Unbelief. The father had seen the child’s symptoms from childhood and he had looked to the disciples for help, but this only fed his unbelief. He needed to fix his eyes on the Lord.

(b) Help. For a second time, the man cries out to the Lord for help (Mark 9:22). Shamelessly asking God for help in our time of need is one way we receive grace (Heb. 4:16).

Mark 9:26

After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!”

Most of them said. When you walk by sight you will hear all sorts of negative reports. “It’s incurable.” “Get your affairs in order.” “He is dead.” But those who walk by faith look to Doctor Jesus to see what he says.

Mark 9:29

And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

Prayer. Jesus is not saying we need to pound heaven with our prayers or that we need to pray ourselves into a lather. Don’t babble on like those who think they will be heard for their many words (Matt. 6.7). Prayer is as much about what we see rather than what we say. Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts may be opened (Eph. 1:18). Prayer helps us see as Jesus sees. Prayer reminds us Who is on the throne.

Mark 9:41

“For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

(a) A cup of water. To serve a Christian is to serve Christ himself. Even small acts of kindness are noticed.

(b) Followers of Christ. Jesus is not describing acts of Christian service but acts of service done to Christians. “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ” (Mark 9:41).

(c) His reward is Jesus.

Jesus is not saying that God rewards small acts of kindness (how? with what?). He is describing acts of kindness done to the least of his disciples. He is continuing the theme he began in verse 40: He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives a righteous man, receives a righteous man’s reward. The only thing that has changed is the word receives. Showing even a small kindness to a disciple is the same as receiving them and he who receives you, receives me.

On that day when the King will separate the sheep from the goats there will be some who are surprised to be numbered among the righteous. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” And the King will reply “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:37–40).

When Saul persecuted the Christians, Jesus said “You are persecuting me” (Acts 9:5). Acts of harm done to Christians were reckoned by Christ as though they were done to him. In the same way acts of kindness done to Christians because they are Christians are reckoned by Christ as though they were done to him. “Because you receive them in my name, I will receive you.”

Mark 9:42

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

(a) Whoever causes. Jesus is talking about religious-types who preach dead works and cause Christians to have doubts about the grace of God (e.g., the Judaizers). An example would be the Jews from the circumcision group who caused Peter withdrew from the Gentiles and come under condemnation. Thankfully, Paul was able to bring Peter back. “I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Gal. 2:11).

(b) Little ones. A believer. Someone who depends on the Lord like a helpless child (see Matt. 18:3–4).

(c) Stumble or offend.

(d) Millstone. Tying weights to people’s necks and drowning them was something the Romans did in special cases of infamy. Jesus is basically saying, “Because the business of saving lives is such a serious business, whoever sidelines an ambassador of mine does incalculable harm.”

Further reading: “The one about the millstone and the sea

Mark 9:43

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

(a) Cut it off; see entry for Matt. 5:30.

Enter life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. To enter life is synonymous with entering the kingdom (Mark 9:47).

See entry for New Life.

(c) Hell; see entry for Matt. 5:22.

(d) Unquenchable fire; see next verse.

Mark 9:44


(a) Worm. This strange quote about worms, which is only recorded in Mark’s Gospel, comes from Isaiah’s prophecy on the final judgment of the Lord (see Is. 66:24). After Judgment Day, those who rebel against the Lord will be dead (“they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me”), but the worms or maggots which feed upon them will not die.

(b) Fire is not quenched. The insatiable maggots and the unquenchable fire are graphic images of a judgment that is utterly final and complete. See also the entry for Rev. 20:14.

Mark 9:45

“If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,

(a) Enter life; see entry for Mark 9:43.

(b) Hell; see entry for Matt. 5:22.

Mark 9:46


(a) Worm; see entry for Mark 9:44.

(b) Fire is not quenched; see entry for Mark 9:44.

Mark 9:47

“If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

(a) To enter the kingdom of God is to enter new life and vice versa. See entry for Mark 9:43.

(b) Hell; see entry for Matt. 5:22.

Mark 9:48


(a) Worm; see entry for Mark 9:44.

(b) Fire is not quenched; see entry for Mark 9:44.

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