April 2, 2017
Servant King – Week 12 – Power of God Vs Power of Man
Servant King – Week 12 – Power of God Vs Power of Man
Last week we ended with Jesus and His disciples in the area of Ceaserea Phillipi, where Peter make one of the most profound statement “You are the Messiah” and then make one of the most stupid mistakes (by rebuking Jesus). After that Jesus begins to define and what true discipleship looks like and calls the disciples to a level of self sacrifice that they have not heard of before. Along with that he begins to tell them about the future of what is going to happen and begins to give them more understanding. He heals their “spiritual blindness” in stages.
Today we pick up more of that story and see another layer being revealed to them. Let’s start with the last few verses of Mark 8
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
Growing up I always heard this was a prophecy about the second coming of Jesus. And largely I think this is how these disciples thought about this event as well. Not the second coming necessarily but certainly the idea that Jesus was about to establish His earthly kingdom with power (might and authority). Before we go any further can we just stop right here and confess together, “God, we get who You are and what You are doing wrong all the time.” God would you teach us today more about You and who You are through your Son Jesus.
You see they still are looking through their own lens at who Jesus is… But Jesus has to strip away their false understanding of who He is to show them the better way that God has created. Then Mark unusually tells us it was 6 whole days later that Jesus fulfills this promise to a few. Not immediately it takes the same amount of time as it took to create the world that Jesus waits to reveal His Kingdom coming in power.
2 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. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Notice a few things here. First not all the disciples got this experience. Why do think this is so? Because Peter, James and John were the leaders of this group. Everyone looked to them to set the tone. They all were at times impetuous, many times they said things before speaking, they said the wrong things. They were hot-headed, passionate people. Can I say this, God loves using broken, messed up people and making them leaders in His work. We have sanitized the disciples in our minds to be perfect followers of Christ but one thing we should see so far is that God uses messed up people to do His work. I know churches that struggle to find leaders because they look for only those who’s lives are “outwardly” perfect because they are afraid that if they let someone lead who is messed up then they will look bad. Jesus’ pattern was so different from ours. He used messed up people and then showed them how to operate in the power of God not in the power of Man.
I find it fascinating that that Jesus pairs these characters together. Moses and Elijah were both leaders of the nation of Israel. Moses was a hot-head and dealt with depression So was Elijah. Does that at all sound like a description of Peter, James and John? Where Moses and Elijah failed in some of their character issues, they were soft to God. They desired to be used by Him. They were mold-able. I could imagine conversations between Moses and Elijah with the 3 disciples telling them don’t follow your own path. Follow Him! Let’s keep reading There is a lot more good stuff here.
5 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.”
I have heard this explained so many times that Peter was having this incredible mountain-top experience and he didn’t want to leave so He says “let’s camp up here for awhile” That sounds nice doesn’t it, (That could preach), but I think it is so off. Look at vs 6.
6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
When we read vs 5 it sounds like a statement, but in the Greek it could be a statement or a question. “Rabbi, is it good for us to be here? Maybe I should go find something to do.”
Remember Peter has grown up learning the scriptures He knows that no one can look upon God in His Glory and live. (Exodus 33:20) So he is rightfully frightened. He thinks he about to “see his maker” as the saying goes. I don’t blame him, but how does apply to us? What does this tell us about our relationship with Jesus?
When we come face to face with God and His power in our lives it can have 2 different possible effects on us.
1 it can frighten us and have us searching for a way out, (this is what happened to Peter) or
2 it can humble us and cause us to follow him more deeply. (Ultimately this is what it does for Peter James and John.)
Here is the main point I want us to learn today and we are going to see it repeated over and over again in this lesson… Failure never defines me, it only develops me. Can you say that with me?
Failure never defines me, it only develops me
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
One of the mistakes Peter makes in this moment is that in saying he wants to prepare 3 tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah he inadvertently puts all 3 of them on the same level. God the Father remedies this situation very quickly.
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
This is ultimately my prayer for each of us. That in the moments of our failures in the times when we mess up. In the moments when we are afraid, when we are unsure if we are going to survive, when God reveals His glory and His power to us in our lives. That we see Jesus and Him alone standing with us. That we know His presence, and that we do what God tells us to do, we listen to Him! One commentary said it this way “We do not need man-made tents, rather we need the presence of a the living God”
9 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.
Remember not but about a week before Jesus “speaks plainly” to them about what is going to happen. That He is going to suffer, be rejected, be killed and after 3 days rise again.
10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
Yea finally, someone obeys Jesus and does not talk about something when He tells them to. But notice they do keep discussing the rising from the dead talk. They still don’t get it. You see everything they believed about rising form the dead was all about “the last days”. At the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11) Martha reveals that the Jews all believed in a resurrection “in the last days” so these disciples are confused. Does that mean that they are living in the last days? What is going on? That leads them to the next question. (BTW the disciples questions are getting better)
11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
They are confused because they know about the prophecy
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
They are trying to connect the dots they just saw Elijah with Jesus but he didn’t fulfill the prophecy the way they thought he would, so are they approaching the great and dreadful day of the Lord?
12 Jesus replied, “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? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
Jesus replies to them like all good rabbis with another question. Jesus is pointing them back to main point and once again healing their blindness. Do you see how patient Jesus is. He does not lash out He just keeps coming back to them and explaining what is going to happen. Jesus understand the principle “Repetition is the key to learning” We will not get it right the first time, maybe not the second or the third, or the fourth but He is patient with us. Remember, Failure never defines me, it only develops me
He reminds them that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy and that “the teacher of the law” rejected him. That is important for the next scene.
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
Picture the scene for a moment from the eyes of Jesus. He has just had an amazing mountain-top experience. He goes to the mountain top with His best friends, the leaders he is training to have a prayer meeting (Luke) He is transfigured in that prayer time. He has been emboldened with a conversation with Moses and Elijah. (According to Luke they talk about what is going to happen in the weeks to come and the death and resurrection in Jerusalem) He has once again heard the voice of His father audibly confirming His love for the Son. He comes down to find the disciples in an argument with the “teachers of the law”
He has just been talking to the 3 about these guys and how they had rejected John, now they are attacking Jesus’ disciples. I can see it now they are mocking the disciples and judging them because of their failure to heal a boy. I am sure that they use this as an opportunity to question Jesus’ authority. But remember Failure never defines me, it only develops me. The truth is we are always going to have some failures but when failure comes we look to the one who never fails. Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:2)
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 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.”
Say it with me again, Failure never defines me, it only develops me.
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
Wow what a harsh response. For a long time and actually many commentaries say that this statement is directed at the disciples… But I not so sure that is true. Let’s examine this.
It is not beyond Jesus to use harsh words with Peter. But that was an specific incident where Peter was being used by Satan to tempt Jesus to not follow the plan of God. He certainly is not afraid to confront the pharisees for their unbelief and their scheming ways. But when dealing with his disciples as a whole he never condemns them. In fact he is patient and continues to strip away their layers of unbelief. The word generation is normally used of Israel as an unbelieving nation and in particular, it’s leaders (Duet 32:4-5) That is what the “teachers of the Law” claimed to be.
Jesus is thinking about how much longer He has to put up with this battle knowing that He will eventually face death at the hands of these people. But Jesus, ( I love that ) But Jesus, is about to teach another layer of the lesson to these disciples. Failure never defines me, it only develops me. Jesus calls for the boy. Jesus does for us what we cannot do in our own flesh.
20 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.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
This is one of the most incredible interactions. Jesus is frustrated and angry with the “teachers of the law”, He is dismayed by the inability of the disciples, He is even surprised by the lack of faith of the father. But in the midst of this Jesus points us back to faith in Him. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” I have said this before but the only thing that God cannot fix is our unbelief. No failure, no pain, no hurt, nothing but our unbelief in Him and what He can do through us.
And I love this father’s response. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That is what Jesus want to do with you today. He wants to help you with your unbelief. He is calling, He is reaching out and saying come to me with all your hurts, habits and hang ups. Believe that I am good and I can take your failures and use them to make something beautiful out of you. Just Believe.
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
Once again Jesus does all He can to speed this thing up. This is not to gain a crowd. This is for this man and His disciples. Jesus is so personal. He is not trying to put you on display He is intimately calling to you. He does not want to use you. He wants to heal you. Once you are healed then you get to use your healing to declare His greatness before the world.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
I love this. This is why i don’t think Jesus was scolding the disciples, Their desire was good, they wanted to do it, but couldn’t. Jesus doesn’t condemn them or scold them he just teaches them something simple.
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer (and fasting- Matthew 17:21).”
I think we learn a few simple things through this statement.
- We cannot do anything in our own strength (Phil 4:13)
- We cannot rely on yesterdays annointing for todays problems. (Mark 3:15)
- We need to be serious about prayer AND fasting. (Jesus seems to be saying that a determined foe must be met with an equally determined faith. Prayer is a ready weapon in the spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:18), and fasting helps to focus prayer and give it resolve.)
- Victory over the enemy comes when we rely on the power of God to fight our battles. (Zechariah 4:6 – Not by Might…)
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