christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

mark 9, the transfiguration

Read Mark 9 at Bible Gateway.

I saw some repeating elements in the account of the Transfiguration, but the chiastic structure that was uncovered ended up being one of the most unusual I have found so far. The bookends are these:

1a) Mar 8:31, The Son of Man must suffer, be rejected and killed, and after three days rise again;
1b) Mar 8:32a, He spoke this word openly;
1c) Mar 8:32b-33, Peter rebuked Him, and He rebuked Peter (Get behind Me, Satan!);

2c) Mar 9:5-7, Peter again spoke, and the Father rebuked Peter from the cloud (Listen to Him!);
2b) Mar 9:8-10a, So they kept this word to themselves;
2a) Mar 9:10b, Questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

Outlining the verses which came between, I at first could not make heads nor tails of them:

Mar 8:34-37, To follow after Me, lay down your life;
Mar 8:38a, For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed;
Mar 8:38b, When He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels;
Mar 9:1a, Assuredly, some standing here will not taste death;
Mar 9:1b, Till they see the kingdom of God present with power;
Mar 9:2-4, He was transfigured before them + Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Him;

Then I realized that He was still talking about His death and resurrection. The discussion began with Jesus telling His disciples, that HE would suffer, be rejected, die, and be raised again. After Peter was rebuked, He explained to those following, that if they were to follow Him, THEY would likewise need to suffer, be rejected, and die, in order to receive life (resurrection). For men (with whom Satan is concerned) will not receive Him or His words. Therefore when His followers come witnessing of Him and preaching His words, they will be rejected as Jesus was rejected. In order to avoid the rejection, some might be tempted to be ashamed of Him and His words.

Then the discussion ends with a reference to the coming kingdom, and the glory of the Father, which Jesus will return with, and a cryptic reference that some of them will see that glory before they taste death. Then what is the next thing that happens? Some of them see Jesus in the glory of His Father, when He is transfigured.

The disciples and all the first century Jews were expecting one coming of the Messiah, in which He would overthrow the Romans, ascend the throne of David, and reign in glory. Jesus was teaching them that it was necessary for His death to precede His glorification. The entire central section, I realized, could be restated as:

central axis) Mar 8:34-9:4, Death precedes Life (Resurrection) + Glorification

For those of us who follow Him, this same equation holds true: our death to self and the laying down of our life precedes our new life in Him. If we choose to die with Him, which will mean, we are not ashamed of Him or His words in the face of the ridicule and rejection of men, we will receive His congratulations (glorification of a kind) at His return rather than Him being ashamed of us.

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