Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Mark 9:30-32 They did not understand

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 3, 2020

Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection Again

30 From there they set out to pass through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know this, 31 because he was teaching his disciples.

The expression “pass through” Galilee could also be translated “pass by” Galilee. Paraporeuomai (παραπορεύομαι) carries the idea of going through a place without stopping, such as when Jesus passed through the grain fields with the grain on either side of him, without stopping to harvest any (Mark 2:23), or when God warned the Israelites that Moses was leading them “through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you but be very careful” (Deuteronomy 2:4). Here he did not plan to stop to teach the people or perform any miracles. He needed to spend time teaching his disciples before his crucifixion.

He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, but three days after he is killed, he will rise.”

Jesus had already told his disciples about what was coming more than once.

  1, The Son of Man “must be lifted up” (John 3:14).
  2, One of them “is a devil!” (John 6:70).
  3, He would suffer many things (Mark 8:31).
  4, He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes
    (Mark 8:31).
  5, He would be killed (Mark 8:31).
  6, These things “must” happen (Mark 8:31), and therefore God will not intervene.
  7, He would rise after three days (Mark 8:31).
  8, After this, he would return to judge the world with the angels
    (Mark 8:38).

Now he adds his betrayal to the prophecy, and that this would be “into the hands of men.” Slowly he has been opening their eyes to what will take place in just a short while.

A subtle point to be made here is that sometimes Jesus speaks of his resurrection with an active verb (“he will rise,” Mark 9:31), and sometimes with a passive verb (“he will be raised,” Luke 9:22). This does not show a contradiction, but rather these different verb forms show the cooperation of the persons of the Trinity at work in the resurrection of Jesus. What God does within himself he does as a unified One, but some of the works God does outside himself, such as Christ here teaching his disciples, he does as one person of the Trinity alone. But in some things, such as the raising of Jesus from the dead, God performs as an act outside himself according to both the Father and the Son. The Son raised himself, but the Father raised him as well. More than this, the Holy Spirit also raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).

We would not expect the disciples to have caught this fine point as Jesus was speaking, but the Gospel writers report what the disciples remembered about Jesus’ teaching later on. They realized how much he had revealed to them. The text of each Gospel is heavily weighted with the passion account of Jesus (counting the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday as the beginning of the passion story). In Matthew, this is chapters 21-28, or about 28% of the Gospel. In Mark, the passion account is about 37% of the Gospel. In Luke, it is 25%. In John (chapters 12-21), it is 47% of the Gospel. Just the math of this detail should tell us that we ought to give the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus a place of high priority—the highest—in our preaching, teaching, and private devotion time. This is the lesson that teaches us what no examination of nature or the physical world around us can ever reveal: That Jesus Christ is our Savior, the solution to the problem of sin, of death, and of the temptations of the devil. Jesus Christ is the one who has rescued us and has restored us to our place as God’s children once again.

32 They did not understand this thing that he said and were afraid to ask him about it.

Many Bible students will recognize the word logos, “word, message.” Here, the “thing” Jesus said is not a logon, but a rhema (ῥῆμα). A rhema can be anything uttered by the spoken voice, but in the Bible it usually stands for something of importance, a declaration of some kind. The disciples faced a problem with Jesus’ declaration. If it were to be taken literally, then their Lord was going to be betrayed and put to death. But they had seen him easily escape capture before, such as from the cliff of Nazareth (Luke 4:29). So they seemed to be wondering what spiritual meaning this rhema might have. Would Jesus somehow “die” according to his teachings, and then be reborn? Would his influence on people fade away, only to return later? There is no need to wonder what it was that they thought, since they were afraid to ask about it. But their confusion demonstrates something for us in our time. Just as his disciples failed to understand what his resurrection might mean before it happened, so also some false teachers still fail to understand what his resurrection means after it has happened.

The child of faith will take comfort that even when the disciples of Jesus struggled with his words, the Lord had compassion on them, forgave them, and explained to them what he meant. The child of faith will also learn to take the Bible at face value, so that a vision should be taken as a vision, but an historical account like history. Whether a passage of the Bible is a vision, or a prophecy, or history, or a written sermon from Paul, it is the truth, and written to create and strengthen faith. Put your faith in Jesus. Trust that he will carry you through every difficult day, and be with you when you are tempted, troubled, terrorized and tormented. He is always with you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


Browse Devotion Archive