1#There are some standing…come in power: understood by some to refer to the establishment by God’s power of his kingdom on earth in and through the church; more likely, as understood by others, a reference to the imminent parousia. #a. [9:1] Mt 16:28; Lk 9:27. He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.”
The Transfiguration of Jesus.
#Mark and Mt 17:1 place the transfiguration of Jesus six days after the first prediction of his passion and death and his instruction to the disciples on the doctrine of the cross; Lk 9:28 has “about eight days.” Thus the transfiguration counterbalances the prediction of the passion by affording certain of the disciples insight into the divine glory that Jesus possessed. His glory will overcome his death and that of his disciples; cf. 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Pt 1:16–19. The heavenly voice (Mk 9:7) prepares the disciples to understand that in the divine plan Jesus must die ignominiously before his messianic glory is made manifest; cf. Lk 24:25–27. See further the note on Mt 17:1–8. 2After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.#b. [9:2–13] Mt 17:1–13; Lk 9:28–36. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5#Moses and Elijah represent respectively law and prophecy in the Old Testament and are linked to Mount Sinai; cf. Ex 19:16–20:17; 1 Kgs 19:2, 8–14. They now appear with Jesus as witnesses to the fulfillment of the law and the prophets taking place in the person of Jesus as he appears in glory. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;#A cloud came, casting a shadow over them: even the disciples enter into the mystery of his glorification. In the Old Testament the cloud covered the meeting tent, indicating the Lord’s presence in the midst of his people (Ex 40:34–35) and came to rest upon the temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication (1 Kgs 8:10). then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
The Coming of Elijah.
#At the transfiguration of Jesus his disciples had seen Elijah. They were perplexed because, according to the rabbinical interpretation of Mal 4:1, Elijah was to come first. Jesus’ response shows that Elijah has come, in the person of John the Baptist, to prepare for the day of the Lord. Jesus must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt (Mk 9:12) like the Baptist (Mk 9:13); cf. Mk 6:17–29. 9As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.#c. [9:9] 8:31. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant. 11#d. [9:11–12] Is 53:3; Mal 3:23. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”#e. [9:13] 1 Kgs 19:2–10.
The Healing of a Boy with a Demon.
#The disciples’ failure to effect a cure seems to reflect unfavorably on Jesus (Mk 9:14–18, 22). In response Jesus exposes their lack of trust in God (Mk 4:19) and scores their lack of prayer (Mk 4:29), i.e., of conscious reliance on God’s power when acting in Jesus’ name. For Matthew, see note on Mt 17:14–20. Lk 9:37–43 centers attention on Jesus’ sovereign power. 14When they came to the disciples,#f. [9:14–29] Mt 17:14–21; Lk 9:37–43. they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. 15Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. 16He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. 18Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” 19He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” 20They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. 21Then he questioned his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “Since childhood. 22It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” 24Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” 25Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” 26Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” 27But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. 28When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29#This kind can only come out through prayer: a variant reading adds “and through fasting.” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
The Second Prediction of the Passion.
30#g. [9:30–32] 8:31; Mt 17:22–23; Lk 9:43–45. They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it.#h. [9:30] Jn 7:1. 31He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” 32But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
IV. THE FULL REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY
The Greatest in the Kingdom.
#Mark probably intends this incident and the sayings that follow as commentary on the disciples’ lack of understanding (Mk 9:32). Their role in Jesus’ work is one of service, especially to the poor and lowly. Children were the symbol Jesus used for the anawim, the poor in spirit, the lowly in the Christian community. 33They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”#i. [9:33–37] Mt 18:1–5; Lk 9:46–48. 34But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. 35Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”#j. [9:35] Mt 20:27. 36Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, 37“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”#k. [9:37] Mt 10:40; 18:5; Jn 13:20.
#Jesus warns against jealousy and intolerance toward others, such as exorcists who do not follow us. The saying in Mk 9:40 is a broad principle of the divine tolerance. Even the smallest courtesies shown to those who teach in Jesus’ name do not go unrewarded. 38John said to him,#l. [9:38–41] Nm 11:28; Lk 9:49–50; 1 Cor 12:3. “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” 39Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. 40For whoever is not against us is for us.#m. [9:40] Mt 12:30. 41Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.#n. [9:41] Mt 10:42; 1 Cor 3:23.
Temptations to Sin.
42#o. [9:42–47] Mt 5:29–30; 18:6–9; Lk 17:1–2. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna,#Gehenna: see note on Mt 5:22. into the unquenchable fire. #These verses, lacking in some important early manuscripts, are here omitted as scribal additions. They simply repeat Mk 9:48 itself a modified citation of Is 66:24. 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, 48where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’#p. [9:48] Is 66:24.
The Simile of Salt.
49#Everyone will be salted with fire: so the better manuscripts. Some add “every sacrifice will be salted with salt.” The purifying and preservative use of salt in food (Lv 2:13) and the refinement effected through fire refer here to comparable effects in the spiritual life of the disciples of Jesus. “Everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”#q. [9:50] Lv 2:13; Mt 5:13; Lk 14:34–35; Col 4:6.