It’s hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. The Sunday before Ash Wednesday we traditionally celebrate the Transfiguration which is what we just read in chapter 9. As we read in Matthew and then heard again last Sunday from Pastor Steve Clark we are commanded to listen to God. Regardless of whether we are on mountaintop experiences or down in the trenches and in the valleys, we still have a command to listen to Jesus.
If you compare this chapter and chapter 17 in Matthew you find the similar miracle story of the casting out of the demons from the boy, but Jesus’ explanation of that whole event is night and day. In Matthew Jesus chastises the disciples for their lack of faith. Here in Mark he kind of puts it on himself as he tells them: “Sorry about that, you can’t really handle that kind of an evil spirit without prayer, and probably fasting too. I probably should have told you that.” I know I took some liberties in translating Jesus’ words, but in Mark he doesn’t in any way point out their lack of faith or their inadequacies.
Something that struck me this time reading it was in vs. 36 where we find Jesus at home in Capernaum and he is speaking with his disciples about their conversation. They wanted to be first in the kingdom of heaven. He takes a child…did you hear that. So in this house where they are all gathered it isn’t just the disciples and Jesus like I had always envisioned. There were other people present, there were families present, Jesus wasn’t a hermit with his 12 disciples, he was with the people and the people were constantly with him. I love that image of Jesus so much more than a recluse Jesus who only comes down from the mountain periodically and only spends time with his disciples. He is constantly with the people.