Gospel Basics (Mark 9:30-32)


Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and on the third day He rose from the dead to conquer death for us. Those facts are at the very heart of the gospel message. This is what Jesus tells His disciples in today’s short passage.

The Text (Mark 9:30-32)

30 Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. 31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” 32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

Background and Observations

• This is the second time in Mark’s gospel that Jesus has now specifically told His disciples about His upcoming death and resurrection, and we are only in chapter 9 out of 16 total chapters. In fact, all four gospels devote a lot of chapters and verses to the subject of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
• We cannot just accept Jesus as a good man and a good teacher or even a miracle worker. When we study the gospels, we see that He did not give His disciples or us that option. We must recognize that Jesus’ main purpose in coming to earth was to die for our sins and rise again.

• As people are plotting against Jesus by this point in His ministry, He is sometimes trying to keep His presence and movements secret in some areas. This is because Jesus is waiting for the right time before He lays down His life into the hands of those who will betray Him.

• People today still struggle to understand, believe, and trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the only way of their salvation. But the whole Bible points us to Jesus and only Jesus as the way to God.

Questions to Think About
1. How would you explain the gospel message to a non-Christian friend or relative?
2. In our walk with God, why you think that we sometimes lose focus on the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection?

In Christ,
Mr. Reel

Pray Like This… (Matthew 6:5-15)


In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us about the type of prayer our Father hears. More than anything, what God looks for in our prayer life is honesty and humility before Him. This school year, each middle school homeroom will dedicate one morning a week to prayer for a specific missionary family that they have adopted. But we can pray for this family, our own families, our friends, and our school  every day at home in our own “prayer closets.”

The Text (Matthew 6:5-15)

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Background and Observations

  • Jesus assumed that His disciples would pray. A follower of Jesus will become a person who prays.
  • We do not pray for attention from others. We don’t pray to impress others with our spirituality. Such prayers may earn you approval from others, but they do not reach God’s ears.
  • The real reward for honest, humble prayer is that God hears it. The sincere and open prayer of a young person on their knees in their room has more power than a long, beautiful-sounding speech made by a hypocrite (a false person).
  • The Lord’s Prayer is a model for how we should pray, but not a prayer that He intended for us to simply recite without thought. Jesus wants us to see the types of things we should pray for: God’s kingdom work, our daily needs, and right relationships with God and others through confession and forgiveness of sin.
  • Verses 12-15 are all about the problem of sin and how it must be dealt with if we want our prayers to reach God. This is something we should really think about. If our prayer life is weak or nonexistent, there are probably sin barriers that we need God to help us break.

Questions to Think About

1. Do you have a regular prayer time? Where and when do you spend time alone with God? What do you do?

2. How do your prayers compare to what Jesus teaches about prayer in this passage?

3. What changes could you make in your life to create more time and focus for prayer?

Help My Unbelief (Mark 9:14-29)


Some spiritual challenges can only be overcome through prayer. That is the message of today’s passage, where Jesus casts a demon out of a very troubled, suffering boy. We need God’s power to do things that only God can do.

The Text (Mark 9:14-29)

14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”

17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.

21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”

29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Background and Observations
• Jesus and Peter, James, and John have just rejoined the rest of the disciples. While Jesus was away on the mountain showing His glory to the 3 leaders, the other 9 of the 12 disciples were down in a town still trying to help people.

• For some reason, the disciples did not have enough spiritual power to defeat the demon causing the poor boy to be mute (unable to speak) and have seizures. It seems like they were trusting more in their own abilities than in God’s power.

• Jesus is disappointed with the disciples’ lack of faith. He also rebukes the scribes for mocking the disciples. Jesus wants us to believe and not doubt

• The boy’s father is honest with Jesus. He wants to believe that Jesus can heal his son, but he has watched his son suffer for so long that it is hard for him to still have any hope.

• Jesus loves the man and rewards the little faith that he can offer by healing the man’s son.

Questions to Think About
1. Think about a time when you struggled to believe that God could or would answer your prayer. What did you do?

2. What kinds of spiritual challenges are you facing now that might only be helped through strong prayer?

3. Salvation is always a miracle of God. A definite application of this verse is our need to pray hard for our family and friends who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to repent, believe in the gospel, and be saved. For whom are you praying this fall?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Seeing Jesus in His Glory (Mark 9:1-13)


Can  you imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus in the flesh? The disciples had that opportunity for three years as they followed Jesus during His public ministry. But on one very special occasion, three of the disciples got to see Jesus in all of His heavenly glory, too. This event is called the “transfiguration” of Jesus, and with it God the Father showed and told us that Jesus is His Son and worthy of all of our praise and devotion.

The Text (Mark 9:1-13)
1 And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

7 And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 8 Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.

9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

12 Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.”

Background and Observations
1. Some Bible scholars think that the promise in verse 1 was fulfilled much later, such as when Jesus rose from the dead or when the Holy Spirit came upon the church at Pentecost. But it’s more logical to see the promise as being fulfilled just six days later with the event described in the rest of the passage. By seeing Jesus in His heavenly glory, the three disciples saw “the kingdom of God present with power.”
2. Of the 12 disciples, Peter, James, and John were part of an inner circle of leaders who sometimes received special instructions and experiences in the gospels.

3. Moses had received the Ten Commandments and written Genesis through Deuteronomy, so he represented the Law, the first section of the Old Testament. Elijah represented the Prophets, the other major section of the Old Testament. The point is that Jesus was greater than these men because He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets in who He was as God’s Son.

4. The disciples are still struggling with the coming death and resurrection of Jesus. They are only able to think about the general resurrection of everyone at the end of history.

5. When Jesus says that Elijah has already come, He is talking about John the Baptist, who prepared the people for Jesus’ coming by calling them to repentance of sin and faith in God. John the Baptist was killed by King Herod for preaching against Herod’s sins. So, too, would Jesus be killed for confronting the religious leaders about their sins.

Questions to Think About
1. When you think about the day when you will finally see Jesus face to face, what thoughts and emotions do you have?

2. Why do you think that believing that Jesus rose from the dead is such an important part of the Christian faith?

3. Have you ever had to suffer in some way for believing in Jesus? How did your suffering affect your faith?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Take Up Your Cross (Mark 8:27-38)


Have you ever wondered why Jesus was also called “Christ?” Was that like His last name, or was “Christ” some kind of title? Actually, calling Jesus “the Christ” was another way of saying that He was the “Messiah” or Rescuer for whom the Jewish people had hoped and waited. But He was not the type of Messiah that most of Israel was expecting.  In today’s passage, Jesus challenges His disciples to consider what the name “Christ” really meant for Him and for us.

The Text (Mark 8:27-38)
27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”

28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Background and Observations
1. The village of Caesarea Philippi was under a cliff with many carved idols of false gods, a perfect place for Jesus to ask His disciples to consider His identity as the only Son of God.

2. Jesus’ miracles and teachings had convinced many that He was at least a prophet and perhaps a promised forerunner to the Messiah, but Jesus wanted His disciples to realize that He was much more than that.

3. The title “Christ” refers to the “Anointed One” or “Messiah” sent from God to deliver the Jewish people.

4. Most Jews in Jesus’ time expected the Christ to be like a conquering hero who would give them political deliverance from the Romans.

5. Jesus, however, teaches His disciples here that as the Christ, He would instead be a Suffering Servant who must die for the sins of the people and then rise from the dead.

6. When Peter speaks, he speaks for the entire group of the disciples, so that when Jesus questions and answers Peter, He is talking to all of them.

7. The disciples had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but they struggled to understand and accept the idea of His death and resurrection as being necessary in God’s plan of salvation.

8. Jesus explained the gospel very clearly – He had to die and rise again to accomplish His mission from the Father.

9. In verse 34, Jesus says that to really follow Him as the Christ, His disciples must be willing to identify with Him in His suffering and death.

10. A great mystery of being as Christian is the idea that we have to die to ourselves if we want to live in Christ.

Questions to Think About

1. Who do you believe that Jesus is? If you believe in Jesus as the Christ, why?

2. Can you think of some areas of your life where you have been more mindful of “the things of man” than “the things of God”?

3. What are some things that you have given up to follow Christ? In what ways might Jesus be calling you to die to yourself today?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel