February 27, 2018
""If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."" (Mark 8:34-35)
And Jesus was saying to them, ""Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."" (Mark 9:1)
Often, the chapter divisions in our Bible are unfortunate. These divisions are not inspired but were added later for convenience. Mark, Chapter 8:34-9:1 is a case in point.
DENY YOURSELF AND DIE
... Jesus was saying. To those who would be willing to give their life away, they would actually find life indeed. This was a hard saying, calling for surrender to the Master's will. No doubt, Peter, who had watched Roman crucifixions, had a cold chill go up his spine at the thought. He thought following Christ could mean physical death. And he was right, of course. It can.
But in the next breath (9:1) Jesus said that these (who took up their cross and died) would ""see the kingdom of God coming with power! What a treasure they would find. What a glory they would experience! Those who were willing to “lose their life” would find it. Those who hung on to this physical world, though, would never find life.
Six days later (the next verse reads) Jesus takes the inner three disciples up to a mountain and he was transfigured before them. Elijah and Moses appear and had a long, ""protracted conversation"" with Jesus. Peter sees this, and it was so recognizable that he recognized the men for who they were.
Take a breath, close your eyes and IMAGINE this moment! The great men of God, instantly standing on the hillside as if it were the most common experience, having a nice conversation with the Son of God! I wonder what they were talking about? Possibly encouraging the man, Jesus, as He made His way to the cross. Moses reminding Jesus how His death would fulfill all the law the Father had given him on Sinai. Elijah, reminding Jesus that his prophecies were all coming true in these moments.
Peter was seeing exactly what the kingdom of God was like. This kingdom that moves redeemed beings from heaven to earth effortlessly. This kingdom that knows no boundaries. This kingdom where everything the King has said is faithfully fulfilled. This kingdom that has such power that a conversation can occur on a hillside with men who passed from this world, and they were alive and shining and able to converse together.
Suddenly, the whole group was immersed in a cloud of God's glory and they heard God's voice, proclaiming to all that Jesus was God's ""beloved Son--the Son we should be continually listening to."" In this kingdom, we can literally hear from the Throne itself! We can hear God. We can know Him and converse with Him!
This is the kingdom of God. Peter saw it.
THY KINGDOM COME
Immediately following this, a demon-distressed boy was brought to Jesus. The evil spirits inside of him threw the boy into convulsions. Jesus looked at the helpless people around him and said something about the kingdom: ""All things are possible to him who believes."" In other words, “there are no boundaries in the kingdom—in God’s kingdom anything is possible!” With seemingly no exertion, Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was instantly healed. This is what happens when the ""kingdom of God comes in power.""
Helping us understand our helplessness to assist such people, and the kingdom power that is available and the way to access it, Jesus sums up the experience this way: ""This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."" In other words, ""In my kingdom, you can ask God impossible things to help others, and it will be done. For my kingdom transcends the physical laws of this universe.""
... we are more fortunate than the disciples. Why? We have seen the ""kingdom of God come with power."" We have seen ""greater works,"" as Jesus prophesied in John 14, for Jesus’ works resulted in 120 disciples at His ascension. Now, His kingdom has advanced to a mighty army of believers, millions upon millions through the ages, advancing across the earth. The great Vine has spread to a mighty vineyard covering the earth. Miracles happen by the millisecond as people are being ushered into His kingdom by His saving power hour by hour around the world. We are seeing it.
This moment in time speaks right to us in our brief experience on this physical planet. For Christ is showing us the kingdom and His kingdom can come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We can see MORE ... if we would enter into His kingdom activity by UNCEASING, BELIEVING PRAYER!
Oh, Father. Thank You for the recorded picture to us of Your kingdom coming. Thank You for breaking the barriers between heaven and earth so that we have witnessed Your kingdom coming in power! Thank You for saving and delivering people. Thank you that prayer can be as natural as any conversation between heaven and earth. Thank You for the natural means of conversing with You and others in the spiritual realm through the avenue of simple, believing prayer. Thank You that prayer is the atmosphere we can live in, instantly accessing heaven.
Lord, take us there more. Teach us to pray. Open our eyes to see Your kingdom coming with power! May we watch the demons of hell fall from the delivered lives of men and women, boys and girls. Advance Your kingdom through us, O mighty Lord, until the day we reign eternal with You!
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