Study 2: Face to face with God

Some things stick in our memories. It might be something really wonderful you’re happy to look back on (and even relive) with great fondness but, on the other hand, it might be an event or even a person you’d gladly forget … if only you could.

JourneyToTheCrossOver 30 years on, Peter could look back to an event that had really gripped him and which he couldn’t stop talking about (2 Peter 1: 16 – 18). He’d experienced something unique, an event so powerful and an engagement so profound that he didn’t really appreciate – nor did he understand – what was going on around him. All he knew was that he was in the presence of God.

Jesus' journey to the cross recognises His total commitment to the mission God had given Him. But, there’s more to this journey than simply keeping on to the end of the road. Here, now, before he’s even taken his first steps on the path to death, glory and hope, He is filled with God’s power and confirmed in his status (Mark 9:7).

“To put it simply: the Holy Spirit bothers us. Because he moves us, he makes us walk, he pushes the Church to go forward. And we are like Peter at the Transfiguration: 'Ah, how wonderful it is to be here like this, all together!' ... But don't bother us. We want the Holy Spirit to doze off ... we want to domesticate the Holy Spirit.

And that's no good. Because he is God, he is that wind which comes and goes and you don't know where. He is the power of God, he is the one who gives us consolation and strength to move forward. But: to move forward! And this bothers us. It's so much nicer to be comfortable.”  (Pope Francis, Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday)

Pause for thought

  1. What reserves or resources do we draw on to support our Christian witness as individuals and as a church fellowship?
  2. What do you understand by “the power of God?”
  3. When might we be tempted to downplay, restrict or ignore the bible’s teaching about God’s power?
  4. How can we encourage one another to embrace God’s power (gifting) as well as developing His character (holiness)?

Please read Mark 9 verses 2 to 13.

Salvation may be free but discipleship will cost us our life (Mark 8:34). Denying ourselves and dying to sin is the only way we can follow Him. It is a call to sacrifice but don’t forget – a glimpse of glory keeps hope alive and will keep us going.

These verses bring us a glimpse of that glory. We read that Jesus is transformed, Elijah and Moses appear and God speaks from the cloud covering the mountain.  It is a scene of intense holiness, real power and immense glory. It is also a very human portrayal of a Father’s love and His desire for all His children to receive and to follow the truth set before them.

To think about

The Presence of God (Mark 9 verses 2 to 13)

  1. Why did Jesus go up the mountain?
  2. In what ways are the words spoken by God in Mark 1: 11 and Mark 9:7 significant for Jesus' Ministry?
  3. What does it mean to listen?
  4. How do verses 11 to 13 help us to understand the reasons why Jesus had to suffer and die?
  5. Where do we experience God's power today? What can we do to ensure we are in the right spiritual position to encounter God?

Please read Mark 9 verses 14 to 32

After such a heady mountain top experience, we might expect things to settle down a little before Jesus sets out for Jerusalem.  It’s not an easy landing, though, as Jesus and his friends rejoin the rest of the disciples. There’s a big crowd gathered around those disciples who are engaged in a heated argument with the Pharisees.

The reason for the uproar soon becomes very evident (Mark 9: 17 ff). Here is power of another – and very different – kind. How will Jesus deal with this damaged and frightened boy and what resources will he call on? Just 3 disciples had been witnesses of divine power:  now they and the crowd would see that power at work to set people free.

To think about

The Power of God (Mark 9 verses 14 to 32)

  1. What stops us solving every problem we face? (see verse 18b)
  2. Where might we find support when we feel particularly helpless or vulnerable?
  3. How does Jesus’ approach help us to understand the nature of God’s power? (note verse 23ff.)
  4. In what ways might any demonstration of God’s power help those who struggle to believe?

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