Mark 9 contains one of the sadder moments in this gospel account.
The chapter begins with the transfiguration story. The transfiguration itself must have been an amazing event but rather than ask Jesus about its meaning, Peter simply blurts out a response. Peter isn’t interested in knowing. He’s interested in doing, reminding me of a lot of Christians whose desire for good deeds runs ahead of God’s will.
The transfiguration is followed by the healing of a boy with a demon and there we learn that prayer hasn’t exactly been a part of the disciples’ lives.
Then, Jesus delivers the shortest of three statements about his impending death. The disciples not only don’t understand but they are afraid to ask Jesus about it.
And yet . . . they will argue among themselves about which of them will be the greatest. In the shadow of the Lord’s death, their focus is on themselves.
Perhaps in pointed response, Jesus tells them that if they are going to focus on themselves, they ought to focus on those things that will keep them from eternal life (verses 42-48).
As disciples of Jesus, we ought to be better listeners and particularly is that true when it comes to listening to God. The disciples wanted to understand. They wanted to be taught. But they didn’t want to listen. The gospel of Mark offers us all a chance in introspection: what is it that will keep us from eternal life? Are we more like the twelve bumbling twelve during Jesus’ ministry? We must answer thoughtfully and honestly. Whatever hindrance is there, we must excise with prejudice. The consequence of our action is eternal.