The ninth chapter of Mark starts out with one of the most important pre-passion events: Jesus transfiguration, which reveals something about his true nature to a select inner group of apostles. After this, Jesus continues to work miracles but includes further predictions about his coming death as well as warnings about the dangers inherent in giving in to temptations to sin.
Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:1-8)
Jesus appears here with two figures: Moses, representing Jewish law and Elijah, representing Jewish prophecy. Moses is important because he was the figure believed to have given the Jews their basic laws and to have written the five books of the Torah the basis of Judaism itself. Connecting Jesus to Moses thus connects Jesus to the very origins of Judaism, establishing a divinely authorized continuity between the ancient laws and Jesus teachings.
Reactions to Jesus Transfiguration (Mark 9:9-13)
As Jesus returns from the mountaintop with the three apostles, the connection between Jews and Elijah is made more explicit. It is interesting that this is the relationship focused upon most of all and not the relationship with Moses, even though both Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus. It is also interesting that Jesus refers to himself here as Son of man again twice, in fact.
Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit, Epilepsy (Mark 9:14-29)
In this interesting scene, Jesus manages to arrive just in the nick of time to save the day. Apparently while he was on the mountaintop with the apostles Peter, and James, and John, other disciples of his remained behind to deal with the crowds come to see Jesus and benefit from his abilities. Unfortunately, it doesnt look like they were doing a good job.
Jesus Foretells His Death Again (Mark 9:30-32)
Once again Jesus is traveling through Galilee but unlike his previous travels, this time he takes precautions to avoid being noticed by passing through Galilee without also passing through various cities and villages. Traditionally this chapter is seen as the beginning of Jesus final trip to Jerusalem where he would be killed, so this second prediction of his death takes on added importance.
Jesus on Children, Power, and Powerlessness (Mark 9:33-37)
Some theologians have argued that one of the of the reasons why Jesus did not make things plainer to his disciples in the past can be found here in their prideful concern over who would be first and last. Basically, they couldnt be trusted to put the needs of others and the will of God before their own egos and their own desire for power.
Miracles in Jesus Name: Insiders vs. Outsiders (Mark 9:38-41)
According to Jesus, no one qualifies as an outsider so long as they sincerely act in his name; and if they are successful when it comes to performing miracles, they you can trust both their sincerity and their connection to Jesus. This sounds a lot like an attempt to break down the barriers that divide people, but immediately thereafter Jesus builds them up higher by declaring that anyone who is not against him must be for him.
Temptations to Sin, Warnings of Hell (Mark 9:42-50)
We find here a series of warnings of what awaits those foolish enough to give in to temptations to sin. Scholars have argued that all of these sayings were actually stated at different times and in different contexts where they would have made sense. Here, however, we have them all drawn together on the basis of thematic similarity.