MAIN TEXT: MARK 9:1-13
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus,“Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
We have all heard the phrases, “Looks can be deceiving” and “things are not always as they seem”. This was never truer than when Jesus was on earth. The Son of God left heaven and came to earth.
- “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)
- “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9)
- Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7)
The nation of Israel was not expecting this kind of Messiah. However, Jesus is exactly the Messiah Savior they needed. He looks defeated but He is actually victorious. He dies by men but He is raised by God. He is despised by men but exalted by God. He looks like an ordinary man but He is actually deity!
Today’s text records what is known as “The Transfiguration”. The definition of this word is:
“A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.”
This is a preview of what is to come. The context of this event is important – these events are related:
- Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. (Mark 8:27-30)
- He calls all followers to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. (Mark 8:34-38)
- Jesus promises that some standing with Him will see the kingdom. (Verse 1)
Look at the glory of the Son of God
We learned last week that the call to discipleship – following Jesus – isn’t easy. It is a costly calling. However, it is also filled with encouragement and confirmation. Jesus gives this assurance in verse 1. By referring to seeing the kingdom, Jesus was referring to the transfiguration and His resurrection.
He was God incognito
Jesus takes His inner circle of Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain. He was transfigured (transformed or changed) in front of them (verses 2-3). This is the true essence of Jesus revealed in an outward and visible manifestation. For a brief moment the Lord’s true identity is allowed to shine forth in glory. This is the Christ they will see when He triumphantly comes a second time to establish His universal kingdom (Revelation 19:11-16).
He is the fulfillment
While His glory is being displayed in brilliant light, Elijah and Moses appear talking to Jesus. Luke 9:31 says that they were speaking of His death. The word for “death” in the Greek is “exodus” – or exit. Jesus would lead the people of God out of the bondage of sin in a new exodus through His death (a new Passover) and resurrection, and He would gather a new people called the church.
This is not Mount Sinai repeated. This is not a law mountain – this is a gospel mountain. Here the law of God and the grace of God converge in the One who is God incarnate and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promised. Look at Him and believe His gospel!
Listen to the voice of God the Father
In verses 5-8, only Peter and God the Father speak. Jesus does not say a word. Peter’s words can be set aside and excused since he was suddenly awakened from a nap (Luke 9:32) and was afraid. We must however hear the Father’s words and obey them - our spiritual lives depend on it.
Our human perspectives are often foolish
The disciples were terrified at the revelation of the glorified Christ. Peter has a plan (verse 5). He is seeing things from a human perspective. We will never understand the person and work of Jesus apart from the cross and resurrection. Without these two things, Jesus is at best a moralist and at worst a self-destructive fool. If the cross is left out there is no atonement. If the resurrection is left out there is no victory over sin. Jesus will not take up Peter’s suggestion to stay on the mountain and avoid the cross. Instead, Jesus will embrace the cross and drink the cup of suffering filled with the wrath of God.
The divine perspective is what we need
Verse 7 is the climax moment of this event. The presence of the living God now speaks words that thunder with authority and are pregnant with meaning, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”.
This is God’s beloved, one-of-a-kind Son. We are to listen to Him. When the cloud disappears, Elijah and Moses vanish and Jesus remains. The voice of God commands us to listen to His Son Jesus. Give Him your ears. Have eyes only for Jesus. He can give you what neither Moses nor Elijah could ever give – that is God the Father’s perspective on the matter.
Learn from the suffering of God’s servants
The three disciples have learned that Jesus is God – despite His earthly appearance. That is has been proven by this transfiguration. No doubt the disciples might wonder if Jesus could triumph without the cross.
Maybe He will enter His glory and establish His kingdom in power now?
Jesus makes it clear that the cross must come before the crown. What He has just experienced does not weaken His resolve to go to the cross – rather it has emboldened Him to go and drink the last drop of the cup of divine wrath in place of unworthy and helpless sinners.
God’s Son Jesus was crucified but rose from the dead
The disciples were commanded to tell no one what they had seen “until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (verse 9). This is Jesus’ last command to silence and the only one that receives a time limitation. After the resurrection, proclamation will be the order of the day – an order that we still live under!
The TRAnsfiguration had purpose:
- It revealed Jesus as God incarnate
- It strengthened Christ as He began His march to the cross.
- It reinforced the call to radical following
- It demonstrated Jesus as fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. It confirmed Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ.
- It tied the crucifixion with His reign over the kingdom.
- It affirmed the love of the Father for His Son.
See the Son;
Listen to the Son;
Trust the Son;
Follow the Son!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 9:1-13
What mistaken impressions do people have of Jesus today? How can a proper understanding of the incarnation help people avoid these misconceptions?
In what sense was Jesus changed in the transfiguration, and in what sense was he unchanged?
Was there a moment in your life when Jesus suddenly was revealed to you as glorious and holy God? Share the moment with someone this week.