Mark 9.2 thru 9 Gods Glory all the way to the Cross!
God’s Glory, all the way to the Cross!
Mark 9:2-9: After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, is everybody ready for spring?! People pay attention to the seasons of weather as they change. All the stores have changed over their stock and are selling bathing suits already and people begin to think about shifting their winter things down to the basement. This past couple of weeks provided days that seemed like spring. But a sudden snow flurry and a pretty drastic drop in temperature reminded us that we are still in the midst of winter. These are signs that we don’t ignore. Today we celebrate the “Transfiguration.” The question, “Does the Transfiguration mark the beginning of Lent or the end of Epiphany?” The thing is…it should be looked at both ways. This is when Jesus is revealed, without question, as the Son of God. This is done through His transfiguration and through God Himself proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” So, it is fitting that this occurs at the end of the Epiphany season. Epiphany is beautifully book ended by God the Father’s confirmation of Jesus as His Son. On the first Sunday after Epiphany God reveals Christ’s sonship with His words at His Son’s baptism, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then there is Lent…this account falls right between two accounts of Jesus’ foretelling of His death and resurrection. Therefore it is also fitting that this text of the Transfiguration reminds the disciples who Jesus is before Jesus goes to the cross to die. Today, in the church, we have a celebration of the changing of church seasons. We have been celebrating Epiphany, where Jesus is clearly revealed as the Light of the world and God’s own Son. The Transfiguration then marks the move from the Epiphany season into the season of Lent. During the coming 40 days before Easter we see Jesus, who has been revealed to us as the Son of God, endure suffering and then His death on the cross.
Now, why is it that the disciples are shown this incredible sight of the glorified Jesus along with Elijah and Moses at the transfiguration? Could it be that they needed reminding of who this “Rabbi” was? Did they need to be reminded of the hope that He brings of eternal life which is displayed also through Moses and Elijah and their presence? We have a tendency to forget that Jesus is present with us here in our sanctuary while we worship in all of His Glory. We don’t always take to heart that his presence is an absolute, and along with it, His glory as the Son of the Living God is present here with us now. This is why we should be reverent, respectful, and worshipful in church at our worship service. Not because God is somewhere watching from afar, but because he is here with us in all of His glory when we worship together! This glory is what is made clear to the disciples through this further revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God on that “high mountain” of the transfiguration. At the beginning of our text we are told: “After six days Jesus took Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” If we turn back to the ending verses of chapter 8 of Mark, we see Jesus telling his disciples of Jerusalem and all that will take place there. Jesus must go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and come back to life. But Peter rebuked Jesus and clearly didn’t understand this. This is when Christ tells His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” It is after this event, 6 days later, that Jesus took these disciples on a mountain and let them witness the transfiguration. Jesus’ clothing was changed…shining whiter than anyone could imagine…“intensely white.” He is revealed to them in all the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven at that moment.
Moses and Elijah were also there with Jesus. Moses had received the law of God from God Himself. Elijah, the prophet, defended God’s law throughout his life. Through this event, we have the meeting and agreement of God’s law with God’s Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s law and through Him God’s Word is true. God’s word in “the law and the prophets” is fulfilled in the divine glory of God’s only Son! By faith, you and I, and every believer, have also seen this glory of God’s divine son. We have Jesus’ glory through our eyes having read the Scriptures. The gospel of John accurately and fittingly describes the glory of Jesus in chapter 1. Just one verse from chapter 1 declares: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Old Testament Israelites had the Law and the Prophets and now the Transfiguration further reveals the New Covenant through Jesus. The old passes and the new comes to be. Verse 8 shows us this as the disciples present, “when they looked around” and “they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.” It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, that was now to be focused on!
But His glory and presence aren’t dependent on us! God’s word clearly declares the divine glory of Jesus, Savior of mankind, to us all. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” What a comfort for every believer to realize Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He cares for us all! Seeing the glory of Jesus and believing that He is God’s own son and is with us…now…in this very sanctuary, does not depend on us. By God’s abundant grace he has worked faith in our hearts. We can rejoice and praise God that His love for us compels him to cause us to believe. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” We, who once sat in darkness, now sit in the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ. All of this is ours, not by our own efforts or merit, but comes freely by the undeserved love of God.
Remember that Peter, James, and John did not want to see Jesus go to Jerusalem to suffer and die. In fact they clearly didn’t understand His teaching on this at all. But this worldly thinking would eventually change. We see Peter scrambling to build a booth, demonstrating that this was not just a vision for him, as he says, “it is good that we are here.” The eyes of the disciples were not mistaken and it was good. The timing of the question was just wrong. It was just not time yet to dwell in His Glory; he first must go to the cross. What they have seen would be confirmed. This is confirmed by God Himself when God’s cloud of glory covered them. Remember the glory that led Israel from Egypt in the Exodus, this was also done with a cloud. On the mountain God’s voice reminded the disciples to listen to His Son Jesus just as His voice had confirmed His Sonship at Jesus’ baptism down at the river. But this command seems to direct them to listen to Him regarding what they have just failed to comprehend. This central truth about His destiny will be explained again when they descend from the mountain. The final point being, that He had to suffer and die but this was not His ultimate destiny. His ultimate destiny was to be glorified!
The transfiguration is a special day for us believers. Transfiguration marks a change of seasons. We move from the season of Epiphany…Jesus as God’s Son and light of the world. This was a period of novelty, popularity, and prosperity now changing into the somber season of Lent…A period of hostility, persecution, and endurance in which we see Jesus as the Son of man and His sacrifice for mankind. Today we celebrate Jesus’ divine glory and, in the next 40 days of Lent, we will be privileged and blessed to study this human sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world. We will be reminded again of the depth of the love of our Lord for his people. As we see Jesus during Lent, we will be reminded how Jesus’ sacrifice took place according to God’s plan and timeline. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…the testimony given in its proper time.” Jesus’ transfiguration reveals that the Son of God must die and that He who dies is the Son of God. It is a preview of the full establishment of the Kingdom of God at Jesus’ return. At the transfiguration we have seen Christ’s divine glory, and through it, He has prepared us for His sacrifice. So, prepare your hearts for Lent. And experience Lent knowing that the glorified Christ of the Transfiguration is the one that is going to the cross.
Now, may the peace that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds unto life everlasting, Amen.