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Mark: The Transfiguration [Mark 9:1-13]

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Mark: The Transfiguration []

Stand for the reading of the word of God []
Have you ever been to a place that just captivated you? A place that just left you in awe…you don’t forget that do you? While in Israel I had several of those experiences, I don’t think I’ve used the word amazing so much in my whole life. But One place in particular just captivated me and left me overwhelmed, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum. [picture] As I walked up to the water and glanced out over it, with the mountains all around in the background, I just imagined thousands of people following Jesus around. I pictured Jesus standing in a boat put out from shore a little ways teaching those people about the kingdom of God, and I got completely shook up. I will never forget that moment in particular and the since of being completely overwhelmed.
Today’s text, is a captivating moment in the lives of the disciples that they would never forget for the rest of their lives. In fact, the disciples would mentioning this moment in their writings. John said in his gospel, when speaking of Jesus, “we beheld His glory”; Peter said in his letter, , he said, “…we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…the voice of the Father came from heaven saying…this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased…and we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were on the holy mountain.” These disciples would remember this moment and share with people… “we got a glimpse of Jesus’ glory.” And it would leave a lasting impact.
So I ask you today before we dive into this text deeper, are you completely captivated by God? Are you in awe of His excellent greatness? Or have you gotten so comfortable with God, so casual with God that you’ve taken for granted His majesty and glory? In this event these three disciples are going to be completely blown away by what they witnessed and I pray we will be blown away by Jesus as well…as we look, listen, and learn of His glory.
Two weeks ago we came to the turning point passage in , “who do people say that I am, Jesus asked, Peter replied, You are the Christ.” This was the turning point of the gospel of Mark as Jesus now begins to teach the purpose of His coming to the disciples. Jesus’ destiny was to suffer and die, but that was not His complete destiny, Jesus’ ultimate destiny was to be glorified. He would be glorified in His resurrection and ascension. When Jesus returns again some day, it will be in His glorified state, He won’t come lowly and humbly like He did the first time, the second coming is in His full glory! This event, the transfiguration is a glimpse of His glory revealed.
Jesus deity was veiled in His humanity, as Isaiah said about the Messiah, there was nothing striking about him that people would be drawn to him. Jesus, in his human body, looked like a common man, there was nothing special that would make him stand out. If you recall when He was arrested Judas had to point out to the Roman soldiers who He was…he looked like just another man…but in our text today…we see…Jesus is not just another man…He’s God! So this event clinches the truth about Jesus identity.
I hope you’ll make use of the outline in your bulletin and I challenge you to go home and read this story again for yourself, use the outline and see what you can find. I’ll just say at the beginning, this is a tough passage to try to expound, because it’s descriptive and we’re getting a glimpse of what the disciples seen. I’ll just be honest I’ve been wrestling with this passage all week trying to wrap my head around this event…and I just can’t…and that OK, don’t ever think the pastor knows everything. In fact I find comfort in the fact that the disciples Peter, James, and John couldn’t wrap their heads around this event either and they were there! So here we go asking God to enlighten us in this study. Our outline is simple, Look, listen, and learn…first…Let me note I will from time to time reference Matthews or Luke’s account of this so we get a complete understanding…so if I say something and you look at Mark and say it’s not there, that’s probably because it’s from one of the other accounts, I’ll try to remember to mention when I do that.

Look at the glory of the Son []

is one of those verses that just throws everybody into a frenzy. Read it. What is Jesus referring to? The commentators have a field day with this verse. Some say Jesus is referring to the climactic coming of the kingdom of God at the end of the age. Some say he’s talking about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Some say He’s talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And while those events certainly are great movements of God’s power, I’m not convinced that’s what Jesus is referring to. I’m inclined to believed Jesus was referring to His transfiguration and His resurrection which the disciples would certainly see and is in fact the power of the kingdom of God. It certainly makes sense that Jesus would make this statement and then 6 days later take Peter, James, and John up on a mountain where they would witness kingdom power. But don’t get sidetracked by this statement because it’s not the main thing.
Bible study tip: don’t let hard to understand texts divert you from the main point of the passage, what time frame or event Jesus is referring to is not the main point…the point is to look at the glory of the son!
Jesus is God incarnate: [v.2-3]: Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain, probably mount Hermon, this was the inner circle of disciples, Jesus’ closest disciples. There were 12 disciples but these three were the closest to Jesus. tells us the purpose for going up, they went up to pray. We know Jesus went up often to pray alone, this time He’s taking the inner circle with Him, and their in for quite a surprise.
Luke tells us the disciples had fell asleep, it seems common for the disciples to go with Jesus to pray and end up asleep, perhaps they needed a strong cup of coffee, perhaps we need one at times as well. I won’t linger there. Luke says they fell asleep and when they woke up they saw His glory, he was transfigured before them.
Transfigured, what is that word? Maybe your very familiar with this story, maybe this is the first time you’ve heard it, I don’t want to assume anything. Transfigured [Greek is metamorphoo] it’s where we get our English word metamorphosis. What does metamorphosis mean? It means a change in form or appearance. We would associate metamorphosis in our world with what? A butterfly. A butterfly goes through metamorphosis as it changes from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Another word we use for metamorphosis is transformed.
I’m going break down this word, which is important for us here. A little word study so to speak, to help us wrap our minds around this thing better hopefully.
Metamorphoo is used in connection with the physical body of Jesus on the mount in our passage today. It’s also used two other times in the NT in a figurative sense. In , “do not be conformed to this world but be, transformed [metamorphoo] by the renewing of your minds.” And Paul uses it again in , “we are being transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus.” So in the Epistles we see it as a spiritual changing, as we are being changed from the inside out. The inner change affects the outer change.
But that’s not all, it’s not just something spiritual that happens. The word metamorphoo, to transfigure, is made up of the preposition meta, denoting change of condition, and morpho which means form. This has great theological importance especially as we consider Jesus’ post resurrection appearances to his disciples. The word denotes a change in physical form. i.e. the disciples here didn’t just see an illusion or a fantasy, Jesus’ body changed into a new form, it morphed, in substance and appearance, the outward figure was different.
What Peter, James, and John are getting a glimpse of here is a preview of things to come, an unveiling if you will of the resurrected Christ in His glory. Understanding this word helps us to better understand why the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus immediately after the resurrection, because He had [metamorhoo] changed! Jesus could change His essence and appearance at will in full demonstration of His deity, showing that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily. But for the most part He veiled that glory in his humanity, because the son of man must suffer and be killed.
Mark gives specific details of the appearance of Jesus in verse 3, his clothes shined, glistened like snow. you know how when a fresh snow is on and the sun hits it, it just blinds you right…that’s the point, Jesus gleamed like blinding snow, Mark even recalls from Peter that, you can’t bleach clothes to look like that. It’s a picture we can hardly imagine, the description is intended to reflect the radiant deity of Jesus. It draws to mind the Psalmist says, The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment…here’s the picture the full radiance of God in Jesus. In this event we also look and see...
Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and prophets [v.4]: In verse 4 two familiar characters appear on the scene, Elijah and Moses talking to Jesus. Mark doesn’t tell us what they were talking about, but Luke does, Luke said they were talking about Jesus departure. The word used in Luke in Greek is exodus, they were talking about Jesus exodus. Jesus would lead the people of God out of bondage of sin in a new exodus through His death [a new passover] and resurrection, and He would constitute a new people called the church. The presence of Elijah and Moses represent the Law and the prophets, i.e. the whole of the OT. This event paints for us the picture of how the bible is one big story with Jesus at the center.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them. The law and the prophets are fulfilled in the presence of Jesus the Messiah who has brought the kingdom of God near. This is not Mount Sinai all over again, this is a gospel mountain. Here on this mountain the law of God and the grace of God converge in the One who is God incarnate and the fulfillment of all the OT had promised. Look at Him and believe the gospel!

Listen to the voice of the Father []

In the next few verses only two people speak, Peter and God the Father. In like fashion Peter impulsively opens his mouth…when he should have just remained quite. Mark inserts in verse 6, he said this because he knew not what to say because he was afraid. Well in Peter’s fear, he felt as if he had to say something…we all know people like that don’t we, they just got to say something…you want to say, “just zip it would you!” But Peter doesn’t. He says, “This is a good place to be, much better than that suffering and dying bit you talked about a few days ago, let’s pitch a tent and stay awhile.” I’m paraphrasing. I don’t know what Peter was thinking, most likely he wasn’t thinking at all, we all know those type of people as well, that speak before they think. Well, whatever Peter was thinking, it wasn’t the appropriate time to speak up, sometimes we need to be quite.
That’s a good practical lesson for us here, sometimes you need not say anything and just listen to God. The reason, man’s perspective is foolish [v5-6]. We like being on the mountain top, if you stay in the high places you won’t have to go through the low places right? The Christian life is not about reaching the right altitude where there’s no turbulence, in fact you’ll never understand the words and the works of Christ if you avoid the lowest point of His ministry. Leave out the cross, there is no atonement for sin. Leave out the resurrection there is no victory over sin and death. In sinful weakness, the foolishness of man avoids the cross and stays on the mountain, let’s get comfortable and avoid the low parts. Jesus embraces the cross and drinks the cup of the full wrath of God upon sin.
That is the perspective of God which is what’s needed [v.7-8] and while Peter was still speaking, a cloud overshadowed them and the Father spoke, interrupting Peter mid sentence. God’s shekinah glory envelops them and says, “shut up Peter” no he doesn’t say that but Peter certainly did need to zip it. The Father speaks, “this is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” This moment draws to mind the OT when God appeared before Moses on Sinai, God’s shekinah glory overwhelming the tabernacle, and the temple. It’s frightening, awe-inspiring, and mind blowing. The word from the Father was simple…listen to Jesus.
Remember the disciples had just heard Jesus give them the cost of discipleship deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Jesus, and the Father says, listen to Jesus. It’s the same call to us today, listen to Jesus, give him your ears, give him your eyes, give him your heart, give him your life. Not only are we to look and listen to him but learn from Him.

Learn from the suffering servants []

The three disciples have learned that despite His earthly, outward appearance Jesus is God. The transfiguration proved that beyond any reasonable question. But does this mean because of the transfiguration Jesus can enter His glory and establish his kingdom without the cross? No, the cross comes before the crown because that was God’s plan.
Jesus suffered but rose from the grave [v. 9-11]. The disciples where told to not tell anyone about what they say until the Son of Man had risen from the dead, but they didn’t understand what He was talking about. You see here’s the thing, the disciples, they acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, this is evident in the question they asked in verse 11, “why do …Elijah come first” They acknowledged Jesus as Messiah but they’re trying to figure out the Elijah coming first part. Even though they recognize Jesus as Messiah they still can’t reconcile the suffering and the dying with the glory and the power. Friends and that’s still what man wrestles with today.
How does the suffering and dying of the Messiah fit together with the glory and the power of Messiah??? I’ve said it many times, it’s going to take divine intervention for any person to put it together, because we just can’t get it, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the greatest news anyone will ever hear.
While the disciples struggle to understand what the rising from the dead meant, Jesus gives them a lesson so they would understand in part.
John was God’s servant that suffered [v. 12-13]: read the verses. will send you Elijah the prophet before the great day of the Lord. To prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus makes the connection that John the baptist fulfilled that role as Elijah, the forerunner to the Messiah, but they didn’t recognize him and killed him just as they won’t recognize Jesus as Messiah and will kill him as well. Matthew notes the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the baptist.
Conclusion: so what do we do with this transfiguration? a few things...
it reveals Jesus as God incarnate. Jesus is fully God and fully man
it demonstrates Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets and God’s final, complete, and climactic revelation of Himself to man
It teaches us that the same Jesus who was crucified is the same Jesus who will reign over his kingdom in glory
it calls us to trust and follow the One and only Son who is the image of the invisible God, and the radiance of God’s glory. In Jesus and Jesus alone we can behold the glory and greatness of God and live....that’s mind blowing!
The British preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “the Son of God became man that the children of men might become children of God.” Are you a child of God? Have you trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Will you follow Him? Are you captivated by Him? If not I invite you to turn to Him this morning in repentance and faith. May we all be blown away by Jesus now and forever, Amen
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