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Transfigured for Us

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Transfiguration matters for us today




Mark Thesis Statement:

Mark 1:1 CSB
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Peter’s Confession

Mark 8:29–30 CSB
“But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he strictly warned them to tell no one about him.

Change in the Message

Mark 8:31 CSB
Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.

Peter’s Failure

Mark 8:32–33 (CSB)
He spoke openly about this. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning around and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

Prediction of the Soon-Coming Kingdom

Mark 9:1 CSB
Then he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come in power.”


In All Synoptic Gospels

Not in John

John is about the glory and power of Jesus as God. And yet, it is the only of the four without the story. Why?
John is a “permanent Theophany.” The point isn’t that Jesus was part God or contained God, but was God.
John 1:1–3 CSB
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.
John was insisting upon the deity of the un-transfigured Christ.
John 12:23–35 (CSB)
Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.
Then the crowd replied to him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going.
John insists upon Jesus as light, and that is where I want us to pick up our text: with the understanding that Jesus is God.

4 men go up the mountain

Jesus, Peter, James, and John

Transfigured - Definition

Changed appearance

Transfigured - importance

Jesus is supernaturally white and shining
Jesus is supernaturally able to speak with dead people.
Jesus is revealing his supernatural nature to the three disciples. However, it is not complete:
Though it was now a long time since they had died and finished the course of their calling, yet our Lord intended once more to ratify by their voice what they had taught during their life, in order to inform us that the same salvation, through the sacrifice of Christ, is held out to us in common with the holy fathers. —Calvin
Jesus is the Messiah (8:29). Peter was EXPECTING a Messiah. Why?
The answer is in who showed up with Jesus

Moses and Elijah

Why these two and not others?
Let’s start with Moses. Moses was a mediator for the people, and it was evident that they needed one. Their continuous failure showed the necessity of a perfect mediator.
God promised such a mediator:
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 CSB
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name.
So then, Moses’ prophecy led people to expect a messiah.
With Elijah also, his life and message revealed that (1) a prophet like Elijah was necessary, and (2) Elijah was not good enough. Elijah stood against evil, but also ran away in fear; he was a man of faith, but gave up hope; he was obedient, but still a sinner.
Calvin is again helpful in showing that Jesus is the ultimate subject and end of the Law and the Prophets.
Let me show you what I mean.
The next part says they were Talking to Jesus.
What are they talking about? Here there is no answer. In Luke, we have a glimpse of it.
Luke 9:31 CSB
They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
They were not engaged in small talk. The discussion was about the plan of redemption. They were talking about Jesus’ work he was about to accomplish.
Moses is representative of the Law. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. Jesus had to obey the law, and then die under it to fulfill the Law. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.
Elijah is representative of the prophets, which is pointed out as the foundation of the church along with the Apostles. Jesus needed to make the predicted “New Covenant.” He is the fulfillment of the Prophets.

Peter’s Response

Two men of God present, and three of the men that would continue the plan of redemption don’t understand. I imagine the response of Moses and Elijah (jokingly) as “really? These guys?”
Peter “didn’t know what to say.” That is the real issue here. He should have been. . .Listening! But instead, he was talking. Learn a lesson here from Peter.
However, he was trying to do something good and hospitable. The Jews make tabernacles every year and live in them. He wasn’t saying “let’s build three houses,” but, “let’s have an impromptu festival.” The worship that Peter wanted to give is a little misguided, but understandable.
Peter’s mistake is threefold:
Peter didn’t understand the design of the vision before him. It was hidden from him until the resurrection that Jesus was the end of the Law and the Prophets.
Peter elevated God’s servants that appeared to the same place as Christ. They were only good because they pointed to Christ. The Old Covenant was pregnant with the New, but the Old covenant was never the point in itself. Neither was Moses or Elijah.
Peter’s plan was to prepare Earthen huts for men that had appeared “in Glory.” They would have no desire to stay there.
Let these be a mini-sermon/lesson for you.
We do the same thing. We try to lengthen our “mountaintop” experiences and shorten the valleys. Peter changed his message later on in
1 Peter 4:1–6 CSB
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding—because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin—in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.
Our mindsets need to adjust to this.
In fact, it is in the context of suffering that Jesus takes these disciples to the mountain. Look at
Mark 8:34 CSB
Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

God’s Cloud and Voice

Why a cloud? God’s presence is always represented by a cloud that hides him.
Psalm 18:7–13 (CSB)
Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook because he burned with anger.
Smoke rose from his nostrils, and consuming fire came from his mouth; coals were set ablaze by it.
He bent the heavens and came down, total darkness beneath his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew, soaring on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his hiding place, dark storm clouds his canopy around him.
From the radiance of his presence, his clouds swept onward with hail and blazing coals.
The Lord thundered from heaven; the Most High made his voice heard.
Men are unable to comprehend God. The cloud/darkness is there for their protection. This was just a taste of glory, and the men were terrified.
There are only two other places in the Gospels that we hear a voice from heaven:
in the synoptics, the baptism of Jesus
In John ch. 12 that we heard earlier.
In Mark, it is clear that we are trying to tie the transfiguration to the Baptism of Jesus.
The Baptism/temptation narrative was the setup for Jesus’ earthly ministry.
It stands to reason that the Peter proclamation, transfiguration, and demon possessed boy holds the key to what would come next. Jesus is preparing for his death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus reveals this in that, after the pronouncement by the voice, he is left alone in front of the disciples. The Law and Prophets were of temporary glory, but Jesus is forever.

Tell no-one

And then he tells them to tell no one.
Why tell no one?
He said this right after Peter’s confession, and would say it several more times. The issue is dealt with in this way:
Mark 1:45 CSB
Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But he was out in deserted places, and they came to him from everywhere.
and again
Mark 8:11–12 CSB
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, demanding of him a sign from heaven to test him. Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
no amount of evidence will help people believe. They have a supernatural need, and Jesus has just revealed his supernatural ability.

“Elijah Restores. . .” kinda.

On top of what has previously been said about Elijah, he was also predicted to return before the messiah:
Malachi 4:5–6 CSB
Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
The disciples saw proof of Jesus’ deity and received affirmation that he was the messiah from the two representatives. They immediately think back to this passage.
“How can you be here without Elijah being here first?”
Jesus says explicitly elsewhere that John the Baptist is the Elijah figure that was supposed to come first. (mt. 17)
For now, we need to consider the “restores all things” piece. John came and obviously did not restore all things. So what are we talking about?
The restoration in mind has to do with restoration of the prophetic office that Jesus would take over, and restoration of the hearts of Israel to repentance instead of legalism.
Both of these things constitute “all” without being exhaustive.
The people have always killed the prophets, and this is no different. Elijah (John the Baptist) was put to death for his accurate execution of his duties. Many of John’s followers followed after Jesus, and we know of at least one group of people baptized into John and then re-baptized into the church.
The work of John would ultimately lead to the death of Christ, which Jesus was predicting. If all things are restored, why will Jesus be lifted up? Because the culture needed to be set up to kill him. Jesus had to be the atoning sacrifice.
They didn’t understand, and wouldn’t until the resurrection (v. 9, v. 32)


Central Theme of Mark

Jesus is the “son of God”. In the Greek sense, the idea was not to establish the deity, fulfillment, or humanity of Christ. Instead, Mark was trying to reveal Jesus’ supernatural nature.

Transfiguration meets the theme

Jesus is shown as supernatural, powerful, affirmed by God, and prepared to do battle like a Greek demi-god.


To fortify the Apostles against the persecution to come?

Why then only the three? Why did he say to keep quiet? And they deserted him!

To validate the Apostles as a continuation of the OT system?

Why then only the three? And they aren’t privy to the conversation of the others. They are Outsiders in this situation. They are onlookers only.

To show his death was on purpose!

Jesus dying on the cross was plan A.
We’ve already seen in Nehemiah that even the strongest of formal Covenants won’t restore the people.
The strongest of moral consciences (like Nehemiah’s) won’t restore the people.
The brightest and best, richest and most powerful, most committed and moral people we can fathom can’t fix the real problem.
We need a new type of human. We need a perfect man to stand in our place voluntarily. The Transfiguration shows that Jesus is that man.


1. Christ Reveals Himself When He wants

6 days: it could have been 6 years or that very day.
Gandalf says a wizard arrives precisely when he means to.
2 Peter 3:9 CSB
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
Not only is the Lord patient, but he also comes at the right time.
Galatians 4:4–7 CSB
When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

Application 1: Wait on the Lord

Zephaniah 3:8 (CSB)
Therefore, wait for me—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
until the day I rise up for plunder.
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
in order to pour out my indignation on them,
all my burning anger;
for the whole earth will be consumed
by the fire of my jealousy.
Isaiah 40:31 (CSB)
but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.

Application 2: Mountaintops are Temporary

In the regular life of the Christian, there will be mountaintop experiences at times. Do not rely on these for your spiritual nourishment. You have many more regular days that irregular.

2. Christ Reveals Himself Where he wants

Christ was tempted in the wilderness. He had all authority over the situation and evidently could have just told Satan to stop. He didn’t transfigure there.
Christ would ultimately end up in the temple, the dwelling place of God. He did not transfigure there. (Pharisees asked for a sign).
Christ would be led to the cross and die publicly.
Psalm 22:8 (CSB)
“He relies on the Lord;
let him save him;
let the Lord rescue him,
since he takes pleasure in him.”
He did not transfigure there.
Christ was transfigured Away from the crowds and the temple. It is on his own terms that Jesus is revealed in any way.
Mark 8:31 CSB
Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.
Mark 9:12–13 CSB
“Elijah does come first and restores all things,” he replied. “Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did whatever they pleased to him, just as it is written about him.”
Mark 9:32 CSB
But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him.
The disciples had the evidence, and even apprehended much of Jesus’ ministry, yet they would not receive the full revelation till the resurrection. The place Christ chose is in the heart of a believer. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ in our hearts, the new temple of God.

Application 3: Look for Christ Where He Is

We find Christ in all the Scriptures. In the Old Testament He is predicted, in the Gospels He is revealed, in Acts He is preached, in the epistles He is explained, and in Revelation He is expected. - Alistair Begg
If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest. — Corrie Ten Boom

3. Christ Reveals Himself How He wants

Christ chooses the method. Why did he choose the method of supernatural bleach? He was transfigured IN THE WAY HE DESIRED. Christ is in charge.
The same is true about the cross.
Matthew 26:52–56 CSB
Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. But all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.

Application 4: Christ is in Charge of Conversion

Christ is likewise in charge of the means of conversion. The method he has chosen is the preaching of the Gospel.
If you are not a Christian, this is for you. Christ came into the world to save sinners. Christ lived a life you could not live in perfect holiness, without which you merit eternal punishment from God. He died the death that you deserved. He was resurrected from the dead as evidence that this whole transaction works. If you will turn from your sin and to Christ, you will be freed to walk in new life. This free gift is offered for you.
If you are a Christian, you need to learn to preach the Gospel. It is the only thing your friends and neighbors need.

Application 5: Christ is in Charge of the Means of Worship

Do not expect to have powerful spiritual experiences from the bench. We are called to obedience!
Our neglect of prayer, bible reading, meditation, and fellowship with other believers has lead many of us to the place where we are stuck in addictions, ignorant of God’s presence, and unwilling to change. These are disciplinary measures. Turn to the means Christ has established for us!

4. Christ Reveals Himself to whom he wants

Revelation is to God’s people. Why did Peter, James, and John experience this stupendous revelation and not the others? The others, save Judas, believed in Christ. They were his people.
Ultimately, the light turning on for any doctrine or any other Spiritual thing is a result of the new birth—which belongs to God. An unregenerate person cannot understand the things of God.
Sin nature
Psalm 51:5 (CSB)
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
Romans 8:1–8 CSB
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Application 6: What is in Charge of Your life?

Is it the flesh or the Spirit?
Your desires, or Christ’s?
A simple, fleshy peon, or the mighty, shining Christ that has, on purpose, purchased you with his blood?
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