Mark chapter 9 is born out of the events that took place in Mark chapter 8. It is where Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah. A spiritual revelation from God. And then Jesus tells them that He is going to be put to death by the religious leaders and on the third day He was going to rise from the dead. The disciples didnt hear that last part, only that He was going to die!
And so Peter pulls the Lord aside, and he rebukes the Lord for His negative attitude. You see, they were thinking kingdom, Jesus was thinking the cross! And Jesus then rebukes Peter telling him he is a servant of Satan. You see, without the cross there is no life. Suffering must come before glory.
Now in Chapter 9 Jesus is going to help His disciples understand what His mission was all about. Keep in mind we are only some 10 months from the cross of Calvary. And Jesus is going to focus His attention on Jerusalem and pour Himself into these men, specifically Peter, James and John, the inner circle of 3.
1. Jesus is speaking of Peter, James and John, who would shortly see a powerful display of the glory of God, what He will be like after His death and resurrection, what He will be like in the kingdom age. They are going to see Jesus in all of His glory, and we call it the transfiguration.
1. So Jesus takes these 3 men and brings them to this high mountain to pray. Now if you go to Israel, most tours will tell you that this mountain is Mount Tabor, located about 10 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee. Now it is really not a mountain, for it has an elevation of only some 1,000 feet. But it is a safe place to go to, easy to get to, so the tours will use it as the place of the transfiguration. But that is wrong!
2. Keep in mind they are up north in the area of Caesarea Philippi. And just some 12 miles northeast of Caesarea Philippi is Mount Hermon, and it has an elevation of some 9,200 feet, it is a mountain! The reason tours dont usually go there is because it is close to the Lebanese -Syrian boarder, and thus, it is a little dangerous. Also, it is very high, difficult to climb, and usually snow covered. So it was most likely Mount Hermon and not Mount Tabor.
3. Jesus brought these 3 men up this mountain to encourage them. Keep in mind for the past 2½ years these guys were thinking kingdom age and they would have a prominent place in the kingdom. And Jesus says He is going to die! They didnt get it and they didnt hear He was going to rise the third day. So Jesus is teaching them, and trying to encourage them that before the glory there will be suffering.
4. Also, in Luke 9:32, we are told that these 3 men, after climbing up this mountain, became very tired, and they fell asleep. Jesus brought them up to pray, to share with them, and they got their little blankets out and went to sleep. But as we are going to see, they are going to awaken very quickly.
1. You have to love Marks description of what Peter saw. He is saying that his robe was whiter than any Laundromat could get them. Even Mr. Clean couldnt get them any whiter!
2. Now the word "transfigured" is the Greek word METEMORPHOTHE in which we get our English word "metamorphosis" from. And it means "to be changed into another form." This is not merely just a change in His outward appearance, but He was changed inwardly and it reflected in His outward appearance. This was not just some costume or disguise Jesus was wearing, He was changed, TRANSFIGURED!
3. In Philippians 2:6-8 Paul tells us that Jesus "...being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." He put His glory aside when God became flesh, became man. But He stilled remained 100% God even though He was 100% man. And even though I may not understand it with my finite mind, that is what the Scriptures teach. And yes, He emptied Himself of some of His privileges so He could show us that we can trust in the Father to provide for us. And then, in John 17:5, Jesus said "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." This was just a glimpse of what was ahead. Jesus had not gone to the cross as yet. But when He did, when He died for the sins of the world, He would be raised up on the third day and attain that glory He once had with the Father!
4. In II Peter 1:16-18 we are told "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." Peter remembered this time with Jesus, and it changed his life. Peter saw Jesus in all of His glory. Like Peter, as you see Jesus as He is, your life should be changed, transformed. It was the lesson of the cross, giving your life totally to Jesus, dying to self. That is what the Lord wants, and that is what He is trying to teach His men.
1. Now when you go to football games you can tell the players by their numbers and the names on their jerseys. How do you think these guys recognized this was Moses and Elijah? Maybe they saw #10 MOSES on the back of his robe! Actually we dont know how they recognized these guys, but they were certain that this was Moses and Elijah on either side of Jesus.
2. Now Moses represented the Law while Elijah represented the prophets. These were two of the heavy hitters of the Jewish faith. Highly respected men. Why do you think they appeared with Jesus? They were affirming that Jesus is the Messiah, the one that Moses spoke of and the one the prophets spoke of. And interestingly enough, Luke 9:30-31 tells us, "And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." They were discussing the death of Jesus, His departure, and this went on for a long period of time! And the disciples, waking up, were taking this all in. And again, they were approving of what was going to take place, that Jesus was going to die, and having a great respect, these two men, Moses and Elijah, were the focus of their attention, along with Jesus. And it was quiet for a while, until Peter, uncomfortable, and afraid, broke that silence.
1. You know how you say things at times when you dont know what you are talking about and you dont know what to say, and yet you say it anyway. And it sounds ridiculous. That is what Peter was doing. He was afraid, the silence bothered him, and he just had to say something. So he is basically saying, lets build a little resort up here on Mount Hermon, we can just stay up here, we dont have to go down, You dont have to go to the cross, You dont have to die, we will just enjoy this time and it doesnt have to end.
2. The other thing Peter did was put Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus, they were equals. We have the Law, we have the prophets, and we now have the Messiah! It doesnt get any better than this! First of all, God is not equal with any man or with anything. In Isaiah 42:8 we read "I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images." And yet that is what Peter was doing here! But he is going to be corrected very quickly, as we are going to see.
1. This overshadow" is a display of Gods presence. In the Old Testament God appeared to them in a cloud, it was called the Shekinah glory. We can read of this in Exodus 40:34-38, which says "Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."
When the temple was dedicated by Solomon in I Kings 8:10-11, we read "And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD." And then, as you come to the book of Ezekiel, you see the glory of God, the Shekinah glory departing from Jerusalem because of their rebellion, their wickedness. It has been some 600 years since they saw the glory of God moving, and now, on this mountain, as Peter, James and John stood by, God the Father is going to speak to them.
2. Notice what the Father is saying, listen and obey the words of Jesus. Focus on Him now. Yes, Moses was the Lawgiver and Elijah a prophet, but now hear the words of Jesus. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." You see, the last word from God is from His Son! LISTEN TO HIM!
1. In Matthew 17:7 we are told that Jesus touched them and told them not to be afraid. That tells me they were afraid! And notice, everything is back to normal at this point, and when everything else is gone, who always remains with you? JESUS! That is important for us to remember and hold onto!
1. Im sure these three talked about this for months with each other, and they were trying to figure this out, but they didnt get it. They didnt fully understand it until the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is as John 12:16 tells us, "His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him."
1. As they are heading down this mountain, the disciples ask Jesus something that was troubling them because it was something that the Scribes were saying, and these men knew the Scriptures. They said that before the Messiah comes, Elijah must come first as a forerunner or to herald the Messiah. In fact, in Malachi 4:5-6 we are told "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Were the Scribes right or wrong? Jesus is going to answer that question.
1. Now as you look at verse 12, Jesus is speaking of Elijah coming in the future tense. Something that has not happened as of yet. Elijah is seen as one of the two witnesses that comes on the scene in Revelation chapter 11, during the tribulation period. The other witness is probably Moses, but that is another study. Thus, Elijah will come prior to the Lord coming back to set up His kingdom here on the earth, just as the Scribes said!
But it also speaks of Jesus suffering before glory, and that was seen in His first coming. Before He sets up His kingdom here on the earth, He must suffer and die for the sins of the world and on the third day rise from the dead, just as He has done. We await for His return and the setting up of His kingdom which will take place after the 7 year tribulation period where God will pour out His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world, and His bride, the church will be caught up to heaven prior to the start of this tribulation.
2. Then, in verse 13, Jesus is speaking of a past tense regarding Elijah, that is something that has already taken place. This is none other than John the baptist who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and that is not my idea, the Scriptures say that. Jesus said in Matthew 11:14 regarding John the baptist, "And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come." Also, in Matthew 17:13 we are told, "Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist." And in Luke chapter 1, as the angel Gabriel is announcing to Zacharias that he will have a son and call him John, we read beginning in verse 16, "And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:16-17. That is exactly what John the baptist did, prepared the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. And when John saw Jesus, he said "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" Lastly, John was beheaded for his faith, and they, in a sense, did to him whatever they wanted.
3. One of the lessons we can take with us this evening is you cant live on the mountain top. The work is done in the valley. And we are going to see that next time, for as soon as they get down off the mountain, they encounter the demonic forces! That is where the work is done.