2020-02-16 – Mark 9.1-13 – The Transfiguration
Bible Text: Mark 9.1-13 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2020-02-16 – Mark 9.1-13 – The Transfiguration
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today. The title of our message is The Transfiguration. “Transfigured” is literally the word “metamorphosis,” which speaks of a cataclysmic change. A great example of this is when a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. And I love butterflies 🙂
QC Botanical Garden – BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS, 3.1.20 SUNDAY, 1 PM – 3 PM
The Butterfly’s lifecycle is quite interesting as it really has four stages of development. First, an egg hatches and a Caterpillar is born. The main purpose of the caterpillar stage is feeding to support the next pupa stage, where it then grows the wings, legs and antennae that make up the butterfly. Finally, during the beautiful butterfly stage they reproduce and lay the eggs that start the process over again. We are going to see today a different kind of metamorphosis, in that of where Jesus Himself Transfigures or Transforms into His Glorious form.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 9.1, pew Bibles pg. 895 of God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. But let us first start with Prayer.
Last week if you recall, we saw in scripture Jesus asking His disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” But then Jesus asked Peter “Who do you say that that I am, Peter answered “You are the Messiah” or the Christ. Well today we are going to see in the next verses, Jesus showing His glory in an amazing way. [SLIDE Transfiguration by Raphael (1520)]
Standing with Jesus in person are Elijah and Moses, two of the greatest profits that ever lived. Peter, John and James are below.
We ended last week with the first verse of chapter 9, and starting this message today, I felt it appropriate to read again that same first verse:
9 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.”
I believe this verse has a lot to do with what is called The Transfiguration that we will witness next in scripture.
Just six days after Jesus said this, He takes only the closest of his inner circle disciple friends up to the mountain top. There we will see, they are privileged to witness the glory of the transfigured Christ.
Verse 2 reads: 2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transfigured in front of them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke also refer to this blessed transfiguration event. Luke’s Gospel has a few more details that I thought it would be helpful to read this morning. Luke 9:29 says: “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem”.
I imagine that this had to be an amazing and blessed event to witness. In fact both Peter and John later write about what they had experienced first hand.
In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain”.
And then John wrote in the first chapter of his Gospel at verse 14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”
And what is the glory that they see? They see the glory of Christ’s sinlessness. Mark chooses his words carefully when he wrote, “his clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them”. I would argue that what was dazzling or shining on the outside was only a dim reflection of what was on the inside. Jesus was and is sinless, white as snow. In contrast the profit Isaiah voices the comparison for every other member of the human race in his woeful words, “… all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” and that is so true. There’s nothing we have done or can do that can compare with His righteousness. Mark wrote, “His garments became dazzling [or radiant]” In Greek, stilbō is the word used. It means to glitter like flashing facets reflecting back the blazing sun at high noon on a diamond. Luke says it was white and gleaming, like lightning even. Have you ever witnessed such powerful lightning that causes you to blink and look away? This is blazing white, glittering white, like the sun’s white brightness even. Christ and Christ alone has that level of absolute purity. So much so that He is even able to take upon Himself the sins of the world on at the cross at Calvary. Thank you Jesus Christ..
In Mark 9:5 he continues, 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here. Let us set up three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what to say, since they were terrified.
Peter, John and James had a case of Holy fear mixed with stunning, exhilarating wonder at the most divine and incomprehensible experience of their lives. They didn’t know how to process what they were witnessing. Jesus, before their eyes is actually talking with Elijah and Moses. Then Peter interrupted their conversation, for he felt woefully inadequate and just wanted to do something for them.
Have you ever been awestruck before? Maybe you meet for the first time the love of your life, or maybe some famous person, and then you find yourself just befumbled or tongue tied all of a sudden in your speech; or you do something totally just stupid that you later regret? If that’s you, don’t feel bad, that’s just what happens sometimes when we get nervous. So embarrassing though isn’t it? That’s kind of what Peter was experiencing that day. Poor Peter is known for doing and saying some pretty embarrassing things while he was with Jesus. But it is that same human-like character that causes me to love Peter as well.
Then our verse 7 says, 7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
Again God said, ““This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” or other translations say “Hear Him”. The fact that you are here today shows that you are willing or desire to “Hear Him”, and to that I say praise the Lord. However, sometimes I just want to shout from the rooftops something like “This is God’s beloved Son, Hear Him!” Sadly, so many people have turned their back from God, and that hurts my heart, and I am sure it hurts God’s heart as well. We need to be praying for those folks.
In these verses, Father God is speaking out loud to Jesus, Elijah and Moses; but also to Peter, John and James. This event also reminds me of when Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan. As written in Matthew 3 16 “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” God spoke to them directly from heaven. God can do anything He wants to do, and I know that He speaks to us in many ways. Some have even been blessed to hear His voice, and to that all I can say is praise the Lord!
And God didn’t just happen to look down at the right moment by accident to then show up and give His blessings. There are many people in this world that think our God is a dispassionate and disconnected God. They think that okay maybe He created the world and us but then He disconnected because maybe He has more important things to do. These verses show instead that God is watching over us brothers and sisters, with Godly parental eyes that are caring and loving, Amen?
But then verse 8 says right after that they all just disappeared, Jesus was then suddenly standing all alone again. It is almost like they showed up to give a final pep-talk to Jesus. For shortly after this, He and He alone will walk the path of suffering to the cross at Calvary for our redemption. Verse 9 continues:
9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept this word to themselves, questioning what “rising from the dead” meant.
Peter, James and John are witness to something that was truly amazing and precious. Then Jesus commands them to “tell no one the things they had seen”. My guess is they probably wouldn’t know what to tell people anyway. Knowing that many would probably pronounce them crazy or persecute them if they did.
Verse 11 says, 11 Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 “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? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did whatever they pleased to him, just as it is written about him.”
I suggest that based upon the Old Testament, the Jews and the apostles were looking for Elijah to come back. You can tell they clearly recognized now Jesus as being their Messiah. And they are contemplating again everything they had seen and were taught by Jesus. They were attempting to reconcile that with everything they knew the Old Testament proclaimed about the coming of the Messiah.
They knew that in Malachi 4:5 it says, “I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” To this day, Jewish Seder services include an empty chair at the table in anticipation that Elijah will return to proclaim the Messiah’s coming. So the apostles are wrestling with God’s Holy Word. We should all be doing the same, Amen? God gave us His precious word so that we would will wrestle with it. Don’t get me wrong, God’s word is wonderful for pacifying our souls and intriguing our minds. It is to be used for correction and rebuke as well as bringing a joyful understanding of God’s love. But we should be digging deep. I think it brings God joy when He sees us dwelling on His word. Imagine if you wrote a book, and one day you saw your children reading it and taking in every word and debating with friends and siblings its meaning. Wouldn’t that bring you joy?
According to Jesus here, Elijah has come, but in spirit through the man of John the Baptist. Then without skipping a beat in the line of logic, Jesus again takes the opportunity to remind the disciples that the same Holy Scripture prophesy says that the Son of Man “must suffer many things and be treated with contempt”. For which we all know now Jesus most assuredly did just that. Jesus suffered more than anyone that had ever lived. Despite the physical pain, he took on all the sins of man, past, present and future, including yours and mine.
As we close our message today, I would like to bring up two life applications for us here to consider.
First we should take note and about the dynamics of the witnesses in this Transfiguration event. Why did Jesus take three witnesses? Well Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that “truth is confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses”.
So the witnesses, Peter, John and James, saw Jesus meet with Elijah and Moses and then God also appears in a voice. Three earthly witnesses, lived to tell about the miracle of seeing Jesus meet with three other witnesses from heaven. Three witnesses witnessed three witnesses. This more than met the Jewish legal requirement that God laid down through Moses more than a thousand years prior.
I will suggest that we too need witnesses brothers and sisters. For instance if we go to court and stand before a judge, a personal witness might prove most beneficial. I have stood-up for many a brother or sister in Christ, and I believe it has proven to be beneficial for me to do so. Even within our own church the idea of a witness is most beneficial. When people get married you need witnesses. When somebody gets baptized we are witnesses to that fact. The Baptism service is where others witness our public proclamation of accepting Jesus as our Savior.
I will argue that having people on our side, willing to stand for us in good times or bad, as witnesses to the truth, will become even more important as we get nearer to Christ’s second coming. That is one intended dynamic of church membership. We are to know each other for this purpose. As our world is becoming more secular and dangerous for Christians, being a witness might one day prove to be even the difference between life and death. Witnesses are good and we should endeavor to take care and foster these types of relationships within the church. I got your back, do you have my back? Thank you J
Second I want to talk a little more about The Transfiguration or Transformation. The bible says Jesus was transformed into His Glorious form right before their eyes. Likewise we will be transformed one day. In 1 Corinthians 15:51 the apostle Paul wrote, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed [or transformed]—in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” I just love that verse, don’t you.
Recall also in Romans 12:2, it says as believers, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And in 2 Corinthians 3:18, it says that if we gaze at the glory of the Lord, we will be transformed into His image from one level of glory to the next by the Holy Spirit. God is real ladies and gentlemen, and when anyone meets with Him, they will shine or reflect in His glory. If we want to glow with God’s glory, we must spend time in the presence of God. As Psalm 34:5 says: “Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
Charles Spurgeon once gave this advice to young ministers. He said, “When you talk about Heaven let your face light up with a heavenly glory. But when you talk about Hell, your everyday face will do.” Our character should be reflecting Christ.
Be transformed brothers and sisters. Be Born Again, and let the light of Jesus shine through you as you are living still on this Earth. In Romans 12, Paul wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God”.
Now by faith, I know that when I die or when I are Raptured (whichever comes first), that I will be with Jesus in Heaven. We have so much to look forward to brothers and sisters, and the final victory, the final transformation takes place according to Revelation is when heaven on Earth is remade anew. We will be given a new perfected body, no more pain, no more sorrow. That is what Jesus displayed for His witnesses that day. And that is what I am looking forward to. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings me much hope, how about you?
When the world looks at those of us who are Christians, they should see people who are changed from the rather ugly caterpillar of their former, sinful selves into the beautiful butterflies that reflect the image of Jesus Christ. It is my hope that you, and I, would continue to feed on the word of God, allow His Holy Word to change us into the image of Christ; shining brightly and sharing His gospel in order to make new disciples where ever we can.
Would you please stand and pray with me now.
Father, this is why we’re here to worship today, because of the glory of the gospel. Confirm it to our hearts, as we pray this in Jesus Christ’s Holy name, amen.