Title: Just a Glimpse!
Text: Mark 9.2-13
Introduction: Ever watch a movie trailer and say to yourself: Well, I don’t have to see that movie now – they just showed us the whole thing! Lisa and I have this thing when we see a movie trailer of some movie about to be released that we’ll take no interest in, one of us will say to the other
- That looks like a real winner.
- Thanks for letting me know, I won’t be going to see that movie!
- I just saw more of that move than I think I’ll ever care to see of that movie!
Really, all you need to know about that movie and if you want to see that movie or not, takes just a glimpse.
Catching just a glimpse. That’s what those moviemakers want to give you in hopes that you’ll want to see the whole thing. What a difference just a glimpse can make! What hope it can give! What excitement it can generate!
Romans 8.29-30; 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. I said in my message that Linda had held each of these links of this Golden Chain. Called, Justified, Glorified.
Today, in our text, Peter, James and John are going to catch just a glimpse of Jesus in his glorified state. I don’t know if it lasted as long as a movie trailer, but what a sight it must have been.
Transition: Today’s text is set in two separate scenes:
- Scene 1: A Glorious Mountaintop Experience: Jesus is transformed before their very eyes.
- Scene 2: A Deep Theological Discussion: The disciples have many questions as they descend the mountain.
Transition: Let’s begin with this first scene…
I. A Glorious Mountaintop Experience (2-8)
exp.: v2 begins with the classic “who, what, when, where” bit of information…
- We begin in v2 with a time reference, “and after six days”; Mark rarely makes time references like this – (the only other time is in 14.1);
- next we find that he is only taking with him three of the disciples; remember I told you Mark loves Triads? Jesus did this when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead in 5.37; He does this again now, and He’ll do it a 3rd time in Mark when he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. I call these three his garden buddies. I didn’t make that up. I heard another preacher refer to them as such. But you get the idea that Jesus is allowing these three to be a part of some very important parts of his ministry.
So, we have (1) a timeframe and (2) we have a list of who is in this story.
- Next, (3) we have a place – up on a high mountain. Mt. Tabor is the place considered to be the Mount of Transfiguration. I don’t have a good picture of Mt. Tabor, but it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think this is where it happened anyway. Truth is we don’t know. Anywhere north of Caesarea Philippi is the Mt. Hermon range. Jesus could have taken these disciples up that way. There is some doubt that it is Mt. Hermon way because…1st, it is 6 days later; and 2nd, when they descend, there are scribes there arguing with his other disciples. I doubt the Scribes would follow Jesus into Gentile territory. But, here’s the thing: Mark doesn’t think the name of the mountain is important, but rather what happened on that mountain is what is important.
And, I have to tell you that I’m glad Mark doesn’t tell us!
ill.: Do you remember King Hezekiah? The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned many decades and 4 kings. The last was Hezekiah. Hezekiah is the king who broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan; 2 Kings 18.4). I thought that was so wise on Hezekiah’s part! It’s funny how we as humans make idols out of religious relics! Traveling to Israel and seeing how people acted at the sites in Jerusalem is heartbreaking. Hezekiah was so moved by the people’s idolatry toward something incredible, he destroyed it.
Mark didn’t tell us where this place was because if he did, there would be a monastery there and they would be charging us to get in!
Look at what takes place: rd v 2;
- He was transfigured; I love that Peter and John has left for us their writings on this event; James was the 1st to die of the disciples – so he didn’t really get a chance to write a gospel for us; But Peter and John lived long enough to pass some things on; John records this event in his gospel and Peter writes a personal testimony of this in his 2nd letter, 1st chapter: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. He speaks of Christ’s Majesty and of the voice they heard from the cloud. He says they were eyewitnesses! He is transformed, transfigured; rd v 3; his transformation is really indescribable; he is saying it is like nothing he has ever seen before; 2nd, Jesus converses…
- He conversed with Elijah and Moses; rd v 4; what are we to gather from this bit of information? Why these two? Let me be honest and say: I don’t know. However, I have some thoughts…
- Some have said they represent the Law and the Prophets (The OT writings), But Elijah didn’t write an OT book, like Isaiah or Ezekiel or Jeremiah; And why then isn’t there a third man to represent the writings or poetry? No, I don’t think it is that.
- Some people assume it is because these two didn’t die. For sure, Elijah didn’t die, he was taken up in a whirlwind; And Moses wandered off; Jewish tradition teaches that God just took Moses; There is only one problem with their tradition: Moses did die and God buried him (Due. 34.6); no one knows just where, and that is good; if we knew, we’d probably build a monastery there and charge people to get in to see his grave! No, the only other person who didn’t die was Enoch; so why not him instead of Moses?
- Here’s my assumption: I think it has something to do with end times because their names are associated with end times. I think it has something to do with eschatology. For example, in a moment, the disciples with Jesus will ask him about Elijah. They understand the eschatological ties with Elijah. Malachi 4.4-6, the last three verses of the OT read:
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
So, both of these OT men are associated with end times!
- Added to this, I thought of Revelation and the two witnesses of Ch. 11; now, mind you, their names are not mentioned; however, the witnesses who serve the Lord in Rev. 11, have the same abilities, as do these two and these men are highly intimated in that passage.
One last question often asked about this scene: how do the disciples know who these men are? I think that is a silly question. Maybe they were wearing nametags! Mark doesn’t care to tell us. And neither do any of the other gospels. Peter could have said so in his letter. But he doesn’t – he only mentions Jesus. Which I think is the focal point here. Christ is greater than these! He is greater than the Law and greater than Moses. He is greater than any OT character or event.
Trans.: Now this has to be an incredible moment. Think for a moment and wonder: what would I do? How would I act? Well, if you know the story, you know what Peter did;
- Peter speaks foolishly; rd 5; I’m thinking that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent (Ecc. 3.7). Peter doesn’t know which is which! I wonder if he thought to himself: build three tents? Where did that come from? What, will each disciple take on the task of building a tent? I wonder if the three (Jesus, Moses and Elijah) are talking. They’re interrupted by Peter: “Rabbi, (the 3 look at Peter and the other disciples) it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. And then they look back at each other and begin conversing again – like Peter never said a word. Rd v 6; He’s so caught up in the moment and terrified out of his mind, that he just blurts something out!
Trans: well, to be sure, he should have kept quiet, look at v 7; rd v 7;
- The Father speaks from within the cloud; there is some Exodus imagery and symbolism throughout this passage;
- 6 days; Exodus 24, the glory of the Lord rested on Sinai for 6 days; and remember, this is only one of two times Mark gives us a time reference;
- Moses was ‘transformed’; he needed to wear a veil to cover his face when in the presence of others;
- As the disciples were terrified out of their minds, So were the people in Exodus; there was a tremendous fear – terrible fear from the people of the Lord.
- Just like our experience here, A cloud enveloped the mountain in the Exodus story;
- God spoke from the thick cloud at Sinai; just as he does in our story.
There are just too many similarities to ignore it. Now look at what he says: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Gk. Lit.: hear him; a command, so it is understood that you’ll hear and obey; hence, listen. Do what he says!
When you see this, you understand that the Exodus Motif or pattern was to reveal the Glory of the Lord. And that’s what you should take from this moment – Jesus in all of his glory! And just like that…
- It was over in an instant! Rd v 8;
They begin making their way down the mountain, back to their buddies and I’m sure many questions swirled around in their heads.
That’s where we pick up in this next section…
II. A Deep Theological Discussion (9-13)
exp.: rd v 9; I wonder what prompted Jesus to say something. I can just hear Peter: Man, no one is gonna believe this! Jesus then warns them of the Messianic Secret – which he has warned them about many times already. This time, however, there is a terminus to the warning. You can let the secret out after the Son of Man has risen from the dead. Now, I’m sure their minds are really going! Rd v 10; this isn’t the 1st time they’ve heard this. Go back to 8.31 and we begin to get some context. Rd 8.31; you remember that Peter doesn’t like Jesus being so negative! He and all the disciples knew that Jesus would ride into town on a white stallion and conquer Jerusalem from the Romans and kick them out! What’s all this talk about rising from the dead? So, Peter rebukes Jesus. That doesn’t last long – Jesus rebukes Peter in front of the disciples. They need to hear this, too. Then, he teaches the crowds in v 34 and following. He concludes his teaching with this idea of end times and of his 2nd coming: This story might actually begin in v. 1; and for that matter in 8.38; It’s possible, and I’m not saying this dogmatically, but it is possible that this passage finds its context in 9.1 and 8.38 at the conclusion of this previous time of teaching the crowds: 9 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And if you go back further, another verse, you see Jesus talking about the 2nd coming! I don’t think to this point we’ve heard anything about a 2nd coming:
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
This majestic glory is something Peter mentions in his letter; maybe, these verses give us context to say that Jesus is allowing these three to see what is to come – the future glory – the resurrection glory. Follow it in order from 8.38
- 1st, Jesus talks about his 2nd coming, when he comes in glory.
- 2nd, he says there are some here (in their midst) who will not taste death, but would see this glory.
- 3rd, he takes them up on a mountain and is transformed, allowing them to see him in his glory as he converses with Moses and Elijah.
I’m not 100% sure of this, but it makes a lot of sense when you read it that way. This gives a lot of credence to the pre-millennial view.
Now, why is all of this important? Because it informs our eschatology – our understanding of end times. The amillennialist will quote vs 1 and say: see this, we’re living in the millennial era. Jesus died on a cross, was buried, and rose three days later. Those disciples right there are seeing the Kingdom of God ushered in! The Premillenialist will say no, no, no! Chapter 8.38 and 9.1 give our passage context.
And these things are indeed going through their minds. Maybe not Pre-millennial or A-millennial questions, but eschatological issues, nonetheless. So, they ask the one who knows!
exp.: rd v 11; a great question – and v 12a clarifies for us what the disciples are actually asking; rd 12a; so together, they’re asking if Elijah, whom they’ve just seen on the mountain with Jesus, comes to restore all things. If that is the case, then they might wonder why would it be necessary for the Son of Man to suffer and die? Especially, if all things have been restored. And Jesus asks that question for them; rd 12b; then he answers his own question: rd v 13; Jesus is tying the suffering of John, the Baptist together with that of the Messiah.
Prophecy is hard to understand. Sometimes a statement means one thing or refers to one person or one group. At other times, a prophecy might refer to more than one person or group.
A great example is using Elijah. Sometimes it is clear that Elijah is John, the Baptist. At other times, it appears that the prophecies of Elijah are fulfilled in Jesus. I suppose there might even be times when it is unclear which person the prophecy is about: John or Jesus.
app.: So, what are we to make of this? What do we do when things get to tough to understand?
1st we must ask ourselves what is clear – what are we sure of?
- Well, we’re sure that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
- We’re sure that Jesus is glorified here. He is glorified in that He has supremacy over Moses and Elijah. The book of Hebrews validates our understanding of this. The Father validates that for us in his declaration: “This is my beloved son; listen to him.”
- We’re sure that Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose again three days later. And more than that, that he ascended to the right hand of the father where he rules and reigns in glory. These three disciples got to see that state of glory. We will, too, one day!
- And, We’re sure that these lowly bodies are not the glorified bodies we’ll one day have. For we shall be like him – for we shall see him as he is. We shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed.
- We can be sure that victory lies ahead for us. At the 2nd coming, all things will be restored – Eden will be restored. That doesn’t mean there won’t be suffering, as we see Christ tie the suffering of John and himself together here in this passage. We can be sure that victory lies ahead for us.