The Transfiguration of Christ - Seeing Jesus For Who He Is - Mark 9:2-13

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As we’ve worked our way through the Gospel of Mark we have followed a group of men who are followers of Jesus, but who often struggle with doubts and fears and questions. The disciples were the closest people on earth to Jesus and yet their story is often one of clumsy faith.

As followers of Jesus ourselves many of us can relate to the disciples’ struggles. We are often forgetful of who Jesus really is and of how much we can trust Him.  One of the benefits of studying the Gospel of Mark is having the chance to see how Jesus continues to reveal Himself to the disciples and to learn about Him in the process.

In Mark 9 we are have the privilege of looking and listening in as Jesus reveals Himself to three of His disciples in magnificent way.

Setting the Scene (9:2)

In the days leading up to this event Jesus had told His disciples both of His coming suffering and death and of the cost of following Him. While they were waiting for Jesus to establish His kingdom and to rule and reign, He tells them that first He must suffer and die, and that they too will suffer.

It’s while they’re processing these things Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain to show them things that would give them hope. They needed this kind of encouragement and assurance, and He wanted to help their faith.

Through is incredible story we learn at least four things about Jesus that can help us to trust Him more fully.

Jesus is not just a man, He is God – He is the glory of God in flesh (9:2-3)

  • A high mountain– In the Scriptures mountains are often a place of revelation, where God speaks and reveals Himself to His people. As Jesus takes His disciples up on a mountain they are going to see Him and hear from God in a way they never have before.
  • Jesus is transfigured – The word transfigured means to be radically changed. While the nature of who Jesus was didn’t change, His appearance changed dramatically. His appearance changed in such a way that more of His true nature became visible.
  • The glory of God revealed –In the Scriptures the glory of God is often presented as light. As Jesus is transfigured it’s as if the veil of His flesh is pulled back and the disciples can see the light of the glory of God shining forth. Jesus is God and from Him shines the glory of God.

Jesus is not just part of the story, He is the point of the story – Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (9:4) 

  • Elijah and Moses – Along with the revealing of His glory the disciples also see two other people who join Jesus: Elijah and Moses. These men serve in part as representatives of the plan and promises of God in the Old Testament. Moses was the one who brought the Law of God to the people of God and Elijah is often regarded as one of the greatest prophets. 
  • Jesus as the fulfillment –While the disciples may not have fully understood the significance, we know from a broader testimony of Scripture that Jesus came as the fulfillment of the Law and of the prophets. They were shadows and pointers to Him and when He came He accomplished all that they had foretold (Matthew 5:17; 2 Cor. 1:20).

Jesus is not just another prophet, He is the Son – Jesus is the One to whom we must listen and whom we must obey (9:5-8)

  • Peter’s Suggestion – After seeing the glory of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah Peter perceived that this was the fulfillment of the establishment of the kingdom. He proposed that tents be set up as places of residence for Jesus, Moses and Elijah (similar to the OT tabernacle where the presence of God dwelt).
  • God’s Correction – While Peter was ready to honor all three, God intervenes and makes it clear the Jesus is the One who is to be honored and heard. God speaks out of a cloud declaring that Jesus is His Son and that the disciples should listen to Him (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus is not just a teacher, He is the Savior – Jesus is the One who came to suffer and to die on our behalf (9:9-13)

  • As they came down from the mountain the disciples had questions about what they had seen. They wondered about Elijah and the prophecies that He would appear before the end would come (Malachi 4:4-6). Perhaps they thought that what they had seen signaled the arrival of the great salvation they were waiting for. 
  • In response to their questions Jesus again announces His suffering and death. Just as the prophecies of Elijah were fulfilled (in John the Baptist, Matthew 17:13), so the prophecies of the suffering servant must be fulfilled – and they would be fulfilled in Jesus. 

Responding to the Revelation of Jesus – An encouragement from Peter

  • In 2 Peter 1:16-21 Peter reflects on what he saw on the mountain that day. Based on that experience and what He saw in Jesus Peter calls on us to believe that God can be trusted. His Word His true and His promises are certain and so we can have hope.