Summary: God has revealed His big plan to you and you have an active part of it!
This is a merry-go-round. It used to be in Leonard Park, in Joplin, MO, between 4th and 7th streets. It was just an ordinary merry-go-round, in an ordinary park. When you look at it, it looks very ordinary, doesn’t it? But, on one very ordinary evening, as a certain young man sat on this merry-go-round talking with a girl he found very interesting, he leaned over and gave her a kiss, and that merry-go-round suddenly had a much deeper significance. I didn’t realize, at that moment, just how important that merry-go-round would become to me. Let me say: very. I didn’t know that 14 years later I’d be able to look out my office window and see that merry-go-round. Didn’t realize it at the time, but that merry-go-round was pretty significant to me.
World history is full of key events that seemed insignificant at the time they happened. When we look back on them, we realize just how important they were. Looking back at D-Day we see what a decisive plan the invasion of Normandy was. It was a massive undertaking to stop the 3rd Reich. But at the time, the success we look back on now was uncertain. The weather could have hampered the landing craft. The Germans could have failed to be tricked into thinking that the main assault was at Calais; the commanding German officer of the defense forces might not have taken the weekend off and gone back to Germany to visit his wife. To the average GI the first days and weeks of the invasion were not only confusing, but no one was certain of the outcome. They lived through a decisive turning point in history - they made history - but couldn’t fully appreciate what was going on.
This story in Mk 9 (and Mt 17 and Lk 9) that we call the Transfiguration is one event I think we probably don’t understand even looking back on it. How many of us have ever really taken the time to appreciate the significance of this moment in the life of Jesus?
What does it show? Why does God reveal His Son to these men? Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke record it as a part of the gospel? Why am I up here today trying to preach about it?
I want for all of us today to leave here with a renewed appreciation for this event -- not just so we can understand some event, but so that we can allow it to have some impact on our lives the way it’s supposed to.
Ill - When Steve Jobs used to get up to unveil the latest Apple technology, it was always a big deal. Sure enough, much of that technology really is affecting the way we live. What could be bigger than a new IPhone, or an update of the IPad?
Let me suggest that’s a way to begin to understand this event we call Jesus’ transfiguration. This is like an unveiling of something that’s just arriving. It’s something big! It’s done in a way that says, "What’s happening in human history right now is significant. This is going to shape the future of all creation."
God has revealed His big plan to you and you have an active part of it! If we can sort through it, especially now on this side of the cross, I see the Transfiguration giving us 3 important lessons.
I. Jesus is Greater!
I occasionally look in the mirror, and I notice I don’t look the same. I run across an old picture of me, and I especially notice I don’t look the same. Maybe what’s on our side is that as we get older and start to look different is that our eyesight gets worse too! Sure, our appearance changes.
But, as far as we know, no other person has ever experienced the change that suddenly happened to Jesus, described here by Mark. This was a significant revelation of Jesus, not just to these bewildered disciples, but for us too. For one thing, it puts Jesus next to 2 extremely significant OT characters and reminds us that Jesus is greater.
They’re up on the mountain. Jesus’ face literally “lamps” – like the sun. His clothing becomes “white as light” – that’s Matthew’s description; Luke says “bright as a flash of lightening,” Mark says “whiter than anyone could bleach them” – maybe Mark’s mom used to do laundry on the side! Once again, it’s helpful to see a scene from 3 different perspectives, all describing the same thing. All 3 make it clear that Jesus is…
A. Greater than Moses or Elijah
Somewhere, right around the time that Jesus’ appearance is changed, there are 2 men who appear next to him: Moses and Elijah. They’re talking with Him. Think about this: they had both been gone for over 1,000 years. Won’t it be great one day to talk to Moses and Elijah?