Summary: This sermon describes the beauty of the glory of Christ and how God reveals His glory to us.
February 26, 2006 Mark 9:2-9
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Some interesting things have happened on top of mountains in the Bible. Moses and the 70 elders of Israel ate and drank in the sight of God at the foot of Mt. Sinai. On a mountain in Moriah the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. On Mt. Carmel Elijah had his famous showdown with the prophets of Baal. God has had awesome things happen on top of mountains. Heaven itself is sometimes referred to as Mt. Zion. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us when Jesus decided to reveal Himself to Peter, James and John on top of a mountain. As we journey up this mountain with these three disciples, through the eyes of faith we’ll see how -
God Lets His True Light Shine in the Transfiguration
I. In a transfiguration
Mark starts today’s text by writing, “Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” Peter, James and John are sometimes referred to as the “inner three” of Jesus’ disciples - as they were also especially chosen to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter in Luke 8. Again, here Jesus especially chose these three to go up what is now known as the Mount of Transfiguration. We all know stories of Peter - the outspoken one - especially in the Garden - and perhaps Jesus chose him here - knowing what would happen later on in his three denials. James and John - otherwise known as the “sons of thunder” - were caught sending their mom to ask Jesus who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. All three men seem to have been rather bold disciples. If nothing else, this would be a humbling experience.
You would have to think that these three knew something special was up as Jesus took them up on top of a mountain. The funny thing too is that according to Luke 9 they were nearly asleep as Jesus was praying. Maybe the trip from the mountain wore them out, or perhaps they got tired from praying with Jesus. Either way - they didn’t seem to be expecting any heavenly experience of the sort. Yet in the midst of this seemingly mundane task they were given a truly godly experience they would never forget. Mark says that Jesus was “transfigured” before them. The literal Greek word is “metamorph” which means to “change into another form.” The immediate picture that comes to my mind is the picture of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The same being morphs into a completely different being - yet it is the same creature in it’s essence. Mark’s explanation of Jesus’ metamorphosis isn’t quite as dramatic as having a different body. He writes, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Luke mentions that the appearance of his face also “changed.” It also became bright.
What was the meaning of this? Why did Jesus appear as a bright light? Jesus was in fact revealing His inner self - what He really consisted of - light! John wrote,
John 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Whiteness and light is what God uses to show His glory and holiness. Up to this point in His ministry Jesus had hidden His glory behind miracles and words - showing glimpses of magnificence. With this transfiguration Jesus was taking off His mask, and letting His true glory shine at it’s very core. In John 1:14 John wrote, “We have seen his glory.” They had no doubt as to WHO Jesus was. He was not just a pretender to the throne - He was in His core the real deal. The transfiguration proved it.