Summary: People love to finish strong. Jesus, in fact, spent significant time doing just that.
“Jesus 101: Grabbing the Glory”
People love to finish strong. Most of us desire to “go out in a blaze of glory.” Athletes want go out as champions. Actors hope their last performance is award winning. Preachers want their last sermon to be their best. And there’s something to be said for this – after all, even the Bible, from beginning to end, portrays Jesus finishing strong, going out in a blaze of glory. Consider, for example, today’s passage in Mark’s Gospel. We need to look at it from three perspectives to fully grasp its significance.
First, we view it from JESUS’ PERSPECTIVE. “After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him…” After six days – What happened 6 days prior to this? Why is this a SIGNIFICANT TIME for Jesus? When we look back at 8:27, we discover that six days prior Peter had proclaimed to Jesus, “You are the Christ.” Jesus then divulged his future suffering, warned the disciples of the coming judgment when the Son of Man will come in glory, and promised that some present will see the kingdom coming in power before they die.
So it is a significant time because Jesus is WRAPPING UP THE CURRENT CHAPTER OF HIS LIFE. The first chapter was his birth; the second was his childhood; this third was his ministry of teaching, healing, and training of the disciples. Now that the disciples recognize him for who He is – the Christ, the promised Son of God – Jesus can end this chapter; his goals for chapter three are accomplished. It was a significant time.
“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.” Jesus went to the mountain. The mountain is the place where God shows up, where revelations appear; it’s the place where great visions are introduced, strength is renewed, and missions clarified. On a mountain, Moses received the 10 commandments and met with God. Noah’s ark came to rest upon a mountain. Jesus endured his temptation on a wilderness mountain. So at this critical juncture in his life, Jesus goes up the mountain – according to Luke’s account, Jesus WENT THERE TO PRAY – to be sure chapter three was ending, to make sure he had the right direction for chapter four, and to gain strength and inspiration for the journey ahead. Indeed, it was a significant time.
It was also a SIGNIFICANT TESTIMONY for Jesus. “There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” The language Mark uses tells us that Jesus was not transformed into someone different, but rather He ‘glowed from within.’ His appearance was dazzling, shining; He had an outer splendor that was created by his inner purity and sinlessness. His appearance recalled that of Daniel’s Ancient of Days (7:9-10): “…thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took the seat. His clothing was white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool/ His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.” This was the glorified Christ. He would later, just prior to his arrest and crucifixion, pray (Jn. 17:5) “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” This was a glimpse of that glory. John later wrote about it (1:14): “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Peter wrote of it as well (2 Pt. 1:16-18): “…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father…we were with him on that sacred mountain.” THE TRANSFIGURATION WAS GOD’S TESTIMONY, to Jesus and the three disciples, that Jesus was indeed the One Peter had confessed Him to be. It was a significant ending to chapter three.
But it was also an introduction to chapter four of Jesus’ life. The scene proclaimed also a SIGNIFICANT TRUTH. “And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.” Why Moses and Elijah? Because Moses and Elijah pointed to JESUS AS FULFILLMENT. Moses represented the Law – his appearance demonstrated that the Law finds its fulfillment in Jesus. Elijah represented the prophets – his appearance demonstrated that prophecy finds its fulfillment in Jesus. Moses represented the old covenant – he was pointing to Jesus as the new covenant. Elijah represented the restoration of all things – he was pointing to Jesus as the ultimate restorer of all things. Further, Moses died, but Elijah was translated. Moses, therefore, represents the dead saints who shall rise from their graves and come forth at his coming, while Elijah represents those who shall be found alive at his advent. Our Lord brought with him, at his transfiguration, Moses who had died, and Elijah who had been translated, that he might show his power over both “the quick and the dead.”