Summary: It was part of Jesus’ plan to slowly reveal His true purpose and nature - and this chapter reveals to us that even though we have doubts, Jesus is there to help us believe!
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Sometimes people say "if I could just see Jesus face to face, then I’d believe." Perhaps that’s true - and Jesus did reveal Himself to a few individuals with profound effect - namely Saul of Tarsus. But most of us must rely on what others saw - namely that Jesus really lived, really performed miracles, really died and then really came back from the dead.
In fact, the two generations that saw the most miracles - the most divine demonstrations - the Exodus generation and the generation when Jesus came to earth - also suffered terribly from unbelief.
If you are waiting for some divine revelation - you are going to wait a long time. We should believe based on the testimony of those that did see. And today in the first half of Mark 9 we’re going to see Jesus reveal His true nature to three of His closest disciples.
It was part of Jesus’ plan to slowly reveal His true purpose and nature - and it reveals to us some things about who we really work for and how that work is to be done.
1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."
We’re not sure what exactly Jesus meant by this - but most likely it was a statement referring to the fact that He was about to reveal the real power and person that Jesus is in eternity to the three disciples.
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.
Either Mt. Hermon or Mt. Tabor. Mt Hermon is about 12 miles from where Jesus had been at the end of the last chapter (Caesarea Philippi).
There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
Mark uses a picture based on his world experience - that of bleaching clothes. The idea is that Jesus looks dazzling - the same picture of Him occurs in Revelation 1:14-15. The word "transfigured" is where we get the word "metamorphosis" and means an outward change that occurs from within.
Jesus didn’t just look different - He was different - a different person, yet somehow recognizable.
4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Why Moses and Elijah? Several reasons, actually.
Moses represented the law, Elijah the prophets - the two great divisions of the old covenant
They were the most closely associated with the Messiah
Moses predicted "the great prophet" in Deut. 18:15 and Elijah represented the prophets who foretold of the coming Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6)
What did this accomplish?
It gave credibility to Jesus as the Messiah - passing the torch from the Old Covenant to the New.
It stopped all doubt that Jesus was the incarnation of either of these two (8:28)
Now poor Peter - when presented with a situation that was beyond his control he did what came naturally - stick his foot squarely in his mouth:
5 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." 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
What Peter was thinking we don’t know - maybe the problem was he wasn’t thinking - just acting. Building of the shelters could have meant that He thought God’s kingdom was happening right then and there and so he wanted to erect booths like in the feast of booths for these three.
It always important for us to not jump to conclusions about things until we have all the information or until its had time to settle.
James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
So watch what happens next:
7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
This was the same cloud that guided Israel in the desert - it was the glory of God. And like at the baptism of Jesus, the Father once again approves of the Son - and He says "listen to Him."
Those are probably the three most important words for us to - listen to Jesus!
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.