Summary: So what is the purpose of the transfiguration? It was more than just Jesus showing off that He was God in the flesh. He was trying to communicate an important truth.
Did you hear the funny story about the skinny teenager named Billy? He was so thin he had to run around in the shower to get wet. Billy got a job at Six Flags sweeping the grounds, but there was a problem. Billy weighed so little that when the Texas wind would blow, he would lose his balance and couldn’t sweep the grounds. His boss saw the problem and told Billy to put a bunch of rocks in his pockets to make him weigh more. So Billy started doing that, every morning before he swept he put rocks in his pockets. Billy was a religious guy, so as he put the rocks in his pockets, he would pray this prayer (wait for it…). “Now I weigh me down to sweep.”
If you are my age or older you might remember where you were on Monday night, July 21, 1969. I was gathered with my family in our living room, and even though it was almost 10 p.m. the kids were allowed to stay up. That was the night that Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. He had prepared and practiced what he would say, but at that moment, he was so full of adrenalin that he didn’t get it exactly right. He said, “That’s one small step for man (he meant to say “a man”); one giant leap for mankind.” Since that statement, 46 years ago, has humanity made more giant leaps forward? After Apollo 11 there were six more manned visits to the moon. There would have been seven, but halfway there, Apollo 13 said, “Houston, we have a problem.” Today, NASA can’t even afford to send Space Shuttles into orbit.
In terms of science and technology, we have made great strides, but morally and spiritually, I think our nation and world has regressed. Four years after the first moon landing, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the killing of unborn babies. They are about to weigh in on the subject of marriage. Let me just remind you that they are the law of the land, they are the Supreme Court of the United States, but they are not THE Supreme Court. There is a much more powerful Judge in heaven and in James 5:9 we read that the Judge (capital J) is standing at the door.
And we’re all alarmed at the global expansion of what the White House calls extremism. Let’s call it what it is: All these extremists are militant Muslims who are hell-bent on killing infidels. And infidel is anyone who doesn’t agree with them. This week ISIS claims to have 71 trained soldiers in the U.S. I think they saw last week in Garland that they better not mess with Texas!
You may be thinking, “Pastor, you’re painting such a dark picture. Are you trying to make me depressed?” I just want to paint a dark background to tell you that the only hope for this world is Jesus. Our world is getting darker, and that only makes the brightness of the HOPE we have in Jesus Christ shiner brighter. When you shop in a fine jewelry store, the jeweler often places diamonds and jewels on a piece of dark velvet; it makes the diamonds seem brighter by being on the dark background. I’m not afraid. I’m not pessimistic. I’m excited because Jesus is coming back and I’ve read the last chapter, and we win!
When we come to our passage of scripture today, it is all about the Blessed Hope we have in the return of Jesus. It is the account of the transfiguration of Jesus. But the transfiguration is a preview, a foretaste of the second coming of Jesus. As you know the chapter and verse divisions weren’t in the original Bible. And there should be no division between Mark 8 and 9.
Mark 8:38–9:13. Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” So this is the context of what happens next – Jesus returning to planet earth in all of His glory. The text continues in Mark 9. 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.” He didn’t mean that some of them wouldn’t die, He was telling them a few of the disciples, three to be exact, would be part of an experience where they would SEE the glory of God’s Kingdom. Keep reading. 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 (even whiter than extra-strength Clorox). 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 (meaning tabernacles or shrines)—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!”