Summary: The Transfiguration is apocalyptic in nature revealing not only the divinity of Jesus, but also looks forward to the time when all is in complete submission to him.
I hope this sermon is helpful to you in your studies. I have found William Lane’s commentary on Mark (new international commentary) very helpful and highly recommend it.
There was a magician who was hired to do his act on a cruise ship. He had been there for several years and did the same act over and over because the crowd was continually changing. He enjoyed the good life, spending most of his time out on the deck working on his tan rather than new tricks. One day the Captain bought a parrot and the parrot came with him every night to see the magic show. The bird learned all the tricks as to where the cards, flower, etc. were hidden by the magician in his act. The bird would say, “the card is up his left sleeve, the flower is under the pot, he hid the money under his shoe…” Because the parrot caught on fast, it was getting harder by the day for the magician to come up with new tricks. The magician hated the parrot for giving away all of his tricks, but since he was the Captain’s, he couldn’t just weigh the bird down and throw him overboard. Late one night the engine room exploded and the ship sank within minutes. Miraculously, the magician found himself clinging to a log. He was the only one left alive. As the sun came up in the morning, he turned around and here at the end of the log was that parrot. They just glared at each other and said nothing. This went on for three days. On the fourth day the parrot finally broke the silence and asked, “OK, I give up--what did you do with the ship”
Jesus’ transfiguration. Maybe its a trick, an illusion. Maybe the three disciples had a vision, a dream like event created in their minds by Jesus, where they all experienced the same mythical reality. What about an eclipse, an earthquake, an immense fog bank or a violent storm? Maybe …the disciples had, you know, a little too many the night before? Perhaps it is simply a literary illustration used by Mark to advance his storyline.
We live in a material world bound by time, space and the laws of physics. We see this world everyday of our lives, move in it, act in it, become enveloped by it to such an extent that it is our reality, and anything beyond that reality is….well, unthinkable. So if an event occurs that does not jive with our experience in life we, especially as Americans, immediately explore rational reasons of how the event happened. I think in many ways this shows our disconnect from the spiritual. Ask yourself this question: Isn’t it odd that I claim to believe in Jesus Christ and His resurrection, isn’t it odd that I say I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but I have great difficulty in believing in miraculous events? I would say, and say this quite frankly, that if you are sitting here this morning and think that taking the miraculous events in the bible at face value is a little naïve, kind of like believing the magic of a magician is real……then the reality is, there is some naïveté about spiritual matters in your life that you need to deal with. For to claim to believe in the resurrection, which is the ultimate miracle, and then have difficulty believing in lesser miracles – well, that may shed some light for you where you honestly stand in your Christian faith.