A Glimpse of Glory - Mark 9:2-13

The Gospel According to Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:25
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What would you do if you could, just for a moment, see the fully glory of Jesus Christ?
When I was in high school one of my favorite Christian Music groups was a band called Third Day. They had a song called “Show Me Your Glory”, which was based on Moses’ experience on the mountain with God. As Moses was up on that Mountain he asked to see the glory of the Lord. In many ways it was an audacious request.
But there we have in Exodus 33:18
Exodus 33:18 ESV
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”
The third day song played off this request into a song about longing to see the Lord.
I caught a glimpse of Your splendor In the corner of my eye The most beautiful thing I've ever seen And it was like a flash of lightning Reflected off the sky And I know I'll never be the same
Show me Your Glory Send down Your presence I want to see Your face Show me Your Glory Majesty shines about You I can't go on without You, Lord
When I climb down the mountain And get back to my life I won't settle for ordinary things I'm gonna follow You forever And for all of my days I won't rest 'til I see You again
In many ways the lyrics of that song are not particularly profound. It’s a simple song. Moses sees the glory of God, but not directly. If you are familiar with the text, God places Moses into the crevice of a rock and covers him so Moses doesn’t get to see God’s glory directly, but sees his back, because the face of God the Father is too much for mortal, sinful eyes to behold.
But then having seen the glory of the Lord, that song captures the idea of the transformational effect it ought to have upon a person’s life.
Very few people in the Bible had the privilege of behold the glory of God. We think of Moses who caught a glimpse in Exodus 33-34. It causes his face to radiate and physically glow, so he wore a veil so people wouldn’t watch the fading glory.
And then there is Isaiah, who saw a vision of the throne room of God in Is 6. It brought him to his knees in despair of his life “Woe is me, for I am ruined! I’m an unclean man and I’ve seen the glory of the Lord”
In those cases it was likely the Glory of God the Father being revealed.
In our text today, we are going to see the Glory of the God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed by the Father, and the implications of that.
First, we will see the Glory revealed, and then we will consider two implications for how we are to respond to that revelation.
Let’s read our text as we consider, the Glory of Christ Revealed by the Father.

The Glory of Christ is Revealed by the Father

Mark 9:2–13 ESV
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11 And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Let’s remember to set the context for us as we dive into this text. Jesus has been teaching his followers about discipleship. He has now revealed to them that the Messiah must suffer, and if anyone wants to follow him in discipleship, they must be prepared to suffer as well. But he encourages them by assuring them that it is worth the cost.
He then gives that promise that we looked at very briefly last week, that some would not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God after it has come with power, in chapter 9 verse 1. Fresh off the heels of that promise, Jesus takes three disciples up onto a mountain top.
Again, I briefly touched on this last week, but I believe our text today is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in verse 1. The question that must be asked and answered of verse one is “what does it mean to see the Kingdom of God after is has come with power?
when does the Kingdom come with power?
There are a variety of things that different commentators and students of the Word say about what this means, but here’s what I’m convinced of:
Seeing the Kingdom of God after it has come with power refers to catching a glimpse of the glory of the Kingdom that comes with Christ, even though the fullness of that glory is yet to be revealed.
I believe that because of the immediate context. After Jesus makes the promise, six days later they are on the mountain and God reveals the glory of Christ to the disciples.
But we also have Peter’s own testimony of this event in 2 Peter 1:16-18
2 Peter 1:16–18 ESV
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter makes note of several things that are important for us. First, he notes that they saw the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, he says we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. They saw the glory. They saw it with their own two eyes.
Verse 17 begins with the word “for” which provides additional grounding for his previous statement. How does he know he saw the majesty of Christ? How does he know that Jesus came with power and glory?
Because when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and when the voice came from heaven, they heard the voice! They heard what was said! We were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter describes what is about to come on the mountain as seeing the power and glory of Christ. Thus it makes the most sense to see the transfiguration as the direct fulfillment of Jesus’ promise.
But let’s take note of several things in relation to this event.

The Glory of Christ is Revealed by the Father

Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain in verse 2. These three disciples are the “inner circle” of sorts for Jesus.
Jesus leads them up a high mountain, which mountain this is is not clear, and is transfigured before them.
This word speaks of a transformation. It is only used four times in the NT. Here, in the parallel account in Matthew, and twice by Paul referring to the spiritual transformation of becoming more like our Lord through our growth as believers in Christ.
Here it is a physical transformation. Matthew and Luke note that Jesus face shown, and Mark makes note of the radiance of his clothes. The word is in the passive voice, meaning that Jesus didn’t transfigure himself, but rather this was the work of God the Father transfiguring Him. He was transfigured by the Father as the Father revealed the glory of Christ to His disciples.
And then Moses and Elijah show up and they talk with Jesus!
This is quite the scene!
So many questions arise from this text, and it is difficult to try to get to them all, but let try to address what I believe are the most significant things at play here.
What is going on with this scene?
Jesus is being presented as the New Moses. Compare the details of what Jesus did here with the experience of Moses on Mt Sinai, and the parallels are striking.
There is a 6-day wait for revelation
There is an ascent up a mountain
Jesus is transfigured, Moses’ skin shines after his encounter with God
God the father appears, veiled in a cloud
God speaks from the cloud
The voice of God strikes fear into the hearts of the followers
And there are faithless people waiting for both Moses and Jesus as they come down from the mountain.
Moses spoke of a day when a prophet would arise “like him”
Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
Moses tells the people, when that prophet comes, you must listen to him, and here in our text we find God telling the disciples to listen to Jesus.
All those parallels would cause the reader to make the connections. The prophet “like Moses” has arrived! He’s here!
So, broadly speaking, what is going on is the presentation of the new Moses, the Messiah, the one who was to come. Peter has already confessed him to be the Christ, the Messiah. This is divine confirmation that that confession is accurate, as well as confirmation of who Jesus is in relation to OT prophecies.
2. Why do Moses and Elijah show up?
Different ideas out there regarding this. What makes the most sense to me is this:
First, these two individuals are great leaders of the people from he OT who also play significant preparatory roles for the Messiah. One Commentator put it this way: Moses was the precursor, and Elijah the Preparer.
Moses predicted a coming prophet like him. We saw the parallels already.
Elijah was prophesied to come and prepare the way for the Messiah.
Malachi 4:5–6 ESV
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
So here are these two men who play important roles in anticipation of the Messiah who appear and converse with Christ as confirmation that this is the one.
We’ll talk more about Elijah in a few minutes.
These men prepared the way for Jesus, but Jesus is the fulfillment.
The Glory of Christ is thus revealed by the Father.
What a scene this must have been.
The disciples are clearly amazed as well, as their response shows. I referenced that song from Third day and that second verse about the response to the Glory of the Lord. It should have an impact upon us! But there are right ways to respond, and wrong ways. Seeing the Glory of Christ, challenged our response.

The Glory of Christ Challenges our Response

Peter, the ever-eager one, pipes up, and look at what he says:
Mark 9:5–6 ESV
5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
First, the text says that Peter “said” to Jesus. If you open up the KJV or the NKJV, you might notice that the text says that Peter “answered and said to him”
Mark 9:5 (NKJV)
5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus...
This is not a manuscript difference like other places. Translation difference.
But Peter is answering, even though no one has asked him any questions.
Second, he calls him teacher, not Christ, Lord, or other titles befitting Him. Peter may not be intentionally belittling Jesus, but in this particular moment that title fails to grasp the significance of who Jesus is.
Third, he says it’s good we are here. Why? So we can build three tents.
This is an admittedly strange thing for Peter to say. What is the significance of the tents? The NASB translates the word for tent here as “tabernacle”. We should not have in our mind a little pop-up tent that we might construct for a camping trip. The word can mean “dwelling place”
The OT, the tabernacle was the dwelling place of God with the people. The pillar of cloud would descend upon the tabernacle and the people knew that God was with them.
Peter, by suggesting that they build three tabernacles, or dwelling places, may have been suggesting that he was ready for the Kingdom to be built. Here’s Moses, Here’s Elijah, and Jesus is glowing now, so it must be Kingdom time! Let’s build you some dwelling places!
The foolishness of this statement is highlighted by verse 6: he said this because he didn’t know what to say.
Have you ever heard that saying, better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?
Well, Peter kinda removed all doubt here.
Again, he may not have meant it this way, but calling Jesus Rabbi and then offering to build three tents inadvertently communicates that these three figures are all on the same level, and they are very much not.
Peter’s response was not it.
So God speaks. verse 7.
This is my beloved son. Listen to Him.
Peter may have confessed that Jesus was the Christ in chapter eight, but Jesus had to correct his understanding of the implications of that.
Here God speaks on Jesus’ behalf. Listen to Jesus.
You’ve made an accurate confession of who Jesus is.
You’ve seen the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ.
Listen to him.
I’m sure we’ve all had the conversation with either our parents or our children or both about the difference between hearing something and listening. Hearing is just that. The sound waves have entered my ears.
Listening implies more. It implies obedience to what is heard.
One theologian wrote “A correct Christology without obedience is of no value. Listen to him!”
A Disciple unwilling to listen to the master is not going to make a very good apprentice.
sometimes we have to be challenged in our response to the Lord. Are you listening to his Word? I don’t mean that is a mystical way, listening for the audible voice of God. He’s given us His written word. Are we listening to that?
Are we open to be challenged in our response to what has been revealed?
Third and finally,

The Glory of Christ Challenges our Understanding

The last several verse describe the aftermath of this event.
Messianic secret kept until the resurrection. Jesus is not the political Messiah. (vs 9)
They failed to understand the resurrection (vs 10) They are trying to piece things together about what they have been taught and know from the Scriptures.
They failed to understand the role of Elijah (vs 11)
Jesus corrects their understanding. The logic of these verse has confused many, but I think it’s simpler than many seem to think it is.
Yes, Elijah comes. But the restoration is not what you think. John is Elijah (Luke 1:17 says he came in the Spirit and power of Elijah, thus fulfilling the Elijah role)
If you are expecting a political Messiah, why do the Scriptures speak of a suffering Messiah?
Elijah did come. And he suffered too.
Thus the restoration is not political, but spiritual. John the baptist prepared the way for the Messiah. He suffered like Elijah did. The way of the Messiah is not through political conquest, but through suffering service.
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