Devotional #24 (3/11/13). Jesus’ Transfiguration.
Intro: Last week Jesus taught us that we must make Him king of our life and everything else takes a back seat. We’ll be discussing the transfiguration of Jesus which you can also find in Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36 and 2 Peter 1:16-18. Jesus being transfigured confirms that Jesus was who He said He was. We place our faith in One who is more than capable of taking the wheel as we and all our priorities take the back seat.
This Week’s Reading: Mark 9:1-13.
v. 1. Jesus is making a prophecy here that some of the people standing there would see Him in His glory. Here the author, probably Peter (as told to Mark) was there and fast forwards for us explaining what happened. Here “kingdom” means “royal splendor” (Source 1, p. 1478).
vv. 2-3.Jesus brings his inner circle (Peter, James and John) up to see Him transfigured. In describing the transfiguration MacArthur says, “Jesus underwent a dramatic change in appearance, so the disciples could behold Him in His glory” (Source 1, p. 1424). It’s cool that Jesus’ clothes turned white, it wasn’t just his body. He allowed these men to see Him (as much as they could handle and live) as He really was.
Also of note Moses was transfigured in Ex. 34:29-35, but this was a reflection of the glory of God.
vv. 4-6. Here the spirits of Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. Any time you see or hear of Elijah in the New Testament he represents the prophets and any time it’s Moses he represents the Law. So Jesus is bridging the Law and prophets and along with His future crucifixion and resurrection it is a great picture of how He keeps the Law and judgment but coupled with grace and mercy!
I love Peter’s response here. He doesn’t know what to say so he blurts out, “hey, can we make alters for you guys?!” This shows the humanity of Peter, many of us would have had a response like this. We feel awkward or excited and instead of just shutting our mouth and enjoying the moment we yell some random comment. The problem was that Peter was implying Jesus was equal with the other two, so what’s God’s response?
vv. 7-8. To any reader of the Bible this is reminiscent of Jesus’ baptism from Mark 1:9-12 (which we discussed in Devotional#6) when the Father spoke and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. Here the Father tells us many things but chiefly: 1. Jesus is beloved by the Father, 2. Jesus is His Son (being equal to) and 3. These three men (and us too) should listen to Jesus. If I may paraphrase God the Father told Peter, “Hey, this is Me in human flesh, shut your mouth and you may learn something!”
vv. 9-10. Jesus tells them not to tell anyone until He had risen from the dead but they didn’t understand. It was probably difficult for them because often Jesus spoke in parables but also because they couldn’t imagine that He would actually die. In their mentality Jesus was going to overthrow the Romans and set up a kingdom. Often we don’t hear the word of God because an alternative path has never entered our mind. We feel that God is telling us to go to college so we plan on what school, major and job we’ll have. That’s it, that’s the strategy. And maybe that’s what God wants but maybe God wants us to meet our spouse and start a family. Or maybe we are called to quit school and go to North Korea as a missionary. Maybe we get cancer, change majors and devote the rest of our short life to research. The list can go on and on. If the disciples prayed what Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42 (that God’s will be done) they would have been better off, and the same goes for us. Isn’t it amazing that the disciples just saw proof of life after death (with Elijah and Moses) but couldn’t fathom that if Jesus died He would come back?
vv. 11-13.This conversation was just among Peter, James and John (9:2) and Jesus as they were going back to join the rest of the disciples. The question of Elijah coming first is from Malachi 4:5-6. Jesus’ answer is explained between His first and second comings. When Jesus says, “Elijah is coming first, and restores all things” He means Elijah will prepare the way for Christ’s second coming (likely being one of the witnesses from Revelation 11:2-13, etc.). When He says, “Elijah has also come” it is in reference to the figurative spirit and ministry of John the Baptist (Source 2). But we also don’t want to miss that Jesus always points His disciples to the prophecies and truth that He would have to be persecuted and crucified. Jesus says about Himself, “He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt”.
Conclusion: Jesus calls us to see Him in all His glory, where we may be “greatly afraid” and fall down blubbering nonsense but He also call us to walk with Him and ask Him questions. We can trust that praying God’s will be done is important. It won’t change His will, it’s going to happen anyway but it changes our outlook. We can be so blind that we miss Jesus telling us He’s going to die, but as we pray His will be done we put Him as king of our life (as we discussed last week in Devotional # 23) and we have faith it will all work out. Not just work out but work out for good (Romans 8:28)!
Source 1: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible.
Source 2: David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7902&commInfo=31&topic=Mark&ar=Mar_9_1