The Transfiguration (Mark 9:1-9)

Date: 2/11/2018
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Organization: All Saints
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Mark 9 - And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” 2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.

The Events of the Transfiguration
The Transfiguration is an event like the tip of the iceberg. It points to greater biblical realities underneath the surface. “Jesus is more than what he appeared to be, that he is in fact the Son of God in the most advanced sense of that term” (NAC). 1) “Six days later” is a direct allusion to Moses on the mountain (Ex. 24:16), but indirectly the event as Luke has it is on the  “the eighth day,” an image of new creation and resurrection. 2) The dazzling whiteness is an image of God's glory cloud and final glorification in the Resurrection. “Mark’s depiction of Jesus is also reminiscent of Daniel’s vision of the ‘Ancient of Days’ … white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool” (Dan 7:9, WBC). 3) Tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah is a response intended to sustain this epiphany of God's glory. 4) Moses and Elijah represent the two outstanding old covenant leaders who also had a vision of God. 5) Out of the glory cloud, the Father affirms His son, Jesus. The ekphoboi [fear] of these disciples “is primarily awe and respect at the mighty acts of God in Jesus (see 4:41; 5:15, 33; 6:50; 16:8), not sheer terror at fear of injury or death” (Sacra).

The Effects of the Transfiguration
We are like Peter in many ways. “Peter, like many of us, babbled senselessly when he was scared; we need not look for deep theology in his foolish remarks” (NBC). Also, Peter wanted to capture the glory. Peter wanted to hold on to the glory which was manifest in that moment as a revelation to sustain them through the hard days ahead. The voice of the Father was a kind of rebuke. “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him” (9:7) is not only a reproof for desiring to stay on the mountain, despite the Messianic mission to suffer (8:31), but also for equating Jesus with mere prophets. “This revelation makes it clear that Jesus is greater than Moses and Elijah, yet he will enter his glory through suffering and death” (NIB). Tents to house God's glory are temporary and can’t capture this glory. “Peter (cf. Mark 8:32) was again resisting the suffering which Jesus had said would precede the glory” (BKC). Peter did not understand that Jesus was the final Tabernacle through the veil of His own flesh (Heb. 10:20). Moses and Elijah were the servants of this final Tabernacle/Temple manifest in the Transfigured/Metamorphosized Jesus. This passing event was not the culmination. There would be the deepest valley of cross-agony before resurrection and glory. “Future glory would follow present suffering for Him and them” (BKC).

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more