The Ascension Glimpse in the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1-9)

Date: 2/14/2021
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Mark 9 - And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly, there are some standing here who will certainly not experience death until they see the kingdom of God manifest in power.” 2 Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain by themselves. And He changed before them; 3 and His garments became dazzling and amazingly white, as no clothier on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were conferring 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 since he did not know how to respond, being in shock. 7 Then a glory cloud formed and overwhelmed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, hear and obey to Him!” 8 Suddenly they looked around and saw no one else, except Jesus alone. 9 As they were going down from the mountain, He charged them to not discuss with anyone what they had seen, until after the Son of Man arose from the dead. 10 So they reasoned among themselves the meaning of rising from the dead (G. Strawbridge trans.).

The Events of the Transfiguration - The Transfiguration is another moment in Mark’s progressive revelation of the true nature of the “Son of God” (1:1; 1:11; 3:11; 5:7; 9:7; [9:29], 15:39). Leading to the centurion’s who at the cross was “standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, [and] said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ (15:39). Five observations: 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) Dazzling whiteness and clouds are an image of God's glory-cloud and final glorification in the Resurrection, e.g., Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9ff). This is a glimpse of the Ascension. 3) Tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah is a bumbling response intended extend the epiphany of God's glory. 4) Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets) represent the two outstanding old covenant leaders who “saw” God. 5) Out of the glory-cloud, the Father affirms His divine Son, Jesus. The fear (ekphoboi) of these disciples is probably “awe-shock-fear” not “terror” (see 4:41; 5:15, 33; 6:50; 16:8).?

The Effects of the Transfiguration - Peter wanted to capture the glory and hold on to it. But this moment of manifestation was to sustain them through the hard days ahead and to call for faith even through these days. It even came with the Father’s reproof: “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him” (9:7). This 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. Jesus will enter his glory through the cross. Peter missed (at this time) what John later stated: “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” (Jn 1:14). Jesus was the final Tabernacle (Heb. 10:20). Moses and Elijah were the servants of this final Temple manifest in the Transfigured/Metamorphosized Jesus. This passing event was not the culmination. Rather the “exodus” - Moses and Elijah led an exodus. Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were conferring on the exodos (Lk 9:31, Greek). There would be the deepest valley of cross-agony, the true Exodus, before resurrection and glory.

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