Matt Carter speaks on Mark 9:1-13
Series: The Gospel of Mark
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” 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. Mark 9:1-2 (ESV)
Jesus was speaking to His disciples, not about His second coming, but of the events about to take place. He tells them some of them are not going to die until they see, with their own eyes, the Kingdom of God.
This is the story of the transfiguration; Jesus took Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain where He was transfigured before them.
The word transfigured in the Greek is metamorpho, where we get our English word metamorphosis. Jesus experienced metamorphosis, a physical transformation, right before their eyes. The first thing He did was change His appearance.
He changed from a God in the flesh, who looked like a man, to a God in the flesh, who looked like God. He did this for a couple reasons.
Jesus’ Preview of What Was To Come
The story of the transfiguration is like a movie trailer. A trailer takes all the best parts of a movie, runs them all together and adds music. The idea is to get you to buy into the movie, get excited and go watch it.
When they’re showing the trailers before a movie and you see a good one, what do you lean over to your friend and say? “Hey, let’s go see that movie!” That’s the purpose for the trailer.
That is what Jesus was doing here.
He was showing the trailer, a few awesome snapshots of who He was and what He was about to do, to Peter, James and John. He revealed two things about Himself to us and to the disciples through His transfiguration.
9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. Colossians 2:9 (ESV)
Jesus was fully God and fully man. He wasn’t fifty percent of each; He was one hundred percent of both.
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. Mark 9:2-3 (ESV)
The first thing Mark explained about Jesus was Him wearing really white clothes. They were whiter than anybody on earth could make them. Why is that significant?
White is the biblical symbol of purity and holiness. Mark was making the point that Jesus was wearing garments that represented His holiness, which was so big and high that nobody on earth could attain it.
Over and over again in the book of Revelation, which is a future vision of heaven that you and I are in, it describes all of us wearing white when we get to heaven.
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, Revelation 7:9 (ESV)
Mark is making the point Jesus was wearing His heavenly clothes.
Face Like the Sun
Matthew also talked about the transfiguration.
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Matthew 17:1-2 (ESV, emphasis added)
This statement has massive significance. The word shone is translated from the Greek word lampo, meaning to produce light. Jesus’ face was producing light.
Read Exodus 33:19-23.
In the story of Moses’ Intercession with God, Moses made an incredibly bold request, asking to see God’s face.
18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” Exodus 33:18 (ESV)
God told Moses He couldn’t show him His face. He is holy and Moses is sinful. If Moses saw His face, the fullness of His glory, he would die. Nobody can see God’s face and live.
Because of Moses’ longing to have that face-to-face intimacy with God, God put him in the cleft of the rock and walked by him. He got to see God’s back. Some of the glory from God got on Moses’ face, so when he walked down the mountain, his face was shining bright and scared the people. His face was reflecting the glory of God. It was so bright, the people asked him to put something over his face.
Read Exodus 34:29-33.
Moses simply reflected the glory of God, like the moon reflects the light of the sun. The moon doesn’t produce light; it just reflects light. It doesn’t produce glory, but reflects the glory of the sun. That is what Moses did, he reflected the glory of God.
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Matthew 17:2 (ESV)
But Jesus’ face was producing light like the sun. On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus wasn’t reflecting the glory of God, like Moses. He was producing the glory of God. The glory of God was emanating from Him.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (ESV)
The disciples on the mount of transfiguration, got to see what Moses longed to see, but God wouldn’t let him. Through the person of Jesus Christ, they got to see the face of God. And they didn’t die.
Jesus is clearly revealing that He is not just a person who reflects the glory of God. The glory of God comes from Him. He is God.
Our Deepest Longing
What He also reveals is through Him, the person of Jesus, we can regain and capture what is the deepest longing of the human heart. A face-to-face relationship and embrace with their creator.
The encounter between God and Moses reveals the greatest conundrum we will ever face. We long for relationship with God. We long for the face of God and the embrace of God.
It’s why you exist. To be in an intimate, loving relationship and embrace with your Creator.
But because of our sin, we cannot have it.
We used to have it in the garden. Adam and Eve were created by God for fellowship with Him. They walked everyday with God, talked with Him and lived with Him. But then sin entered into the picture and that relationship was ripped from us. The moment it happened, it created in all of us a void.
Most of us spend our entire lives trying to fill that void.
Have you ever noticed the void in you? A longing inside of you that never quite seems to go away? If you’re honest, you’ll admit its in there.
Have you ever wondered why we long for the approval of people? For the applause of people? For others to notice us? Why does it hurt so badly when they don’t? Why is there always a little part of us that doesn’t feel completely known?
People get married thinking that those longings will be met. But then they realize that longing is still there.
All of that is inside us, because we once experienced love from the greatest lover in the universe, but then it was taken from us.
We seek to fulfill that inconsolable longing with art, romance, sex, pornography, food, work, exercise, marriage, children, and a thousand other ways.
No matter what we accumulate and treasure, that longing remains.
“There’s a sense that in the universe we are treated as strangers. We all have the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response. To bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality. That is part of our inconsolable secret. There is a hope in each of us, that the door on which we’ve been knocking on all our lives will at last be opened. And then this life long nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, will be satisfied. At present we are outside the door, but all the leaves of the New Testament are wrestling with the rumor that it will not always be so. But some day, God willing, we shall get in. Amen” - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
That longing can only be satisfied in one place. In the face-to-face embrace of the One who created you.
There’s a problem though. We are sinful people and God is utterly and completely holy. So we can’t just approach God.
What happens when sinful people encounter a holy God?
5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips,” Isaiah 6:5a (ESV)
Isaiah had a vision and heard the voice of the Lord. He didn’t even see Him, he just heard His voice and he hit the ground crying. When he encountered perfect holiness, the first thing he became aware of was his sin. He started confessing his sin to the Lord.
That’s exactly what’s about to happen in this story. So far, Jesus has been there. In a second, Moses and Elijah are going to show up. Peter thinks this is awesome, but then God the Father shows up and starts talking.
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Matthew 17:2-4 (ESV)
Peter is so exited to be there, he wants to make some tents.
5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:5 (ESV)
God is not going Old Testament on Peter and telling him to shut up. He’s not calling down lightning on them. He just shows up and says, “Hey, this is my son, listen to him.”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. Matthew 17:6 (ESV)
Same response as Isaiah and every other person who has had an encounter with the presence of God, since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. God speaks and they are terrified.
The deepest longing of the human heart is to be face-to-face with God. But because of our sin, we cannot.
We need a mediator.
7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:7-8 (ESV)
The first thing Jesus did when these sinful people encountered a holy God and hit the ground scared to death, was touch them.
Jesus, God in the flesh, touched them and lifted them off the ground. Everything else disappeared and all they saw was the face of Jesus.
Jesus was showing that He is God, but we don’t have to be afraid anymore.
His holiness will no longer knock us down. But rather, he will lift us up, so we can be holy just like Him. Now, when we look upon His face, it won’t kill us, but will give us life and fulfill every longing of our hearts.
On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus was doing so much more than just giving them an opportunity for them to believe in His divinity. They already believed that.
He was giving them a foretaste of what was the deepest longing of their heart, the face and embrace of God.
There have got to be people in this room that are tired and weary of going after stuff that you know will not meet that longing. Tonight, come to Jesus, run like crazy to Him. Say, “Father, I want to see your face.” Because of Jesus, the answer is not going to be no. The answer will be yes and it will change your life.