Mark 8:38-9:13 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Transfiguration

Comments for Study 15

Mark 8:38-9:13
Memory Verse: 2b-3


I. One Who Comes In Glory (8:38-9:1)

Jesus' Mid-Ministry Travels

>1. After Peter's confession of Christ, what did Jesus begin to teach the disciples about the work of the Messiah? (8:29, 31)

* Mark 8:29 ""But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ.""

* Mark 8:31 "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."

>In 8:38, how did Jesus characterize his times?

* Mark 8:38 "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

* "ashamed" -Some of those who are saved will be ashamed of Jesus and thus not testify of his glory.

* 'adulterous" -Worshiping, living, and bragging about things other than Jesus and the gospel.

* "sinful" -Not live a life that is pleasing to God. Not denying the flesh.

>Why would a disciple be ashamed of Jesus?

* He won't tell others about Jesus for fear of being ridiculed and rejected. Self justifications following including; the call to witness is not for everyone, I don't know what to say, my friendship is witness enough, and Jesus taught to witness with actions not words.

* Not take up our cross is not a pleasant thought.

* Their lack of action show their weak faith.

* Many of Jesus' parables talk of his coming with rewards for his people who live according to his words in this life. Jesus taught that he gives his followers talents to be used for him, the gospel, and the edification of other believers.

>How are our times like his?

* Many who claim to be Christian, and some who are do not live in obedience to his words.

>2. What promise about Jesus' future glory and power is embedded in the warning he gave in 8:38?

* Mark 8:38 "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

* Jesus is coming again. He will come in glory. He will come in the sky. All will see him coming. All will acknowledge his power.

* God promised that Jesus will come in glory. (Daniel 12:1-2, 7:13-14; Malachi 4:1-3; Zechariah 14; Ezekiel 39)

>What does this teach us about Jesus' own faith in God's word of promise?

* He believed that he would be glorified.

>What does it mean, practically, to believe Jesus' promises?

* To live according to what he said.

II. His Transfiguration (9:2,3)

>3. When and where did the transfiguration take place?

* Mark 9:1-2 "And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power." After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them."

* "I tell you the truth" -Jesus always told the truth. When he said this it meant that what he is about to say is very important.

* "some who are standing here" -Meaning those whom he just told about his suffering, death, resurrection and second coming.

* "will not taste death before they see" -Their physical bodies that they are in now, will see and experience what he is about to say.

* "the kingdom of God" -Jesus is the King of king and the Lord of lords. My free book The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires discusses the nature and meaning of the Kingdom of God.

* "come with power" -Jesus had told them that they must take up their cross and follow him. He also told them that he will come back and that he would be ashamed of them if they were ashamed of him. Now he is about to show them what he means by him coming in glory and the need to listen to him.

* "After six days" -Jesus gave them six days to think about what he had just said. He waited a while before he fulfilled his promise to them. Similarly, we have waited a while for the promise of his second coming. The Lord God created the heaven and earth in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Now is our time to work; carrying our cross of gospel mission. When Jesus comes again in glory will begin our time of rest.

* "up onto a mountain" -Mount Hermon ("devoted mountain") has three summits, about 1/4 mile (1/2km) from each other. Its huge mass 11,000 feet (3 350m) high and 5 miles (8km) wide and 16 to 20 miles (26 to 32km) from north to south is visible for miles around. The upper slopes remain snowcapped virtually all year, as indicated by the Amorite name for the mountain, Senir (or Shenir), meaning "snow mountain." It was known as 'Sirion' among the Phoenicians and the Arabs call it Jebel el-Sheikh, the "grey haired mountain," or Jebel el-Thalj, the "mountain of the snow." Its Hebrew name, "Chermown" ("sanctuary"), may allude to the fact that since ancient times it has been a sacred mountain. The mountain was also called "Baal-Hermon" (Judges 3:3) in the time of Joshua and the Judges, indicating a local Baal was worshiped there (as was the case with many high places).

Mount Hermon has been described as a giant sponge with many scattered cavities (dolinas) that collect huge volumes of snow. They are the last areas to melt in the spring and they emerge at the base of the mountain in a series of abundant springs that form the three main sources of the Jordan River. These springs also feed the Litani River as well as the Oasis of Damascus. In clear weather, Mount Hermon is visible from great distances. It dominates the landscape. From the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan Valley, the snow-capped mass forms the one permanent feature on the northern horizon of Israel. In biblical times the slopes were apparently covered in thick forests. While in exile, David reflected on the depths of the Jordan and the heights of Hermon. They were for him symbols of the source and extent of God's blessing, His love and protection (Psalm 42:5-11; Psalm 133:3).

Hula Valley with Mount Herman in background

* The picture to the right is of the Hula Valley with Mount Herman in the background.

>Why do you think he took only three disciples?

* Possible reasons Jesus only choose these three are:
    1) They were the top disciples. Those he chose to be the leaders. They would later be called pillars of the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9).
    2) The law requires "...out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every work be established." (Deut. 19:15)
    3) Jesus needed his Father's intervention to plant his words in his disciples hearts. The disciples had their own strong ideas about what it meant to follow Jesus and who he was. After his transfiguration they really had to think how great Jesus was. Revelation 1:17 records that when John saw the resurrected Jesus in his glory the next time, he fell as though dead.
    4) They were one fourth of the twelve. Similarly, only one fourth of the four soils produced fruit in the parable of the sower (Matthew 4:1-20).
    5) Jesus set up a hierarchy of: three among the twelve, twelve among the seventy-two, seventy-two among all the rest of the followers.

* Jesus loved all of the disciples. However, because of God's calling and will he chose only three to reveal his pre-incarnate glory.

Jesus' transfiguration

>Describe the transfigured Jesus. (Compare Rev. 1:13-16)

* Mark 9:3 "His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them."

* Rev 1:13-16 "and among the lamp stands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."

* Luke 9:28 reveals that Jesus was praying when he was transformed. Mark and Matthew do not mention this.

* "transfigured" -The substance of his body remained the same, but the appearance of it was greatly altered. I've heard and read people saying that his glory was always in his body, but now it shown through his body. The word transfigured does not allow for that understanding. The Greek word is "metamorphoo", the word we get metamorphosis from. So, the word "transfigured" can also be translated "metamorphosed". The apostles later wrote that we will be like him, and we will all be changed. (Romans 6:5; and 1 John 3:2; and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

* Jesus' transfiguration reveals:
    1) His glory before he became flesh
    2) The glory he would have after his resurrection
    3) The glory that comes after bearing the cross
    4) He is right, his teachings are true, and should be paid attention to
    5) The spiritual world.

* Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 use the Greek word "metamorpho" meaning transfigured. The substance of his body remained the same, but the appearance of it was greatly altered. I've heard and read people saying that his glory was always in his body, but now it shown through his body. The word transfigured does not allow for that understanding. The Greek word is "metamorphoo", the word we get metamorphosis from. So, the word "transfigured" can also be translated "metamorphosed". The apostles later wrote that we will be like him, and we will all be changed. (Romans 6:5; and 1 John 3:2; and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

* The glory came from within him, not a light shining on him. That which was hidden was revealed as a curtain was drawn open and the light from within was let out. (29)

* He was not turned into a spirit, but his body, which had appeared in weakness and dishonour, now appeared in power and glory.

* "God is light." (1 John 1:5), "dwells in light" (1 Tim. 6:16), and "wraps himself in light" (Ps. 104:2).

* The face of Moses shown as the moon, a mere reflection. But Jesus shown like the sun.

* Moses shine was not powerful so that a veil could hid it, But Jesus shined so much that even "his clothes became as white as the light."

* I wrote more about Jesus' glory in the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires.

>4. How was this glorious vision of Jesus different from the Jesus the disciples knew?

* Jesus' normal appearance is described in Isaiah 53:2-3 states, "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

"Tender shoot" means it was as if he could be broken easily. He looked frail. "A root out of dry ground" means he was scrawny and wrinkled.

Jesus was poor, so he was probably skinny. He got little sleep and people were always coming to him. He was outdoors a lot so his face was probably sun and wind burned, probably course looking.

Jesus normally was just like them is appearance. He wore clothes that were travelled in. He was dusty from the trips they took.

>What does Jesus' transfiguration preview? (8:38b)

* Jesus' glory with his Father.

* This is our first glimpse of the glorious future of Jesus and the glorious future of his believers, his bride. This is the first glimpse of a resurrection body, for Jesus is the first to have one. That is why he is called the firstborn. (Rom. 8:29, Col. 1:15-18, Heb. 1:6, 11:29, 12:23, Rev. 1:5) Like him, Jesus' bride will have a resurrected body. Jesus bride is not now as we will be for we will be changed. (1 Cor. 15:52)

>In the light of Jesus' teachings about his suffering and death, what do you think this vision meant to the disciples in the days ahead? (2 Pet. 1:16b; Rev. 1:7)

* Peter later wrote, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)

* John starts out with Revelation 1:7, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."

* John continued with Revelation 1:13-16, "and among the lamp stands was someone 'like a son of man,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. his head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."

* John starts out his gospel by writing in John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

* Paul wrote in Romans 8:18-25, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

* Paul also wrote in Philippians 3:20-21 of the bride's glorious future. It states, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”" Jesus came as the Savior from sin and death the first time. Jesus will come again as the Savior from our dead weak bodies and oppressive governments. Jesus' bride eagerly waits for the Savior of our body and governments. What a glorious hope!

III. Elijah and Moses Talk with Jesus (4)

>5. Who were Elijah and Moses?

* Mark 9:4 "And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus."

* "Moses" -Moses is a humble man of God. Moses was the deliverer for the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt. Through Moses God gave the ten commandments, as well as the other laws recorded in the first five books of the Bible. Moses prayed for the Israelites many times, sometimes even saving them from God's wrath through humble prayer. Moses asked that he would receive the punishment instead of them. He meet God face to face in the tent of meeting.

Deuteronomy 34:5-7 records Moses' departure from earth, "And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone."

* "Elijah" -Elijah was a persecuted man of God who represents the prophets and their books. Elijah was the prophet of God during the time when the Israelites were turning to Baal worship. He challenged the people and their leaders to repent and turn from idols and worship God. He prayed and the rain stopped for three years. He prayed again and it rained. He prayed by faith and fire came down from heaven which was God's testimony that he is the one and only true God. He meet God in a cave.

2 Kings 2:11-12 records Elijah's departure from earth, "As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart."

* The Law, the first five books and the prophets' books tell all about Jesus. (Luke 24:44; John 1:45) Click here for a list of prophecies Jesus fulfilled.

* Matthew 5:17 records Jesus teaching, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

>What did they have in common with each other?

* They fasted forty days and nights as Jesus did.

* They did miracles as Jesus did.

* They were leaders of the people of Israel.

* They preached the word of God but not many accepted their message, that is their hearers rebelled against it.

* They were men of God; suffering servants, men who carried their cross and are now glorified.

* Moses and Elijah talked with God on a mountain.

* Moses and Elijah wrote God's words down.

* They worked to turn the people to God, they taught the word of God.

* They lived sacrificially.

>What was the significance of their talking with Jesus at this time?

* To encourage Jesus.

* To help the disciples understand what happened to Jesus.

* Moses represented the Law. Elijah represented the prophets. Both pointed to Jesus cross and resurrection.

>What do you think they talked about?

* Luke 9:30-31 "Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem."

>How were Elijah's life and times like those of Jesus?

* Elijah lived in the time of evil queen Jezebel and king Ahab. Elijah preached to them.

* The people in Jesus' day were wavering to accept the Lord or Baal.

IV. Listen To Him (5-13)

>6. How did Peter react?

* Mark 9:5-6 "Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)"

* "Rabbi" -The original word here is "rhabbi" and can also be translated Master.

* "one for Moses and one for Elijah" -The disciple know it was Moses and Elijah by either:
    1) the two's conversation with Jesus
    2) by talking to Moses and Elijah themselves
    3) Jesus told them it was Moses and Elijah.

>What do his thoughtless words reveal about his real mind?

* "it is good for us to be here" -Peter liked the experience greatly. He didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay there long enough so that shelters were needed.

* "shelters" -Peter's words were a little ignorant for what need did Elijah and Moses have for a shelter. From what should they be sheltered from.

* Same reckless words as in Mark 8:32.

* Jesus had just taught them seven days ago that he was going to suffer and be killed. Why then would he need to build a shelter to stay there?

* Moses and Elijah was encouraging Jesus about going to Jerusalem. Peter wanted Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem. Though he did not know it, Peter was encouraging Jesus to not fulfill the Scriptures. Jesus' death and resurrection had to be in Jerusalem during the next soon to come Passover and Feast of the Sheaf Wave.

* Peter was not accepting Moses and Elijah talking about going to Jerusalem.

>7. What did the voice of God teach them about Jesus?

* Mark 9:7 "Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!""

* "a cloud" -The original Greek is "nephele".

* Matthew described the experience as "a bright cloud enveloped them." (Matthew 17:5) The bright cloud hides the presence of God. When God descends he descends on clouds as if they were his chariot or car. God come down in a cloud so he is hidden from us. We are to sinful to gaze upon him. If we did we would feel like dying.

* "When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple." (1 Kings 8:10,11) "The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: 'He is good; his love endures forever.' Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud." (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)

* "Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him." (Ex. 19:18-19)

* "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Ex. 40:34-35)

* "Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again." (Num. 11:25)

* Deuteronomy 29:29 states God is a God of mystery. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

* "this is my Son" -God the Father spoke.

* Jesus is, was, will always be God's One and Only Son. We have been adopted into God's family through Jesus, the Son.

* The virgin birth is confirmed with the statement, "this is my Son."

* The Holy Spirit testifies to us who Jesus is. (John 16:8-11, 14:26)

* "whom I love" -Love requires a recipient and a provider.

>What was the point of his words?

* "Listen to him" -The point is for the disciples would listen to Jesus because of who he is.

* "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speakers in my name, I myself will call him to account." (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)

* Hearing is not the same as accepting and listening.

* James 1:21-22 "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

* Even Jesus needed help to get through the thick skulls of the disciples.

>Why did the disciples need this message?

* They had not really been listening to him.

* They had not been seriously considering all that he said.

* For us today "listening to Jesus" is studying the Bible and prayer.

* Sometimes we need God's rebuke.

* God's rebuke can wake us up.

* God was saying give up your own ideas on who Jesus was and what the Messiah is suppose to do and understand the Scriptures and listen to Jesus.

* Many today are like the disciples. They follow Jesus without listening to him. They hold onto their own ideas. They do not read, study, accept and obey the Bible.

>What do the words "except Jesus" (8) suggest to us?

* Mark 9:8 "Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus."

* "they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus" -The Law and the Prophets will disappear, but Jesus always remains.

* Jesus is the fulfillment of the law an prophets. In the end his word prevails. In the end he is all that matters. In the end it is all about him.

>8. What charge did Jesus give them on the way down?

* Mark 9:9 "As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead."

* "Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone -Jesus didn't tell them to lie, just to keep what they had seen and heard until the time was right to expose the truth. They needed to keep it a secret because the people needed to believe by faith.

>How did Jesus relate this event to the resurrection?

* "until the Son of Man had risen from the dead"


* The disciples did not understand and accept his death and resurrection.

>Why didn't the disciples understand?

* Mark 9:10 "They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant."

>9. Why did they ask about Elijah? (Mal. 4:5,6a)

* Mark 9:11 "And they asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"

* Malachi 4:5-6 ""See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.""

>Who had fulfilled the prophecy? (Mt. 17:12,13)

* Matt 17:12-13 "But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist."

>What had been done to him?

* Put his to death.

>What does Jesus' response in 12 and 13 teach about the real work of the Messiah?

* Mark 9:12-13 "Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."

* Jesus answered more than what they asked.

* Refer to Matthew and Luke's account and words.