Note: If you’re reading along with me in the New Testament, today we read Mark 9. We’re just over halfway done with Mark, next we’ll jump over to Galatians!
Jesus’ time on earth is an incredible thing to behold. He was so meek and kind. He was tender, and gentle, and loving. And He was also powerful beyond anything this earth had seen since he spoke it into existence. The meek lamb who was a powerful lion. The sacrificing savior and the King of glory. What a beautiful paradox.
In Mark 9, Jesus gives a taste of the his future as King to Peter, James and John:
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. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
– Mark 9:2–8 ESV
Quick fact: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the first four books of the New Testament. They are called “The gospels.” These are four accounts of the story of Jesus life that approach it from different perspectives. Sometimes we can compare these accounts and it helps our understanding.
Matthew and Luke add some additional detail to this story. Matthew says that Jesus’ face “shone like the sun” (17:2) and that God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Luke adds that Moses and Elijah appeared (Luke 9:31).
What’s going on here? Why is Jesus face shining? And why are Moses and Elijah showing back up from the dead?
This story from Jesus life is called “the transfiguration.” It’s when Jesus’ “figure” transforms to let us see a taste of the future. *Jesus is helping his disciples (and us!) look in two directions. We look forward to the second coming of Jesus in his kingdom and glory. And we look back to Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets that prophesied this kingdom. Here, in the middle of history, Jesus gives a preview of his future glory.
As soon as I read this, I think, “I wonder what Peter, James and John thought about this event.” Well the bible is the best of books, Peter tells us what he thought.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
2 Peter 1:16–19 ESV
Peter says, “Look, I’m not just coming up with some good stuff to tell you. I have seen the glory of the future kingdom with my own eyes! Not only that, I heard it with my own ears! The prophecies of a future kingdom are true and Jesus is the King!”
This King shines like the sun! And yet he gave his life on a cross for his people. “Oh how he loves us!” I want to encourage you this morning to live with this “morning star” rising in your heart. Live with the hope of a future in a kingdom with King Jesus on the throne.
Sometimes it’s hard to fully, deep down, believe in and hope for the kingdom. Later in Mark 9, Jesus meets a man who is longing for the kingdom. He wants his son healed from a demon. Jesus says, “All things are possible for the one who believes.” The man replies, “I believe; help my unbelief!” What a great prayer to pray: “Jesus, I long for your kingdom. I want to deeply believe in this future hope. I want to deeply believe that even now you are seated on the throne and doing kingdom work in the hearts and minds of your people. I believe; help my unbelief!”
*Adapted from A Peculiar Glory by John Piper, Ch. 15 The Miracles of Jesus.