Can you remember watching a play, a ballet or an opera and suddenly the lights faded and the spotlight fell on the main character? You were dazzled at the intensity of the brightness. His or her white garments glowed like an advertisement for Drive, Dynamo or Hurricane washing powders. (Products sold in Australia). Perhaps it might have been an ad for less dynamic sounding brand names like Omo or Earth Choice. Or it might well be that another brand name Radiant would be the best description one could get for the intensity of that light.
In the Gospel reading for today from Mark 9 we read that Jesus “radiated” His glory as He was transfigured before them. They saw Him as He really was, the eternal Son of God, the Creator, the King of glory. The incident is called the “Transfiguration of Jesus.”
1). WHAT THE TRANSFIGURATION REVEALED ABOUT JESUS.
About a week after Peter had recognised Him as the Messiah, Jesus had taken the inner three, Peter, James and John up onto the mountain to pray. Three amazing things happened.
i. Jesus was transformed or transfigured before them. Mark 9:2) Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, (Mark 9:3) and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them They were exceeding white (leukos from which we get the word Leukemia). His garments shone like glistening white snow. A metamorphosis had taken place. It’s as though the veil that hid His pre-existent glory as the Son of God, was lifted, and for that short time, the disciples saw His unveiled glory. The vision of that day, would never leave them.
ii. There appeared two representatives of the OT with Jesus. The vision they saw, wasn’t just a bright light. It was personal in that 2 men appeared with Jesus. Somehow the three disciples recognised them as Moses and Elijah. (Mark 9:4) And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. And he was transfigured before them. There was a special meaning behind those 2 people appearing with Jesus.
The significance of Moses was that he represented the Law of the Old Testament, as the law giver. The significance of Elijah, was that he was a representative of the Prophets of the OT, a man powerful in word and deed, as Jesus was. The “Law” and the “Prophets” formed the major part of the OT. They pointed to Jesus, they witnessed to the Christ, and now Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law and Prophets was present with them. There was about to be a third witness to Jesus, God the Father Himself.
iii. From heaven God the Father bore witness to Jesus. Mark 9:7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” God Himself bore witness to Jesus that Jesus was His Son. From that time, Peter, James and John would know for certain that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but also that He was God’s eternal Son.
It’s obvious that the whole incident made a great impact on them, for we find Peter writing shortly before his own death, “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. For when He received honour and glory from the 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,’ we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.” 2 Pet 1:16-18.
Peter was writing about facts, not myths; about Jesus the Messiah who had come in power, not weakness; about Jesus as God’s beloved Son, not simply a man bearing the curse of God in crucifixion.
The apostles came to recognise that Jesus was the Messiah sent to redeem His people, but also that Jesus was none other than the eternal Son of God who had come to live in the world He had made, and to die for the sins of His people.
2). WHAT THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS REVEALS ABOUT US
What the transfiguration says to you and to me is this. “You are significant. You are loved”. Why? Because the One who came to die for us on the cross is none other than the Son of God Himself. How can we ever say that God doesn’t love us! What more does He have to do, to show us how much He loves us? The coming of Jesus Christ into this world, and His dying on the cross for sinners like you and me, shows two things.
On the one hand it shows the utter abhorrence God has towards sin in all its forms. Only His perfect Son could come and die to take it away. On the other hand, it shows the incredible love He has towards sinners. Jesus came and died to make forgiveness and reconciliation with God possible. Paul wrote in Rom 5:6-8, that God’s love isn’t based on prejudice nor on discrimination. “While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why one will hardly die for a righteous man- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
We see the great contrast between human commitment where we commit ourselves to one another, and God’s commitment to us. In human commitment we might go out of our way to help someone whom we feel is worthy, deserving or lovely. By contrast, God’s commitment to us is seen in His love. The love of God is shown in the death of Jesus as He died for those who were unworthy, rebellious, largely ungrateful and unlovely.
The Command At The Transfiguration. Not only did God say of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son.” He also said to the apostles, “Keep on listening to Him.” That was significant because Luke records that both Moses and Elijah had appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration, speaking with Him about His exodus (departure, death) at Jerusalem. At the transfiguration, there was the threefold witness; the law and the prophets and the voice of God Himself bore witness to the truth about Jesus.
The new factor was the command from God, “Listen to Him.” That is, “As you have obeyed the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), now observe His teaching.” The word of Jesus was being added to the word of God through the ages. His word had authority because He had authority as the Son of God and as the Messiah. The attitudes we adopt to Jesus and to Jesus’ words, are the attitudes we are adopting to God Himself who sent Him into the world to be the Saviour of humankind.
3). OUR TRANSFIGURATION. (INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST)
Did you know that many people around the world are being transfigured or undergoing transformation at the present time? You don’t have to go to Palestine to see them. They are right around you. They are in fact you and your fellow believers. Paul wrote of all believers in 2Cor 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. “Being transformed” is the very same word used of the transfiguration of Jesus. What God did in Jesus He does in us. Our part is
i) to turn to the Lord, verse 16. As we do so, God takes away the veil that prevents us from recognising His glory. We begin to become increasingly aware of His majesty and His holiness.
ii) to behold the glory of the Lord, verse 18. Behold means to contemplate, to focus on, to gaze upon. It also means to reflect what we are looking at as the NAS BIble translates, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.
It’s the same concept we see when we gaze into a log-fire. We gaze at it, but it also reflects its light back on us. As the fire grows dimmer, the brightness on our face diminishes. When a fresh log is put on the fire, and the fire bursts into life, the glow on our faces increases as well. We begin to reflect what we are gazing at.
The more we focus on the Lord in adoration, praise and thanksgiving as we read His word and as we pray, the more like Him we become. As Paul wrote, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. It’s a gradual transformation, the process of sanctification. When our focus is right, God brings about the transformation into His own likeness. He transforms us by the power of His Spirit within us.
Let’s get our focus right in life by taking the time to gaze upon the Lord as we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest His word. Let’s take the time to enthrone Him on our praises as we continually reflect on Who He is as the Son of God and on all He has done for us as Creator, Redeemer through His blood and Sanctifier by His Spirit.
Blog No 059. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 19th February 2012