The Book of Mark
THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION
Text: MARK 9:1-10
1. We get our English word “metamorphosis” from the Greek word translated here as “transfigured” (Mark 9:2).
2. What this means is that our Lord’s external appearance was changed (Mark 9:2, 3).
3. Matthew 17:2 says, “His face did shine as the sun…” (17:2).
4. The cause of this transfiguration was that His divine glory shone out through His human form. Throughout most of His earthly ministry, our Lord’s glory was veiled but on occasion it was unveiled (cf. John 17:5; 18:6).
I. THE COMPANY ON THE MOUNT
II. THE CONVERSATION ON THE MOUNT
III. THE CLOUD ABOVE THE MOUNT
I. THE COMPANY ON THE MOUNT (9:2).
1. There was the usual “inner circle,” Peter, James and John (9:2), plus Moses and Elijah (9:4).
2. This is a preview of the “the kingdom of God come with power” (future millennial kingdom), which our Lord is going to establish on this earth (cf. Mark 9:1).
A. When He returns, our Lord will appear, not in humiliation, but in glory (9:3; cf. 8:38).
B. Moses is present in a glorified state, representing saints that have passed through the vale of death into the kingdom (9:4).
C. Elijah is also seen glorified, representing those saints of God who are translated into the kingdom without ever facing death (9:4; cf. I Thess. 4:13-18).
D. The disciples – Peter, James, and John, represent those who will behold His coming. Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him…”
E. Note that Peter, James, and John are in their unglorified state, representing those saints of God who enter the kingdom in their mortal bodies.
3. Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets; while Peter, James, and John represent the NT church.
4. Because of their appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration (and for other good reasons also), many Bible teachers believe that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Rev. 11.
5. People often ask, “Shall we know each other in heaven?” Yes, we will. Peter and the others recognized Moses and Elijah.
6. Robert G. Lee, a great preacher from the past, said. “I believe in recognition in Heaven as surely as I believe there is a God. If consciousness, character, love, memory, fellowship, are in that life, why should there be any question about it? May God help me for your sakes to take the doctrine of Heavenly Recognition out of the region of surmise and speculation into the region of absolute certainty.”
7. Genesis 25:8 says, “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.”
8. Abraham was “gathered to his people.” We see the same expression throughout the OT – Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, and Moses.
9. Upon the mount of transfiguration, the disciples with earthly, limited vision were able to recognize Moses and Elijah.
10. Therefore, I am certain that when we arrive in heaven, with our glorified bodies and with our perfect, heavenly vision, we will be able to recognize each other.
11. This wonderful meeting up on the mount had quite an impact on the disciples. Years later John and Peter would write about it (John 1:14; II Peter 1:16). James was killed by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2).
II. THE CONVERSATION ON THE MOUNT (9:4).
1. Matthew and Mark do not tell us about their conversation, but Luke does (Luke 9:30, 31).
2. Once again we are reminded that the cross must precede the crown (cf. Mark 8:31, 32).
3. The first and most important thing discussed was our Lord’s “decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). And what an accomplishment it was!
4. I remember a number of years ago I was cleaning up my basement in Flushing and found an old paperback copy of The Odyssey by Homer. When I find old books, I have a habit of dropping everything I’m doing and starting to read.
5. So I start reading the preface and the English translator says, “This is the best story ever written.” Well, it is a great story, but it is not the best story ever written.
6. The best story ever written is the story of how the Lord Jesus Christ left the glories of heaven to come into this wicked world and die for our sins on the cross.
7. And unlike Homer’s Odyssey, it’s a true story, and it’s a life-changing story.
8. Moses and Elijah did not come down to the Mount of Transfiguration to talk about The Odyssey. They did not come down to talk about Plato or Socrates or the other Greek philosophers. They did not come down to talk about Caesar and his great battles, or the politics of the Roman Empire. They came to talk about the cross.
9. “I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
How He left His home in glory for the cross of Calvary.”
8. That is the story we need to talk about. There are too many church people who talk a great deal of nonsense. How that must grieve the Holy Spirit! There are usually quite a few unsaved folks around here. Why don’t you ask the Lord to help you win them to Christ?
9. Not all of the conversation up on the mount was profitable. John and James had nothing to say, but impetuous Peter blurted out some things that were inappropriate (Mark 9:5, 6).
10. Luke 9:33 says, “Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.”
11. Mark says that Peter “wist (knew) not what to say” (Mark 9:26). Than why say anything? There are a lot of people like that!
12. President Lincoln used to say, “It is better to keep quiet and be thought stupid, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
13. By suggesting that they build three tabernacles, Peter was (perhaps unknowingly) guilty of trying to put our Lord on the same level as Moses and Elijah.
14. As bad as this is, some do far worse. At least Moses and Elijah were great men of God. Many people put our Lord on a par with Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha, et al. That is disgraceful.
15. The Riverside Church is a big liberal “church” in Manhattan, built by John D. Rockefeller. It is located uptown on Riverside Drive between 120th Street and 122nd Street, and is the tallest church in the United States.
16. Inside there is a statue of Christ, surrounded by statues of Buddha, Mohammed, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Emerson, Buddha, and Confucius. I do not see how any true Christian could worship in a place like that.
III. THE CLOUD ABOVE THE MOUNT (9:7).
1. In the Bible, clouds often represent the glory of God and the presence of God. Matthew tells us that “a bright cloud overshadowed them” (17:5).
2. There are many examples in the Bible of God coming in the clouds.
A. God went before the children of Israel in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21, 22).
B. God was in the cloud that covered Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:15-18).
C. The cloud covered the mercy seat in the tabernacle and later in the temple, shining always in the Holy Place (Lev. 16:2).
D. When King Solomon dedicated the temple, “the cloud filled the house of the Lord” (I Kings 8:10,11).
E. The cloud, containing the glory of the Lord, is mentioned several times by the prophet Ezekiel (9:3; 10:3, 4, 18; 11:23; 43:2-5).
F. In Mark 14:62, Jesus said, “Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
G. Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.”
3. Peter’s suggestion was cut short by a voice from heaven (9:7). “Oneness Pentecostals” (e.g., T.D. Jakes) deny the Trinity but here we plainly see that the Father and Son are two distinct Persons (cf. our Lord’s baptism in Matt. 3:13-17).
4. “And a voice came out of the cloud …” (9:7). There are many voices out there today – the religious cults, the vulgar rappers, the phony politicians, the worldly people we see every day, and all the foolishness coming out of the television, etc. But the voice of God can still be heard to those who want to hear.
5. Jesus said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9).
1. Matthew 17:6 says, that when the disciples heard the voice of God from heaven, “they fell on their face.”
2. “And Jesus came and touched them” (17:7). We need that touch from heaven tonight.
3. “And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only” (Mark 9:8).
4. Spurgeon said, “Oh, that we also may have the eye of our mind so fixed on the Lord as our one object, that He may fill the whole field of our vision, and we may see Jesus only.”
5. I heard about a church that had a big sign out front that said, “JESUS ONLY.” But a big storm came and three of the letters blew off the sign, and then it said, “US ONLY.” That’s the problem with too many churches.