Word By Mail

 The Hope of Glory

Mark 9:1-8

Message #31

Today we look at the Transfiguration. It’s one of the most understated and yet, one of the most powerful events in the New Testament. This event may be second only to the Resurrection for putting on display the glory of Jesus Christ.

But – the Transfiguration – it’s not just about the glory of Jesus. It’s also about us having confidence that we will be sharing in the glory of Jesus. When we are identified with Jesus Christ through faith, we have this hope of glory.

The Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:16 & 18,

2 Peter 1:16 & 18 (NLT)
16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes . . .
18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 

That’s Peter writing about the Transfiguration, and the Apostle John was with him. And John wrote in John 1:14,

John 1:14 (NLT)
14 So the Word 
(LOGOS – God in Expression) became human and made his home among us . . . And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 

Peter and John are writing about seeing the glory of Jesus Christ. They saw his glory in other ways. But, on that day, at the Transfiguration, they saw the glory of Jesus Christ revealed (manifest).

Jesus is going to pull back the veil of his humanity, and we are going to get a glimpse of the hope of glory. But biblical hope is not wishful thinking. Biblical hope is a confident expectation based on solid certainty.

Mark Chapter 8 was so big; it’s hard to review. But in that entire chapter, Jesus is trying to explain:
  • The path he must take for our salvation
  • And the path to the Kingdom of God

And so, we read in Mark 9:1,

Mark 9:1 (NLT)
1 Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” 

Now, people have all kinds of ideas about what Jesus is referring to here. But, please hear me – context determines interpretation. So, if someone starts talking about something crazy, just look at the actual context because the context is where the true meaning is. The context here means Jesus is almost certainly referring to the Transfiguration.

So, we continue in Mark 9:2.

Mark 9:2 (NLT)
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone . . .

These three were the inner circle; those Jesus kept closest to him. But there may also be something to the fact that throughout the Bible, God says the truth must be confirmed by two or three eyewitnesses.

And verse 2 continues.

Mark 9:2(b) (NLT)
2 . . . As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 

This event is so incredible and so awe-inspiring, and yet, so simply stated by Mark. And notice, the NLT says, “Jesus’ APPEARANCE was Transformed.” That is the traditional word “transfigured.”

“Transfigured” comes from two Greek words:
META – which means – change
MORPHE – which means – form 
Metamorphe = change form

But the NLT helps make it clear that only Jesus’ outward appearance changed – nothing inside changed. The inner qualities of Jesus did not change. The core of who he is did not change. His outer form was “transfigured.” His “figure” was changed.

Jesus pulled the veil of his humanity back to allow the Disciples to see a portion of his glory to give the Disciples and us confidence in the hope of his glory.

And then, Mark 9:3 says,

Mark 9:3 (NLT)
3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 

The word translated “dazzling” would be like looking at a giant sparkler. This was a portion of the glory of Jesus that we see in Revelation Chapter 1, where Revelation 1:16 says his face was like the sun in all its brilliance, and this glory was always IN Jesus. (Jesus refers to it himself in John 17). But here, Jesus reveals just a little bit of it to give the Disciples a confident expectation of the hope of sharing his glory, and this is the glory Jesus will return to earth in.

Matthew 25:31 (NLT)
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 

This is the confident expectation we have of the coming glory of Jesus Christ.

But (this is the good part), it wasn’t just Jesus who was glorified in the Transfiguration.

Mark 9:4 (NLT)
4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. 

Luke adds in Luke 9:31,

Luke 9:31 (NLT)
31 They (Moses and Elijah) were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his (Jesus’) exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. 

These guys were Jewish. They knew the power of Israel’s greatest leader and the power of Israel’s greatest prophet. If anyone could give the Disciples confident hope in the glory of Jesus Christ, it would be Israel’s greatest leader – Moses; and Israel’s greatest prophet – Elijah. And notice they were speaking about the cross because the cross is at the center of God’s plan of salvation.

This is an incredible, awesome, heavenly moment, and so, the Apostle Peter must stick his foot in his mouth (it’s what he does.).

Mark 9:5-6 (NLT)
5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. 

Stammering, must speak, mind-spinning Peter – talking because he doesn’t know what else to do. Some people try to figure out why Peter says what he says. But verse 6 tells us why. 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.

But there’s no time for the other Disciples to even question his crazy response. Because Mark 9:7 says,

Mark 9:7 says (NLT)
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 

Guys, we have a million voices just absolutely pounding us. God says, this is my dearly loved son. Listen to him. 

God, the Father, who dwells in unapproachable light, covers his being in a cloud and says to us, this is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him. 

In the first chapter of John, Jesus is called the LOGOS (Greek). In English, he is the WORD. The Greek word means – God in expression or the express image of God. 

John 1:1 (NLT)
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

This indescribable, seemingly unknowable God, speaks, and he wants us to know him through his son, Jesus Christ, who IS: God in Expression. This is the core of the revelation of God in the New Testament.

John 1:18 (NLT)
18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. 

Jesus himself said in John 14:9 (NLT), 9 . . . Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!
And again, Jesus says in John 10:30 (NLT), 30 The Father and I are one.” 

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God . . .

He is God in Expression, but he doesn’t reflect God’s glory, he radiates God’s glory the way the sun radiates light. Because the character, the nature of the son, is light. And so, the sun radiates light. The moon reflects light. We are to reflect God’s glory; Jesus Christ radiates God’s glory because he is God. He is God in Expression.

And here at the Transfiguration, God overwhelms the scene in a cloud and says, “This is my dearly loved Son (God In Expression to you). Listen to him!”

And then, Mark 9:8,

Mark 9:8 (NLT)
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. 

Wham! Jesus is transfigured, showing a portion of his glory. Moses and Elijah show up – also glorified. And then, God the Father who dwells in unapproachable light covers his unapproachable glory in a cloud, and God speaks.

Listen to Jesus – who is God in Expression

And then, as suddenly as it all happened, it’s over. And the Disciples have to be in absolute shock, and finally, Peter is speechless.

Now, I just want to finish with three incredible truths we see in the Transfiguration.

I want to thank Pastor Colin Smith (Unlocking the Bible). I’ve adapted his outline here. He inspired this outline, and so I have to give him credit.

#1) You Will Be YOU After Death

Moses died 1200 years before this day. Elijah died 800 years earlier, and yet, here they are, alive and well, in a relationship with and working alongside Jesus. They are not gone. They are not asleep as some misinterpret the King James Version language for death. And yes, they were heroes of the Bible, but they were still just men. And they are with Jesus to represent the Law and the Prophets. But they got there by faith in God, just like we get there.

And most importantly, they are still who they were on earth.

They are not reincarnated as something else
They are not angels
They are not floating on a cloud with a harp

And they are not any of that other crazy stuff we come up with about death. They are still who they were in life.

Guys, when God created you, he created you – as you – for eternity. This is clear in Genesis 1:27 when God created Mankind. There will never be a time when you cease to be you or become something else rather than you. And more importantly, God created you to be in a relationship with him for eternity.

But the Bible also makes clear, the relationship you have with God in this life will be the basis of your relationship with God for eternity. And this is true for both those who believe and receive and for those who reject and rebel.

Ecclesiastes 11:3 (ESV)
3 . . . in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

So, #1) You Will be You after Death

#2) You Will Be KNOWN After Death

The Disciples immediately knew that this was Moses and Elijah. We don’t know how they knew. But if the how was the important part, God would’ve told us how they knew. The important part is Moses and Elijah were known, and they were “in relationship” with the glorified Jesus, and so you will be if you put your faith in him!

You will be known in heaven because your identity goes with you into heaven. But also, because God is a relational God exists IN relationship in the Trinity, and we were created in and for relationship with God. Jesus Christ died for you so that you could be in a relationship with God. God made us in and for relationship both with him and with others, and he made us that way for eternity. And we see that here in the relational interaction between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.

So –     #1) You Will Be YOU After Death
            #2) You Will Be KNOWN After Death

And #3) If you are in Christ, you will share his glory after death

The Bible says when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we become so identified with him that we are “in Christ” (identified with him by faith), and so, we see here not only the glory of Jesus but also Moses and Elijah sharing the glory of Christ. In eternity, it will not only be Jesus who will be glorified, but we, through faith in him, will also be glorified with him (Romans 8). And here, the Disciples get the slightest glimpse of that, and it had to blow their minds.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NLT)
14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:2 (NLT)
2 . . . we do know that [when he appears] we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 

We need to know the Bible says through our faith, we will share his glory, and in his inheritance for eternity. And we need to allow that promise to drive us toward him.

God became a man – in the person of Jesus Christ – all so that you can know God. Jesus Christ IS God “In Expression” to you, and not only can we know God through Jesus Christ, but we can also stand in the presence of the Almighty God through Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Which is what it takes to stand in his presence. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be made right with God. We can have a real relationship with God, and we can live for eternity in the glory of God’s presence.

Today, by God’s grace and through your faith in Jesus, you can know God, and you can freely receive right standing with God. And you can look forward to a very real life, in a very real eternity, in very real relationships sharing the glory of Jesus Christ.