Mark 9:1-13: The Look of Those Transfigured
Updated: Feb 8
1And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
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.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11 And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Prior to this chapter, Christ gave us to this things: Word of the Cross, the Way of the Cross
Now He gives us His Transfiguration.
Just this last chapter, Peter tried to veil this Gospel by saying there was no way Jesus could or should die and rise again. But Jesus confirms His Death and Resurrection as His Word. Then he confirms we will live by that Word ourselves.
Then, in the next passage, He is Transfigured. The One Who Said He Would Die and Rise is now the One Who’s Radiance Is on Display.
Surely there is a relationships. Surely by putting the Gospel next to the Transfiguration the author is telling us something.
Surely he is telling us the Word of the Cross is the Glory of the Cross.
I think of verses that say something about this.
In the epistles, the Gospel is not thought of as information: it is God’s own radiance. It is Christ’s own glory on display (2nd Cor.) It is a light shining in darkness (2nd Cor.). It lives and abides and it remains forever (1 Peter). It is not bound. It abolishes death, and brings life and immortality to life (2 Tim.).
It is a Word that is preached. And angels, who’s dwelling place is with God, are now looking down, trying to get a glimpse of it (1 Peter).
How can be a Word be more than information, be more than encouragement. It says to Hear this Word is to see Jesus, and to see Jesus is it be changed.
Why are we so satisfied with the Scriptures as teaching and instruction, when what the Scriptures so clearly want to do is put Jesus on display? Christ has said as much himself:
“You search the scriptures, thinking that they have eternal life, but you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
Jesus, we know to give himself to us completely. To share his life and its glory with us. But we can only have Him and His glory, it seems, by hearing What He’s Done. Only have Who Christ Is by the Word of What ‘s He’s Done.
When Jesus rose again, and spoke to confused disciples, and Jesus said, “Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter his glory? Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.”
And the disciples, what do they say when they heard?: “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” It says later He was made known to them in the breaking of bread. By the Word of the Body broken for them, he was made known to them again.
In the Gospel of John, he is even more explicit. Presenting his hands to them, he says, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
“Why are you troubled?” he asked. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”
The Word of The Cross, it says, we know, is the Beholding of the Cross, and the Beholding of the Cross is the Glory of the Cross.
You or I may ask, didn’t he say or do anything else other than die horribly? And yet, and yet, everything he did pointed to that Word, a Word he rose to vindicate and explain, ascended to proclaim, will return to fulfill.
Why are we so satisfied with changed behavior? Is that really what the Scriptures are selling us? Obedience. Right behavior? The Scriptures are not satisfied with Obedience. We can listen to the Beatitudes and see as much. Nothing but a changed heart will do. And nothing but Christ’s own radiance will do that.
The Scriptures tell us that this radiance is, strangely enough, his judgment. By it the blind will see, and the one who thinks he sees will go blind. What strange business is this?
How can we be so satisfied with good behavior, when the. Bible will clearly be only satisfied with the look of those transfigured?
The Cross is God’s power and God’s wisdom. And stronger than human strength. And it will bring all opposition to nothing. Not by its information, but by its radiance.
His Death and Resurrection will not only be God’s radiance, it will be His Feast. The Lamb Slain will be our great banquet.
We are told to suffer with this Gospel. We are told that it is worth suffering with, suffering for. And that we are to share in this suffering for the Gospel. This is the kind of suffering the Lord can work with, because it happens by the power of God. Because it is a suffering that cannot deprive us of Christ.
And we, ourselves in ministry, must not be satisfied with obedience but with the look of those transfigured.
We think people we serve only have the future we can provide them, rather than the future provided by his radiance by this feast.
When you give up trying to fix or control, you can finally offer. You can offer ourselves to the world as it is, rather than the world as we would have it, so that it might be transfigured.