GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 26
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|The disciples failed to understand who Jesus really was, and why he really came. How many Christians today suffer the same misunderstanding?|
Miraculous Meeting on Mountain
We’re back in the book of Mark and we’re picking up where we left off. The title of the message this morning is this: Miraculous Meeting on the Mountain. This morning I want to bring you to another memorable mountain top experience. It’s an experience with Jesus and his three disciples as he takes them up to the Mount of Transfiguration. The only difference is this: instead of seeing lightning in the distance, the disciples are about to see the glory of God revealed through Jesus Christ. Join me if you will in Mark 9:2-13. Now let me just give you the central idea in this text. What’s happening in this text is this: the passage is showing us the glory of God revealed through the suffering of the Messiah and at the end of the message, I’m going to give you two walking points to take home with you as you meditate on the scriptures.
Look at verse 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 [underline that], and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 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.’ For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’ And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 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. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ 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? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.’”
Verse 2 is an interesting verse as we get into this. Mark does something different. He actually does something peculiar. Normally his choice word to move the story along is the word immediately and you notice that all through the text. He often uses the word and to bring the story along. But notice what he says in verse 2, “And after six days.” What he’s doing here is he’s actually connecting this section to the previous section where Jesus gives a promise that is fulfilled.
Look at verse 1 of chapter 9: “Jesus says, ‘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.’” What is He talking about? He’s talking about the transfiguration. Peter, James, John, you guys are about to see the kingdom of God in its fullness and in its entirety. Look at verse : “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.”
Write the first point down in your text if you’re taking notes. The transformation of Christ. Now, what are these guys doing on the mountain? If you go over to Luke 9, and we’ll be flipping back and forth, hold your place in Mark. Go to Luke 9:28. I want you to notice what happens. Jesus decides to take them up to the mountain to pray. Look at verse 28: “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountainside or the mountain to pray. And as he was praying,…”
Now you may be saying, “Well, pastor, that’s different. Luke says eight days, Mark says six days. What’s the difference?” I want you to understand this. They’re exactly the same. Luke is basing his days on the previous statements, which differ to the previous statements of Mark. In essence, they’re both the same. Luke looks at it a little differently. Now, we can only speculate what they prayed about. Maybe Jesus prayed the same way he did in John 17 for the disciples. “God, I invested in the men that you gave me.” Maybe he prayed for himself like in the Garden of Gethsemane. We don’t know what Jesus prayed for but we do know how the disciples prayed.
Look at the next verse, verse 32: “Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with [what?] sleep!” Now in the disciples’ defense, before you get too excited, these guys had just climbed a high mountain, okay? They’d gotten to the top and Jesus wants to hold a prayer meeting. So in their defense, they’re probably tired. It’s safe to say the disciples always were sleeping during important meetings. Did you ever notice that? Now that’s an encouragement for you and I. It’s really a big encouragement. If the disciples sometimes sleep during Jesus’ speaking, then I shouldn’t feel so bad when people sleep during my preaching, right?
I had a guy in my former church, every time I would preach, he would close his eyes. One day, I approached him. I said, “Brother Joe, I noticed that you were sleep during the message. In fact, I notice you sleep every Sunday.” “Oh no, Pastor. I have to close my eyes to concentrate better.” I guess that’s the code word for a catnap. I don’t know. But every week, he would sleep.
Regardless, I want to show you an interesting discipleship principle here. It shows us that the disciples, although they’re following Christ, they haven’t understood the need for and develop the discipline for persistent, consistent prayer. It shows us that the disciples needed Jesus to teach them how to pray and not only teach them, but to model prayer for them. You know what that shows you and I? That when you become a new believer, you don’t automatically develop the discipline of prayer. Prayer is like a muscle in the body. It takes time. You have to work out. You have to grow in your prayer life. You have to mature in your prayer life.
But did you catch the connection in the text as we read it this morning? There’s an amazing connection between Jesus going up to the mountain and Moses going up to the mount of transfiguration. Let me give you the parallels—write these down—throughout this text.
The first one, you’ll notice the similarity between Jesus taking three of his disciples up to the mountain, and then in Exodus 24:1 Moses—don’t miss this—takes three men up to the mountain and the seventy elders with him; three named men. The second connection I found is this: Jesus is transfigured and his clothes radiate like white snow, in essence. Notice what happens to Moses. When Moses goes up to the mountain and he comes down, his skin is radiating as he comes down to the mountain or from the mountain. Let me show you the third one. God appears in a veiled form in the overshadowing of a cloud to Jesus and the disciples. In the Moses account in Exodus 24:15-16, God appears in veiled form in an overshadowing cloud again. Here’s a fourth one I noticed, and there are more than that, but let me give you a fourth one. A voice speaks from heaven to the disciples from God in the account with Moses, Exodus 24:16. A voice speaks from heaven through the cloud to the disciples.
Now, the key word in this text is the word transfigure. Look at it in verse 2: “And he was transfigured before them.” That’s another word for changed. It’s another word for metamorphosis, if you will. That word is only used four times in the New Testament. Let me give you two of them. Go to Romans 12:2. Let me show you this one. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be [what?] transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Go to 2 Corinthians 3:8. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed [there it is] into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
Now, go back to Mark. What did Jesus look like? The question is, “Okay, we understand he was changed. But what did he look like?” This is what Mark says. Mark says in verse 3, “his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” He used the word radiant or shining. It’s the word picture for a flashing sword. It’s another picture for the blinding of light on a metal surface that reflects back and it blinds you. He talks about that. That’s how the disciples picture the Lord Jesus Christ when he was transformed.
One commentator said, “When Jesus was transfigured, He assumed another form. Just like a caterpillar when it goes into the cocoon, it comes out as a beautiful butterfly after the transfiguration happens or the metamorphosis happens. In an instant, everything that was hidden in the cocoon human flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ was now revealed outwardly for the disciples to see, if you will. For the veil of reality for the first time for the disciples was pulled back and they got to see in the invisible supernatural realm and they saw a picture of the glory of God.” Now Jesus always was filled with the glory of God. He always had the glory of God. But in His human flesh, it was veiled and now, for the first time, they see the fullness of His glory. Pretty amazing picture.
Chrysostom, the great early church father, said, “How did it shine? Exceedingly. And how do you know that and how you express it? He shown as the sun. As the sun, you say? Yes. Why the sun? Because I do not know other luminary more brilliant. And He was white as snow, you say? White as snow because I know of no other substance that is whiter [and we know about snow, right?]. But He did not, strictly speaking, shine merely as the sun shines. This proves by what follows next. The disciples fell to the ground after seeing Christ. If He had shown as the sun shines daily, the disciples would have not fallen down for they do not fall when they see the sun every day but inasmuch as He shown more brilliantly than the sun or snow could have shined, they, unable to bear His splendor, fell to the earth.” Can you picture it? Imagine seeing the Lord Jesus Christ in all his splendor. That’s the transformation of Christ.
Secondly, write down the introduction of the Old Testament saints. After Jesus is transfigured, we go back to Mark and we see in verse 4 the introduction of Elijah and Moses. “And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 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.’”
Now here’s a good question. Why Moses and Elijah? Why not Jeremiah or Isaiah or Abraham? Let me give you a couple of reasons why I think Moses and Elijah were there. First of all, Moses and Elijah, if you remember from the Old Testament, came in contact with God. They had an incredible experience with God. Secondly, both men—Moses and Elijah—saw the glory of God. Thirdly, Moses and Elijah had miraculous departures from this earth. Moses was buried by God in an unnamed grave. No one knows where he was buried. And then Elijah, if you remember, was taken up in a chariot of fire as he passed the torch, the mantel of discipleship on to his disciple, Elisha. Moses created Israel’s economy, and many Old Testament saints believe Elijah would restore Israel’s economy.
Now, a common belief is this: Elijah represents the prophets and Moses represents the what? The law. And that breaks down a bit. Yes, that is true in a sense, but didn’t Moses represent both the law and the prophets? Go to Deuteronomy 18 and I’ll show you. Moses obviously represents the law because God gave him the law and he gave it to the people. But Moses also is a representative of the prophets. Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like [who?] me [Moses] from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen….” And Moses is saying God’s going to raise up a prophet like me. So Moses is a prophet.
Now notice what Jesus tells them in Luke 9:31: “[They] spoke of his departure.…” That’s the question. What in the world is Elijah doing there and why is Moses there and what are they talking about? This is what they’re talking about. “Jesus, you’re going to go to Jerusalem and you’re going to die on the cross.” And Luke 9:31 tells us this. That word speak is an amazing word. It’s the word that means a continued, ongoing conversation. This isn’t just chitchat here. This is a long, extended conversation that these two men are now encouraging our Lord with.
Imagine the disciples. They’re watching the two men they have read about their entire life, right? These are the great men of the faith and they’re now standing in their presence. Peter says, “Man, it is good for us to be…how about we set up one Holiday Inn for you and a Motel 6 for you and then a Best Western for you. Let’s just set up tents for you guys to hang out with us.”
Now, you have to admit, that’s kind of odd. We don’t know exactly why Peter said that, but I’ll tell you what I believe. First of all, that word tent is another word for tabernacle. Jewish people believe that God would one day do what? Tabernacle with his people; that God would one day be with his people. It wasn’t uncommon when the Jewish people would travel that they would come to a place, stop, build a hut with palm branches, and sleep.
But I think there’s a fundamental flaw in Peter’s theology here. And the fundamental flaw in Peter’s theology is this: Peter is trying—don’t miss this—to equate Jesus with Elijah and Moses. He’s putting Elijah and Moses on the same field as Jesus. And Jesus is saying “Don’t miss this Peter. Elijah and Moses represent, yes, the law and the prophets. But I didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets. I can to [what?] fulfill the law and the prophets. In essence, I’m not on equal playing field with these guys. Peter, watch this. These guys point to me and that’s why they’re there.”
But see, Jesus doesn’t have to correct Peter’s faulty theology because God does. Notice the second or the third aspect of the text. The Transformation of Christ, the Introduction of the Old Testament Saints. Get this, The Confirmation of the Father. God corrects Peter’s misunderstanding: “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud….” See, the crescendo of this passage, church, is the voice of God from the cloud. That’s the high point of this passage.
Now, the difference between this spoken Word of God at the transfiguration and the spoken word of the Lord at the baptism is very different. At the baptism, God spoke to Jesus and said specifically to Jesus, “You are my Son.” He is affirming the divinity of Christ. In this passage, he’s not speaking to Jesus. He’s speaking to who? The disciples. He’s saying, “Guys, notice this. This is my Son. This is my divine agent that I have sent to the world to redeem the world.” Now why is this important? Up to this point, the disciples still have not understood who Jesus is, right? Just moments ago, Jesus brings them to Caesarea Philippi and he says, “Who do people say that I am?” “Well, John the Baptist, one of the prophets, Elijah.” “Well, who do you say that I am?” What did Peter say? “You’re the Christ! You’re the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus said, “Peter, you didn’t know that. The only reason you understood that is because God spoke that to you.” So they’re still trying to figure out who Jesus is and in this text, God steps in.
Dr. Dwight Pryor, Jewish scholar, says, “God Himself answers the question posed by Jesus just moments earlier by linking three messianic scriptures together from the Old Testament Hebrew Bible.” Now, you’ve got to follow me to understand this because this is pretty amazing. Go to Luke 9:35. Luke includes all three of the words from God or all three of the phrases: “This is my Son [underline that, put a 1 next to it], my Chosen One [that’s a 2]; listen to him!”
These are all keshers from the New Testament that point to the Old Testament. What is a kesher? A kesher is a piece of Velcro, if you will. It’s a part above that sticks to the part below and it comes together. It’s like a hyperlink on the internet. If you ever float on the internet and you put your mouse on a website, it turns into a hand. If you click the hand, it goes to that site. In essence, it’s underneath. If you and I knew our Old Testament scriptures well, we would be able to make the connections or the keshers from the Old to the New. Let me show you these three. Got to the first one, Psalm 2:7. Watch this. “This is my Son” is a reference to the kutuviim, write that down the kutuviim or the writings. Psalm 2:7: “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my [what?] Son; today I have begotten you.’” Notice the heading of the psalm: The reign of the Lord’s anointed. The first messianic psalm.
Go to the second one, My chosen Son, Isaiah 42:1. This is taken from the prophets or the nevaim, and it’s a connection of 42:1: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen [one is implied], in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” Look at the title of this psalm. The Lord’s Chosen Servant, another messianic psalm. And God finishes with listen to Him.
Go to the Torah, Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall [what?] listen—” This is what God’s saying. God’s saying, “From the Tanak, from the Torah, from the Neviim, and the Kutuviim,” He’s saying, “This man here that you see is my Son. He is the promised Messiah. He is the Redeemer of the world. He is the embodiment of the scriptures. He is the Word became flesh. He is the walking word. Therefore,” what? “Listen to Him.”
Now that’s powerful if you think about it. Listen to Him. You know what’s interesting? Here’s the truth here. To understand the Lord Jesus is to understand the sacred scriptures. If you want to understand the Lord, you have to understand his Word. How well are you listening to the scriptures? How much time do you spend in the Word? Because to know the Word is to know the Lord.
Not only do we see the transformation of Christ; not only do we see the introduction of the Old Testament saints; not only do we see the confirmation of the Father; “Robby, the real question is what does all this mean?” Look at the final aspect. The Explanation of the Mission. “And suddenly looking around, they saw no one,” the text says. Look at verse 7. In an instant, all these men vanish and instead of parting with the heavenly visitors, Jesus decides to stay and to carry out the plan, which is to go to Jerusalem and to die on the cross. Write down these two aspects in this section.
The first is silence. Jesus commands the disciples to be silent. Look at verse 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. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.”
This is the final command of silence by Jesus. In fact, in the text or in the scriptures, there are nine different commands to silence and—get this—this is the only one with a stipulation on the end. Every other one says, “Be quiet. Don’t tell people what I did.” This one says, “Be quiet until [what? Look at it] until the Son of Man has [what?] risen from the dead.” Now the disciples are baffled and I don’t think they’re baffled because Jesus is going to rise from the dead. I think they’re baffled because they can’t understand how Jesus will die first and then rise from the dead. They’ve seen him do the miraculous. They just don’t understand how he can die first.
There’s an incredible principle here I want you to understand. The disciples are following the Lord Jesus Christ not because of their knowledge or their intellect or their ability or their virtue. The only reason these guys are in allegiance with the Lord Jesus Christ is because of God’s sovereign call in their life. They don’t understand it yet. They don’t even understand that at his death that the only reason we can come into the presence of the Lord is when God draws us into his presence. Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me [What?], I chose you first.” Jesus said, “You didn’t love Me first, I [what?] loved you first.”
There’s the command to silence. Secondly, the call to suffer: “And they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ 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….’”
Listen, church, whenever you see the words “how it is written” or “as it is written” that clues you in that he’s quoting the Old Testament. Guess what he’s quoting here? Isaiah 53. What does Isaiah 53 say? The Son of Man must suffer and be rejected. What Jesus is doing is he’s equating his role to the suffering servant role described in the book of Isaiah and he just did that for the disciples. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself [what?], pick up his cross daily [and what?] follow me.”
The mention of Elijah is a direct connection to John the Baptist. Three times in Mark chapter 8, chapter 9, and chapter 10, Jesus talks about his death, burial, and resurrection—if you will, his suffering. So here’s a question, if Moses represents both the law and the prophets, then what is Elijah doing there? I mean, Moses could embody both.
The Old Testament’s Jewish believers believed that Moses and Elijah would come at the dawn of the redemption of Israel. They believed that these guys would pre-date the redemption of Israel and the dawn of the last days. Malachi is the last book written in the Old Testament. In fact, chronologically, Malachi is last and from Malachi to the book of Matthew or Mark, whatever one you think comes first, but until that time of John the Baptist speaking as one in the wilderness, there’s 400 years of silence, the intertestamental period. Malachi’s last words to the Jewish people talk about the coming of this man.
Go to Malachi 4:4. Is it by accident that Malachi finishes his book with these words? Look at verse 4: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel [tune in]. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Friends, the presence of these two men affirm the hope of the redemption of Israel and the dawning of the last days.
Now you may be saying, “So what?” So what? “Robby, it’s nice that Peter and James and John got to see the glory of Jesus, but I didn’t get to see that, and so it really doesn’t mean much to me.” Do you know Peter knew that you would say that? The apostle Peter knew that people would hear about that story, the transfiguration of Christ and people would say that very thing. And I believe that’s why he wrote in 2 Peter 1 about this very event. And he gives us this amazing caveat at the end. Go to 2 Peter 1:16. I want you to see what Peter says about this story.
“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 [we saw it with our own eyes] of his majesty [of His glory]. 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,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven [imagine that] for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something [sure though] more sure, the prophetic word, 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, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.”
You know what Peter’s saying there? Come in real close. He’s saying as great and amazing as this experience was to see Jesus in all of his splendor and all of his glory, it fades in comparison to the Word of God. That’s what he says. He says this experience is trumped by scripture and it shows you and I that faith and feelings always are circumvented by facts. The facts of the Word of God must drive our faith and must drive our feelings as we serve Him. Friends, experience never trumps scripture.
You know what’s a great interesting point as we leave to? This event show us that Jesus is unlike any other man in any other religion. See, the Jehovah’s Witness wrongly, heretically believe that Jesus was an angel like the archangel Michael. He’s a created being among many created beings. Friends, this is a heretical view and should be refuted.
Mormonism teaches that Jesus was not God but only a man who became one of many gods and it teaches that Jesus had a polygamous relationship and he was a half brother of Lucifer. Listen to me. Mormonism believes in a heretical view and it should be refuted.
Universalism teaches that Jesus was a good man, he was a good teacher and should be followed and respected for His teachings, not for dying on the cross. This is a heretical view and it should be refuted by all believers.
Finally, Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet but he was inferior to the great prophet, who was Muhammad. And Jesus was a good man. Islam also teaches that Jesus’ place on the cross was taken by Judas. This is a heretical view and should be refuted by all believers.
When we read story this morning, it is inextricable that Jesus Christ is God. He is Lord. He is Savior. And the question that has to be driven home in your heart this morning is this: have you trusted him as Lord? Have you acknowledged him and trusted him as Savior? Have you acknowledged him as Lord of your life? Have you done that? You know what that means? That means you’re not the captain of your own ship anymore. That means you have to step down off the throne of your own heart and let God rule and reign in your life.