This is a series of lessons regarding the transfiguration of Jesus based on Mark 9:1-3. This is part 3. In this lesson you will be reminded the importance to let God’s truth marinate inside you, wait for the right opportunity to share the God’s truth, and how to respond after experiencing a spiritual high moment.
You need food for your soul. You need something that nourishes your mind, will, and emotions. You need something that will help you to think deeper, decide better, and feel alive. God’s Word is the food for your soul. You were designed and created to need it.
Paul is writing to Timothy who is a pastor. He teaches God’s Word. Paul is giving Timothy some advice and about his teaching ministry. Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (NASB). “Sound doctrine” are those major subjects in the Bible like the doctrine of God, doctrine of the Holy Spirit, doctrine of Jesus Christ, doctrine humanity, and doctrine of the end times. As you learn what God’s word says about these subjects they begin to nourish your soul. You begin to think deeper, decide better, and feel alive. It is nourishment for that part of you that you cannot see.
The gospel of Mark is about Jesus Christ. We are learning who He is? His nature, essence, character and power. We are learning how to follow Him, listen to Him, and join Him in His mission. We are learning truth and doctrine about Jesus. As we go through this our soul is being nourished.
We are in the middle of this section on the transfiguration of Jesus and we are seeing why its important and what it means to us. Let’s read about it and then pick up where we left off.
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!” 2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. 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. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. 9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” 11 Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” 12 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.” (NLT) Let’s pick up where we left off.
Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.
Mark tells us in verse 8, “Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them” (NLT). When Matthew tells this he adds some details by saying, “Then Jesus came over and touched them, ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ And when they looked up Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus” (Matthew 17:7-8, NT). When the disciples dared to lift their faces and look around, they suddenly realized that the glory was gone.
The statement, “Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them” is significant. The appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets. But God’s voice from heaven saying, “Listen to Him!” clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Moses representing the Law and Elijah representing the prophets.
In addition, the glory of Jesus being revealed to the disciples also gave them a glimpse of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords. The three disciples have learned that despite his earthly, outward appearance, Jesus is God. The transfiguration has proven that beyond any reasonable question.
As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Mark goes on to say in verse 9, “As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Last week, we looked at them going up the mountain and having a spiritual high. They had an incredible experience that changed them. They saw the glory of Jesus. They got a deeper glimpse of who He is. They were overwhelmed by it. Peter wanted to build three tabernacles to capture and remember the moment. A voice from heaven said to them to listen to Jesus only. The glory was concealed and Jesus touched them and told them to not be afraid. So “they went back down the mountain.”
Anytime you have a spiritual high or anytime you have an incredible spiritual breakthrough in your life you are going to have to come “back down the mountain.” You will need to come back to reality where the job awaits you, where your friends and enemies live, where homework must be done, the dishes must be washed, diapers need to be changed, bills need to be paid, and the yard needs to be mowed. You will have to come “back down the mountain” where people get sick, marriages end in divorce, children are abused, and people die. Listen, Jesus does not take you up the mountain to escape the world, He takes up the mountain to prepare you to face the world.
Listen carefully, when you come down the mountain it doesn’t mean you forget what happened or you pretend like nothing significant happened. You come down the mountain with a greater understanding of who Jesus is, a deeper knowledge of what God’s kingdom is all about, a stronger confidence in your walk with Jesus, and an assurance that is more intense regarding the future.
During your time alone with God expect God to do something. Whether you are alone with God, at church, in a Life Group, on a mission trip, a Christian concert, or some Christian conference expect God to show up and reveal Himself in some way. Expect God to teach you something, to change you, and to challenge you in a significant way. Thank God and rejoice in those mountain high experiences, but remember just as you went up that mountain you will need to come “back down that mountain.” You must discover how to live out what you experienced in the real world.
For the disciples and for this particular moment Jesus tells them something very interesting. Mark tells us that Jesus “told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”[i] I think there are two thoughts we need to consider from this.
- God’s truth takes time to develop in you. When God begins teaching you something it can be confusing and alarming at first. You may not know what to do with what God has told you and taught you. I believe there are these spiritual high mountain tops that God will allow you to experience that are just for you, for now. It’s something for you. You don’t need to share it with your spouse, your church, your pastor, your Life Group, or anyone else. It was for you. God wants you to receive it and let it slow cook for awhile inside you. It’s for your encouragement, for your development, and for your equipping for what you will do later.
- God’s truth should be shared at the right time. But notice carefully that Jesus told them not to tell anyone “until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Jesus is saying, “There is going to come a time when you tell people what I’ve done in your life and what you seen and heard today, but the time to share is not today. You need to wait until I’m resurrected from the dead. I know you are excited about what happened today. I know you want to tell people. I know this is an incredible moment for you but you will have to wait. There is going to come a time when you can share, but not now.”
- With that said I want to remind you that Jesus said in John 16:12, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” There are some things that Jesus wants to show you, tell you, and teach you but you are not ready for it. There is a time for everything. My five year old is ready for ABCs and 123s, but she is not ready for geometry and algebra. She couldn’t bear it. But some day, she will be. When it comes to the deeper things of God you are ready for some things and not other things, but you will be. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep applying God’s truth.
So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
Mark then says in verse 10, “So they kept it to themselves.” This must have taken some maturity. To keep this to themselves is impressive, especially for Peter who likes to talk.
Mark goes on to say in verse 10, “but they often asked each other what he meant by ‘rising from the dead.’” For Peter, James, and John who all had this same spiritual high together were able to talk about it among themselves. When you have a spiritual high moment with a group of people, I think it is important to be able to discuss that moment with them. To ask questions, to jog memories, and to help each other interpret the experience and the event.
The NLT doesn’t capture this word but other translations do like the NASB does; which says, “They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.” That word “seized” (krateo) means to “to take hold of.” Jesus statement about “rising from the dead” grabbed their attention.
- Let’s go back a little bit. About a week earlier, back in Mark 8:31 we read this, “Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. 33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. ‘Get away from me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s’” (vs. 31-33, NLT). Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that He would suffer, be rejected, and be killed. It’s like they didn’t even hear the part about “three days later he would rise from the dead.” It’s like they missed it all together.
- But now, a week later, the statement about Jesus rising from the dead has seized their attention. Isn’t that how it is with you and I. I have you ever read the Bible (at home, during church, or at a Bible study) and it’s a section you have read several times before but this time there is a word or phrase that jumps out at you and grabs your attention and you think, “How have I missed that? How did I not see that the first time I read it?” That’s what happening with the disciples. The idea of the Messiah having to die and rise from the grave three days later is grabbing their attention. They don’t know what it means yet, but it has seized them.
Mark goes on to tells us, “they often asked each other what he meant by ‘rising from the dead.’” Noticed they “often asked each other” about this statement “rising from the dead.” Between now and the resurrection they were going to have several conversation about this subject of the Messiah “rising from the dead.” This would come up again and again with the disciples. They would ask each other questions. They would share their thoughts and interpretations about the matter. The word for “asked” (suzeteo) carries the idea of discussion, debating, and disputing. They would have healthy debates about what all this meant.
You need other believers in your life to wrestle with questions about God’s truth. It is healthy to challenge one another about what we believe and why we believe it. I think one of the perfect places for these kinds of discussions is a Life Group where you can ask your questions and be asked questions. This type of discussion needs to happen “often” – “they often asked each other.”
The subject that had grabbed their attention was Jesus’ statement about the Son of Man or the Messiah “rising from the dead.” They had seen Jesus raise people from the dead (Matt. 11:5; cf. Matt. 9:24-25; Luke 7:14-15; John 11:43-44) and had even done so themselves (Matt. 10:8). The disciples also understood from the Old Testament that there would be a general resurrection (Job 19:26-27; Dan. 12:1-2). These resurrections may have come up in the conversation, but their discussion was focused specifically on the resurrection of Jesus. They were confused about His death and rising, which did not fit into their view of the Messiah’s mission. Some of their questions might be, “Why does He have to die? How does dying and rising from the dead help Him establish His rule and reign? Why does He keep bringing this subject up? Why is it important?”
Early in Jesus’ ministry He encountered religious leaders and they demanded proof from Him that He was the Messiah. In John 2:19 Jesus said, “All right. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said” (vs. 19-22, NLT). After the resurrection of Jesus, it all began to make sense. Along the way they had asked many questions but until then it was confusing.
You may be where the disciples were. You have questions about the resurrection of Jesus. You are confused by it. It doesn’t make sense to you. Your questions about the Lord’s resurrections may be different than the disciples, but you still have questions. How could the resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago have an impact on me today? Was His resurrection real? Was it staged? Was it just a trick? If you have questions about the resurrection we are here for you. Let’s get together and talk about it. Let’s discuss your questions and see what God does.
Peter, James, and John never forgot what happened that day on the mountain. Years later both Peter and John would write about it.
- In John 1:14, John wrote this, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (NLT). He is referring back to this moment when He got a glimpse of the Lord’s glory.
- Peter also mentioned it in 2 Peter 1:16 when he wrote, “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 eyes17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain” (vs. 16-18, NLT).
As we work our way through the transfiguration of Jesus, let it nourish you and encourage you to follow Jesus. Stand in awe of who He is and live for Him.
[i] This is similar to Mark 1:34, 43-44; 3:1112; 5:43; 7:36; 8:30.