Mark 9:1-13

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 23, 2005


Jesus has taken the disciples north to Caesarea Philippi, up on the slopes of Mount Hermon, about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.

Much of the focus of His ministry with the disciples here has been to teach them about His upcoming death and resurrection.

Then Jesus gathered the people together and taught them what it meant to be His disciple:

(Mark 8:34,38 KJV)  …he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,,,{38} Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

:1-13  The Transfiguration

:1  there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Jesus is saying that some of the disciples standing in front of Him would not die until they had seen Jesus set up His Millennial kingdom on earth.

This presents a problem.  All the disciples have long ago died.

What was Jesus talking about?

I think the best solution comes from simply reading on in the passage.

:2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John

This is what Jesus meant in verse 1.  What Peter, James, and John are going to see on this mountain is going to be a peek ahead of coming attractions.  It’s the “trailer” of the upcoming movie.

The “trailer” shows famous dead people who have come back to life.  It shows a glimpse of God’s glory.  And it’s all centered on Jesus.  This is the Kingdom.

Peter would write about this event:

(2 Pet 1:16-18 KJV)  For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. {17} For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. {18} And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

:2 and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

leadeth them – Luke records what Jesus was going to do on the mountain:

(Luke 9:28 KJV)  …he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Luke records while He was praying, Peter, James, and John were having trouble staying awake (Luke 9:32).

The event probably took place at night. 

high mountain – Over the years, several places have been suggested as to where this took place. Some have suggested this took place on Mount Tabor near Nazareth, but it more likely took place on Mount Hermon, where Jesus has been with His disciples near Caesarea Philippi. Mount Hermon rises to an altitude of 9100 feet.  It is covered with snow 2/3 of the year.

transfiguredmetamorphoo (“metamorphosis”) – to change into another form, not merely a change in outward appearance

:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

white as snow – I wonder if Mark describes it this way because there may have been snow on the ground on Mt. Hermon.

fullergnapheus – a laundry worker

Luke also records that Jesus’ face changed as well:

(Luke 9:29 KJV)  And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered…


The Real Jesus

The disciples were getting their first peek at who Jesus really, truly was.
To this point, even though they’ve seen some amazing things, Jesus has pretty much kept His glory, His power, hidden.
One commentator (Wuest) writes,
What the world saw was a peasant from Galilee, clad in homespun, the son of the carpenter of Nazareth. But now, that outward expression was changed. Out from within the inmost being of the Son of God, there shone that dazzling glory of the essence of Deity which He possesses co-eternally with God the Father and God the Spirit. It shone right through the clay walls of His humanity and through the clothing He wore. It was that same dazzling radiance which the angels saw in His preincarnate state (Phil. 2:6).
Paul describes the process Jesus went through in becoming a man:
(Phil 2:5-11 KJV)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation …

The idea here is that Jesus “emptied” Himself.  He covered up His divine glory with human flesh.

… and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What Peter, James, and John were seeing was a glimpse of what Jesus had been as well as what He was going to be after His resurrection and ascension into heaven.
John would see Jesus later in His glory and describe what he saw:
(Rev 1:13-16 KJV)  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. {14} His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; {15} And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. {16} And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
When we read the gospel accounts, we will find ourselves identifying with the humanity of Jesus.  Yet we need to remember that He isn’t just fully man, but also fully God.
Why is this such a big deal?
Because the kind of help you’re going to get in life depends upon the kind of God you worship.
We’ve been reading in Jeremiah about how the people were worshipping little wooden or golden idols.  They were little statues that the people thought looked like a “god”, and so they worshipped it.  The problem was that these idols had ears, but they couldn’t hear.  They had eyes but they couldn’t see.  They had hands, but they couldn’t do anything for you.
In contrast – our God is an awesome God.  He’s the Creator of the heavens and the earth. There is nothing too difficult for Him.

Cars, cars, cars

Sometimes in the movies they build really cool looking cars for the set.  The problem is that the cars have no engine.  They’re just a prop.

If you’re counting on the wrong “god”, you’re not going to get much help.

It’s all show, no go. Or as they say in Texas, “Big hat, no cattle”, it’s all talk and no action.

Our God is like a cool car that’s got something under the hood.

When you put the pedal to the metal, you get pushed back in your seat.

It’s like the disciples were getting a peak under the engine.

For some of us, another issue is, you’ve got a fast car, but do you ever drive it?

Some people have a really cool, fast car, in the garage under a tarp.  If you visit their house, they might take you back in to the garage and give you a peak under the tarp.  But the car never comes out of the garage.

We have an awesome God.  Do you ever trust Him?


Changed in prayer

What was Jesus doing when He was transfigured?  He was praying (Luke 9:28).
I want to be careful about how we apply this, because praying doesn’t turn us into a “god”, but something does happen to us as well when we pray.
The Greek word that’s translated “transfigured” is used a couple of times to describe something that’s supposed to happen to us as well:
2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
How are we “changed”?  I would suggest that one of the things God uses in our lives is prayer.
Things happen in prayer:
1.  We find peace

(Phil 4:6-7 NLT)  Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. {7} If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Have you been struggling with anxiety?  Perhaps you need to be praying more.

2.  We receive direction

As Jesus prayed, He was reminded of what was up ahead of Him.  He was reminded of His death in Jerusalem.

Sometimes we lack real direction in our lives.  God wants to give us direction.

(Jer 33:3 KJV)  Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

3.  We are changed

Moses had an interesting experience when he spent time with God.

(Exo 34:29-30 NLT)  When Moses came down the mountain carrying the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn't aware that his face glowed because he had spoken to the LORD face to face. {30} And when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses' face, they were afraid to come near him.

I’m not sure if we’ll glow in the dark, but every time I spend time in God’s presence, I’m changed a little more, from glory to glory, a little more of His radiance rubbing off on me.

:4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Elias – this is Elijah.

talking with – The language Mark uses indicates that it was a lengthy conversation.  They talked for some time.

Why Elijah and Moses?

Together, they represent the Old Testament, often referred to as “the Law and the Prophets” (Mat. 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). They are the witness of the Scriptures to who Jesus is.

Note:  In heaven we don’t lose our identities.

Elijah is still Elijah.  Moses is still Moses. I just wonder how the disciples knew these guys where Elijah and Moses.  Did Jesus call them by name?  Did Elijah have a nametag on that said, “Hi, my name is Elijah”?

Do you have loved ones who have already gone on to heaven ahead of you?  You’ll be able to recognize them when you get there.

What were they talking about?  Luke tells us:

(Luke 9:30-31 KJV)  And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

Why was He going to die?

It was God’s plan to pay for your sins by having His Son die in your place.  The International Children’s Bible says,
(John 3:16 ICB)  "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.
What God did was easy enough for a child to understand.  Is it something you understand?  Have you opened your heart yet to Jesus?

:5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles…

answeredapokrinomai – to give an answer to a question proposed; to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer

What is Peter answering?  No one has asked him anything.  He’s interrupting. 

goodkalos – beautiful, handsome, excellent, surpassing. They were having a great time on that mountain top.

let us make – Peter isn’t asking permission to make the tabernacles (or, tents), he’s telling Jesus that he’s volunteering James and John to help him make the tents.

tabernaclesskene – tent, tabernacle; some translations say “shrines”


No camping allowed

This is definitely going to be a highlight of Peter’s week.
But he’s not going to be allowed to stay there.
Jesus, Moses, and Elijah aren’t going to stay there either.
There’s an old song (by Brown Bannister) that Amy Grant used to sing:
Mountain Top
I love to sing and I love to pray
Worship the Lord most everyday
I go to the temple, and I just want to stay
To hide from the hustle of the world and its ways
And I'd love to live on a mountain top
Fellowshipping with the Lord
I'd love to stand on a mountain top
'Cause I love to feel my spirit soar
But I've got to come down from that mountain top
To the people in the valley below
Or they'll never know that they can go
To the mountain of the Lord
Now, praising the Father is a good thing to do
Worship the Trinity in spirit and truth
But if we worshipped all of the time
There would be no one to lead the blind
Now, I am not saying that worship is wrong
But worship is more than just singing a song
It's all that you say, and everything that you do
It's letting His Spirit live through you
We like to make “shrines” of special places.
When we find a good thing, we like to hold on to it until it falls apart.
But the truth is that you need to keep moving.  No camping allowed.

:6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.

wist not – he didn’t know what to say

He was terrified and felt he needed to say something, but he didn’t know what to say.

Perhaps sometimes it would be better to say nothing than to say something stupid.

It’s better to keep quiet and let people think you’re stupid than to open your mouth and dispel all doubt.

:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them:

cloud – In the Old Testament, God’s immediate presence was often wrapped in a cloud.  For example, when Moses met God on Mount Sinai, God spoke from a cloud (Ex. 24:16).

Another name for this cloud of glory is the “Shekinah”, the radiance, glory, or presence of God dwelling among His people.  The word shekinah is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “to dwell”. The Hebrew word for the Tabernacle, mishkan, also is related to this word.

:9 he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen

As with last week’s study, Jesus doesn’t want to get sidetracked from going to the cross.

:12 …and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.

be set at noughtexoudenoo – utterly to despise

Jesus is trying to get the disciples to think.

He is saying that Elijah indeed was supposed to come first, and that Elijah has a role of bringing “restoration”.

If Elijah was supposed to bring restoration, then why was the Messiah supposed to suffer many things?

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry by getting people to wake up to the things of God and to turn from their sins.
Jesus on the other hand would fulfill His role as Messiah by dying on the cross to actually pay for our sins.

:13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

Jesus is talking about John the Baptist, who was killed by Herod.

as it is written of him – Elijah suffered much at the hands of Ahab and Jezebel.  John the Baptist suffered much at the hands of Herod and Herodias.


Family restoration

The “restoration” revolved around the family.  Part of Elijah’s ministry was supposed to be that of turning the hearts of fathers to the children and children towards their fathers (Mal. 4:6).
(Mal 4:4-6 KJV)  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. {5} Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: {6} And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
God has several things that are dear to His heart, and one of those at the top of His list is family.
Too often we want to bail out when things get tough.
Marriages split up because it gets too tough.
When things get too tough with the kids, we start to ignore each other and drift apart because it’s too hard to spend time with people who don’t like you.
Yet a priority to God is that we make our families a priority.
Things may not be easy in your family.  But that’s because your family is made up of humans.  Don’t give up on them.