Mark 9:2-13 Transfiguration: A Glimpse into Glory

Synopsis

Jesus takes his inner circle of disciples with him to the mount of Transfiguration where the glory and divinity of the Son is on full display, even in the presence of Old Testament venerates like Moses and Elijah.

Selected Notes

9:2 Scholars are divided over whether the mountain is Mt. Heron or Mt. Tabor.[1]

9:3 The “launderer” is actually a fuller, one who would whiten clothes (cf. Mal. 3:2).

9:12-13 John the Baptist, not Elijah, is the one to whom Jesus is referring. Verse

13 seals this understanding for us. The people rejected John and did

“whatever they wished” to him, namely beheading him. See also Matt.

17:11-13 for more insight.

Theological Issues

1. The importance of the Transfiguration cannot be underestimated here. The event

represented, in the words of Calvin, the “temporary exhibition of his glory”.[2] In

addition, note the reverence the Father calls the disciples to give the Son in the

presence of Moses and Elijah.

2. Why would Moses and Elijah, who never actually died (cf. 2 Kin. 2:11), be present

on the mountain with Jesus? France suggest that Mark is trying to create a New

Sinai with Jesus as the New Moses.[3]

Teaching Points

A. Transfiguration. Jesus is transfigured before the very eyes of his disciples. The emphasis on the whiteness of Jesus’ clothes stresses his purity and glory, marks of his divinity.

B. Miscalculation. One would think that after seeing Jesus displayed in his glory, even for that split second, the disciples would have grasped who Jesus truly was. But when Peter suggests building tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, he miscalculates what the transfiguration event means. How often and easy it is to miss who Jesus is and what he is doing.

C. Correction. God the Father corrects the disciples, shifting all focus onto the Son. God’s correction brings to mind Matt. 3:16 and Mark 1:11 where He confirms the ministry of Jesus. Here, however, the Father speaks to the disciples to confirm the Son’s glory, a glory greater than even Elijah’s or Moses’. Furthermore, the very mention of a cloud and the voice of God speaking calls to mind God’s interaction with Moses. As France points out:

“Ex 19:9 offers a particularly interesting parallel,

in that God’s speaking out of the cloud to Moses

was intended to ensure that the Israelites would

thereafter heed his words; here, too, the voice is

not so much a pronouncement to Jesus but is

addressed to the disciples, and calls on them as

a result to ‘listen to him’. The manifestly divine

means of communication authenticates the messenger.”[4]

D. Declaration. Finally, there is a declaration from the Son about things to come. First, Jesus speaks of His resurrection. Secondly, Jesus redacts the scribes’ understanding of Elijah in relation to Messiah by underscoring that Elijah had already come symbolically speaking in the person of John the Baptist. Jesus states that Elijah has already come but that he was abused and rejected. That could be no other man but John the Baptist. By noting that all this was according to what Scripture has predicted, Jesus confirms not only the ministry of John the Baptist but also His own.

Reflection

It should have been an awesome experience. Jesus takes the inner circle of his disciple crew to the Mount of Transfiguration for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There, the disciples would experience a glimpse of the divine glory of God the Son. But what happens? They misunderstand the event and Jesus, seeking to put Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. But the disciples have plenty of company. The John Dominic Crossans, the Bishop Spongs, the Jesus Seminar, the Dan Browns, the Gnostics, and yes, even well-meaning Christians have all misread the glimpse and downgraded the Son into something he never was.

Now is the time to regain the wonder of the Son and the glory and majesty that abides in him. Now is the time to see Jesus as he is and not as we want him to be. He is God Incarnate and nothing less.

——————————————————————————–

[1] See France’s The Gospel of Mark (The New International Greek Testament
Commentary), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2002) and Cranfield’s The Gospel According to Mark (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary), CUP, Cambridge, 4th ed. 1972.

[2] John Calvin, Commentary on Mark.

[3] See Misselbrook’s Notes on the Greek New Testament, week 186. Accessed from http://misselbrook.org.uk/GNT/mark.htm, p. 4.

[4] France. Accessed from http://misselbrook.org.uk/GNT/mark.htm.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s