MARK - CHAPTER 9: 1-13 - TRANSFIGURATION GLORY
MARK – CHAPTER 9: 1-13 THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION
Tuesday, February 21, 2023, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Mark 9:2: After six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
On the height of one of the mountains of the covenant land, Elijah, the prophet of fire and the great Law-Giver, Moses, who have taken their place among the redeemed multitudes of Heaven meet with the three delegates of the redeemed church in the earth. Out of the glorious cloud of ransomed worshipers from before the throne of God, two appeared as representatives of the Kingdom-triumphant.
(Tradition says it was on the top of Mount Tabor in lower Galilee, Israel, which would place the visitation in the covenant land. Others believe it was Mount Hermon in Lebanon/Syria.)
In perfect keeping with the sudden dramatic changes of an older history of the Covenant of the Law and the birth of the New Covenant; like some blazing meteor, the Prophet of Fire and the great Law-Giver appear in transfigured glory by the side of the “Living Jehovah,” before whom they stood. But it was now Jehovah-Jesus ---“God manifest in the flesh!” (1 Timothy 3;16).
Mark 9: 3-8 w Luke 9:28-35: As Jesus prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no fuller (launderer) on earth can whiten them. (Behold there were two men) Elijah appeared to them with Moses, (who appeared in glory) and they were talking with Jesus. (They spoke of His decease which He would accomplish at Jerusalem.) Then Peter (and those who were with him were heavy with sleep; and when they awoke, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men that stood with Him. As they departed from Him,) Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles; one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” --- because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. A cloud came and overshadowed them, (they entered into the cloud) and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.
His companions in this glory are Moses and Elijah. Also, that they appear in glory testifies of life after death. Their visitation was to strengthen him because “they spoke of his decease”.
1. Elijah departed in a chariot of fire and horses of fire. “He was not, for God took Him.” He was carried soul and body to heaven without tasting the pangs of death. One bright spirit, glowing amid the ranks of Seraphim, and still burning is heard, “Here am I, send me!”
2. The body of Moses was mysteriously entombed in the solitude's of the Moab Mountains, over against Baal-peor; --- “God buried him” (Deut. 34:5-6). The Hebrew prophet is on the Transfiguration-mount---a visible, living, speaking, recognized representative of the family of the ransomed.
3. A mightier than Elijah ascended also to heaven from one of the mountains of Palestine. His triumphant chariot was a cloud---the chariot of God---the emblem of Glory---which bore him majestically from the gaze of the disciples. This is the same cloud from which the voice spoke, “This is My beloved Son; hear Him”.
It is the same Jesus who shall come again with clouds of glory.
The three disciples selected from the apostolic company to be representatives of the church on earth at their Lord’s Transfiguration are Peter and the two sons of thunder. To them was given the honor of bearing record of Jesus’ pre-incarnate glory.
1. Peter “the Stone”
2. James, the first of the twelve who was to suffer death for his Master’s sake.
3. John – survived them all to be the last eye-witness to His glory; he bore record: John 1:14: We were eye-witnesses of His glory.
Whether the disciples were slain in the Spirit or sleeping, the Word reads, “they fell asleep” until a glorious heavenly light awakens them. They wake up; and lo; a spectacle of overpowering glory bursts upon them. The Lord they left praying, is now seen before them, arrayed in garments woven as with sunbeams; ---His raiment emitting light vying in whiteness with the virgin snow; or as St Mark, describes, “So as no fuller (launderer) on earth can white them”. A bright fleecy cloud surrounds Jesus with a halo of glory; and on either side of the transfigured Savior, there are the glorified and recognizable forms of Elijah and Moses.
The disciples knew who these two Fathers of the Nation were from their childhood. We can imagine their thoughts, “Is this indeed the great shepherd, who led Israel like a flock; who did marvelous things in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt and in the field of Zoan? Is this he whose rod smote the Red Sea, ---whose feet trod the steeps of Sinai, ---who spoke amidst its lightnings and thunders face to face with God?
Is this the great Elijah---the old seer of Gilead---the faithful witness for Jehovah in Israel’s most degenerate age---the mighty wrestler on Carmel---the homicide at the Kishon---the fiery minister of vengeance---the herald of righteousness,---whose earlier life of tempest, earthquake and fire merged at last into the still small voice of love---he who was taken to heaven alive in a whirlwind, and who was prophesied of by Malachi who would return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord?
One surrendered his prospects as heir to the throne of Egypt; the other with fearless devotion to truth, had confronted royalty. No more befitting attendants could have been selected to do homage to Jesus, who made Himself of no reputation; ---left His throne and crown for a manger and a cross; ---“the faithful and true Witness”, who came “not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent him.”
The eyes of the earthly and the heavenly delegates are fixed on the great central figure, the toil-worn Man, who a few hours before had climbed the steep ascent and prayed all night which prayer was the grand prelude to the manifestation of the excellent glory---“Jesus prays.” On that mountain, the Son of Man and Lord of all pours out His soul, as a strong wrestler in the ear of His Father in heaven. The moon and stars listen to their Maker’s voice; and that voice, the voice of Prayer---pleadings for Himself, ---intercessions for the world ---the Church ---for His disciples ---for us!
All the great events and crisis of Jesus’ incarnation-life are hallowed by prayer. He prays at His baptism, and lo! The heavens are opened. He prays in the garden---“Father, if it be possible let this cup pass;” and “being in agony He prayed the more earnestly.” At the cross He prays, “Father forgive.”
We have many diverse human experiences, our crisis hours ---solemn emergencies ---terrible moments of temptation ---suffering ---crushing disappointment –grief, etc. Shall we not learn, from the Prince of sufferers, our true preparation against the dark and cloudy day?
In delivering this message in 2014, I shared my own struggle of disappointment and grief of just being told the final verdict by the Corp of Engineers that we had to vacate the property a/ka/ Little White Church. Below is my statement of faith in the midst of that walk of faith. I can say 9-years later, “I count it all joy.” What a wonderful journey of faith and adventure it has been with those who are the faithful leaders of this Church and those whom the Lord has added to us along the way. I can say like Peter, 1 Pe. 1:8: having not seen, I love. Though at the time, I did not see the path before us, yet believing, I rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Quote from Sermon notes 1/26/14: “I have heard the voice of the Lord and the voice of his prophets over this ministry. Our work as a church is not done. My work is not done. I confess to you that I had to rise from a posture of despondency, to grapple with duty, face this trial and make a renewed consecration of myself to God. After this fiery trial of faith, my faith will be stronger and I will be better. As heirs of God, we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We are enrolled as members of the general assembly and Church of the First-born which are written in heaven! God keep us from any poorer request; --- from bartering, like Esau, our heavenly birthright for any mere mess of earthly pottage” (Carolyn Sissom).
Our story of the Transfiguration continues with the disciples’ eyes fixed on Jesus, who is radiant with Glory, the true Apocalyptic angel “standing in the sun.” Fifteen hundred years before, Moses had been seen resplendent, but it was borrowed luster. He had come forth from the presence of God on Sinai, and the ineffable brightness still lingered by reflection on his countenance. For Jesus, that glory was inherent. The rays of indwelling Deity burst through his flesh. The luster of eternity streamed through the veil of His humanity. Moses only showed the brightness of the Father’s glory.
No wonder Peter, in impulsive joy exclaims, “Lord it is good for us to be here;” then proposed the erection of three tabernacles.
Baptism of the Cloud:
But another Cloud appears even more transcendent in brightness and heavenly splendor on the head of Jesus and his two celestial companions. It is nothing less than the Shekinah Glory, the symbol and emblem of a present Deity; the same cloud which of old preceded in a pillar before the march through the wilderness; which hovered over the ark in the tabernacle, and over the holy of holies in the Jerusalem temple.
The Word says the disciples were greatly afraid as the cloud came and overshadowed them. They received the baptism of the Cloud (1 Co. 10:2). A voice came out of the cloud. A message comes to them from the midst of the excellent glory --- “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” God the Father attests and installs the Son as sovereign of the kingdom. He consecrates Him as Prophet, Priest and King forevermore.
Moses and Elijah were representatives of two former dispensational eras. Both appear at the Mount of Transfiguration to worship Jesus, confessing their subservience to Him, of whom both the Law and the Prophets bore witness. They lay down as it were the seals of office, ---their warrants for their temporary ministries, ---at Jesus’ feet.
The law through its representative declares, “O Lamb of God, all my bleating sacrifices pointed to you.”
Prophecy through its representative declares, “O Prophet of the Highest, all my visions and forth-telling are centered in you.”
The shadow is transformed into the substance. The Old Testament is a type and shadow of the Christ. In Christ alone, is the end, meaning and reality of the Passover- the besprinkled lintels, ---the smitten rock, the serpent of brass, ---the blood-stained mercy-seat.
It was Christ Elijah saw in the sacrifice on Carmel and heard in the still small voice of Horeb.
Luke 16:16: The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.
Romans 3:21: Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
When Peter suggested the erection of three tabernacles---God gave a clear word that both of the other ministers were to give place to the minister of the sanctuary, and the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man (Heb. 8:2).
This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him. A greater than Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist is here (Mt. 11:11). This is the prophet of whom Moses prophesied.
Deut. 18:15: The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren, Him you shall hear. Stephen preached Acts. 7:37: This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, the LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren, Him you shall hear. Jesus of Nazareth is the true Elijah (My God is Jehovah) who shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.
The glorious visitation departed. Moses and Elijah disappear and leave, “Jesus.”
This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him. This is emblematic that the former dispensations were now done away. Moses and Elijah regarded with religious awe were to give place to a greater. A greater than Solomon (Mt. 12:42), greater than Jonas (Mt. 12:41), greater than Jacob (Jn. 4:12), greater than the temple (Mt. 12:6), greater than Abraham (Jn. 8:53). The work of the servants is done ---merged into the glory of their Master. The rod of Moses has become the rod of iron. The mantle of Elijah falls on the greater Elisha ---Jesus was to be hailed “King of the Jews.”
This affirms the gospel as superior to all of the other dispensations. The Law was ushered upon the world from the blazing summit of a mountain, amid a fearful canopy of cloud and darkness, thunderings, and lightnings and tempest. The Gospel from the summit of a mountain too; but now the thunders are hushed---the blackness has passed away; and in its stead a cloud of surpassing brightness overshadows.
Let us also consider that the moment the spirit leaves the body, it soars into the presence of God, and engages in active errands of love and duty. Moses and Elijah were both mortal men, but they were given an earth assignment to strengthen the Son of God. Could we not expect God will do the same for those who have been redeemed by His Blood? Would it not be true also that our Spirits, the true man or woman will continue to be a conscious, thinking, living being---ministering before God with ceaseless energies of holy service.
But the disciples are yet to comprehend the glory of Jesus Christ as God incarnate.
Mark 9: 8-13: As they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So, they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. They asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He answered and told them, “Indeed Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.
Matthew 17:13: Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
According to the Angel of the Lord's message to Zechariah, (Lk. 1:15-17) John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Mal. 4: 5-6: He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers...
Even now, they do not understand that a Greater than John the Baptist is among them, and a greater than Elijah is walking with them. Jesus Christ is speaking of Himself. The authority of John the Baptist has now been given to the Church.
Rev. 1:5-6: Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Thus the loftiest idea of a future heaven --- the true “hill of God” --- is that of an eternal transfiguration, ---a circle of saints and adoring angels gazing with unquenchable rapture on the glorified Son of God, and exclaiming, “It is good for us to be here!
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor Eastgate Ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX 77406
Scripture from N.K.J.V. and K.J.V. I entered into the labors of John Ross MacDuff, D. D. (the Prophet of Fire; Sermon notes Pastor Carolyn Sissom 1/26/14, The Delegates at the Mount of Transfiguration; Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the writings of those who I entered into their labors.