Transfiguration or Transformer?
p>Throughout the gospel of Mark, Jesus is taking the disciples on a journey of discovery. Discovering the reality of who He is and what He came to do. The problem is that through that process, the disciples have to come to grips with the reality of who they are and what God is calling them to do. As we have seen, the disciples, like us, are slow to realize the fullness of God’s person and plan. In the gospel of Mark we find ourselves at a crucial intersection of these realities. Peter correctly indentifies who Jesus is in Mark 8:29, 29And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." This was a major milestone in their journey with Jesus, but they weren’t quite prepared for what would come next. Jesus already shocked His disciples with what He told them in Mark 8:31, 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. The question arose in their minds and ours, why must He die? The question becomes even more complicated when Jesus goes on to tell them in Mark 8:34 of their roles as His disciples, 34And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Not only would Jesus suffer and die, but His disciples must prepare to suffer and follow Him wherever He leads, not matter what the cost. At this point, not only did the disciples’ jaws drop, but they began to feel a little bit weak in the knees. They were coming to grips with the reality that Big Idea: Following Jesus requires HUMBLE DEPENDENCE! Fortunately for them and us, we find in Mark 9:2-29 answers to why we need humble dependence and how we develop it in terms of God’s will and our need. We find in these verses that it is God the Father’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. The disciples will discover that the way to this reconciliation is not through the transfiguration, but through Jesus becoming the transformer. We are all in need of a transformer and in these verses Jesus reveals our need.
Jesus Reveals Our Need for a Transformer By… First, Revealing His GLORY. Up to this point, Jesus’ glory had been revealed through His teaching, healing, and miracles, but in Mark 9:2-8 Jesus pulls back the curtain on His true identity to His closest followers. 2And 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, 3and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5And 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." 6For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." 8And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. Peter who was there on that day made this statement about what he experience on that day in 2 Peter 1:16-18, “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 of his majesty. 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, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
Jesus Reveals Our Need for a Transformer By… Second, Revealing His SUFFERING. Jesus takes advantage of this teachable moment with the disciples to help them see what He came to do in Mark 9:9-13, 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. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11And they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" 12And 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? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."
Jesus Reveals Our Need for a Transformer By… Third, Revealing Our UNBELIEF. We see this through the story of healing found in Mark 9:14-27, 14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" 17And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." 19And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." (When Moses came off Mt. Sinai after seeing God, he finds the people worshipping the golden calf. In the same way, Jesus and the disciples come off the mountain into confusion and evil. This reminds us that mountaintop experiences don’t last. 20And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." 24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Jesus is waiting for someone to admit their need and be humble. Finally, the father admits his unbelief and lack of faith. Then Jesus the transformer begins to work. Jesus jumps at the father’s statement, “if you can,” and presses him to admit his lack of faith. Then and only then is the power of Jesus released.) 25And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. Through the healing of a child, Jesus gives the beginning of an answer to the “why” in terms of man’s need. No mere human can break Satan’s power to deafen, dehumanize and ultimately kill mankind. We must look to Jesus to be our Transformer of broken hearts and lives.
Jesus Reveals Our Need for a Transformer By… Fourth, Revealing Our PRIDE. The unbelief, or lack of faith, that we exhibit is often a result of prideful self-dependence. We see this in the disciples question and Jesus’ answer in Mark 9:28-29, 28And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer." The disciples were so proud of their power that they hadn’t even prayed before trying to heal. They were tempted to believe that the gift they had received from Jesus in Mark 6:7 was in their control and could be exercised at their disposal. This encouraged them to trust in themselves instead of God. Jesus is drawing them back to Himself, because they needed a reminder that Big Idea: Following Jesus requires HUMBLE DEPENDENCE!
This is where the rubber meets the road. If Jesus is who He says He is and if He truly came to do what He says He came to do, then How do we Express Our Need for Jesus. How do we reject the unbelief and pride that was shown by the religious leaders and the disciples? First, we must be HONEST with our spiritual condition. (Romans 7:18-20 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.) Second, if we are honest with ourselves, we must own the reality that we are HELPLESS apart from Christ. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.) Tim Keller tells us the value of owning our helplessnesss, Helplessness connects you to Christ; pride disconnects you. Third, because of how God turns our weakness into strength for His Glory and our good, we are HOPEFUL for the future. (Colossians 3:2-4 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.)
As we are confronted with the reality of who Jesus is and what He came to do, we realize that that Big Idea: Following Jesus requires HUMBLE DEPENDENCE! We can’t do this out of our own strength and resources, because we are bankrupt spiritually apart from Jesus. We must look to Him and lean on Him, in order to recognize His glory and suffering as the pathway to our deliverance. While His transfiguration causes great awe and inspiration, it is the reality that what He came to do transforms us that causes us to live changed lives