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Transfiguration

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 13, 2020 12:01 am

Transfiguration

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 13, 2020 12:01 am

When the disciples came near to despair after the prediction of Christ's death, He brought them to a remote mountain and was transfigured before them. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the book of Mark by contemplating that moment when the disciples basked in Jesus' unveiled glory.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/1301/mark-expositional-commentary

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Today on Redoing Your Mind… We continue this morning with our study of the gospel according to St. Mark, and I will be reading from chapter 9, verses 2 through 12, since we considered verse 1 of this text last week. Mark 9, 2 to 12, and I'll ask the congregation now to stand for the reading of the Word. Now 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.

And His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.

And let us make three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.' Because He didn't know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them, 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 any more, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they shall tell no one the things they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked Him, saying, "'Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' And He answered and told them, "'Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things, and how it is 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.'" For our benefit, the gospels give to us this narrative of the glorious manifestation of Christ in the transfiguration. May the Spirit take this revealed Word to our hearts.

Please be seated. Several years ago, I wrote a book that was kind of an unusual book. It was titled The Glory of Christ, and I wrote it for this reason, that in classical theology, we note that the progress of Jesus' life in general is a progress that moves, again in the main, from humiliation to exaltation. It begins with the New Testament narrative of His birth in the circumstances of poverty, and moves toward His rejection by His own people that reaches its nadir in His betrayal and crucifixion on the cross. The first movement towards exaltation comes with the circumstances of His burial, and then it reaches its peak with the resurrection, and finally then the ascension. But the point is this, that that general progress from humiliation to exaltation is not absolute, because throughout the life of Jesus, there are vignettes, there are tiny little moments that even in the midst of His humiliation, there bursts forth glory. At the time of His birth, the circumstances of poverty were contrasted by the glory manifested by God to the shepherds in the surrounding fields. But there is no point in the life of Jesus prior to the resurrection where His glory shines forth so magnificently as it does here at Mount Hermon, presumably, in His transfiguration.

Let's note the setting for it. Mark tells us that it was after six days that Jesus took the inner circle, Peter, James, and John, up to a high mountain apart from the crowd. And it's significant that this timing of this event took place after six days.

Now what had happened prior to that six days? Remember we've seen the confession of Peter of the messiahship of Jesus, and then only a little while later, Jesus explained to His disciples that He must suffer and die, and Peter was aghast at such a suggestion. So now when they begin to turn from the north of Galilee and begin to move towards Jerusalem where the cross and death await Jesus, the disciples move in an attitude of ominous, grim, foreboding.

All they can think about are these terrible words that Jesus had spoken to them right after the Caesarea Philippi confession that thou He was moving towards death. And so this foreboding cloud of doom was hovering over them for six days, and in the midst of the edge of despair, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John, and goes up to a high mountain apart from the people, and the Scriptures tell us He was transfigured before them. The word in the Greek is a form of the verb metamorphio, from which we get the English word metamorphosis. And you learned that word metamorphosis in school when you learned about the change, the dramatic change that takes place between a caterpillar when it becomes a butterfly. It undergoes a change of form, and the Greek word for form is morphos, and a metamorphosis is a transfiguration. The prefix trans means across. We go transcontinental.

We go from one part of the land to the other, and if we go transatlantic, we go across to Europe. That prefix trans means over or across, and what happens here is that the person of Jesus moves in terms of what is visible to the eyes of His disciples. There is a transformation, a movement from one perspective to another, where for all His earthly life, the incarnate Logos, the second person of the Trinity, has His glory hidden and veiled in the cloak of Jesus' humanity. And now all of a sudden before the eyes of the disciples, they see the bursting forth of the full deity of Christ.

Now let's notice the details that Mark gives us. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow, such as no launder on earth can whiten them. And so when they describe the appearance of Jesus, they talk about the change in His face and the change in His clothes. When we look at the rest of the synoptic reports of this event and the life of Jesus, they tell us that the face of Jesus shone with the brilliance and the intensity of the sun. Now where else in Scripture do we read of someone's face shining with a blinding intensity? Obviously when we look back in the Old Testament in the life of Moses, we remember when Moses was on the mountain with God and he begged God for the ultimate blessed beatific vision, what he says to God, God, please show me Your glory. And God denied it. He said, Moses, remember, no one can see My face and live.

But I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll carve a niche in the rock, and I'll place you in the safety of the rock, and I will pass by and let you get an instantaneous glimpse of My backward parts, literally in the Hebrew behind quarters of Yahweh, but My face shall not be seen. And so the Lord passed by, and when Moses got this momentary glimpse of the backward glance of the glory of God, that that experience was so intense, the glory of God even in the backward motion was so radiant, so refulgent, that when Moses gazed on this, his own face began to shine like the sun.

Do you remember that? But beloved, when Moses' face shone with such intensity, it was the shining of the face of a creature who had been in the presence of God and whose face was now reflecting the radiance of God. That is to say, the light in the face of Moses was a reflected light. Moses' face was not the source of the light, but rather the light of God was rebounding from the face of the creature.

But that's not what happens here in the Mount of Transfiguration. This intense brightness like the sun that transforms Jesus so that even His garments become whiter than snow, whiter than any fuller or any launderer can possibly make it, indicates not a reflection, but the source of the light that the disciples are now seeing is coming from within Christ Himself. Again, it's not a reflected glory.

It's an internal, inherent glory that is now bursting forth before their very eyes. Throughout the gospels, the gospel writers refer back to this when they said, and we beheld His glory as the only begotten Son of God. Remember how the author of Hebrews describes Christ, who is the express image of God and the brightness of His glory. Jesus doesn't just reflect the brightness of the glory of God. He is the brightness of the glory of God. And throughout Scripture, we see that manifestation of the Shekinah, that brilliant flaming cloud that attended the presence of God, that bright light that blinded Saul on the road to Damascus, out of which light even then Jesus spoke to Saul saying, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? The word glory, as I've told you before, means weightiness or heaviness, and it is assigned eternally to the being of God Himself. And out of the depths of Christ's divine nature, now comes this flood of light, which is perfectly white. Back when I preached on this text in the Page School, I asked one of the children in the front row a question.

I'll try it now with my buddies, Ben and Nick. Yeah. Here's the question. What color is a lemon?

What? Yellow. We've got twin answers, and they are in full agreement. Now here's the philosophical question. Is a lemon really yellow? What color is the lemon when the lights go out? If you're in a room with no light whatsoever, what color is the lemon now? Do you see anything yellow? No. Philosophers argue about this, and they say that color is not primary.

It's secondary. It is not something that inheres, you know, in a substance, but it is something that is added to the substance by the presence of light. Where does color come from? It comes from the light, from the sun, where all of the hues of the rainbow are found in the pure light of the sun. But you add all of those colors together in the purity of light, and you get absolute whiteness.

I don't have time to develop it here this morning, but I do have to tell you. As far as I'm concerned, the most profound chapter in English literature or in American literature ever written by a human pen without divine inspiration is found in Melville's Moby Dick in the chapter entitled The Whiteness of the Whale. There was a reason why that whale was white in the literary creativity of Melville. And if you want to catch a glimpse into the significance of whiteness in theology and in biblical concept, I really urge you to go home.

You don't have to read the whole book. Just go get that chapter and read The Whiteness of the Whale, for Jesus manifests His deity in a purity of whiteness that contains no spot, no wrinkle, no blemish, the overwhelming manifestation of His deity. And then we read that Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Can you imagine the disciples are watching this display of light, this breakthrough of glory, and all of a sudden appears before them Elijah and Moses? And they're watching Jesus in a conversation. He's huddled together with Moses and Elijah.

What are they talking about? Luke tells us what they're talking about, about what is waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus didn't have to say to Elijah, get behind me, Satan. Jesus didn't have to say to Moses, get behind me, Satan, because both Elijah, who represents the prophets, and Moses, who represents the law, clearly understood the vocation of the Messiah.

They knew Jesus had to die, and they knew why Jesus had to die, and they come now for the second person of the Trinity with their comfort, with their encouragement, reminding Him of His destiny that they had predicted centuries before. Elijah, who had been carried up to heaven in a chariot not to return yet into Palestine, now sets foot in the Holy Land. Moses, who was denied entrance into the Promised Land, waited for centuries, and now he comes not in a venture that is horizontal where he crosses over the border.

It's vertical. He comes from heaven, and his feet touch the Promised Land finally as he is there to speak to the Savior. And then what happens? Peter spoke now, hey, Rabbi, this is fantastic. Boy, is it good for us to be here.

I love it with this mountaintop experience. I'm not even going to think about Jerusalem. Let's camp out here. Let's build a tabernacle, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.

I don't need one for me. I'm happy to lay my head on a rock and just bask in this glory forever. It would be good for us to stay. He didn't know what to say, Mark tells us, for they were greatly afraid. If you think they were afraid now, then we read in verse 7 that a cloud came and overshadowed them. Hear the language, again the cloud of the presence of God, the cloud of the weightiness of God comes and creates a shroud around the disciples and Jesus, and Moses and Elijah covers them so that they can't see past the rim of this cloud, and it overshadowed them. When do you hear that word in Scripture?

I can think of two times that you hear that concept in a very important setting. We go back to the origin of the earth, where the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and then the Spirit of God hovered or brooded over the waters, and then God said, Let there be light, and the lights come on. That word there was overshadowing the abyss. And then when the angel Gabriel comes to the maiden and appears to her and said, Blessed are you, and says to Mary that she will bear a son whose name will be Immanuel, and she says, How can that be?

For I know not a man. And the angel said, The Spirit of the Lord will overshadow you so that that which is born unto you will be the child of the Most High God. Now that power of God comes with the cloud as the cloud settles on the mountain and overshadows these people who are hidden in the midst of the cloud. And now they hear a voice. The voice thunders from heaven. This is My beloved Son. Three times God has heard to speak audibly in the New Testament, and every time is to acknowledge His only begotten Son. This is My beloved Son. And now listen to what He says.

Hear Him. You know, if God were to speak aloud this morning from the heavens, you know what He'd say? He'd say to us, Listen to My Son in whom I am well pleased. And we have the words of Jesus revealed and preserved for us on the pages of Scripture. Listening to the Son of God requires us to study God's Word, to really immerse ourselves in it. We're glad you've joined us for Renewing Your Mind on this Sunday. Each week we're making our way verse by verse through the Gospel of Mark, and we would like to send you Dr. Sproul's commentary on this gospel.

It's a hardbound volume with more than 400 pages, all with R.C. 's signature easy-to-understand commentary. You can go online to request it with your gift of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. Our web address is renewingyourmind.org. You can listen to Renewing Your Mind and many other Ligonier resources on our free mobile app. We're producing several new exciting podcasts, plus you'll find helpful articles and video clips.

Just look for Ligonier in your app store. Next Sunday we will continue our study from the Gospel of Mark. We'll learn about Jesus' command over demonic spirits as He heals a possessed boy. I hope you'll make plans to join us for Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-15 14:30:19 / 2024-01-15 14:37:28 / 7

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