Jesus And The Mountain (Mark 9)

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The last month or so has been a lot of rain or cloud cover. We have had very few days of sunshine. And I don’t know about you, but I enjoy seeing sunshine. But looking back over this past month I am still thankful for the clouds. The clouds teach us about God. Even when the clouds are blocking us from seeing the sun, we know the sun is present in the daylight. Likewise, there are instances in our life when we cannot see or understand God, but we know He is present.

In the Bible, most anytime clouds are referenced it speaks about the presence of God.

  • Gen 9:13-16 God sets the rainbow in the clouds to remember His covenant to rescue the world from sin.
  • Ex 13:21; 40:36-38 God guided the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day.
  • Ex 14:24 God confused the Egyptians with a cloud so the Israelites could be free slavery.
  • Ex 16:10; 19:16; 24:15-18; 33:9-10; 1Ki 8:11 God’s glory and presence is revealed through thick clouds.
  • Job 38:37; Ps 135:7; 147:8 God covers the earth perfectly with clouds.
  • Nah 1:3 God gives clouds to remind us they are “the dust of His feet” at work in the world.
  • Mk 9:7 God’s glory through His Son is revealed in clouds.
  • Acts 1:9 Jesus ascended to the Father with clouds.
  • Mk 14:62; 1Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7 Jesus will return coming in the clouds.
  • Heb 12:1 God surrounds His church with a cloud of witnesses.

Today in Mark 9 we will hear the voice of God speak through the clouds. I pray that whatever clouds are covering your circumstances that you will be able to see the presence of God and be encouraged through His word today.

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EXAMINE       Mark 9:1-13               Jesus and The Mountain

The context of this passage is the recent words of Jesus shared with the disciples that He was going to be killed and three days later be resurrected (Mark 8:31). Further, Jesus says His followers must do the same in following Jesus as cross-bearing servants (Mark 8:34-38). Six days after this exchange Jesus takes three of the disciples: Peter, James, and John to a high mountain; it was a day’s journey hiking up Mt. Hermon.

Jesus’s inner circle of these three disciples was not uncommon (Mk 5:37; 13:3; 14:33). His ministry invested not just with teaching and healing, but also relational experiences of prayer, and here a transfiguration.

Mark’s reflective reference of six days and being on a mountain is to Moses encountering God’s glory on Mt. Sinai for the same days duration (Ex 24:16).

  • Jesus’s transformation became radiant [στίλβω: gleam like stars, or flashing like polished metal], intensely white, as no one [γναφεύς: cloth dresser] on earth could bleach them (Mk 9:3). The implication is Jesus revealing Himself as the glorious Ancient of Days and prophesied Son of Man.
    • Psalm 104:1-3 “O Lord my God… You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot”
    • Daniel 7:9-13 “As I looked, ‘thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow, the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated and the books were opened.”
    • Revelation 1:13-17 “and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”
    • Revelation 21:23-24 “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”

mk 9 transfiguration

Jesus’s transformation/transfiguration [μεταμορφόω] implies a radical change. The word occurs 4x in the Bible: Mark 9:2/Matthew 17:2 and also

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

2Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

 

The latter two verses speak about the change that takes place in our spiritual growth experience. The Spirit of Jesus inside us transforms our:

  • Many Christians today are griping when they should be growing and glowing.
  • Spiritual growth is not static. We cannot walk with Jesus and live unchanged.
    • Heart: ability to have compassion beyond oneself
    • Soul: empowerment for growth in character
    • Mind: equipping convictions that shape life
    • Body: purpose and priority of daily life for God; walk, work, witness, worship

During Jesus’s transfiguration, two other persons appeared: Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter’s response was somewhat self-centered: “it is good that we are here.” Further, Peter never wants to leave, “let us make three tents… for he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” And the voice of God speaks again, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him” (Mark 9:7; cf 1:11). After the radiance departs, Jesus charges the disciples to not speak of this experience until after His resurrection.

On some level, the presence of Moses stands for the law and Elijah for the prophets (cf. Luke 24:27; Acts 10:43). The OT prophesied an Elijah-like figure who will instill repentance among people to be reconciled before the Lord. This figure was John the Baptizer preparing the way for Jesus (cf. Malachi 4:4-6).

  • Like Peter, we can turn Jesus into our servant more than our Savior. Peter sought to speak instructions rather than be still and silent. Further, Peter inadvertently placed Elijah and Moses comparative to Jesus. Amidst Jesus’s transfiguration, Peter is more concerned about his experience than God’s revelation. Peter was wrapped up in the moment that he never wanted to leave the mountain.
    • Disciples of Jesus must learn when and how to rest, and then when and how to respond. Jesus intentionally took these 3 disciples to retreat and reveal His glory. His aim was for them was grace with response of adoration not accomplishments; learn to worship God more than work for Him.
      • If you are in a moment not knowing what to say, then silence is often better than speaking.
  • Disciples of Jesus cannot stay on the mountain. Yet, we must allow mountain top experiences with God to fuel our mission and ministry with people. Mountains are made for motivation, but valleys are made for living. We cannot freeze frame past experiences with the glory of God. We must continue walking with God for future and fresh experiences with God.
    • I remember I met God when… ___ was pastor, when we sang ___ songs, at youth camp we worshiped this way…, or with this church we did ___, etc. By all means, value these experiences but don’t let past milestones with God hinder a vision for future ministry for others to know God with their own encounters.

 

  • Disciples of Jesus must speak realistically of the faith journey. Following Jesus isn’t always glorious, in fact there are many times we grow from our groans. But, the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope to persevere, knowing glory awaits.
    • For Peter, this experience has full impact, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the world of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2Pet 1:16-19).

APPLY/THINK

  • Learn to walk by faith not by figuring everything out.
    • The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus had to suffer and die (Mark 8:32).
    • Peter, James, and John didn’t grasp the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:6).
    • Sometimes our circumstances will have clarity and other times they are too complex to understand God’s sovereign purposes on this side of heaven. So, when God doesn’t make sense and life makes you want to give up, those are the times for you to latch on to the love of God.
      • God is too wise to make mistakes and too loving to be unkind.
      • “cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” 1Peter 5:7
      • Ps 42:8 “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me”

 

  • Learn to retreat with God and spend time listening than just talking to God.
    • If you had someone who treated you how you treat God, how would you describe that relationship? Too often we spend time speeding through personal devotions and public worship, rushing to get to the next event or experience. But God the Father speaks to the disciples TWICE – “This is my Son, listen to Him.” In other words, we must prioritize our relationship with Jesus rather than just program our times with God. If we enter worship loosely or late and then leave worship early or eagerly, then it is likely we don’t really value our relationship with God.
    • How:
      • Divert Daily. Pray, read, and meditate on the word. We become what we behold.
        • “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against God” Ps 119:11
        • “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free” Ps 119:32
        • “Your decrees are the theme of my song” Ps 119:54
          • – – – my girls at home singing the songs of worship / day and night…
        • “Oh, how I love your law. I meditate on it all day long” Ps 119:97

 

  • Worship Weekly. Too often we prize individualism and isolate ourselves and family away from those God has intersected into our lives to provide His grace and refreshment. I hear frequently, “I don’t have many friends” or “I wish I knew people better” but persons’ church attendance is inconsistent at best and perhaps incompatible with their supposed faith. Worship includes growing in study, gathering for singing and preaching, and going in ministry and mission. Of those 3, which needs attention?

Billy Graham[1]: “When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and the engagements we kept. Sometimes we flitted from one part of the country to another, even from one continent to another, in the course of only a few days. Were all those engagements necessary? Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it. Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever. Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not.

I would also spend more time in spiritual nurture, seeking to grow closer to God so I could become more like Christ. I would spend more time in prayer, not just for myself but for others. I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life. It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages.

And I would give more attention to fellowship with other Christians, who could teach me and encourage me (and even rebuke me when necessary).”

 

  • Respite Regularly. Too often our motto is work until we crash. But is that fair to your present and future quality of life, not to mention your family and friends? There are seasons we are called to undoubtedly work hard, but there are also times to respite. We must also be careful to not seek respite without intentionality so that our rest is recharging and we don’t become idle.
    • Ask Spouse/Children… but humbly, I ask for you to ask your pastor too.

 

  • Learn to camp in the present more than the past.

There is great appeal to the “mountain top” experience. It is human nature to search for deep satisfaction, and, for the Christian, nothing is quite so satisfying as those moments of spiritual intimacy that we often refer to as the “mountain top” experiences. We live, searching for satisfaction, and even in the context of the Christian life we chase one exciting, exhilarating moment after another. As followers of Christ we often live for those great moments of spiritual intimacy, and it makes all the sense in the world that God would want us to live there. Yet, it is almost always true that in the midst of these “mountain top” experiences that God calls us to walk off the mountain, following Jesus into the valley, occasionally even the valley of the shadow of death.

Jesus is with you… and us… and His aim for us is not to be identified by the past – good or bad – but to influence the present.

 

The next circumstances of Jesus and the disciples encounters a family who needs God’s grace and healing (Mark 9:14-29). Jesus calls the disciples to be people of prayer not the past.

 

  • Meet Jesus – on the mountain or the valley.
  • This is My beloved Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased. / Are you in the Son, loved by the Father???
  • Pray each one, reach one 4/1 (O’clock AM or PM).

 

 

 

 

[1] Billy Graham, Just As I Am,

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