(Mk 9: 1-13)
You were made for a purpose. You were made to live a life beyond success, to live life significantly. The great Danish philosopher Sören Kierkegaard wrote this in his journal: “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wants me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.” What a powerful thought!
In a similar vein are the words of a very successful business man in England. In a talk he gave at a conference near Oxford university he said this. “To be honest, one of my motives for making so much money was simple – to have the money to hire people to do what I don’t like doing. But there’s one thing I’ve never been able to hire anyone to do for me: find my own sense of purpose and fulfilment. I’d give anything to discover that.” (Entrepreneurs of Life, p. 23).
If the final aim of life is beyond life, then to find that aim is your greatest responsibility. You do not need more money, more time, more deals to close, more friends. What you need is a purpose to live for that is so strong that even death cannot take it from you.
Today we will look at what will be more than an idea for which you can live and die. We will look at the irresistible attraction of the One for whom who you can live and die.
(Read the text)
1. Jesus manifests his majesty
Remember where we have come from. Jesus knew that his disciples only had a partial understanding of who he was. Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the absolute Ruler of a new world order. Jesus responded with increased clarification, with the divine imperative: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (8:31).
They didn’t get it. They were horrified by the thought that Jesus predicted his destruction. So, Jesus gives them a new view of who he is. He asks three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John to go on a hike with him. He leads them to a “high mountain”. Stop here. Every time in your Bible reading when you come to a reference of a mountain you need to underline that word.
Momentous things in the Bible happened on mountains. Abraham was to offer his son Isaac on Mt Moriah. Moses went up to Mt Sinai met with God and received the ten commandments. Elijah battled the priests of Baal on Mt Horeb. Jesus went up to a mountain, prayed the entire night and when he came down, he chose the twelve apostles. He gave us the sermon on the mount. After his resurrection he gathered his disciples on a mountain and gave them the great commission (Matt 28:16-20). When Jesus comes back for a second time, the Bible tells us he will descend onto a mountain (Rev 1:7). And now, as they are headed to Jerusalem Jesus takes three of them and leads them up a high mountain. Folks, something very, very important is about to happen. And it does.
As Peter, James and John follow Jesus he is as he always was, like them in appearance. They were sweating, he was sweating. They needed to rest, he needed to rest. They were thirsty, he was thirsty. Then they get to the top of the mountain and everything changes.
“He was transfigured before them. His cloths became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”
Jesus was transformed. The word for transformed here is the word from we derive the word metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly, Jesus’ appearance was dramatically changed. Not who he was, was different, but the way he appeared was stunning.
Jesus is majestic in his glory. What is he doing? He is revealing his kingship to his disciples. He is not teaching who he is, he is showing who he is. He wanted them to experience his true standing: he is royalty. Jesus is ruler of all rulers. He is the authority above all authorities. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
His clothes almost blind the disciples in their brilliance. Then two of the central figures of the Old Testament and of the Jewish nation, appear with them on the mountain. Moses wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Elijah was a prophet. Together they symbolized the entire Old Testament. They are talking to Jesus.
Notice the similarities between Moses and Elijah. Both had a vision of the glory of God on a mountain (Moses on Mt Sinai – Ex 24:15; Elijah on Mt Horeb – 1 Kings 19:8). Each of them left no known grave. The Law of Moses and the coming of Elijah are mentioned together in the last verses of the Old Testament (Mal 4:4-6).
Why this spectacular display of glory? It was for them – for the disciples. And if you are a follower of Jesus, it is for you. This is not a reality show. It is reality. This is who Jesus is right now, today, every moment of every moment. He is not lowly, he is majestic. He is not a slave, he is the King. He is not limited, he is unlimited in his power, wisdom, and presence.
2. The Father manifests Jesus’ majesty
You think cloud technology is new? It isn’t “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them and a voice came from the cloud: This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (9:7)
The cloud. What is the cloud? The cloud represents God’s presence. It is the abode of God’s glory (the manifestation of who He is) from which He speaks (Ex 16:10). “While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.” So the cloud is the manifest presence of the glory of God.
In the cloud the Father speaks. He speaks to the disciples. He speaks to us. What does He say? He says three things.
- “This is my Son” (Ontology)
When we hear a parent say, “this is my son”, we think biology. Biology says this boy has come from me. But the Father does not mean biology, He means ontology. Ontology is the study of essence or being. This Jesus, this Son of God, has the same essence as the Father. He and the Father are one – share the same divine essence.
2. “Whom I love” (Psychology)
The Father repeats what he said at Jesus’ baptism: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). This is psychology. Psychology is the study of personhood, the psyche, the self. The Father is booming forth His love for Jesus.
Only in a trinity can you say God is love. To love is to have someone outside of oneself to love. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Triune God – have love one another forever.
3. “Listen to Him” (Teleology)
Then the Father gives a command: Listen to Him! The Father does not say, listen to Moses and Elijah. No, He says, “Listen to Jesus!” This is teleology. What is teleology? Teleology is the study of purpose or design. It is what Kierkegaard meant when he said, “I need something to live and to die for.” The Father is saying, “My Son Jesus, is the purpose, the design, for which I made you. He is the meaning of life, because he is God and as God he exists beyond this world.
“Listen to Him” means to do what he says. For us this has at least three implications:
a. Listen to Him – Don’t listen to your heart!
This may come as a shock to you . . . If you want a life of depression and loneliness, follow your heart. Your heart, or your emotions, will always lead you astray. Why? Because the Bible teaches that the heart is warped. It is not whole, it is damaged. If you follow your emotions, your emotions will kidnap you and take you to dark places that will lead to despair. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
b. Listen to Him – Don’t stop with knowledge of God, apply what you know
To a Semite like Jesus, hearing or listening always implied doing. Nike’s slogan “Just do it!” could have come from a Jew. As Jesus’ half brother James wrote, “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). He further states if you hear without doing the word, you deceive yourself. You think you have understood, but you have not. Understanding can only come with obedience.
You may be a sceptic. You haven’t made up your mind about the veracity of Christianity or of Jesus. Years ago a Norwegian atheist by the name of Ole Hallesby decided to take Jesus seriously. He read in John 7:17 these words of Jesus, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own”. Hallesby decided he would put this to the test. He started to try to live out the teaching of Jesus. In so doing he was overcome by the power and the beauty of the life Jesus offered. He became a follower of Jesus. Doing what Jesus said, convinced him of who Jesus was.
c. Listen to Him – Jesus is not a concept to which we assent but a personal presence manifest in our lives
You can only listen to someone who is alive. Jesus is alive. He wants you to experience his presence in your life daily. Actually, He wants to live His life in and through your life! He wants to free you from being caught in a world that is immanent – only what you can experience with your senses and wants you to experience his transcendence! But to live life as God merely being a concept and not being truly with you, is to be an atheist.
Look, if God is a concept to you, you need to get over that. He is a person, not a concept!
3. Living with the Majestic Jesus every day
If this is so – Jesus was transfigured to show the disciple and us that He is THE KING, then how do we live in transcendent relationship with Him daily?
1. Surrender to him daily
Being in the presence of a king does things to people. You do not approach a monarch like you would someone at the office. When you come before a king, you instinctively bow before him. In bowing you declare that he is your authority in life and that you want to do his bidding.
Living with the Majestic Jesus as our present king, means surrendering to Him daily. It means praying this: “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.”
2. Ask Him what He wants to do in you and through you today
After you have surrendered to King Jesus, ask Him for His agenda for you today. His agenda will be two-fold. Changes that He wants to make in you, and changes that He wants to carry out through you. Write these down. Review them at the end of the day. Thank Him for His work in you and through you.
3. Strive to know Him intimately
Intimacy is the glue of satisfaction in any relationship, not sexual intimacy but soul intimacy. Jesus wants you to know him intimately. How can you know Jesus and not just know more about Jesus?
Answer: Read the New Testament. As you read dialogue with him. Have a conversation. Ask Jesus, “What does this passage of Scripture tell me about who you are – your attributes, your promises, your warnings? What is it in this passage of Scripture that you give me as my daily bread today, something that I can chew on all day?”
Why are you here? What is your purpose in living? What is your design? What is the meaning of life that will survive this life?
It’s not a task. It’s not a concept. It’s a person! The meaning of life is living in intimate relationship with the One that has made you, loves you, died for you, lives for you. Who is this person? Well, he is the Majestic King Jesus. This King is now present unto you in all his glory. Listen to Him!
Prayer (to use daily)
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to you I freely give
(of my mind, attention, strength, purpose, affections)
I will ever love and trust you (and show it by my obedience to you),
In your presence daily live.