PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
READ: Mark 9:1-13
“Was Jesus real?”
“Did Jesus really die on a cross?”
“Wasn’t Jesus just a good teacher with a large following?”
While Jesus was alive, those who heard Him preach asked similar questions and wondered who He was (John 6:42). The Jewish people, with whom Jesus was spending time, were not sure whether He was a second coming of Elijah, of John the Baptist, or of one of the other prophets (Mark 8:28). But Mark records a miraculous event that causes us to ask, “Was Jesus really God?”
In this passage, Jesus ascends a mountain with His closest circle of disciples—James, John, and Peter—just after telling a crowd about the cost of following Him, and that there would be some who would “see the kingdom of God come in power” before they died. And in a moment, Jesus was transformed, with His clothes radiating, alongside Elijah and Moses. God the Father appeared in the form of a cloud, and declared that Jesus was His Son. And just as soon as it all happened, Jesus looked normal again, and commanded the three disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen.
Such a miraculous and stunning event would cause you or me to be “terrified” (Mark 9:6). The man they had just climbed a mountain with had transformed before their eyes so that they could see His true essence: God incarnate. The glorified, brilliant being before them was Jesus’ identity—the magnified Son of God.
This cosmic, transcendent King was the same Jesus who had told the disciples, just days earlier, that following Him would be costly. But by revealing His cloaked identity as God the Son, Jesus gives assurance to the disciples, and to every believer, that they were following the “Lord … clothed with majesty and splendor” (Psalm 104:1).
And by appearing with Moses (who gave the Law to the Israelites) and Elijah (one of the great Prophets), Jesus fulfills His promises to the disciples (Mark 9:1) that the kingdom of God has come, and that a new era of relating to God was beginning. As Danny Akin writes in Exalting Jesus in Mark, “Here the law of God and the grace of God converge in the One who is God incarnate and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promised.”
After this miraculous event, why would Jesus tell the disciples to wait until they told others what they had seen? He did it for the same reason they didn’t stay on the mountain, like Peter had suggested (Mark 9:5)— Jesus had to keep marching onward towards His crucifixion and resurrection, for we cannot fully understand who Christ is apart from His atonement and victory over sin.
While this event revealed to James, John, and Peter that Jesus was indeed God incarnate, they would not fully understand the importance of His divine nature until He had risen from the grave. But when they did understand, they were able to say:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)
1. When was Jesus revealed to you as a glorious and holy God?
2. What would it mean if Jesus was not God? If Jesus was only a good teacher, how does that impact His sacrifice?
Memorize: Acts 2:36
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!"