Mar 24, 2013
Mark 8:35-9:3

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“Palm Sunday” Jesus began a direct and deliberate journey to the cross. 

The same journey Jesus has just invited all of His disciples to embark upon in the last few verses we examined last week. Our path is also a journey to the cross. 

In Mark 8:34, “Let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” 

This morning Jesus is going to teach us 2 related lessons:

First Lesson: Jesus is going to warn the disciples that the journey to the cross is not an easy one.... there is a very real enemy bent on keeping us from the cross.

Second Lesson: Though following Jesus will bring us inevitably to the cross, as we’ll see with His transfiguration, the cross is not our final destination.

[Mark 8:35-38] “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

3 Things that will keep us from the cross:

1: Selfism will keep me from the cross. 

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it....”

2 Universal Truths About Self:

1. Self loves itself and doesn’t want to die.

Jesus gave us only 2 commands: love God and love your neighbor. 

Sadly, the church and modern culture has added a third.... love yourself.

2. Since everyone gotta serve somebody - self would prefer to serve itself.

“Gotta Serve Somebody” by Bob Dylan. 

“You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed 
You’re gonna have to serve somebody 
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord 
But you’re going to have to serve somebody.”

“Serve Yourself” by John Lennon. 

“You say you found Jesus Christ! He’s the only one 
You say you found Buddha sittin in the sun 
You say you found Mohammed facin to the East 
You say you found Krishna dancin in the street 
You got to serve yourself
nobody gonna do for you 
You gotta serve yourself 
nobody gonna do for you 
Well you many believe in devils and you may be believe in laws But You got to serve yourself.”

2: Materialism will keep me from the cross.

For what if a man gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"

We often become so consumed by the temporal that we loose sight of the eternal.

In Mark 4 (Parable of the soil) Jesus warned the the “cares of this world” can “choke out the word” and we can “become unfruitful.”

Radicle Implication to what Jesus has just said: 

One human soul has more value than the entire created universe.

Why? Because the human soul (unlike the universe) lasts for all eternity.

3: Fear of Rejection will keep me from the cross.

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Q: In the end what matters more to you? 

Being rejected by an “adulterous and sinful generation?” 

Being rejected by the “Son of Man” who is “coming in glory?

Rejection is Inevitable: If Jesus was rejected, we can expect similar treatment.

1 Peter 2:4 says Jesus was “rejected by men, but chosen by God.

John 15:20, “if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” 

Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Q: Who’s opinion of you really matters? The guilty criminal in the cell next to yours, or the judge who holds your very fate in His hands?

The events of this world are all about the next.... 

Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Transitional Observation: When the Son of Man comes in the glory of His Father....” 

Glory” - Greek word meaning “a most glorious condition or an exalted state.”

Jesus is saying He’s going to come again in the “glory of His Father.

This idea of “Jesus in glory” sets the context for what’s next....

[Mark 9:1] “And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

Prophecy: Some standing there would see the “kingdom of God present with power.” 

Q: What is Jesus talking about? 

1st Key: Understanding what Jesus means by the “kingdom of God.

Kingdom” - Greek word “basileia” meaning “kingship, dominion, rule.”

Of God” - Greek word “theos” meaning “the true God.”

Jesus is not saying they would see the physical kingdom. 

Jesus will establish a future kingdom, but you will be hard-pressed to find the kingdom referred to using this phrase the “kingdom of God.”

Instead the phrase the “kingdom of God” described the divine nature of the King and the way He would rule more than it did of the actual kingdom.

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

2nd Key: Remembering the flow of the Narration.

Jesus has just said He would come in the “glory of His Father.” 

He now proclaims some would see Him in glory “presented with power.

With power” - Greek word “dynamis” - “the power provided by God for validation.” 

This was “miracle power” used for signs given to validate who Jesus was.

Acts 1:8, “You will receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

Jesus is literally saying.... “there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the God King presented in such a powerful way that it validates who He is.”

3rd Key: Recognizing the purpose behind this prophecy.

The problem with these disciples was one of “Spiritual Blindness.” 

They failed to see Jesus for who He really was as the Messiah. 

Jesus is about to remedy this problem!

Fulfillment of this previous prophecy follows next....

[Mark 9:2-3] “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. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” 

Scene of Activity

Now after six days....

Q: Does this detail in Mark contradict Luke’s account? 

Luke 9:28, “Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings....

Theory #1: After these sayings....” Each author begins their perspective timelines for this event based upon two separate occasions when Jesus taught the same message. 

Theory #2: Now after six days....” They began their ascent up the mountain on day #6, but the actual recorded event didn’t occur until the 8th day.

More Significant Reason? 

Mark is writing to slaves presenting Jesus as the “Ultimate Servant.” 

In Biblical numerology #6 was the number of man.

Luke is writing to the Greek presenting Jesus as the “Ultimate Man.” 

In Biblical numerology #8 represented new beginnings - resurrection day of man.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John...."

3 Reasons why Jesus would only take these 3 with Him:  

1. Special Relationship.

2. Most likely to get into trouble.

3. Preparation for a future role.

Peter: Apostle to the Jews and would take the Gospel to the Gentiles.

James: First Apostle to be martyred. 

John: Oldest living Apostle (wrote a Gospel, 3 letters, and Revelation).

And Jesus led them up on a high mountain apart from themselves....

Mount Hermon - 14 miles from Caesarea Philippi - 11,000 ft above sea level.

Today this is the region known as the Golan Heights.

And He was transfigured before them.

Luke’s account says the disciples were sleeping and Jesus was praying.

The disciples wake to find Jesus is this transformed state.

Note: We have no idea how long they slept before noticing the unfolding scene.

Phrase “He was transfigured” - one Greek verb “metamorphoô” meaning “to change into another form” - best English translation is “metamorphosis.” 

“Metamorphosis” is the opposite of “masquerade” meaning “to put something on the outside that was not presently on the inside - to wear a mask to hide one’s identity.”

Note: This light didn’t shine on Him - it shown out of Him. 

In the transfiguration, what had always existed on the inside of Jesus and had been shielded from view by His humanity was finally allowed to shine forth out of Him.

The Transfiguration of Jesus was important for 4 Reasons?

1. Jesus was allowing the disciples to see Him for who He really was!

In His humanity, Jesus would be known as the suffering servant, but Jesus is now making it known under the surface existed the Mighty God.

In the transfiguration 3 things occurred:

  • The “glory of His Father” was revealed. 
  • The “kingdom of God” came into view.

  • Jesus was “presented with power” validating who He really was.

Jesus had spent 30 years masquerading as a human being, but for this solitary moment what had always been on the inside came beaming forth.
2. Jesus was providing evidence He had lived a sinless life.

Peter said that, “Jesus clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” 

Clothes became shining” - Greek word “stilbô” - only used in this passage.

Exceedingly white” - literally “white beyond the ability to measure.”

Peter provides 2 more details to help the reader understand:
  • The white was a pure white “like snow.”

  • It was a supernatural white impossible for a man to replicate.

There was a brilliant light coupled with a pure white. 

Light was always an indicator of the presence of God.

White was always a sign of innocence and purity.

3. Jesus was demonstrating to the disciples that He was in total control!

4. Jesus was showing them the path to glory!

Not an Accident the Transfiguration followed 2 Lessons:

1. Jesus had told the disciples that He would “suffer many things,”  would “be rejected by the elders,” “would die,” but in 3 days would “rise again.” 

2. Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to follow Him they would have to “deny themselves and take up their cross.”

Though the way of the cross is an important path we must all transverse, Jesus was transfigured to demonstrate to His disciples that the cross should never be mistaken as our final destination. 

From this mountain top Jesus would begin a journey that would indeed include the suffering and death of a cross, but His final destination would be resurrection, life, ascension, and glory!

Though Jesus made it clear the cross was the only entranceway by which we can begin our journey, through the transfiguration Jesus was also making it abundantly clear our ultimate destiny would be: 

Glory not Defeat 
Hope not Despair 
Heaven not Hell 
Resurrection unto Life not the Death of a Cross! 

I’ve heard it aptly stated, “Cross bearers will one day be glory receivers!

Sure Jesus’ triumphal entry on Palm Sunday was followed by His crucifixion on Good Friday, but never forget the finality of this week was a Day of Resurrection!