Mark 9:1-13 Some Will Not Die Before They See The Kingdom of Heaven
Mark 9:1-13 NLTse Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” (2) Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, (3) and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. (4) Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (5) Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials–one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (6) He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. (7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (8) Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. (9) As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” (11) Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (12) Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? (13) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
Before we can understand chapter 9, we have to look back to see how it relates to chapter 8 where Jesus repeated a lesson the disciples failed to learn the first time Jesus fed a large group. To illustrate His point, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NLTse). Observing the blank looks on their faces, Jesus asked, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NLTse). For some reason the disciples were having a difficult time understanding the lessons Jesus was teaching, information they needed to carry on the ministry once Jesus was gone. To show the disciples how much they were missing, Jesus healed a blind man. Sooner or later the disciples were bound to make the connection.
Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31 NLTse). Jesus tried to explain the prophecies concerning His ministry in this world, but the disciples could not understand. They had a difficult time putting away concepts taught by the religious leaders. Jesus knew it was time for a change. If He was going to reach His disciples, He had to explain everything in a whole new light. Jesus told them. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38 NLTse). Jesus knew it was time for a new beginning. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLTse).
The lesson Jesus was teaching continued. Jesus was not about to give up. It was time to introduce a new phase, another chapter of their education. Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” To draw attention to the importance of the next lesson, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.
By taking only three disciples, Jesus drew attention to the fact they had to learn how to put away distractions, one of the lessons they should have learned from the parable of the sower and seeds. Jesus needed their undivided attention. He wanted their minds to concentrate on every detail with the understanding they would be teaching the other disciples. The responsibility would help them to remember every detail.
Jesus did not waste any time. Instantly He began to transform. His clothing turned to a brilliant white, a reminder of the parable about the light and how it represented understanding. The disciples noticed the light surrounded Jesus as if it was a part of Him, or radiated from Him. It was a light like no other they had ever seen.
Once Jesus knew He had their attention, the theme was introduced. The disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter continued in his old ways, talking when He should be listening. He suggested they should build a tabernacle for each of them as a memorial. He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. What were they going to build a tabernacle with? There were only three of them. How did Peter, the fisherman plan on accomplishing his idea? It seemed Peter missed the point.
Jesus wanted them to see how Moses and Elijah left the glory of Heaven to comfort Him. There was one point for the disciples to consider, the relationship Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. Jesus spoke with Moses, giving him the ten commandments and the pattern for the Tabernacle. Jesus was with Moses every step through the wilderness, encouraging and testing him. Moses developed a strong relationship with Jesus, praying often, listening, and following instructions to the letter in all but one instance. That one mistake cost Moses the right to enter the promised land until this moment. On this day the disciples saw Moses standing in the promised land with Jesus. He had to wait until now, to show the disciples how to encourage Jesus.
Elijah had his own journey through life to Heaven. He was easily distressed. Jesus was always there to encourage him. Jesus told Elijah about 8000 faithful followers still serving Him. Elijah went from total faith to a complete lack of memory, much like the disciples were experiencing. Elijah’s life was a lesson for the disciples, who also swayed from side to side with their faith. Jesus’ encouragement remained consistent through all of Elijah’s trials. Now it was time for Elijah to encourage Jesus.
This was one of the major lessons Jesus was trying to teach on the mountain. He needed comfort from His friends. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. Like all of us, there is a part of Jesus longing for companionship, a friend, support, an intimate relationship of love, dedication, and mutual support. Jesus already referred to His followers as His brothers and sisters. This is why Jesus left Andrew behind, so Peter would feel the loss, see and understand the lesson in a much deeper and personal manner. Peter could not wait to share every detail with his brother.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” God the Father did not want them to miss the lesson. He was trusting His Son’s feelings and emotions in the hands of the disciples. God wanted them to be as close to Jesus as He and the Holy Spirit were to Christ. God’s heart poured out in ways they could not imagine. He wanted the disciples to feel the same love He felt for His Son. If only they would accept the gift.
In an instant Moses and Elijah were gone, but the image of the meeting was burned in their memories. On the way down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Even though Jesus explained His death to them, they had no idea what He meant by, “rising from the dead.” Jesus was glad to see them discussing it among themselves. They were beginning to form the bond Jesus had been praying for. That was another reason Jesus left Andrew behind. Jesus did not want them to tell the others, He wanted them to review the scene over and over in their minds, going over each detail to help develop their memories so they could see one lesson after another formulate in their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the three disciples to learn to wait for the entire lesson to be revealed before teaching the details. This was the first in a long series of lessons about relationships.
It was already beginning to work. A connection was forming between James, John, Peter, and the Holy Spirit. Questions were forming in their minds, so they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
Jesus introduced another important facet in their education process, the scriptures. Without them, they would be lost. Their question showed how they still relied on concepts they had been taught as children. They had to learn to put those concepts behind them and look at the written Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:12-13 NLTse). Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NLTse). This was part of the lesson. The disciples saw how much John’s death effected Jesus. They wondered why Jesus did not visit John in prison. Maybe it was because it was not time for Jesus to appear in Herod’s court. With all the crowds following Jesus, it would have been impossible for Jesus to visit John unnoticed. Not only the crowds, but the Pharisees keeping a constant watch over Jesus. The disciples thought about how lonely John must have been. Suddenly they began to think of how Jesus felt. Was it possible for Him to feel lonely with all the people following Him day in and out? After teaching and healing all day did Jesus need more than what people were offering in return? What could they do to make Jesus feel appreciated?
What did the three disciples learn from this experience? How do we apply it to your walk with Jesus today? Jesus began a new lesson in chapter 9. Jesus is beginning a series of lessons on relationships. He introduced this lesson by showing three disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and God. What do you get out of the lesson when you envision Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on a mountain? What does the mountain represent? What does Moses and Elijah represent? When you envision the scene, what do you get out of seeing Jesus meeting with Moses, Elijah, and God? What does this teach you about relationships?