The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry: Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #13
Clarity We must be clear on a thing if we are to do it well. That is why schooling is so important. A teacher must be a clear communicator of the subject if the student is to learn. Clarity is also vital to sports. We must be clear on the rules of the game and train to be a team player. A good coach clearly communicates these things to the team so that they can be victorious. Clarity is also vital to the arts. Music without clear notes is noise. Art without the clarity of color, line and shape communicates nothing. Theater without clarity in the craft of acting isn’t worth seeing, speech without clarity is annoying! Clarity is important to every aspect of living. When there is no clarity there is no vision and without vision people are lost! Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18 (NAS)
The Bible (God’s law) is written for clarity in all things including sexuality, gender roles, parenting, ethics, religion and worship. According to God (who created us) we will be blessed (happy) only by keeping (following) his word. Without it we are lost!
Today’s lesson gives CLARITY on Jesus and our proper (Romans 12:1) response to Him.
Power & Worship Mark 9:1-8, 2 Peter 1:16-18, John 14:6-11
We begin with a comment by Jesus to his disciples: “some standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come in power” (Mark 9:1, Matthew 16:28, Luke 9:27). Many liberal theologians try to make Jesus out to be a false prophet by teaching that he was referring to his second coming here; however, the “some” that Jesus referred to was Peter, James and John who “about eight days after Jesus said this” saw a glimpse of heaven come down in power before their very eyes. Peter himself testified about this experience in 2 Peter 1:16-18.
Let us be clear on the person of Jesus: He is a historical figure documented by both biblical and extra-biblical ancient writings, there is absolutely no proof that he ever made a false statement or prophecy, there is absolutely no credibility to conspiracy theories written about him fornicating with Mary Magdalene, being gay, not resurrecting, or being anyone or anything inconsistent with what the Biblical accounts say about him. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22
The “honor and glory” that Peter recalled was that (‘Shekinah’), glory that was the radiant, shining presence of God himself . It had appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:16), and had later filled the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:11). When Jesus was born, that same glory appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem (Luke 2:9-20). On that “high mountain” it was then upon Jesus. Moses appeared (a symbol of God’s law) and Elijah (a symbol of God’s prophetic word) but only Jesus was worthy of worship as God clearly illustrated. The law and the prophets have always pointed to Him. It is our proper response to worship him alone! We, like the disciple Phillip, are called to believe on the evidence of his works. He is God.
Side Note: The mountain where the ‘transfiguration’ occurred was probably Mount Hermon, a short distance to the north of Caesarea Philippi – in the area where Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Who do you say I am? (Mark 8:27) Mount Hermon (meaning ‘sanctuary’) is the highest mountain in Palestine (at 9233 ft / 2815m above sea level) and has a permanent white snowfield that provides meltwater during the dry spring and summer that feeds the River Jordan where John baptized. It was a sacred place to the early Canaanites and one of the ‘high places’ of pagan worship during Old Testament times. God likely chose this historical place of false worship to show the disciples that only Jesus is truly worthy of worship. Not even the greatest leaders of their religion, Moses and Elijah, deserved such homage.
Some Christians believe that the ‘transfiguration’ took place on Mount Tabor to the east of Nazareth. On that mountain there is the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration which stands on the site of a 4th century Byzantine basilica. This location is unlikely, however, as Mount Tabor was the site of a Roman military camp at the time of Jesus.
Unbelief Mark 9:9-29, Hebrews 10:38-11:1, Matthew 17:10-13
After it had been made crystal clear to Peter, James and John who alone should be worshiped, Jesus had clearly stated that he would die and resurrect ( Mark 8:31-32) and yet they discussed his resurrection among themselves as though it were a metaphor. Sometimes when we don’t want to accept truth we can come up with our own brand of reasoning which is actually a lie and unbelief. We must accept God’s clear truth rather we like it or not and ask him for strength. This is called living by faith, “the assurance of things hoped for”.
Having just seen Elijah they asked Jesus why the teachers of the law said that Elijah must come before the Messiah. The teachers were right…the prophet Malachi had said this (Malachi 4:5-6) but Jesus had once clearly stated that John the Baptist was that Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14) although not literally the same prophet as John once confirmed (John 1:21-23). Jesus clarified this once again for the disciples (see Matthew 17:11-13) and they understood; however, the teachers of the law and even the Jews today do not because they accept Malachi’s prophecy but reject Jesus’ clarification. If we refuse the teaching of the one who has clearly shown himself to be truth then we live in unbelief. Jesus clearly stated that Elijah had already come, but, tragically, he was not recognized and had been killed. Jesus then predicted the same would happen to him. (Matthew 17:10-13). Jesus’ actions have clarified who he is, as he said unto Phillip he says to all “believe on the works themselves!”