We have seen his glory…
At the heart of Mark’s gospel is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But there is another key event which is closely related in which the eternal glory of the Son of God was unveiled before the eyes of three of the disciples. This event is typically referred to as the transfiguration.
The events described at the end of chapter 8 (vv. 27-38) and the beginning of chapter 9 (vv. 1-10) are the pivot point of Mark’s Gospel. It is at this point where Peter made his famous confession of faith: “You are the Christ” (vs. 29). Jesus followed that by declaring the necessity of his death and the cost to all those who will follow him: “If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me“ (vs. 34).
With those two passages the whole gospel of Mark is redirected. It has, as it were, gone over the watershed of its development, and from this moment on the narrative drives towards Golgotha and resurrection. Only then did Jesus, for a moment, reveal to Peter, James, and John his true nature as God in the flesh. “He was transfigured before them” (vs. 2). His face and clothing shone with an unearthly glory, the glory he had with his Father before creation, and “his clothes became intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them” (9:3).
There is nothing like the transfiguration anywhere else in the Bible. In that brief moment of revelation the divine glory and authority of Jesus was for the first time beheld by human eyes. Don’t misunderstand. Jesus divinity is revealed in the gospel accounts. He worked miracles. He forgave sin. He accepted worship. But only in the transfiguration was the veil pulled away so that Jesus is distinguished from any man who ever lived. This man is God and the proof of it is that divine glory shines from him, not as a reflection – as it did on the face of Moses from time to time when he came away from the presence of God – but as emanating from him. Glory and majesty are his, however much hidden during the days of his suffering for our sin. At the transfiguration Jesus was distinguished from anyone who ever lived, even from the greatest of men, Moses and Elijah.
What an encouragement this moment must have been to Jesus who had humbled himself by taking on a human nature (Philippians 2:5ff). His Father, with whom he shared the same essence, the same authority, and the same glory, now spoke in affirmation of Jesus in his human nature: “This is my beloved Son” (9:7). This is also meant to encourage all those who follow Jesus in a pain-filled world; a world where it is costly to be a disciple. The transfiguration is a reminder to us that we do not follow a guru or a good teacher. We follow the Lord of Heaven and Earth and our future is an eternal one; one that will be lived in the light of his everlasting glory.