3/11/2011

10) The Mountain (Mark 9:2-29)

Chap 1: The Dance (Trinity) (Mark 1:9-11): Do you expect others to dance around you?
Chap 2: The Gospel, The Call (Mark 1:14-20): Is your gospel good news or good advice?
Chap 3: The Healing (Mark 2:1-5): Are your sins against God or people (Ps 51:4)?
Chap 4: The Rest (Mark 2:23-3:6): Are you trying to rest in your efforts for significance?
Chap 5: The Power (Mark 4:35-41): Do you enjoy goodness and calm in a storm?
Chap 6: The Waiting (Mark 5:21-43): Do you have peace when God delays?
Chap 7: The Stain (Mark 7:1-23): Do you feel unclean, insignificant?
Chap 8: The Approach (Mark 7:24-37): Do you know you’re a dog, yet loved?
Chap 9: The Turn (Mark 8:27-9:1): Why is forgiveness so hard?

Quotes:

"Jesus is the temple and tabernacle to end all temples and tabernacles, because he is the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, the ultimate priest to point the way for all priests." (114)

"Through Jesus we don't need perfect righteousness, just repentant helplessness, to access the presence of God." (121)

Intro: When Moses saw God's glory (his "back") on Mount Sinai (Exo 33:18-23), his face shone with the reflected glory of God. Now, centuries later, on top of another mountain, there's glory again--with a difference (Mark 9:2-8). Moses had reflected the glory of God as the moon reflects the light of the sun. But Jesus produces the unsurpassable glory of God; it emanates from him. Jesus does not point to the glory of God, as every prophet has done; Jesus is the glory of God in human form (Heb 1:3).

Why Didn't The Disciples Die in God's Presence?

Something else happened on this mountain that was different: Peter, James, and John are in the presence of God and yet they do not die. On Mount Sinai, God came down as a cloud. It was called "the shekinah glory," meaning the "very presence of God," and is related to the word "dwell," or "dwelling." God told Moses, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Exo 33:20). No one can endure the presence of God's holiness and live. That's why Jesus when Jesus was transfigured, Peter was scared, and suggested building shelters (Greek word for tabernacle.). Why?

Most religions recognize that there's a wide gap of some kind between deity and humanity. This explains why many religions have temples (tabernacles) with priests and sacrifices and rituals to mediate the gap and to protect humans from the very presence of God. Peter suggested to build shelters (a tabernacle) to do likewise. But a cloud enveloped them. God (a voice from heaven) speaks of his love for his Son, just as he did when Jesus was baptized at the beginning of his ministry (Mark 1:11; 9:7). Then all was gone except Jesus (Mark 9:8), for Jesus is the gap between deity and humanity that Moses and Elijah could not bridge. In this way, Peter, James and John experienced worship.

What is Worship?

Worship is not just believing. Before ascending the mountain, they already believed in God. Peter already confessed, "You are the Christ" (NIV, 84), or "You are the Messiah" (NIV, 2010) (Mark 8:29). But now they have sensed it. The presence of God enveloped them. They had a foretaste that all of us are longing for: the very face and embrace of God.

No one can just intellectually know in their head that God loves them, and be satisfied. They must feel and experience that God loves them. Similarly, no one is satisfied by being told that the honey is sweet, unless he tastes the honey and the sweetness for himself. No one is content to know that a restaurant serves really good food until he goes and eats there. Through the transfiguration, the 3 disciples felt/experienced in a state of electrified wonder the very presence of shekinah glory. But true worship is never possible without the death of glory. Thus, as they descended the mountain, Jesus pointed to his death ... again (Mark 9:9-13); Jesus addressed his resurrection (Mark 9:9,10), and his death (Mark 9:12), yet again, not to confound them, but to prepare them to face that such transcendent glory is not possible without great cost to Jesus.

How do we make our way into God's Presence?

When they came down the mountain, they encountered a situation where the other disciples were unable to drive out an evil spirit from a boy (Mark 9:14-18). Jesus said it was because they have been trying to exorcise it without praying (Mark 9:29). The religious elite too were there and probably criticizing. Only the father acknowledges his weakness, admitting that he does not have what it takes to handle the suffering and evil that he faces.

When he pleads for his son, Jesus says, "Believe" (Mark 9:23), which means "I can do it if you can believe." He responds, "I'm trying but I'm full of doubts" (Mark 9:24). Then Jesus heals his son. This is very good news. Jesus could have said, "First, purify your heart, confess your sins, get rid of your doubts, repent of your double-mindedness. Then I'll heal your son."

The boy's father basically says, "I'm not faithful. I'm full of doubts. I can't meet my moral and spiritual challenges. But help me." That's saving faith--faith in Jesus instead of in oneself.

What Jesus had to Lose

Jesus had lived for endless ages in the glory with the Father. On the mountain Jesus was surrounded by God; on the cross he will be forsaken. On the mountain we see the life he has always led--embraced and clothed with the love and light of God--but on the cross he will be naked in the dark. Why? For us. Paul says that evil is unmasked and defeated on our behalf at the cross (Col 2:15). Only because Jesus lost glory, are we able to find glory.

Grace: Jesus accepts my flawed, imperfect faith, only because of his perfect obedience on the Cross.

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