9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. 11And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 12Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
Mark 9:9-13 records a conversation between Jesus and three of His disciples, Peter, James and John. This event takes place immediately after the transfiguration of Jesus Christ on a mountain near Caesarea Philippi. In this passage, Jesus orders the disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration they had just witnessed until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. If Jesus was proclaimed Christ among the Jews before the cross and resurrection, the Jews might have tried to make Him king. Although Jesus had been teaching the disciples that He must suffer and die (e.g. Mark 8:31-38) these three disciples continued to question what Jesus meant when He spoke of “rising from the dead”. The true purpose of the Messiah was unclear to them. The three then asked Jesus about the prophecy of Elijah’s return prior to the coming of the Messiah. Jesus answered them by telling the disciples that the prophecies of Elijah’s second coming had been fulfilled. Most believe that John the Baptist fulfilled these prophecies.
In the previous passage we read about Jesus preparing His followers by informing them about His upcoming death (Mark 8:31-38). We read about the revelation of God’s Son to Peter, James and John in the transfiguration (Mark 9:1-8). The disciples witnessed Jesus transformed and speaking with Elijah and Moses. They saw the visible presence of God surrounding the event in the form of a cloud and God the Father spoke to the disciples audibly as He commanded them, “This is my Son, whom I love, Listen to Him!” This was a revelation that the prophets (Elijah) and the law (Moses) are fulfilled in the Son of Man (Jesus) and that the Messiah had come (Zech 14:16; Malachi 4). Many believe this to be the fulfillment of Mark 9:1. Yet despite this glorious event we read that the disciples struggled to grasp the reality of what was to come (Mark 9:10). In the passages following Mark 9:9-13 we read of the disciples struggling to cast out a demon from a man’s son due to a lack of faith.
I believe the central message of these passages to the disciples, the Greeks and to us today is as follows:
· Jesus Christ truly is the Messiah, the Son of God. This is evident in His fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies, wisdom, miraculous signs and ability to predict His death, burial and resurrection.
· Our God has and will reveal Himself to His people (e.g. Mark 8:31-38)
· Our God has and will prepare His people (e.g. Mark 8:31-38)
· Our God has and will accomplish His purpose
Each of these requires faith. At times we struggle with our faith but we can rest assure that our God is great. Through our faith in His word we can know that He is in control and that we are redeemed. Listen to Him