See The Kingdom Of God
Key Verse 9:1
“And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’”
Read verse 1. “And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’” It was a promise. Jesus was talking to his disciples. He was talking to those who had stood with him in spite of all the troubles he went through from those who did not welcome Jesus nor acknowledge him as the Christ. To those who were close to him, Jesus gives them a promise and fulfills it right here and then. And what happens here, became a source of their faith and hope in all that was about to happen from then on.
When Jesus first began to preach the gospel and to heal people, the religious leaders did not know what to make of it. Later Jesus became popular and beloved by the people. But instead of listening carefully to Jesus’ teaching, they became jealous of him. And they hated him, and set out to oppose him. But the crowds grew to love Jesus and to honor him as a man from God. Some wanted to believe that he is the Christ, the Messiah they were waiting for. And so the religious leaders hated Jesus even more, until they were plotting to kill him. How did the disciples feel about all this? At first, they felt great that their teacher Jesus who was loved wherever he went. But they could not ignore the growing hatred of the leaders and felt the tension building up. There were times the tension was so heavy they were filled with fear and anxiety. They thought that Jesus should at least retreat for a while until the tension subsided. But Jesus was not about to retreat. Instead he was determined to preach the gospel and say the truth even if it was becoming dangerous to speak the truth. To the disciples’ human eyes Jesus was beginning to show signs of weariness. Jesus was beginning to look vulnerable. What the eyes see sometimes is so far removed from the truth and the reality of things. Because of this that Jesus gave them this promise “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” What they needed was a vision. They needed to see something beyond what their human eyes could see. They needed a glimpse of the kingdom of God and of Jesus in his glory. Jesus wanted them, in spite of what appears on the outside of things, to see everything with spiritual eyes. If they had vision to see Jesus in his glory, then they would be ready to face anything in their lives, and when the Lord finally gives himself up to the cross, that vision in their hearts would sustain them in that most terrible of times.
To see the kingdom of God and to live in it— to see the glory of Jesus shining and to hold to it—see Jesus’ glory in the kingdom even if everything in the world looks dark and hopeless— even when nothing seems to be right and everything seems to be wrong— this is what having vision is— a vision which is impressed on the heart which lights up the heart even when the eyes see nothing or see the gloom of the world. That is vision. That is what Jesus wanted his disciples to see to prepare them for what was yet to come. Do you understand! If they could only envision the glory of Jesus as he truly is in his kingdom— and then hold that vision in their hearts— they would no longer see the human Jesus seemingly fighting for his life. They would grow to see that Jesus gives his life— willingly— to save them and the world from sin. With the vision of the glory of Jesus and of the kingdom, their whole vision of all things would not longer be oppressed and compressed to what the world around them is like. Instead of seeing the tragedies of the world, they would see God’s hand in all things, working to bring salvation where misery and death seem to rule. They would not see their lives and the events of their lives with sorrowful eyes— just victims of injustice and unfairness— but they would see God’s sovereignty working to bring glory to God. The disciples needed such vision. They needed to stop looking with human eyes which see despair but look with spiritual eyes that are quick to find hope and life— because they have something the world cannot give them which only God can give them— the vision of Jesus in his glory in his kingdom— that would be impressed upon their hearts. If we could only shift our eyes from seeing what the world shows us, and if we could see with our hearts what God wants to show us, then we too would have vision. And with vision in our heart, we are not quickly hindered and stunted in doing all the work the Lord. Rather, with vision God promises that we would certainly be enabled to serve him in what we are called to do.
It was for this reason that Jesus gave a promise to his disciples. For this reason he then took three of them up a mountain to reveal himself to them in his glory. They needed to stop seeing what their eyes in order to see what God would show them— with the eyes of their hearts. Read verse 2. “After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” Transfigured has the meaning of changed— or altered in appearance such that the final image is different from the original image. Read verse 3. “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Mark could find no better word to describe what had happened to Jesus’ clothes— whiter than anyone could bleach them. In other words, it was not by the hand of man, but by the hand of God. He was transfigured, changed from an ordinary Jesus to a heavenly Jesus. It’s exactly what Jesus looks like, in spite of his human appearance. He is magnificent in appearance. He is God. He is the one who willingly surrendered his heavenly glory in order to walk on earth in the humble appearance of a Man. They must never forget this, nor must we. This vision of Jesus in his glory must always be impressed on their hearts and ours.
This vision of our Lord Jesus in all his glory was not only for these disciples. It is for all of us. People think anything they want to think about Jesus— whether just a carpenter or philosopher or activist or revolutionary or even prophet. Activists and revolutionaries and prophets cannot save anyone, not even themselves. But Jesus is more! He is more than a champion of a good holy and righteous cause. He is God himself. Some Christians have a vague notion that Jesus is the Savior, and even a vaguer notion that he may be God. They believe as much as their mind or emotion lets them believe. But it is not enough to have a vague notion about Jesus. Vague notions or hunches do not make one a Christian. Vague notions about Jesus don’t work salvation in your soul. What you need is not a notion of who Jesus is— you need faith that he is God your Savior. In the end it is only faith in Jesus that opens a person’s heart to embrace the vision of Jesus in all his glory— the King of kings and Lord or lords.
To see or not to see Jesus in his glory isn’t a joke. It’s critical. There are those who see Jesus’ Glory with the eyes of their hearts and those who don’t. The difference in the two is faith and the exercise of faith. Those who exercise faith, gain the vision of Jesus in their hearts, while those who don’t exercise faith remain without vision. And those who have the vision of our Lord in his glory are blessed to overcome many things in life, while those without such vision spend their lives defeated by the things of life. In life most things are hard and distressing overwhelming the soul with sadness and despair, and not enough things that cheer the heart. We were created to serve God and his purpose in our lives. But who can do so when the heart is overwhelmed by the troubles that assail the heart, and by the oppression of sin? But when your heart is equipped with the vision of our Lord in his glory, you are empowered to overcome anything and do anything God has for you.
I cannot ever forget the story of the hymn writer Horation Spafford who wrote “It is well with my soul”. His heart belonged to the Lord and kept a vision of the Lord in his glory. Here’s what happened to him. His wife and children died at sea while on their way to where God called them to serve him. The man should be angry with God and spend the rest of his life as a bitter and critical and unhappy man. But he did not. One time when he was sailing to the country he served the gospel in the ship he was on passed the exact spot where his family died. What sorrow and sadness might have assailed his heart at the moment, and being human he must have felt the pain. But because his heart was ruled by Jesus instead of his emotions, he did what was so remarkable. He offered a song to his Savior, declaring that “it was well with his soul.” It was well with his soul, because he did not look at life’s circumstances with human eyes. It was well with his soul because he asked God to see with spiritual eyes intread. It was well with his soul because he had the vision of Jesus’ glory in his heart instead of the vision of the tragedy of his family. That is the trouble with so many of us. We stubbornly hold on to what we see with our eyes and feel with our heart and hear with our ears— and usually it ends in disaster because it paralyzes. What the world offers is often not so pleasant, and it turns the man the woman the heart useless to God. How often does it happen that we stubbornly wallow in the things that have hurt us, unforgiving, unloving, indifferent to the pain we cause others. But the Lord calls us to go to the mountain of transfiguration, close our eyes in prayer, lift our hearts to him, and let him flood our hearts with vision— Jesus’ glory in his kingdom. Then who can touch us, what can touch us— nothing— because vision of Jesus and his glory floods our hearts with understanding, forgiveness, kindness to one another, and even to our enemies. It floods our hearts with grace such that we are indeed the agents of grace rather than the agents of criticism and condemnation, and of harshness and all such things. We cannot properly fulfill what God has in store for us, when we stubbornly look at things with human eyes. But with spiritual eyes and vision we can! Today in this new year, ask God to remove whatever weighs heavy on your heart and replace with vision— the vision of the Lord who died for you, and rose for you, and called you to live in his kingdom even now, and to administer the graces and blessings of the kingdom of God to what’s around you.
Read verse 4: “And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.” Of all the great prophets of old, why did God send these two to his Son Jesus on the mount of transfiguration? Jesus was about to suffer and die on a cruel cross. He is the Son of God. But he would feel the pain of betrayal and the agony of the cross. It was not easy! He needed encouragement. And God sent Elijah and Moses to comfort and to encourage him. That can be a good lesson to us. That Moses and Elijah encouraged the Lord in his time of suffering. They encouraged him to suffer for the glory of God. How quick we are at times to encourage others to give up— because we see their suffering and struggles and we love them and want to ease the pains of their failures and struggles. How often, in love, we encourage someone to take the easy way out of things, because the hard way brings more suffering. We can really appreciate the counsel of Moses and Elijah who comforted and encouraged Jesus to obey the will of God— which is the most urgent and most precious counsel we can give to anyone— to endure what God had ordained for him and to serve God’s purpose to the end— even when more suffering is in store. We need to know that it’s not enough to say kind words to others, to gain their favor or to avoid their anger or displeasure with us. Speak the truth— even when the truth hurts, and encourage in the Lord.
Read verses 5,6. “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters —one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)” Peter felt the joy of heaven descend upon his heart. He must have felt that there is no place in this world he compare with this. He felt that he could never go back down to the troubled world now that he had tasted the heavenly kingdom and seen the heavenly glory of Jesus. It was a wonderful place and a wonderful feeling. But it was not the time for Jesus to return to his glory, for he had a mission to fulfill. And it was not time for Peter to remain in the heavenly kingdom, for he too had a purpose to fulfill. Peter did not know what to say, so he said something unreasonable.
God knew what was on Peter’s heart. [We understand Peter. Who would not want to be in the paradise of God!] God knew that it was hard for Peter to go back down the mountain and once again face difficult and ungrateful and mean people. It would be hard to watch Jesus suffer and die. God knew how hard it was for Peter to continue the work which Jesus began and to taste all that Jesus tasted as a servant of God. But God did not want Peter to be ruled by his emotions and feelings and the circumstances around him. So, God told Peter very important— the great counsel of God for his child. Read verse 7. “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’” God reminded Peter of who Jesus is— And he reminded him of his foremost duty to the son of God— to listen to him. Sometimes what Jesus says is not so pleasant or easy on our ears. To Love and respect each other when your love had grown cold and you have lost respect for them. But it is the voice of Jesus. And it is no ordinary voice. It is the voice that can lift you up from the grave and make you alive in Christ. It is the voice that can reshape your heart and make you a voice of love and grace to others. That voice is the word that heals you and builds you up in the image of your lord and master. It is the voice of the Master. It is not a voice to be tried and judged by your limited wisdom. it is to be Listened to! It is the voice of the Lord. “Listen to him” even when it does not make sense, listen to him even if it goes against your judgment, even if it hurts. Of all the things God could have said to Peter, the one thing that he said was Listen to him. Why? Because he is my son and I have given him the authority and the words that can take you out of your spiritual slumber, out of your mundane everyday life and lift you up to glory. So that you can see the vision of the kingdom every moment you live. That is why you must listen to him. When was the last time you listened to him speak to your heart? Peter needed to listen to Jesus even when Jesus’ words went against his human desires. Often what God wants us of us, and what his word tells us do not agree with what we think and what we feel. But we must “Listen to him.” His words are truth and life.
Look at verses 8-13. The disciples were slow to learn and to accept spiritual things. But they began to take Jesus’ teaching especially on his death and resurrection a little more seriously. So Jesus encouraged them to hold onto the vision in their hearts until the truth of what they learned sinks in. This is a new year for us. In a troubled world where we are called to live for the Lrod and to serve his purpose, what we need is a vision. To hold the glory of Jesus in our hearts, and to see the kingdom of God growing and expanding all around us. Hold the vision with faith. It is the way to overcome whatever the world throws at us. It is the way to stand in Jesus victorious and undefeated. The vision of Jesus’ glory is the victory of your heart.