from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 18

Mark 9:1-13: The Transfiguration

The Story


In our last lesson do you remember the two great questions which the Lord asked the disciples? First, whom men said that He was? Second, whom they said that He was? Do you remember the answers? Then you remember that the Lord began to explain to the disciples how instead of being a great earthly king, He was to be despised and rejected by men, but His kingdom was to be a heavenly kingdom. In our lesson today we learn how in a wonderful way the Lord strengthened their belief in Him and His heavenly glory.

You remember that the Lord had taken His disciples to a quiet place, Caesarea Philippi. It was a lovely region near the foot of Mount Hermon, and near the source of the river Jordan. Mount Hermon is the finest mountain in the land (second only to Mount Lebanon in height), standing majestic and beautiful with its top white with snow against the wonderful blue Syrian sky. The Lord and His disciples stayed in this neighborhood for about a week, when one day, toward evening, He took Peter and James and John up into the mountain to pray. And as the Lord prayed a wonderful thing happened: the three disciples were allowed to see Him as the angels in heaven saw Him, "His face shining as the sun, and His raiment white as the light." And as they looked they saw two men talking with Him, whom they knew to be Moses and Elias. And they heard something of what they said about the last days of the Lord's life on earth at Jerusalem. Do you remember Moses and Elias, who long ago had gone from this world and were living now in heaven?


There were soon to be hard trials for the disciples. Their Master would be taken and crucified. To strengthen them in the trials which He knew were coming, the Lord let three of the disciples see something of His Divine glory. He led the three who knew Him best, Peter, James, and John, into a high mountain apart, probably to some high slope of Mount Hermon. It was probably afternoon as they left the people below and climbed the mountain. (Luke 9:37) The rich valley, with its springs and river and lake, lay below in the lengthening shadows. The rocky slopes of the mountain stood around with their snowy crests. The Lord was praying; the three disciples were heavy with sleep. Suddenly they were awake and their eyes were opened into heaven. Two angels were talking with the Lord - Moses and Elias, and they saw the Lord, "His face shining as the sun, and His raiment white as the light." You must read the rest.

The Lord charged the three disciples not to tell as yet what they had seen. But must not what they saw that night have strengthened them and others in the hard times which followed? Perhaps it would not have been possible for the disciples to remain firm in their belief in their Master when He was taken and condemned and crucified but for the memory of His glory on the mountain.

Read the conversation as they came down from the mountain. What prophecy had said that Elias must first come? In what sense was John the Baptist Elias?

1. At what other time did the Lord lead the disciples into a mountain? And what other time had Peter, James, and John been chosen to be with Him?

2. How did the Lord appear when He was transfigured? Who were speaking with Him?

3. What overshadowed the disciples?

4. Of what did they speak as they came down from the mountain?

Spiritual Study


What spiritual reason was there for the Lord's leading the disciples into a mountain to see Him transfigured?

Why were Peter, James, and John the three to be with the Lord? These three represent three chief elements in the church and in every Christian life, which bring us near to the Lord, and enable us to rise into the mountain with Him and see His glory. Peter, we see from his confession, stands for firm faith in the Lord's Divinity. And what is represented by the disciple whom Jesus loved, who wrote the loving words in the fourth Gospel and in the fourth chapter of the first Epistle of John? He represents deep love for the Lord. And James his brother represents the love of the second great commandment, like unto the first - charity to our neighbor. All in whom these are, come near to the Lord in the mountain and see His glory. (R. 768, 879; E. 600)

Was it with natural or spiritual eyes that the disciples saw Moses and Elias and the Lord transfigured? How is the Lord seen by angels in heaven? (H. 118, 119; W. 97) What do these words mean in Luke 16:29: "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them"? Moses speaks to us in the commandments and the history of the Old Testament, and Elias (Elijah) and other prophets in its prophecy. When we come near to the Lord in a spiritual life, His love shines forth in the Gospels as glory from His face; His words and acts in which He clothed His love have a more than earthly brightness; and even the history and prophecy of the Old Testament become glorious as we see that they tell of His human life and glorification. (Luke 9:31) But we may not always perceive such glory, and the letter of the Word like a bright cloud overshadows us, and we see Jesus only. (E. 64, 906)

After the Sermon on the Mount, the coming down from the mountain describes the bringing down of the Christian law to its application in life in the world. So now the coming down from the mountain of transfiguration means the bringing down of the power of the vision to the plane of daily life. They talked of John the Baptist as they came down the mountain; for it is by repentance that the power of the Lord is brought into life. The result we see as we read on in the story.

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