Mark 9: Lessons from the Transfiguration

Mark 9: Lessons from the Transfiguration

The Mount of Transfiguration is an interesting and informative text. Among the lessons to be learned include:

First, the continuation of identity after death. Moses and Elijah had been dead for centuries when they appeared with Jesus, yet both retained their earthly identity. Consider also that Peter identified the two, even though he had never seen either of them! Our identities follow us into eternity, for every person shall be judged according to his own works (Rev 20:12; 2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:12).

Second, the conscious souls of those who have departed this life. Some religious groups teach the doctrine of soul sleeping. This erroneous doctrine affirms that the souls of men enter a state of unconsciousness while awaiting the second coming and Judgment. In Matthew and Mark’s account, Moses and Elijah are speaking with Jesus. But Luke’s account tells us the subject of that conversation, namely Jesus’ suffering and death which would soon be accomplished in Jerusalem (Lk 9:30). If these men had been unconscious for nearly a millennium, and were about to return to that state, what is the point of bringing them forth to speak with Jesus? Samuel was most displeased when he was “disturbed” by Saul at Endor in 1 Samuel 27. Moreover, Samuel told Saul, “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” (v 19). This doesn’t sound like a guy who had been unconscious. Not sure how one in such a state could be disturbed.

Finally, the text speaks to the crossing over from this life to another. Luke’s account speaks of Jesus’ “decease.” The word in the original text is exodon, meaning a departure, not a death. In other words, the events which were about to transpire in Jerusalem would bring Jesus’ earthly life to a close, but it was these events that would usher in a change of location. Jesus spoke to this very thing when He said to the penitent thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paradise is the happy side of the Hadean realm and is described in Luke 16 as “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22), whereas the sorrowful side of Hades is described as “torment” (Lk 16:23).

This text answers in the affirmative the oft-asked question, “Will we know one another in heaven?”.

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