What does God most want? God is most after His glory!
John Piper said it well: glory is "the holiness of God put on display."
What if we wanted MOST what God wants most? God, above ALL ELSE wants to be glorified.
What if we wanted, like Jesus, God's glory above every other thing?
The Mountain: Jesus' Transfiguration and God's Glory (from Tim Keller's Book Kings Cross)
The second half of Mark's Gospel will show us why the Cross was necessary and what it accomplished. This is why the Mount of Transfiguration experience was so important. Both to Jesus and to the three disciples who accompanied Him up the mount. It helps to explain His purpose that He came to fulfill.
The true cost of following Jesus begins to be clearly explained to the disciples at this time. Jesus takes up His cross, so must we. As the cross and glory are linked in Jesus' life, so the cross and glory will be linked in our lives.
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only." Mark 9:2-8
Moses, in Exodus 33, desired to experience God's glory, atop Mount Sinai - but God denied his request declaring: "When My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by, but My face cannot be seen. No one may see Me and live." (Exodus 33:18-23)
In stark contrast, Jesus and the three disciples (and because of their writing, we) are ushered on top of the mountain, and experience a truly amazing occasion.
Jesus' clothing radiates pure whiteness - such brilliance as could never be achieved through mere washing.
However, this is NO Mount Sinai. Moses had reflected the glory of God as the moon reflects the sun. But Jesus PRODUCES the unsurpassable glory of God; it emanates from Him
Jesus does not point to the glory of God as Elijah, Moses and every other prophet had done, up to this point. Jesus IS the glory of God in human form. He IS the focal point!
Worship is not just believing. Peter had just prior to this moment, confessed that Jesus was the Messiah - the Christ. He and the others had already come to believe in God.
Now through this intimate and powerful mountain top experience. Peter, James, and John have sensed God's presence and worshipped. They have lived to see the glory of God.
"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." 2 Peter 1:16-18
After Jesus' transfiguration, He instructs His disciples to not tell anyone about what has just happened, until after the Resurrection. Here again, Jesus is pointing forward to His impending death. And the disciples (especially Peter), dont' like it!
Jesus explains that "the Son of Man must suffer much." That is the reason He came!
The transfiguration experience was meant to glorify Jesus - setting Him above and apart from the prophets who foretold of His coming; and at the same time, was also meant to fortify and strengthen Jesus and His inner circle, for the struggle which lay ahead.
At the end, just moments before the betrayal and arrest, Jesus is praying for God to be glorified through Him and the work His is about to undertake.
"When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father,the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 Glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." John 17:1-5
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs." Hebrews 1:1-4
Because of the finished work of Jesus; because glorifying God was the entire aim of His life, we get to experience a small foretaste of what Heaven will be like. We get to worship God.
When Jesus comes down from the mountain, He is met by a man whose son has been plagued by demons. This man brought his son to Jesus' disciples, hoping for a miracle of healing.
Jesus confronts His disciples, for incorrectly attempting to exorcise the demons; but how does He respond to the father's request?
Jesus does not tell the man "I am the glory of God in human form. Purify your heart, confess all your sins, get rid of all you doubts, and your double mindedness. Once you have surrendered to Me totally and come before Me with a pure heart, then you can ask for the healing you need. He instead turns to the tormented father, and responds: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
The boys father says, "I am not faithful. I am riddled with doubts, and I cannot muster the strength necessary to meet my moral and spiritual challenges. But help me."
That's saving faith.
We cannot leave this scene of ministry, without thinking about all that Jesus is about to give up, on behalf of sinful humanity.
On the mountain we see Jesus 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 did Jesus allow Himself to go through this?
He did it for us. He did it for love.
"...having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it." Colossians 2:14-15
And on the mountain, through the Spirit, God was strengthening Jesus for His mission, for the infinite suffering He would endure to defeat all evil. And God can empower us in the same way, to face evil and over come our own suffering, and help us to minister to those who suffer.