9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone about what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So the followers obeyed Jesus, but they discussed what he meant about rising from the dead. 11 Then they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 12 Jesus answered, “They are right to say that Elijah must come first and make everything the way it should be. But why does the Scripture say that the Son of Man will suffer much and that people will treat him as if he were nothing? 13 I tell you that Elijah has already come. And people did to him whatever they wanted to do, just as the Scriptures said it would happen.” ~ Mark 9:9-13
Today, we return to our study of Mark 9 where we learn that our mountaintop encounters with the Lord Jesus do not always answer our questions about Him. Like the disciples, sometimes, we descend the mountain with more questions than we had going up.
I am so grateful that complete understanding is not necessary to following the Lord Jesus. If we had certainty, we would have no need for faith. In fact, it is the nature of faith to be incomplete in our understanding of God. It is also the nature of faith to anticipate the next revelation about Him. We discover, this is what deepens us in our walk with Him. He has been known to speak to us through the strangest things: donkeys, dreams of linen sheets coming down out of the sky, and a still small voice.
In v.9-10 of today's passage we read, "9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone about what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So the followers obeyed Jesus, but they discussed what he meant about rising from the dead."
What is necessary to follow the Lord Jesus is what these three disciples arrived upon on the mountain: worship. And, worship is being defined by God in whatever we do in the way that He told us to do it. The first place in the Bible that worship appears is the very same place that love appears first: Genesis 22. We worship what we love and we love what we worship. And, we worship the Lord Jesus when we ascribe worth to His words by being defined by them. The principle is that we become like what we worship.
That which intrigued these three disciples on Mount Hermon was the Lord Jesus' comment about rising from the dead after three days. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus didn't make sense to them because they had no room in their theology for His death on the cross. They obviously believed He was going to usher in His kingdom with force and with might. But, God does not do things like we do them. His is a kingdom that is inside out and upside down. The Lord Jesus Himself is the Servant who rules and the Ruler who serves.
As they came down Mount Hermon that day, the disciples had a discussion. They entertained their questions, and eventually, they brought those questions to the One with the real answers. This is what discipleship looks like. Discipleship is not keeping a regimen that requires us to get up at 6:00 am to meet with the Lord. But, if you are wired to have the best discussions with the Lord at that time of the day, go for it. But, do not allow that time to be the only time you have a conversation with Him in your day. Get into the habit of talking with Him as often as you can during each day, for this is the context where He trains us in His ways.
In v.11 of today's passage we read, "Then they asked Jesus, 'Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?'"
When Peter wanted to build three tents, one for the Lord Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah, he revealed that in his mind Moses and Elijah were on par with the Lord Jesus. If we have the same theology as Peter did, we will struggle with the culture of the Lord Jesus. We can not just say that the Lord Jesus is a great man and a great moral teacher, we have to go further by recognizing Him as God.
In v.12-13 of today's passage we read, "12 Jesus answered, “They are right to say that Elijah must come first and make everything the way it should be. But why does the Scripture say that the Son of Man will suffer much and that people will treat him as if he were nothing? 13 I tell you that Elijah has already come. And people did to him whatever they wanted to do, just as the Scriptures said it would happen."
The Lord Jesus clearly states that the coming of Elijah comes in two phases: phase number one, past tense, he's already come; phase number two, he is still coming. The first coming of Elijah was realized in the coming of John the Baptist. When John was being dedicated in the temple at his birth, the priest Zechariah quoted Malachi saying, "This is the one who comes in the spirit and the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the hearts of the children back to the fathers. Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." John the Baptist was an Elijah-like forerunner of the Lord Jesus, but the prophet Elijah will come, according to Malachi 4, at the end of days "before the great and terrible day of the Lord" which will come at the end of the Tribulation.
Down in the valley of life, we determine to live by that which we experienced on the mountain with the Lord. This, I am sure, was the determination of these three disciples. But, following the Lord Jesus is hard, and sometimes, this is good, because if we were so successful at it we would lose sight of our dependency upon the Lord. Dethroning and denying self leads us to the most important revelation of all: the decision to follow the Lord Jesus. And, we must operate out of the fact that without the cross and the resurrection, there is no good news, there is no salvation, there is no kingdom.
When we marry the two ideas of worship and love, we discover the key to discipleship or following the Lord. Learning to love and worship Him is the vehicle God uses to solidify our souls in relationship to His Son. The deepening relationship that follows provides for us the moorings that enable us to go deep in a love relationship with Him. This is the deepening of our faith in Him which is learning to see Him with our hearts.