Visual Commentary and Resources
Jesus takes the disciples north to Caesarea Philippi.
Here are three interesting facts about this city.
- It is named after Caesar, the Emperor of Rome. When a herald would come into a village to give a message from the Emperor, he would begin, “A message from Caesar, the son of God.” This is the most powerful man in the Empire.
- It is also named after Philip the Tetrarch. He was the son of Herod the Great. Do you remember Herod the Great? He was the King of Israel when Jesus was born. He’s the one who had all the babies slaughtered in Bethlehem, in hopes that he would kill Jesus in the process.
- This city, and this region, was also known as Paneas. It was named after the Greek god Pan. He’s the one who is half goat and half human and plays the pipes. The Romans called him Faunus. He was the god of the wild places and nature.
Do you see what’s happening here? This is not an orthodox Jewish village.
This city represents all of the power structures of the Roman Empire and how they impose themselves upon the Jewish People. You have the Roman Emperor, the King of Israel who is a complete puppet of the Empire, and the Graeco-Roman religion of the power of nature.
Also notice how far north it is. Caesarea Philippi was about as far away from Jerusalem, both geographically and thelogically as one could get within Jewish territories.
Jesus looks around at all these symbols of the world’s power, and asks…
“Who do people say that I am?”
“Well, Jesus, some say you are John the Baptist (we learned about that last week), other say you’re Elijah (he was the prophet who was predicted to announce the coming of the Messiah), and others think that you are one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus stops, looks them in the eye, and asks one of the most important questions ever asked in the history of the universe…
“Who do YOU say that I am?”
Most people who flocked to Jesus during his season of popularity just wanted something out of him. They were hungry, so they wanted food. They were sick, so they wanted to be healed. They were oppressed, so they wanted someone to deliver them.
What do we want from God?
Do we really know who the Christ is?
Jesus responds. “Ah yes. There is the word again. I do not think it means what you think it means (yes, that was a Princess Bride reference).”
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
This is what the Christ looks like.
Is that what you think a great leader looks like?
That’s the whole purpose of the Gospel of Mark. This story helps us to understand what God’s kind of power looks like in contrast to the world’s kind of power.
Things just got real.
That’s why I think Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of the mountain.
Jesus was transfigured. It says that his clothes were brighter than any bleach could bleach. He stood there with Elijah and Moses, the two greatest leaders of Israel’s history.
Then a dark cloud covered the mountain. This is just like the time Moses went to the top of Mt. Sinai to receive the Law.
Then a voice came from the cloud. “This is my beloved son. Listen to Him.”
This happened once before when Jesus was baptized and the sky was torn open.
Do you know why I think this happened?
To give the disciples a glimpse.
Jesus was asking them to take a very dangerous and terrifying path.
He was about to make his journey to Jerusalem where he would be executed.
This glimpse into the truth of who Jesus is was just what the disciples needed to have hope for this journey.
It will be worth it, Jesus says. I promise.
This video is the audio of my sermon from Transfiguration Sunday 2016 placed over the slides used in the sermon. Enjoy!
As quickly as the glimpse appeared, it was gone.
Just plain Jesus. A human being that was about to suffer unimaginable pain.
Are you ready to follow?
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