Advent Devotion for December 20
Candle Lighter says: “He told them not to tell anyone what they had seen…”
Response: “until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
SCRIPTURE: Mark 9:9-13
9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
11 Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
12 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
SOME THOUGHTS: The context for what you just read is helpful in gaining insight into the Scripture. Jesus, Peter, and the brothers, James and John, had been together on the Mount of Transfiguration. The three disciples had just encountered a most amazing sight. They were present in a meeting between Moses (who had died 1400 years earlier), Elijah (who had died 700 years earlier), and Jesus, who had never died!
Moses was the receiver of the Law. Elijah was the representative of the prophets. The Scriptures tell us their “meeting” and discussion concerned Jesus’ “exodus.” Moses was very familiar with an “exodus” and Elijah’s “exodus” was in a chariot of fire! A cloud came down and enveloped all of them. To make matters even more wondrous, God the Father in heaven spoke audibly and addressed the disciples. Talk about a life changing experience! The cloud lifted and Moses and Elijah were no longer there, only Jesus. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, hence the visual and the auditory affirmation of the superiority of Jesus over the Law and the Prophets from God the Father. This is the backdrop for the passage you just read. It seems a little strange to us, but Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until He had risen from the dead. Why? Something to think about. If the disciples had broadcast what they had seen and heard, the natural conclusion may have been something like this. The Messiah, as a political and military leader, is here to lead an overthrow of the Romans. He is greater than the Law and the Prophets. I don’t know that was the case, but in having them wait to talk about this encounter until after the resurrection would make it very clear that the overthrow of the occupiers was not His goal or purpose. His “war” was on sin and rebellious hearts in the work of establishing His Kingdom. The disciples go on to ask another question about the necessity of Elijah preceding the Son of Man, (the name Jesus used for himself). John the Baptist was a “type” of Elijah, both of whom suffered in their missions. They were forerunners of Jesus’ suffering. Jesus reminds them that Elijah has already come and many rejected his message proclaiming the coming of the Lord. One of the things I’m frequently aware of as I read Scripture in describing the blindness of people regarding the working of the Lord, is that I am “those people.” All too often there is a dullness in my spirit that does not see God at work in the world in which I live. Jesus came quietly to Bethlehem and He comes quietly today. You can talk about Him now. “He is risen!”
MUSIC: Angels We Have Heard on High by Home Free (don’t miss this!!!) (YouTube)
PRAYER: O God, Thou injured, neglected, provoked benefactor, when I think upon thy greatness and thy goodness I am ashamed at my insensibility, I blush to lift up my face, for I have foolishly erred. Shall I go on neglecting thee, when every one of thy rational creatures should love thee, and take every care to please thee? I confess that thou hast not been in all my thoughts, that the knowledge of thyself as the end of my being has been strangely overlooked, that I have never seriously considered my heart-need. But although my mind is perplexed and divided, my nature perverse, yet my secret dispositions still desire thee. Let me not delay to come to thee; break the fatal enchantment that binds my evil affections, and bring me to a happy mind that rests in thee, for thou hast made me and canst not forget me. Let thy Spirit teach me the vital lessons of Christ, for I am slow to learn; and hear thou my broken cries.
—from The Valley of Vision, p.36