The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 21 : The Gospel According to MARK

[Chapter 9] (Mark 9:1-13) Moses, Symbol of the Law; Jesus, Incarnation of Grace and Truth; John the Baptist, the Mediator

(Mark 9:1-13)
“And He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.’ Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’ Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked Him, saying, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Then He answered and told them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.’”
 
 
Do You Know about Elijah?
 
Prior to today’s Scripture passage, in Mark chapter 8, the Lord told His disciples that He would return to God after completing His ministry here on this earth, and that He would die and rise up in three days. Peter then tried to dissuade Him, upon which the Lord rebuked him. After this account we see chapter 8 ending with the Lord saying, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Mark chapter 9 then gives the account of the appearance of Elijah and Moses conversing with Jesus. This account is recorded elsewhere in the other Gospels—specifically in Matthew chapter 17 and Luke chapter 9. Let’s now return to Mark 9:2-4. “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.”
When Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain, He was transfigured before them, and His garments shined so white that no launderer on earth could have whitened them. This transfiguration of the Lord foreshadows our own transfiguration which will take place when the Lord returns and take us away. As the Lord was transfigured in today’s Scripture passage, we the born-again of water and the Spirit will also be suddenly transformed. This is what the Lord is showing us in today’s Scripture passage.
Mark 9:4 says, “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” When Elijah and Moses appeared before Jesus who was transfigured into a holy figure and they talked with Him; the disciples were amazed to see this. Upon witnessing this, Peter said, “It is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he said this because he was afraid of Jesus’ transfiguration. The disciples were so afraid that they did not know what to say, and they were trembling in fear. Then a cloud descended and overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” So they looked around, and they no longer could see Elijah and Moses but only Jesus standing there.
As the disciples were coming down from the mountain after seeing this amazing scene, the Lord warned them to “tell no one the things that they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Not understanding what this meant, the disciples just stared at each other trying to figure out what the others were thinking. They were wondering, “What does this all mean? What does He mean by rising from the dead?”
Moreover, the scribes at the time were teaching that Elijah had to come first, and so the disciples became even more puzzled. So they asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus then said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.” This means that Elijah had already come to restore all things, but as the people at that time did not recognize him, they had ignored him and treated him badly. The people of Israel instead revered Moses the most, therefore the disciples understood the appearance of Moses, but they did not quite understand the appearance of Elijah. That’s why they asked Jesus about the prophecy of Elijah’s return.
 
 
Elijah Here Means John the Baptist Who Played the Mediating Role of Linking the Old Testament with the New Testament
 
This is what God is teaching us through Mark chapter 9. The representative of the Old Testament is Moses. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” With the passing of the Mosaic age came the age of Jesus Christ, and the bridge that links these two ages is none other than John the Baptist who came by the heart of Elijah. In Matthew 11:14, the Lord says, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Who is this Elijah “to come”? We can find out by turning to Matthew 11:12: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” In other words, Jesus was saying that this Elijah “to come” was none other than John the Baptist. So, as the bridge that links the Old Testament with the New Testament, Elijah’s role is extremely important.
As you know yourself, Elijah was God’s servant who had delivered the people of Israel from their sin of idolatry. He is the prophet who led the Israelites back to God to believe in Him, and made it possible for them to be saved from their sins. No other prophet in the Old Testament worked as Elijah did. Although Moses received the Law and handed it over to the people of Israel, they broke this Law. In contrast, Elijah was God’s servant who, upon being commanded by God, stood before the idolatrous people of Israel, showed them God’s power that He was alive, and through this led the Israelites back to God and turned their hearts around from idols.
So God said in Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,” promising that He would send Elijah before the last day of wrath. This means that God would send Elijah as His servant who would lead many people living in sin back to God. The Lord said that He would send Elijah, and He also said that this Elijah would come prior to His coming. And according to this Word, John the Baptist had already come in the spirit of Elijah, and yet the people treated this spiritual Elijah very badly.
It is this spiritual Elijah, John the Baptist, who links the Law of the Old Testament with Jesus Christ. John the Baptist is the mediator of mankind. Therefore, the bridge that links the Old Testament and the New Testament is none other than John the Baptist. Without the role that John the Baptist fulfilled in the New Testament as God’s servant, it would have been simply impossible for Jesus Christ to save mankind from sin despite coming to this earth. That’s because in order to save mankind from sin, God had raised John the Baptist to be the representative of mankind and made him pass everyone’s sins onto the body of Jesus, thereby fulfilling His righteousness. God has ensured that man would be saved from sin with understanding. The mystery of being born again does not mean that God worked on the salvation plan of mankind in a way that no one could understand, but He worked in a way that anyone who really fears God and whose heart is ready to receive Him could understand it.
So, just as Elijah had led the people of Israel back to God, God promised that He would send His servant Elijah to us before the coming of the last day of great wrath. John the Baptist came to us according to this promise. Conceived in the body of Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias from the house of Aaron the High Priest, John the Baptist came six months prior to Jesus Christ, who was born on this earth through the body of the Virgin Mary. This was God’s special providence dispensed to fulfill His righteousness.
Having thus come to this earth, John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ to pass all the sins of mankind onto Him when He came to the Jordan River at the age of 30. By receiving this baptism from John the Baptist, Jesus Christ bore all the sins of the world. He then carried them all to the Cross, died on it, rose up from the dead in three days, and thereby has saved us all. As John the Baptist baptized Jesus and Jesus received this baptism, all the righteous work of God was fulfilled to save mankind from all sins. That’s how John the Baptist became the mediator of the Old and New Testaments.
The Law says that the wages of sin is death. So everyone had no choice but to die for their sins. That’s because no one can actually keep the Law of God. However, by being baptized and sacrificing His body, Jesus at once paid off all the wages of our sins in our place. As a real estate agent mediates between a seller and a buyer, Jesus fulfilled the mediation of salvation between God and us. It is to make this mediation of salvation possible that John the Baptist passed all the sins of mankind onto Jesus once and for all. That is why the day after baptizing Jesus, when John the Baptist saw Him carrying the sins of the world, he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind who bore on His back the sins of mankind—that is, the sins of the world—and thus he became the mediator between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
 
 
We Must Really Understand the Ministry of Elijah
 
In John 1:6-8, the Bible says the following about John the Baptist: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”
This means that John the Baptist came to bear witness of Jesus, and it is through John the Baptist that everyone can realize properly that Jesus is the Savior. Of course, all of you must also grasp this. That’s because no matter how much you want to believe in Jesus as your Savior, unless you know this Truth, you are a practitioner of worldly religion regardless of whether you are a pastor or a layman. If you don’t know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then being deceived by Satan, you will only try to establish your own righteousness in your life of faith, and ultimately turn around to stand against the righteousness of God. No matter how anyone thinks that he has received the remission of sins by believing in Jesus, if he stands against the righteousness of God, then he will indeed turn into His enemy, and therefore this person’s soul will be destroyed.
On the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus was suddenly transformed as white as snow, and Elijah and Moses appeared before Him and talked with Him. This shows us that Elijah fulfilled the role of a mediator between Moses and Jesus Christ. John the Baptist passed all the sins of mankind onto Jesus Christ once and for all, and Jesus Christ, in turn, at once accepted all the sins of mankind through this baptism. He then shed His blood and died on the Cross to pay off the wages of all these sins. And having risen from the dead, He has thus completed our salvation; and thanks to this, we have received the remission of sins to be also as shining white as Jesus, and we are now able to enter the Kingdom of God. In other words, God has made us to lack nothing to enter His Kingdom.
Even if you know this gospel message well, when you actually try to explain it to others, you will probably find it very difficult. I have seen many famous pastors appearing in Christian TV making various comments on the baptism of Jesus, but I have never seen any one of them ever providing the right explanation. What is written in Matthew 11:13-14? It says, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come”—in other words, John the Baptist is this very Elijah to come.
John the Baptist, the spiritual Elijah, bore witness of Jesus as our Savior, and he testified that Jesus has saved us from all the sins of the world by accepting them once and for all through His baptism. However, many Christian leaders do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit even as their eyes are wide open, and as a result, they cannot bear its witness to anyone, including their own souls. As these Christian leaders are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, when they hear someone else bearing witness of this gospel, they regard this person as a heretic. As we are waging a spiritual battle against Satan, when we tell them about this gospel, their first reaction is to reject it. This is indeed what actually happens. So it’s not easy for you to preach the gospel to those who have not been born again yet. Not only do you have to be resolutely determined when preaching this gospel, but your faith must also be unwavering; without this unwavering faith, it is impossible to preach this gospel.
We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and so we accept this gospel Truth as a matter of course. You need to realize here that accepting Jesus as your Savior without understanding the role of John the Baptist will only turn you into a practitioner of a worldly religion. No matter how ardently you may believe in Jesus as your Savior, you cannot be washed from your sins unless you acknowledge that the sins of the world were passed onto Jesus Christ when John the Baptist baptized Him, and that Jesus shouldered them all at once through His baptism. As those who have received the remission of sins, we believe that John the Baptist played a mediating role between God and us and that Jesus bore all our sins by being baptized by John, died on the Cross, rose up from the dead, and has thereby saved us forever. And it is because of this Truth that we are able to live out our faith despite our weaknesses, and stand even more firmly on our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Otherwise it is absolutely impossible. I have mentioned this fact clearly in all my writings.
Jesus came to fulfill a meditating role between God the Father and us the sinful mankind. Knowing that we could never approach God because of our sins, Jesus took upon all the sins of mankind once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and rose up from the dead. Through this, He has completed our salvation, fulfilling His mediating role for us so that anyone who believes in the righteousness of Jesus may approach God boldly. It was possible for Jesus to fulfill His meditating role between God the Father and mankind because of the role of John the Baptist. Of course, this was achieved according to God the Father’s plan. Without the role of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, no one could be delivered from sin, nor could anyone recognize Jesus as the Savior.
The Bible says in John 1:6-8, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” This means that John the Baptism came to bear witness of Jesus. John the Baptist passed the sins of mankind onto Jesus through His baptism, and because John the Baptist bore witness of this, we know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He bore all our sins by being baptized, that He died on the Cross, that He rose up from the dead, and that He has thereby become our Savior. The next day after baptizing Jesus, John the Baptist therefore said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
It was not so easy in those days for anyone to say that Jesus was the Lamb of God. That’s because in those days, if someone proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God, people would have stoned that person to death right away without hesitation. Yet despite this, John the Baptist boldly preached this truth to everyone. Only those who like John the Baptist doing God’s work could say such things. Not just anyone could say them. But John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus, saying, “He is the Son of God; He came to take upon all the sins of mankind; He actually bore them all by being baptized by me; He will die on the Cross; He will rise from the dead; and He will thereby save us all. He is the sacrificial Lamb of God. He is the Lamb of atonement. He is the Lamb of the redemption of mankind.” And according to this testimony, Jesus the Son of God, who had come to this earth as the sacrificial Lamb of God, bore all our sins through His baptism, and just as the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament were killed before the altar of burnt offering, He was crucified to death.
Elijah and Moses appeared on the mountain of transfiguration and talked with Jesus, and here you also need to understand why Elijah appeared with Moses. Although the representative of the Old Testament is Moses, its last prophet and last High Priest is John the Baptist, the spiritual Elijah. If John the Baptist had not born witness of all the facts of salvation, including the fact that Jesus bore all our sins through His baptism, we would not have been able to be transformed as Jesus was transformed. Whether it comes to receiving the remission of sins or being washed from sin as white as snow, it would all have been impossible without the testimony of John the Baptist. As such, the event that occurred on the mountain of transfiguration does not just tell us about Jesus’ transformation, but it implies that if you and I believe in Jesus Christ, who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we will be washed from sin as white as snow and become God’s children. So, just as Jesus Christ was transformed, so we will also be transformed. But how is this transformation attained? We are transformed by knowing and believing in what was done by Elijah, Moses, and Jesus. This is what today’s Scripture passage is teaching us.
Human beings were made in the image of God, but when they fell into sin because of the temptation of Satan and the weakness of the flesh, they lost God’s image and became sinners and the Devil’s servants. By whom then are human beings once again transformed back into the image of God? It is, of course by God. God gave us the Law through Moses; through the Law we realized our sins; and John the Baptist passed the sins of mankind onto Jesus Christ. Having accepted our sins, Jesus Christ was then crucified and resurrected from the dead, and He has thereby saved us. That is how He has transformed us completely, saved us perfectly, and made us God’s children.
However, most Christians do not realize that John the Baptist is the mediator between Jesus Christ and us as mankind, nor do they realize that the Mediator between God the Father and mankind is Jesus Christ. Although they say they believe in Jesus, they don’t really understand what John the Baptist did to Jesus, and they just claim to know Jesus blindly. This in reality is just superstition.
Why did Elijah and Moses appear before Jesus in the mountain of transfiguration? They did so because Moses was the representative of the Law, while Elijah was the bridge between Jesus and Moses—that is, the link connecting the Old Testament to the New Testament. And this Elijah implies John the Baptist in the New Testament. As it is written in Matthew 11:10-14, Jesus Himself described John the Baptist as the representative of mankind and the Elijah to come, saying, “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
Is there anyone who was not born of a woman? There is no one among you who was born without a mother, right? So when Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist,” He meant that John the Baptist is the representative of mankind.
Jesus accepted all the sins of mankind through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. Jesus had come to accept the sins of mankind, and John the Baptist was to pass them onto Jesus by baptizing Him. This is sound in principle also. It’s because John the Baptist baptized Jesus that Jesus said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” That Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist means that John passed the sins of the world onto Jesus, and that Jesus accepted them all. That is why Jesus had to be crucified to death and having risen up from the dead, He has become our Savior. John the Baptist indeed fulfilled the mediating role between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
As John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” God gave the Law to mankind through Moses. And through Jesus, He has given us grace and the Truth to set us free from the Law. Why does the Bible mention grace here? That’s because it is not by our acts that we sinners and are qualified to enter Heaven. This was not achieved by our own effort, but it was made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus. That’s why Jesus has become the Mediator between God and us. We must understand this Mediator properly.
Who is your mediator? Your predecessors of faith are your mediators. Jesus is the Mediator between God and us the born-again, and we who have received the remission of sins mediate between Jesus and those who have not been redeemed yet. Without the mediating role fulfilled by the redeemed, how else could you have known about who Jesus is, and how He accepted your sins through John the Baptist? Could you have known this by yourself? Many Christians believe in Jesus blindly without wondering why He was baptized. They believe in Jesus thoughtlessly. It’s because those who have received the remission of sins first played the mediating role that you were also able to know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and realize and believed that Jesus accepted the sins of the world through John the Baptist, was crucified to death, rose up from the dead, and has thereby become your Savior.
For the wages of sin is death; we in fact had to die for our sins, but because Jesus accepted them all through John the Baptist and paid off these wages on the Cross in our place, we have become righteous by believing in this fact. How can anyone believe in Jesus without knowing this? Worshiping some unknown god is what superstition is all about, and so if you believe in Jesus without really understanding Him, then it’s no different believing in some superstition. It is therefore absolutely indispensable for you have the right knowledge of Jesus.
Who is the true Mediator between God and you? It is Jesus. Who then mediates between Jesus and us? It is none other than John the Baptist. Jesus is actually the true God (1 John 5:20). God Himself has linked us back to Him. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and through this baptism, He accepted all the sins of mankind once and for all. He was then crucified to death while shouldering all these sins of the world, and rising from the dead, He has saved us once and for all.
The Old Testament ends with the Book of Malachi, and this Book of Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come again. This Elijah was none other than John the Baptist. And according to this prophecy, John the Baptist was born on this earth six months earlier than Jesus Christ, he bore witness of Jesus, and he passed the sins of the world onto Him by baptizing Him. Because of these sins that Jesus accepted at that time, He died on the Cross, and rising up from the dead, He completed the salvation of mankind. John the Baptist was the mediator in all these things. In this way, he became the mediator between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
John the Baptist also bore witness of Jesus. He bore witness of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and he bore witness of what Jesus would do. It’s for this work that John the Baptist had come to this earth. Can you now understand the role of John the Baptist? His work was passing all our sins onto Jesus so that it would be possible for Christ to save us. It’s because Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist that He could bear all our sins; and to pay off the wages of these sins, Jesus was crucified to death. And rising up from the dead, He completed His work of saving us. John the Baptist bore witness of all these things, testifying that Jesus was actually God and the Son of God the Father.
The Old Testament is represented by Moses. Moses led the people of Israel only to the Jordan River, from where the land of Canaan was visible, and then he passed away to be with God. This implies that the Law’s function is teaching us about our sins, and once we realize them, we must go to Jesus Christ. That is the extent of the teachings of the Law and it cannot do anything more for us. The Law itself cannot bring the remission of sins to us. Though Moses saw the land of Canaan in the distance, he died without stepping into it. Likewise, the Law only teaches us about our sins. It is through the Law that we realize that we are sinners before God.
And it is John the Baptist that we realize how Jesus Christ took upon all our sins. We have become God’s people by realizing and believing that Jesus accepted all our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and that He fulfilled our salvation by dying on the Cross and rising up from the dead. And on the day Jesus returns to this earth, we will also be transformed just as Jesus was suddenly transformed on the mountain of transfiguration. The Bible says that our bodies will be transformed when the Lord returns to this earth, as it is written, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). This is what God is showing us through the transfiguration of Jesus in today’s Scripture passage.
Jesus accepted all our sins once for all through His baptism. Your sins and mine were all passed onto Jesus. While shouldering our sins, He was crucified to death; and rising up from the dead, He has saved us all. The resurrected Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father. It is by believing in this Jesus Christ as our Savior that we can receive the remission of sins and, even though we are still in our insufficient flesh, we stand unwaveringly before God and live by faith.
How else could we receive the remission of our sins, when the sins we commit in our lives on this earth are so scarlet red? How else could we become God’s children, and how else could we become sinless people? Therefore, we must realize this fact clearly, believe in it, and continue to listen to the Word and meditate on this Truth. You must grasp here that your salvation is reached by faith, never by doing something on your own with your flesh.
God has saved you and me, given us wisdom and intellect, and empowered us to do everything. But we are nothing if we don’t carry out His work. God has commanded us to do this work, and He has promised us that we will be transformed like Jesus. On our own, we cannot achieve anything to serve God. We must recognize and accept humbly that it is by the strength of the Lord that we are serving Him, and our hearts must be the first to work rather than our bodies. It’s our hearts that must stand by faith before God first, and it is by faith that we must work. John the Baptist was humble enough to lower himself before the Lord, saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). We also need such a disposition of the heart before the Lord. We are just doing what has been entrusted to us.
Whoever does not prepare for the future is bound to turn destitute and live a wretched life as a beggar. If preparing for the future is important like this even when it comes to our fleshly lives, how much more imperative is it when it comes to spiritual affairs? Believing in the fact that John the Baptist became our mediator is preparing for the future of our souls.
Whenever you preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to others, you need to explain the importance of Jesus’ baptism clearly regardless of whether they accept it or not. If you cannot remember the Bible verses that demonstrate this, write them down beforehand and read them to people.
Let us then spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit far and wide, placing our faith in this Truth. United together, let us preach the gospel with all our strength until the end of this world.