What happens after we die? Science has no satisfactory answer. Politics has no answer. Secular education has no answer. Today we will look at one passage in the Bible that gives us a few clues.
To give us hope that there is a glorious life after death.
Let’s see why the transfiguration was given, what happens after death by looking at whatever happened to Elijah and Moses. Let’s also look at what kind of Jesus we worship and to whom we should listen.
Why the Transfiguration
What purpose could the transfiguration have served? Mark 9:2-10 is one of three accounts. There are clues surrounding the passage and perhaps even in other places. In verse 1 Jesus declared that some would see that the kingdom of God has come with power. This passage seems to fulfill that prediction at least in part. Brian Stoffregen (http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/mark9x2.htm) suggests some other possible reasons for the transfiguration. It connects Jesus and the prophets under the law, but Jesus as the one to listen to, a fact that those overly reliant upon tradition, reason and experience often ignore. It was a mountain-top experience in the middle of their training. It exhibits Jesus’ divinity. His white robes could also symbolize his martyrdom. We learn that religious experiences do not necessarily remove blindness, because the disciples still discussed what it could mean.
What happens when we die? Does our body await a resurrection? Are we given a resurrected body immediately? If our spirit goes to God, is it conscious or is it also asleep until a future resurrection? All the possible permutations and combinations exist as theories and somewhere there is a denomination that dogmatically defends its particular take on what happens when we die and when the resurrection is. As an introduction to the whole topic, let’s look at Mark 9:2-10 and see some possible things that it tells us. It seems to indicate that Elijah and Moses are very much alive today. Is that true, or is this just a vision of something that is yet in the future? What does a careful reading reveal? Even the disciples discussed among themselves, puzzling what rising from the dead could mean.
Whatever Happened to Moses
Was salvation available under the Old Covenant, even though nobody could keep the law perfectly? What happened to Moses, the hero of the Exodus, after he died? He was a man of God, but in the end, due to a mistake he made, he was not allowed to enter the promised land. What about other Old Testament believers? In Mark 9:2-10 is a vision seen on a mountain top. Peter, James and John the inner three disciples witnessed it. The high mountain was probably Mt Tabor according to the most ancient witnesses. Jesus was transfigured in a metamorphosis. It was similar to what will happen after we die. We receive what is in other places called a glorified body. These disciples saw two Old Testament figures after their deaths. It is an encouraging vision of life after death.
What Kind of Jesus
What kind of Jesus do Christians worship? Is he merely a do-gooder? Was he a combination of the Beatles and the hippie movement, preaching “love is all you need?” Was his life grossly exaggerated by overenthusiastic followers? Whatever he was, he has more followers today than any other spiritual man in human history. In places like Mark 9:2-10 skeptics are challenged by the blatant metaphysical aspects of Jesus’ ministry. This passage is a simple report of an extraordinary experience. Jesus was transformed, metamorphosed in clothes that shone brightly. Two men appeared and were identified as supposedly deceased prophets Elijah and Moses. A cloud covered them and a voice spoke, "This is my beloved son, listen to him!" As the cloud faded the two men had disappeared. Is there life after death? Is Jesus God’s son? You decide!
Listen to Whom
To whom should we listen, the bishop, the preacher, the televangelist, Saint Paul or the prophets of old? Should we listen to the founders of Christian movements like Wesley, Calvin, Luther and Parham? All of those people may have been faithful servants of God, but none of them is the final authority. The question is answered in Mark 9:2-10. It does not mean that we should demean others. In other places Jesus told us to love our neighbors and that would include those who preach and teach the gospel. However, in the absolute sense, we ought to listen to Jesus first and others after that. That means that if any preacher of the gospel teaches something that Jesus did not, it is really secondary and not an essential of the faith. We obey God and listen to Jesus.
When my father died of a heart attack in his early fifties, he was revived and lived another twenty years. He told me what he had seen after his first death, that there was a place that was pure good and that after that time he no longer worried about dying. Today we saw why the transfiguration was given, and explored what happens after death, how three disciples saw what happened to two Elijah and Moses after their death. We also so what kind of Jesus we worship and to whom we should listen.