The below sermon on Jesus Is King is from Mark 9:1-13. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies. We hope your understanding of God’s Word is deeper from them.

Jesus Is King Sermon – Mark 9:1-13

Jesus is King

Intro: “The story is told of a king who was in his throne room, holding a council with his advisers, noblemen, and high ministers of state. Suddenly there was a bang and a clatter at the door of the throne room. All eyes turned as the door burst open and a young boy ran into the room.

One of the king’s royal guardsmen tried to stop the boy. “Hold there, lad!” he shouted. “Don’t you know you’re disturbing the council of the king?”

“He’s your king,” laughed the boy, “but he’s my Daddy!” And the boy bounced into the open arms of his father, the king.” From:

Today we are going to get a glimpse of the kingdom of God. Like the disciples we can have a personal relationship with the king like this boy had with his father. So today we are going to learn about our king. He didn’t stand far off from us. But in this passage He has revealed His true nature to us. He has made Himself knowable to us. So what is our king like? We will look at five qualities of our King Jesus.

Before we start diving into the passage, we need to understand what Jesus meant by verse 1. The context tells us the answer. In all three books, Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus makes this statement, it is immediately followed by the account of the transfiguration. Why? The transfiguration itself is the fulfillment of this promise. Not everyone who heard Jesus’ statement would see the transfiguration. Peter, James, and John did. Some. What would they see? They would see Jesus revealed for who He was, a powerful king. They would see that Jesus Himself was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and was bringing God’s kingdom to the earth. They would see that God’s kingdom had come because Jesus had come and Jesus is the king. But not everyone would see this. Jesus specifically said that only “some who are standing here” would see this. The power of His kingdom would not be revealed publicly to everyone yet.

Peter, James, and John were the closest of Jesus’ disciples and as such Jesus gave them the special privilege of previewing His kingdom. He gave them a glimpse  of the kingdom as it will be when it has been completely established and Jesus is revealed to all as its King. What might the purpose of this be? Peter, James, and John were the key disciples, the leaders of the others. This could increase their faith and understanding of Jesus and motivate them to tell others about Jesus and His glory. When a good  movie is finished, a lot of times it is not immediately released to the general public. Instead a select group of people are chosen for the special privilege of previewing the movie. They will be the first people to see it anywhere in the world. Sometimes the movie company is rewarding their work and their commitment to give them a sneak peak. Other times the company wants these people to then  “hype” the movie to others in order to build up more public excitement and get more people to go to watch. At the same time, these previewers are often commanded not to release any reviews until a certain date, when the movie company is ready to start their advertising campaign. These three disciples were like previewers. They previewed Jesus’ kingdom and when the time was right, they would then share what they saw with the rest of the world, who would then be encouraged to themselves become followers of Jesus and be part of His kingdom. Now the moratorium has passed and they have shared what they saw. So what did they see? What does their sneak peek tell us about the  kingdom?

One of the biggest things that strikes me is that this revelation is completely focused on the king. The kingdom is all about the king. The king is the focus. He is the most important part of the kingdom. Sometimes I hear people talking about what heaven will be like. They may talk about the gold streets or the pearly gates. They may talk debate whether or not we can eat in heaven and what kind of food there will be. They may talk about what kind of mansions we will live in or the abilities our new and upgraded 2.0 bodies will have. But John Piper said that if Jesus is not there he doesn’t want to go there. In other words, by far the most important aspect about heaven is that Jesus is there. He is the key. Being with him is what makes heaven great, not the design or beauty of the place itself. And that is what we see in this passage about the transfiguration. All the focus is placed on Jesus, its king. So what do we learn about the king?

Jesus is a holy king – In verse 3 we learn that “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” White is the color of purity. See Isaiah 1:18. In Jesus there was no blemish, no stain, no spot, no impurity of any kind no matter how faint. His clothes were not artificially white. They weren’t bleached. They weren’t just cleaned really well. This was His natural state. His shining clothes represent His perfect, natural holiness. See Hebrews 7:26, “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” Jesus’ holy perfection is one of the things that sets Him apart from the prophets. In this passage we see Elijah and Moses are both also present. While they were very dedicated and faithful servants of God, they were still just people with their own faults and their own sins. Jesus is different. He is separated from sinners. Jesus never said one unkind or complaining word. Jesus never lazily slept in too late. Jesus never thought even one wrong thought for even one second. His life is the perfect representation of how God’s holiness is lived out in a sinful world.

A person will become like that which he worships. The Canaanites were extremely evil. They worshiped their god by visiting temple prostitutes. The gods of the Greeks were like people. The male gods chased after and impregnated human women. If their gods could behave like that, then they reasoned that they could as well. The quran is also very militaristic. For example Quran 9 5 says, “When the sacred months are over, slay the pagans wherever you find them. Capture, besiege, and ambush them.” So it is no wonder that Muslims are also militaristic, both historically and now. From another perspective, these are man-made gods, so it is natural that they are like people. But Jesus is not invented by people. And therefore He is not like one of us. Seen in His pure form here, his holiness is so bright and shining that it dazzles the eyes. It’s visible. It’s palpable. It’s stunning

There is a no worse kind of government in the world than a malevolent dictator. Evil rulers like Hitler and Stalin were responsible for the murders of millions. So the world has largely embraced democracy. Democracy doesn’t solve the problems either. Democracy means many sinners rule instead of one. There is still corruption, dishonesty, and selfishness. Do you know what the best form of government is? It is a benevolent dictatorship. Wikipedia says that benevolent dictatorship is a “theoretical form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power…but for the benefit  of the population as a whole.” The best form of government is a perfect, good, leader who loves and cares for those He rules. We have a king who is good, kind, and loving. So there are two simple applications for us:

  1. We can have complete confidence in our ruler. He is good to us and always will be. He has our best interests at heart.
  2. We should strive to be holy as he is holy. We are followers of Christ and should strive to be like Him. Are you like Jesus or are you like the world around you?

Jesus is a friendly king – In verse 4 we see that Elijah and Moses were also present. From this we see that believers are part of the kingdom of God. When God first created the world, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. They had a face to face relationship and communicated like friends. Then Adam and Eve sinned. The next time God approached them, do you remember what they did? They hid. God was holy. And they were no longer holy. Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” From that time until now, there has been a huge gap between people and God. But here this gap is gone! Jesus shows Himself in His real state as He will be in the final kingdom. And what is He doing? He is talking with Elijah and Moses. He is talking with them face to face like friends do.

Elijah and Moses were faithful and committed, but they were far from perfect. Moses murdered a man. After God gave Elijah a great victory over the prophets of Baal, he feared for his life. He ran away into the desert and asked God to kill him because he didn’t want to live anymore. These men were sinful and flawed as we are. And yet in God’s kingdom, they have direct access to talk with Jesus face to face. Remember that this transfiguration occurred to give these three disciples a preview of what the kingdom of God will be like when it is finally and completely established. Jesus is the king. He is the holy ruler. At the same time He is an approachable and friendly king. He will welcome opportunities to talk with believers. He loves us. He will desire to spend quality time talking with us. You might think that there are too many people for Jesus to talk to. But know that God’s kingdom will last forever. Jesus will have an eternity to spend. And I believe that He will spend time personally talking with you. And He will talk with you as a friend. You will be able to ask Him those difficult questions you can’t find an answer for in this world. You will be able to thank Him personally for what He has done for you. As friends do, you can talk about anything and everything.

Earthly kings are generally not friendly or accessible. The Queen of England is guarded by “The Queen’s Guard,” which consists of 43 men. If you visit Buckingham palace in London, you will see the guards on duty outside. They are always there 24/7. You cannot get through them to have a friendly talk with the Queen.

We have access to God because He is our Father. And Jesus is our brother and friend. Jesus Himself said that we are His friends. See John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Jump also back to verse 13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus is a friendly king not only because He talks with us and has a relationship with us, but also because He sacrificed Himself for us. He doesn’t just talk like a friend. He acts like a friend.

Application: We don’t have to wait to be friends with Jesus. You can talk with Him anytime. Also, you can talk with Jesus about anything. You don’t have to make your prayers to Him very spiritual or formal. You can just say, “Jesus, I want to tell you about my day” and then describe your day. The more you talk with Jesus and the more time you spend with Him by reading His Word the closer friends you will be.

Application 2: We can also learn from Jesus how to be a friend. The key ingredient is love. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us. Are you a good friend to others? Are you reliable? Are you trustworthy? Are you personable? Are you a good listener? Are you a good encourager? Do you sacrifice for your friends?

Jesus is a powerful king – In verse 1 it says that the Kingdom of God will come in power. And in verse six it says that “they were terrified.” They were terrified because Jesus’ power was unveiled. Now they saw Him for who He truly was and it was scary. This brings to mind the statement in the Chronicles of Narnia that Aslan is “not a tame lion, but a good lion.” Jesus is described in many ways in the Bible. Sometimes He is called the Lamb of God. And sometimes He is called the Lion of Judah. When discussing Jesus’ friendliness we touched on some of the lamb-like qualities He has, humility and approachability. A lion is ferocious and powerful, strong and noble. A lamb is meek and gentle. On this point Piper said, “Even more admirable is a lion-like lamb and a lamb-like lion. What makes Christ glorious is {from Jonathan Edwards} ‘an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.’ We admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness…He baffled the proud scribes with His wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children.” See Revelation 5:5-6. In verse 5 Jesus is described as a lion. He will be the victorious lion ready to open the scroll. In verse 6 He is described as a lamb standing. He is standing not collapsed on the ground. And He has seven horns. Horns are a symbol of strength and power. He is a lamb-like lion and lion-like lamb.

Jesus is a powerful king. He will rule a kingdom that will never end, a kingdom greater than any other that has ever been seen. In the gospels we saw a glimpse of some of Jesus’ power, power that made His disciples ask each other “Who is this?” –

  • He walked on water.
  • He calmed the storm.
  • He raised people from the dead.
  • He walked calmly through crowds intent on killing him and it was as if an invisible force kept their hands from throwing the stones which they held.
  • At His words, the soldiers coming to arrest were blown back and knocked to the ground as if from an explosion of a bomb.

One day Jesus’ power will be revealed for all to see. Read Matthew 24:30. He will return as a lion to gather his elect and also to judge the earth. One day everyone will be accountable. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. See Zechariah 14:4, 9 , 16-17

Jesus is all-powerful, a lion, ferocious and terrifying. Yet He is also a lamb, meek and gentle. The first time He came as a lamb. Even when people mocked Him and said, “If you are really the Son of God come down from that cross” He controlled Himself and stayed His hand (I probably would have blasted them with lightning from the sky if I could.) He didn’t use His power even though He could have. But still He wanted His disciples and us to know that He had this power.

Application #1 – Is it good news for us that Jesus is all-powerful? Jesus’ power is a double edged sword. It is good for us if we are obeying Him. If you are following Jesus, His power means that He will keep all His promises for you and can protect you. Nothing will be able to thwart His perfect plan for your life. He is more powerful than any enemies you have and He is able to give you the strength to overcome any obstacles you face. On the other hand, those who are not following Christ be warned. He is holding His wrath and judgment in check for a while because He is patient. But His patience will not last forever. When His judgment comes, it will be swift and severe. You don’t want to be on the other side of this powerful king.

Application #2 – From Jesus we learn what real power is. Real power is not boastful or brash. Real power is not losing control and raging. Jesus is power under control, power with a purpose, power at the right time. If you have authority over others, perhaps over your children or students or patients or employees, use it carefully and wisely, at the right time, and combined with gentleness and grace.

Jesus is the authoritative king –

Not only did the disciples see Jesus truly revealed for who He was, now they hear God’s voice out of the clouds. He tells them that “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.” We have seen Jesus’ holiness, friendliness, and power. Now we see His authority. His authority is confirmed by God the Father to the disciples. There can be no doubt about who Jesus is and what His role is. He is the Son of God and He has divine authority and a heavenly mandate to do as He pleases.

We have to understand that Jesus is multi-faceted. He has at the same time both our friend and our leader. It would be very easy to emphasize one in place of the other. Imagine for a minute two quite different fathers.

Father #1 – Father #1 is easy going. He is very kind and considerate to his children… But this father never says, “no” to his children. He gives them whatever they want. He doesn’t discipline them or rebuke them when they do wrong. Perhaps David in the Bible was something like this since it is recorded that he didn’t ever rebuke his children, but allowed them to do what they wanted. Perhaps this type of father will be good friends with his children, but they will grow up to be spoiled and selfish.

Father #2 – Now imagine another father. This father understands that he is the authority. He sets very clear boundaries about what his children are and are not allowed to do. If they cross those boundaries or break those rules he will instantly discipline them. He often teaches them what is right and wrong. When they do wrong his rebuke is swift and severe. But he doesn’t really listen to his children. He doesn’t play with them or spend time together. They are afraid to even talk to him. These children may have good behavior on the outside, but it is likely that they do not have a good relationship with the father. When they grow up they will likely rebel against his authority and try to leave because his authority was not tempered with love and kindness.

What about Jesus? Jesus is the perfect mix! He is 100% friendly. And He is 100% the authority. His love and care for us is what motivates his instructions to us. Meanwhile he serves as the role model for us. He didn’t tell us to do anything which He wasn’t willing to do Himself. Jesus is our Master. We must obey Him in everything. Yet He is a good Master. He is the kind of Master whom it is a joy to follow. See Matthew 11:29.  It is a delight to follow a Master like Jesus because He has our best interests at heart. We know His love because He sacrificed Himself for us. See also John 15:14. We have read the verses before and after this about our friendship with Christ. Here we see both sides of the friendly/authority coin. We are His friends. And we are also to obey what He says.

Notice also a couple other points from verses 5-8.

  • Peter did not know what to say. How can someone know what to say in the presence of such a sight. So he said something kind of dumb. He suggested building three tabernacles. In essence his suggestion put equal importance on Elijah and Moses. A side point here, if you don’t know what to say, then what should you do? Say nothing.
  • God responded that Jesus is His Son and that they should listen to Him. Jesus was the focal point. He was supreme. He is the one they were to look to, not Elijah or Moses.
  • Elijah and Moses then disappeared, reinforcing the point that Jesus was their Master and leader and they should look to Him rather than to the prophets or anyone else.

Application #1 – No one can serve two masters. Jesus us the ultimate authority. The disciples were to look to Him alone as their spiritual leader and king. The focus of the kingdom of heaven is not about the different people you can see there. It is the fact that Jesus is there. We serve the high king of the universe. He is kind and friendly. But He deserves and demands your 100% allegiance. Do you listen to Him or do you listen to others? If your parents say one thing and Jesus says another, who do you listen to? If your friends say one thing and Jesus says another, who do you listen to? If your boss says one thing, and Jesus says another, who do you listen to? It would be wise to listen to the king.

Jesus was rejected as king

Explanation of verses 9-13 – The disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ statement that He would rise from the dead. The statement itself was very plain, but it shows the fact that Jews at that time in history truly had no concept or understanding of the fact that the Messiah would suffer. It wasn’t even on their radar at all. They rightly believed that Elijah would come first to prepare the hearts of the people. And it seems there logic is, “If Elijah is going to prepare the hearts of the people, why do you still need to suffer?”

Jesus responds that yes the prophecies about Elijah are true. John the Baptist fulfilled the role and ministry of Elijah, but he was unrecognized. He was unrecognized in much the same way that Jesus was unrecognized as being their king.

Jesus is the holy king. He is friendly. He is powerful. He is our authority. Such a king should be honored. But Jesus was not. He told the disciples that he was going to suffer and be treated with contempt and be killed and rise again from the dead.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He was coming as its king. He was offering the kingdom to to the Jews. The kingdom of God was indeed at hand. Hypothetically, if the Jews received Jesus as their king, He could have set up His physical kingdom in Jerusalem. Of course this was not His sovereign plan. He had to suffer and die and raise from the dead just as He told the disciples. The result was that the physical establishment of the kingdom of God on earth was delayed. What Peter, John, and James saw would not be seen by anyone else until the kingdom was finally established after Jesus returned again and the Jews accept Him as their king.

But while the establishment of the physical kingdom was delayed, the spiritual kingdom would still be established. Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. One day Jesus will reign in person as king on a physical throne in Jerusalem. Until that day, he still reigns as king in the hearts of all believers who are part of his true church.

Conclusion: Review main points.

Revelation 17:14, “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Is Jesus king of your heart? Is Jesus king of your home? Are you giving Him the honor and worship He deserves as king? If Jesus Himself came to your house and knocked on the door and asked to stay with you for a week, is there anything you would change from what you normally do? {Give a moment of reflection } Let’s close in prayer.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one thing you think you need to change in order to treat Jesus as king in your life?
  2. What other qualities do you think of when you think of Jesus as king?
  3. Why do you think God chose this time to speak? And why did He say this phrase “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”
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