March 9, 2018
If you read Mark’s gospel as rock star success start for 8 chapters, it’s peaking today, halfway through Lent’s 40 day countdown. After today, it’s going down the road, to the big city tragic end after adversity. ‘Peaking’ indeed!
Just as the 12 went up a mountain, like Moses took elders partway up Sinai, so we get the 3 core guys, Peter and James and John, privileged to share a moment, and screwing it up anyhow.
Transfiguration – like Moses on the mountain, like Elijah taken up into the clouds – shining, like super-bleached – with the other guys… What ‘really’ happens, and what would show up on camera, or in minds’ eyes?
Peter, scared and stupid, tries to build 3 tents or booths, to capture the moment and the specters. Jesus doesn’t respond – God does with a cloud and a voice – they hear what Jesus heard at his baptism, plus an instruction:
‘This is my son, the beloved – listen to him!’
It’s the message for us, in turn…
I love that they see ‘only Jesus’ – that would be good enough for me! Coming down the mountain, he tells them to keep the secret of this too, until after he has risen from the dead – and the dummies talk about what he means by it.
Like pre-millenialist and post-millenialist fundamentalists, they want a timeline or at least a sequence and script – what happens in what order – Elijah first? Jesus – or church or Mark – elaborates that Elijah is a type of rejection, suffering, revealing the evil of others – but Elijah has already come (in the person of the Baptizer).
The 3, plus Jesus, are back in the midst of all the disciples, surrounded in turn by their scribe challengers, and the whole crowd –
Who asks whom ‘what were you arguing about’? Is it easy for you to explain church stuff to non-church family and friends? Is it easy to bring their stuff into church conversations? Should it be?
Six days later,
Jesus took with him
Peter and James and John,
and led them up a high mountain
apart, by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no one on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared
who were talking
Then Peter said to Jesus,
‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here;
let us make three dwellings,
one for you,
one for Moses,
and one for Elijah.’
He did not know what to say,
for they were terrified.
Then a cloud
and from the cloud
there came a voice,
‘This is my Son,
listen to him!’
Suddenly when they looked around,
they saw no one with them any more,
but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain,
he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen,
until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
Then they asked him,
‘Why do the scribes say
that Elijah must come first?’
He said to them,
‘Elijah is indeed coming first
to restore all things.
How then is it written about the Son of Man,
that he is to go through many sufferings
and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come,
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written about him.’
When they came to the disciples,
they saw a great crowd around them,
and some scribes arguing with them.
When the whole crowd saw him,
they were immediately overcome with awe,
and they ran forward to greet him.
They asked them,
‘What are you arguing about with them?’