15 February 2015

Mark 9:2-13

“From the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’” (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 2


In his presentation of the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (see Mark 1:1), Mark's story comes in two halves. There's the call of the disciples in Galilee, and the preaching and teaching and miracles. But then in Mark 8:27 - 9:1 the mood changes. Jesus asks his disciples to make their mind up about who he is. He tells them he is going to suffer. And if they want to follow him, they must expect to suffer too.

Later that week, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the Mount of Transfiguration. It is here that they see him literally in a new light (verse 3), in this vision of his meeting with Elijah and Moses in a dazzling cloud (verse 4). This story is so crammed with Old Testament imagery that we could spend at least a couple of days looking at related passages!

We are reminded of Mount Sinai, of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). There is a "theophany" - supernatural events surrounding a sense of the presence of God, as a cloud descends. In Exodus 34:29-35 Moses' face shone as he encountered God. The day of the Messiah will be accompanied by a host of people and angels dressed in white. The booths commemorate the wanderings of the people of God in tents around the wilderness before they enter the Promised Land. The disciples will also have remembered the Baptism of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry (Mark 1:11).

Whatever they saw, one thing is clear: they could never see Jesus simply as a good teacher, or merely a prophet, or 'just' a miracle-worker. Here was God revealing an intimate relationship with Jesus. And the event is so special that Peter wants to help it to last as long as possible. But Jesus commands them to come down from the mountain and to keep things quiet for now - 'Elijah', that is John the Baptist had already been beheaded (Mark 6:14-16).

To Ponder

  • If someone were to ask you, "Who do you say Jesus is?" what would you tell them?
  • What do you think the cost of discipleship is for Christians today?
  • Have you seen Jesus 'in a new light' recently? How?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.