Saturday 19 February 2011

Bible Book:
Mark

"This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!" (v. 7)

Mark 9:2-13 Saturday 19 February 2011

Background

A 21st-century reader is likely to ask questions about thispassage to which there is no answer. Was this a vision or ahappening in the 'real' world? How was Peter able to recogniseElijah and Moses? Where did they come from (or go to)? Suchpuzzles, which evidently did not bother the Gospel-writer Mark, caneasily distract us from the message he wishes to get across.

At this point in the Gospel, attention is focused on who Jesusreally is. The previous chapter has contained a note of opinionspeople were entertaining about him followed by Peter's confession,"You are the Messiah" (Mark8:27-30). Then comes the shocking news that Jesus is to sufferrejection, death and resurrection (verse31). Today's reading redresses the balance, by reaffirming thatthe one to be crucified is indeed the Son of God. The light ofJesus' glory, otherwise hidden, shines out here.

There is evidence of a belief at the time that like Elijah (2Kings 2:1-12) Moses also had been taken up alive to heaven.Elijah was expected to reappear to announce the coming of God'skingdom (see verse 11 and Malachi 4:5). So their appearance, representingperhaps the two great strands in the Old Testament, the law and theprophets, is an important indication of Jesus' importance. Moreimportant still is the cloud, which represents the presence of God,and the message the disciples hear, which reaffirms what readers ofthe Gospel already know (Mark1:1, 11).

As elsewhere in Mark's Gospel, Jesus imposes silence on hisfollowers, and this time suggests a reason. His death andresurrection are part of God's plan and popular acclaim mightprevent it happening. What then of the Malachi prophecy about thecoming of Elijah? John the Baptist's preaching and death, recordedearlier in Mark 1:1-86:17-29, are its fulfilment. The stage is setfor Jesus.

To Ponder

Mark describes a moment of illumination whenthings could be seen in their true colours. Reflect on any momentof insight you have had which enabled you to see thingsdifferently. What lasting difference has this made on you?

What do you think it means to affirm that Jesusis the Son of God?

How do we 'listen' to Jesus today?

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