Sunday 14 February 2021

Bible Book:

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!' (v. 7)

Mark 9:2-13 Sunday 14 February 2021

Psalm 2


”Six days later” is the most precise time reference found in Mark’s Gospel prior to the Passion story, so it seems Mark is deliberately making a close association between this event and Peter’s declaration in the preceding verses that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter, James and John, who witness the transfiguration, are the same three disciples Jesus had with him on other occasions of great significance (Mark 5:37, 14:33). Although it is not named, Mount Hermon, about 12 miles from Caesarea Philippi, is possibly the location.

'Transfigured' is the word that gives us 'metamorphosis', and may have been suggested by Daniel 12:3 and similar references in intertestamental writings. Paul uses the word with reference to the character transformation of Christians in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18. Mark’s account refers only to a dramatic change to the appearance of Jesus’ clothes before reporting that Elijah and Moses talked with him. Of these two pivotal Old Testament people Elijah is named first probably because he was widely regarded as due to make a re-appearance to announce God’s End-time (Malachi 4:5). The three disciples raise this very point in v. 11, having apparently understood the episode as one in which Jesus’ messianic status has been confirmed even though Elijah has not made a public appearance first. Jesus’s enigmatic answer in v. 13 in fact identifies John the Baptist as the successor of Elijah, but his role as Messiah’s forerunner had been rejected.

The final scene in the drama is the voice from the cloud, which probably 'enveloped' Jesus, Moses and Elijah rather than 'overshadowed' them. It is understood as God’s voice, declaring Jesus to be 'my Son, the Beloved' and underlining that God affirms what Jesus has begun teaching his disciples about his suffering and death.

Jesus' injunction to silence (v. 9) repeats Mark 8:30. Since the next verse tells us that they did not understand teaching about the resurrection it would in any case have been hard at that particular point to explain the significance of what in many respects resembles a post-resurrection appearance.


 To Ponder:

  • Have you, or anyone whose story you know, had an experience of Jesus that in any way resonates with this story?
  • Have you ever been like Peter, who in verses 5-6 is speaking foolishly because he “did not know what to say”? If so, was it fear, as in his case, or some other emotion, that caused it? Or do you simply find it easier to speak sometimes, rather than think first?
  • The cloud is a good symbol for the presence of God, because a cloud is itself visible yet at the same time concealing. Is it your experience that whenever God seems to reveal himself, he is at the same time rather more hidden that you would like?
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