PREPARE TO LISTEN. Be still for as long as you need, then pray: All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord. (Psalm 22:27)
READ: Mark 9:2-8 ‘They saw only Jesus’
2Six 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, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then 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.’ 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
The message of the cross is radical stuff. We know Peter had problems with it, and no doubt he wasn’t the only one. Those first disciples needed confirmation from the Lord God that Jesus had the authority to demand so much. So too do we today. We may not dare rebuke Jesus as Peter did, but we’re often tempted to tone down or ignore his radical call to take up your cross, deny yourself and follow Jesus. We want to think such demands aren’t really relevant in our enlightened contemporary culture. Instead, we unthinkingly follow popular preachers and teachers who ‘inspire’ us with nice, comforting short sayings that demand very little of us. This story that we know as Jesus’ transfiguration, is the story that should bring us up short. It makes us see only Jesus and once again hear and respond in obedience to the radical call of Christian discipleship.
The story begins with significant detail: “six days later,” thereby linking it to Jesus’ teaching about his identity and mission and the cost of discipleship. The amazing sight of Jesus in ‘dazzling white’ clothing chatting to Moses (the representative of the Law) and Elijah (the representative of the Prophets) terrified the three disciples, the only witnesses to this event. In that moment, God spoke from heaven (as at Jesus’ baptism) and confirmed Jesus’ identity and his teaching about his mission, those words about his suffering and the cross and about the cost of being his disciple. God changed none of Jesus’ demands and added no further words. Jesus has said all that needs to be said. The disciples were given just one command: “Listen to him!” Listen, take to heart and obey, Jesus’ words. They couldn’t ignore his teaching or pretend he didn’t mean it.
The story ends abruptly: “Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.” Listen to him, that’s all they were to do.
It’s unlikely that any of us will ever experience anything like Jesus’ transfiguration. But, we still have God’s command to obey. Listen, as in take it to heart and obey, to Jesus by spending time reading and reflecting on God’s Word, especially the Gospels.
Reflect on what you need to do today to be a more attentive and obedient listener of Jesus.
RESPOND TO JESUS IN PRAYER
Jesus, you make costly demands I confess I’d prefer to ignore and so I often fail to spend the time and energy to listen to you. Forgive me and help me to continue taking time to read your Word in ways that I hear your voice rather than my own ideas of what I want to hear. Amen.
GO AND LIVE IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST and be attentive to listening to his words.