"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," The Transfiguration of Jesus, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on Mark 9:2-10
The passages that come before this are filled with a pounding and unrelenting march by Jesus to proclaim the good news and to overturn the forces that now bind God's people. He knows this proclamation and action campaign (to use the military imagery of the Greek text) which is the Way will ultimately lead to the cross. Therefore, everyone who is on the Way must be prepared to pick up his cross and follow. (8.34)
Yet here in this passage we have a vision of the God's glory and in the last two verses the connection of this mission with the resurrection.
Jesus in this moment of transfiguration is revealed as the new Adam, the new Moses, the great prophet, the Son of God and is clearly the Messiah. He is God in all his glory revealed in the person of Jesus to the disciples sitting at his feet, to the first hearers of this Gospel, and to us. And, this work is well pleasing to God.
We are reminded perhaps of the words of Enoch and his response to his own heavenly vision.
And there I saw another vision of the dwellings of the righteous and the resting-places of the holy.While Peter echoes Enoch's vision in this world, the disciple and follower of Jesus along the way (with the certainty of the cross before them) sees instead the great hope of Resurrection and our eternal dwelling beneath the wings of our "father hen when he calls his chickens home" - to quote Johnny Cash.
And there my eyes saw their dwellings with the angels And their resting places with the holy ones...
And I saw their abode beneath he wins of the Lord of Spirits,
And all the righteous and elect were radiant like the brightness of fire before him....
There I desired to dwell and my spirit longed for that abode. (I Enoch 39:4-8, trans. Marcus, Mark, 638)
The transfiguration is a theophany in which the followers of Jesus and the generations that follow are able to glimpse their future.
In the months to come our people will enter Lent, we are in tax season, election time, our economy is slow, people are suffering and hurting. They are pretty sure that this is not heaven!
Our preaching is to so move those who listen that they may have a glimpse of the transfigured risen Lord. That they may see the promise of their future and understand that the present sufferings in this world are ones that will eventually be swallowed up by the glory of God.
We are to so move our hearers that on this Sunday, they like Jesus and his first followers, will be moved through their vision of things to come to change the world around them. We are to move our people to understand that their glimpse of the heavenly family and our place under God's embrace is not something to be waited for in some distant future, but that we are to make our drum beat loud and to act in this world building up stone by living stone the kingdom of heaven.
A Little Bit for Everyone
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.
9As 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. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.