Six Days Later
Six Days Later
Transfiguration Sunday marks the beginning of Lent. It indicates that we will now travel with Jesus to Jerusalem for the events of Holy Week. Our passage from Mark which describes the transfiguration event is found halfway through the gospel, it neatly divides the gospel into two sections. One introducing Jesus and his teaching and healing ministry. The other half details the journey to Jerusalem and the death and resurrection of Jesus. This passage has a lot to teach of us and much of that can be found in the six days leading up to the mountain top experience.
Scripture: Mark 9: 2-9
We will be holding our annual congregational meeting on Sunday February 28 at 11am. The meeting will be held using Zoom videoconference and you can find the details to join the meeting below. We recognize that not everyone has access to the technology, and we have an option for people to join the meeting by phone. You will find those details listed below as well. Over the coming month we will share a bit more about how the meeting will unfold and we hope that you are able to join with us that morning.
You can download the Annual Report by clicking here: St. Andrew’s 2020 Annual Report
You can join the meeting using Zoom Video Conferencing. Zoom can be downloaded to your computer or phone. The link below will connect you to the meeting:
You can join the meeting by phone by dialing: 647-558-0588
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Meeting ID: 830 8012 7038
After six days…
In our 24/7 news cycle word, six days is an eternity. The entire world could be upended in six days. Last March people went away on vacations we take every year and within six days the world changed in ways we are still trying to come to grips with due to the coronavirus.
After six days…
The question we might as is what was going on for those six days? What happened to Jesus and the disciples a week ago that it’s worth mentioning the time lapse?
Six days before our reading today Jesus was with the disciples near Caesarea Philippi, a Roman city. While there Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus would tell the disciples not to tell anyone about him. In Mark’s gospel this is known as the Messianic secret. Later Jesus will speak about how the Son of Man will suffer, be rejected, be killed and then rise from the dead.
Peter can’t believe it! He takes Jesus aside and tells him to stop saying such things! Remember Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Messiah! How can the Messiah die, never mind rise from the dead? Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Six days go by and Peter has to live with the sting of those words and I have to imagine that they cut deep. Jesus didn’t deny being the Messiah, he confirmed it by saying don’t tell anyone else! You can imagine the shock and confusion that Peter must have been experiencing.
Six days later Peter is with Jesus, the brothers James and John are there also. They climb a mountain together and then Mark tells us, “There he was transfigured before them.”
For six days Peter has carried the knowledge of who Jesus is and the sting of rebuke that perhaps he doesn’t fully understand what it means to follow Jesus. That perhaps he isn’t up to it and then this, Jesus is transfigured before them.
The moment of transfiguration is not a transformation. Jesus doesn’t suddenly stop being Jesus, rather the veil of humanness is lifted and those three disciples see who Jesus truly is. All of his glory, his majesty is laid bare. Moses and Elijah show up and the text tells us that the three disciples were terrified.
Don’t think of this terror as being like the thrill you receive while watching a scary movie. Rather the meaning we should derivive from this is: in that moment those three disciples feared for their lives. The believed their safety was in peril, the moment was truly terrifying. It was a dangerous moment.
Melinda Quivik writes, “Jesus’ transfiguration is not to be approached with the assumption that we can understand it.” (Melinda Quivik)
The words are simple, “And he was transfigured before them…” But we shouldn’t think we have any idea what that means, what it would look like, feel like or how it might impact us. The transfiguration does not change who or what Jesus is. Rather it lets us see Jesus for who he truly is and an up close personal encounter like that with the divine would be terrifying because it defies our expectations. We can read this now and think that an encounter with God would be good, soothing, welcoming. What Mark tells us is that while caught in the surprise of that moment the disciples were terrified, suddenly all that Jesus had said merely six days ago made a very different kind of sense.
The sting and rebuke Peter received is replaced by a different sort of terror, a new sense of danger. As they see Jesus the voice of God declares “This is my son! Listen to him!”
God doesn’t say “look at how radiant he is!” In that highly visual moment we might expect God to say, look at my son! Isn’t he radiant, bow down and praise him! But no, God doesn’t say that. God says, “Listen!”
The voice of God doesn’t tell us to look at Jesus, and as this is a highly visual moment, we might expect that it would. Instead we are told to listen.
What does Jesus tell us?
We have the testimony of the gospels to consider, but for now we look back six days.
- You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.
- What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
- Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
When I was in Sunday school, I wasn’t taught that following Jesus, that believing in God was dangerous. But look at the words that Jesus spoke and then consider where he spoke them. That’s the sort of stuff that will get you killed, and they did, just as Jesus predicted they would.
The message is still dangerous. It is challenging and when we consider it in all it’s glory, it should terrify us. Just as Peter, James and John were terrified when the full weight, the full revelation of who they were following was revealed to them.
Following Jesus, living up to the promises of the kingdom should scare us. It is terrifying, but we don’t do it alone. When the moment of transfiguration was over, Jesus was still there. Through it all Jesus is present with us, walking with us, guiding us. We are never left alone, even when it seems most bleak. Amen.
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