We might wonder what is actually happening in Jesus’ “transfiguration.” What seems like a confusing sidetrack is actually the culmination and confirmation of many threads in the story of salvation. As Mark’s gospel turns towards Jesus’ death and resurrection, his identity as God’s Son is re-affirmed. Many of these images—the mountain, the cloud, the voice of God, and Moses himself—evoke the story of God’s presence on Mt. Sinai. With these interpretative keys, the message is clear: Jesus himself is God’s presence on earth. For a brief moment, the apostles closest to Jesus are shown his true glory and authority—the same of God who delivered and led Israel. The Transfiguration is a glimpse into the mystery of God himself. It reveals Christ not only pulling together the whole salvation history of Israel but uniting the whole universe to God in himself: “With all wisdom and insight [God] has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:8–10).
- Read Mark 9:2–29.
- Ask God for a greater glimpse into his glory.
- Walk alongside Peter, James, and John up the mountain. Watch in wonder as the veil between heaven and earth is pulled back and Jesus’ true appearance shines through for just a moment. Stand with them as Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah, these almost mythological figures of God’s history with Israel. Hear Peter’s giddy confusion. Within a consuming cloud, hear the Father speak the same words you heard when Jesus was baptized.
- Imagine staring into the sun or through a dense fog. In what ways is this like encountering the presence of God? Reflect on Jesus’ insistence on secrecy. Why is his true identity—his divinity—something hidden?
- Squint through the splendid light, and step into the conversation between Elijah, Moses, and Jesus—probably speaking about what Jesus is about to suffer and accomplish. Talk to Jesus about your place in this massive and mysterious history of his people.
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC