23 April 2019

Welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Our Bible reading today is Mark Chapter 9 verses 2-13.

REFLECTION:

In the Gospels there are 3 ways through which Jesus reveals himself to be God:

  • Through Signs
  • Through Scripture
  • Through the things he Said

In today’s Bible passage we see all 3 of these at work. We’ll look at the first two briefly, but then focus on the third: listening to the things that Jesus said.

Firstly, in verses 3 and 4, there is the Transfiguration – where Jesus becomes dazzling white, Elijah and Moses appear and have a conversation with him, and then in verse 7, a cloud hovers and the voice of God speaks from it.

Unless your life has been a lot more exciting than mine, I consider these things to be a miraculous sign.

Jesus’ other miracles demonstrate his power over nature, sickness, evil spirits and death. However, in the Transfiguration, Jesus is miraculously transformed to reveal his true heavenly nature or reality, not just his earthly form. In his other miracles, people were able to see the power of Christ; in the Transfiguration, the disciples see the glory of Christ.

Secondly, Jesus uses Scripture to show people that he is God.

For Peter, James and John, the appearance of Moses and Elijah would have immediately connected their minds to Old Testament law and Old Testament prophecy. The appearance of a cloud was also something that the disciples would associate with the presence of God, through their knowledge of scripture. Mixed in with all this, is Jesus’ use of the phrase ‘Son of Man’ in verse 12.

This description of Jesus also comes from the Old Testament, predominantly the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. In this phrase Jesus is portraying himself as the people of Israel, who will suffer, but then be redeemed as the kingdom of God is established. Through this use of Old Testament scripture, Jesus is affirming his identity as the Messiah.

I have needed to use various commentaries to try and help me understand what is going on at the Transfiguration. In these books, Biblical scholars have used phrases such as: tricky, puzzling, cryptic, overwhelming, teasing, fuzzy, and “cloaked in mystery” to describe what happened at the Transfiguration, and what it means.

Whilst we are not Biblical scholars, trying to understand what it means to see the dazzling, radiant embodiment of Christ, on a mountain with Moses and Elijah; there are many of us I am sure, who would describe our current situation, our family, our world, as being tricky, puzzling, overwhelming, or just difficult to work out.

So, if you are feeling a bit confused….take heart…..you are not alone…..and instead focus on God’s response.

I find his words in verse 7 the most simple, clear, direct and easy to understand aspect of this extraordinary event.

“This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!”

The third way in which Jesus revealed himself to be God, was through the things that he said. And here is God the Father reminding us of this:

“This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!”

As I read these verses through it was this one that really stood out to me.

For some of us there are so many people trying to speak into our lives – our parents, our bank manager, our friends, our boss – advising us or directing us to make certain decisions, or take a certain path, that it is hard to know who to listen to.

Amidst the many voices, make time and space this week to listen to the One:

“This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!”

For others of us, the difficulty in listening to Jesus is not so much that there are many voices, but that we have a hearing problem. Our ears have been blocked or damaged by negative words that have been spoken over us; or because rather than listen to the truth; our ears are full of the lies of the world.

Two examples spring to mind here:

Last week I spoke to my sister and she said that she had given up social media over Lent. However, after Easter she has decided not to go back on Instagram because she realised that it negatively influenced her spending habits. She owns numerous cleaning products and 2 pairs of dungarees that she didn’t need just because she had seen them on social media. My sister is not a teenager; she is over 30 and has 3 kids. Her honesty was powerful and refreshing. We need to stop pretending that it is just the younger generation that are listening to the lies of the world.

I also read articles recently by Rachel Hughes and Ali Herbert, both of whom are in leadership at Gas Street Church in Birmingham. Rachel wrote about her struggles with self esteem and body image. She realised that one of the most unhelpful things that she did was buy gossip and fashion magazines, full of features about beach body diets, on-trend make-up tips, and catwalk must-haves. So she decided never to buy one again, and instead chose to listen to the things that God spoke over her.

Ali wrote: “The world shouts out negative and harmful messages at us every step of the way. The Devil laughs as we absorb them. Instead, we must keep turning to Jesus to hear his clear voice and the truth about who we are.”

“This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!”

And finally, I expect for all of us, life is busy and noisy, and it is hard to just sit and listen.

The disciples had a revelation of Jesus when they were by themselves, up a high mountain. In his own life, we often see Jesus wanting to take a break from the crowds, and to be alone to meet with God and pray.

Mountain retreats are not possible for all of us, but I know many of you listen to or read this podcast alone at the breakfast table, whilst walking to work, or driving in the car. However you make the time and space for this, I pray that today above the noise and busyness of family life, work demands, and calendar commitments, you would hear the voice of God and listen to what Jesus is saying to you.

“This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!”

PRAYER:

Lord, whether we are struggling to hear you above many other voices, whether we recognise that our ears have become blocked or damaged, or whether life is just noisy, help us to listen to Jesus today. Amen.

READING: Mark 9:2-13

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant.

And they asked him, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’

Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.’