Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 27 2013 - Mark 9:1-29 – This is my Son ... Listen to him

Jesus took with him his inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John, and together they climbed a high mountain. There, Jesus was transformed before them, his clothes becoming dazzling white. The astonished disciples then saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus before a voice from heaven proclaimed, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" (Mark 9:7). And suddenly they are left alone with Jesus.

This incident follows rapidly upon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Now it is God himself who owns Jesus as his Son (a messianic title). We would love to have been able to overhear the conversation between Jesus and Moses and Elijah, but we are not granted that privilege. What is made clear is that Jesus has not come as a supplement to the Law and the prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah), he has come to fulfil them. The command of God that the disciples should listen to Jesus makes him the single focus of the whole drama of Scripture (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3). He is the one in whom the story of redemption finds its end and its new beginning. From now on, the hallmark of the people of God will be that they hear the voice of the Son of God and follow him.

As Jesus came down the mountain with the three disciples, he told them to say nothing of what they had seen and heard "until the Son of Man has risen from the dead" (9:9). This saying perplexed them; they could not understand what Jesus was speaking about; only later will it become clear. But from our vantage point in the story it is clear that the transfiguration is an anticipation of that greater and permanent transformation that will take place with Jesus' resurrection. The resurrection is the supreme affirmation by the Father that Jesus is his Son, the Messiah, the one in whom all Scripture finds its fulfilment (see Romans 1:2-4).

Before ascending the mountain, Jesus told his disciples, "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power" (9:1). This saying also must have puzzled the disciples. This, along with the saying concerning Jesus’ resurrection, act as "book-ends" for the account of the transfiguration. We need to read them together and to interpret each in terms of the other. Jesus resurrection from the dead, anticipated in that mountain appearance, will be the means by which the kingdom of God will come with power.

We are in the favoured position of living after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. We are those who are seeing the kingdom come in power. Maybe it does not always seem that way and doubtless we would long to see more, but all around the world people are being drawn into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lives are being changed and cultures are being transformed.

Nor are we to be dumb witnesses of these things. We who have come to share in the resurrection life of Christ, who have tasted of the power of the age to come, are to be those through whom the kingdom comes in power for the healing of a broken world. And maybe one of the key reasons that we see so little of the transforming power of the kingdom at work around us is our own lack of prayer (9:28-29).

Lord Jesus, you taught us to pray that your kingdom may come and that the will of your Father might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help me to listen to your voice  and to follow you in a life of prayer and of service. May I see something of your resurrection power at work in me and through me this day. And just as the power belongs entirely to you, so may you have all the glory, now and for ever.

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Peter Misselbrook