Gospel: Mark 9:2-9
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:12-13 (14-18); 4:1-6
Lesson: 2 Kings 2:1-12 or Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm: Psalm 50:1-6
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Dr. Eugene Boe
(originally published in 2012)
Transfiguration Sunday is the culmination of the Epiphany season, the time of revealing Jesus, the Son of Man to the gentiles. At his baptism, the heavens tore open, a dove descended on him, and a voice from heaven declared about this one, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark’s narrative then begins to disclose just who this beloved Son is. He calls people to follow him. He heals the sick, preaches the good news of the kingdom, takes on demons and defeats them, forgives sins, calms a storm, feeds the hungry, and more. The words and actions of Jesus raised questions in the minds of people. “’What is this?’ A new teaching with authority!” (Mark 1:27) “Why does this man speak like that? … Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16) “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:40) “Many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” “And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6: 2-3)
As Mark nears the mid-point of his gospel he records Jesus asking his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Jesus then “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31) Peter would not stand for this. (Mark 8:32) But, Jesus moves them from the things of man to the things of God. To be the Christ is to go the way of the cross.
The disciples were entering a very trying time in their following Jesus. Jesus in his gracious way takes them, just them, with him to a high mountain. Jesus is going to give them a closer look at who he is, the beloved Son of God. Peter, James, and John are given to see the true nature of Jesus close up. He is the culmination of the prophetic message given through Moses and Elijah. As is written in Hebrews, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) Listen to him!
In contrast to the life-threatening glory of God on Mount Sinai, which Moses so desired to see, but was protected from it, for God said “no one may see me and live,” Jesus who is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3) is now seen by Peter, James, and John. And, they live! For this glory radiates the redemption of the messiah savior. That glory of God which is too much for sinners is now a glory of gospel redemption. Listen to him!
The voice that sounds forth the words “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” is declaring how the Father sees all those who are in this beloved Son by grace through faith. This is not only a statement about the status of Jesus. It is a statement by the Father about you who is his child by way of the Son. For all that is true for the Son is true for you. Listen to him! Because of him, God the Father says, “you are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” Listen to him!
As Peter neared the end of his life and sought to assure the readers of his second letter of the truth, he recalled this revelation given in the transfiguration. He wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, bur were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18) This beloved Son is for sure. You can count on him to be all you need in the trials of life and in the hour of death, as Peter puts it, “departure.” Listen to him!
In listening to him he delivers all he is to you. In listening to him you are given him and all he is and has done for you.