URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 20 February 2024

St Mark 9: 2 – 13

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.  And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’  Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’  He said to them, ‘Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt?  But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.’


It may well be that many of us are drawn to Scriptural passages that are trickier to interpret, the difficulty in their explanation contributing to our fascination, and making them more engaging. This passage concerning the Transfiguration of our Lord is a key narrative in the Gospels but the cloud that descends can feel as much spiritual and intellectual as physical. The witnesses are counselled not to tell of the episode until after the Resurrection which sets the essential context for understanding the Transfiguration itself. Those witnesses observe an event that has both physical and metaphysical dimensions.  

Centrally, it affirms the divinity of Jesus who is the Christ, the Son of God. As Pope Benedict XVI observed, the Transfiguration is ‘the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself “light from light”. 

Peter, James and John are witnesses, but they are more than that – they participate in the experience. They, and others who enter into the Transfiguration, are caught up in (to use theological language) theosis, where our humanity is united with Christ’s divinity, as Athanasius acknowledges, so that we might ‘learn from a man how to become a god’ (Clement of Alexandria).  

The One who is the ‘Light of the World’ (John 8:12) draws his faithful followers, those made righteous, into that Tabor light that they too might ‘shine like the sun’ (Matthew 13:43), the Light transforming all creation. 

‘Bright the cloud, and bright the glory, brighter far than mere sun’s rays, 
Opening up a glimpse of heaven to disciples’ awestruck gaze: 
Power past their comprehension , splendour too profound for praise. 
All was changed, all was changed; 
They would never be the same’ (Carl P Daw  Jr. Church Hymnary 4th edition, 353, v.1
Transforming God, whose light always penetrates the darkness and whose love always overcomes hate … sustain us as we struggle to make your light visible to an angry and frightened world. 

(St Francis, Welwyn Garden City, online at https://stfranciswgc.org.uk/light-of-the-world-prayers)

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