What does it say?
In Matthew 17 Jesus takes his inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John, up a high mountain where he is transfigured before their eyes and they see him in all his glory. Moses and Elijah appear speaking with him and the voice of God bears witness from heaven that Jesus is his beloved Son. Returning to the base of the mountain, they discover that the other disciples have been powerless to help a man who has brought his demonized son for healing. In Capernaum, Peter is asked a loaded question about paying taxes. Though Jesus is tax-exempt as the Creator, he pays taxes as the God-Man identified with the human race.
Mark 9 also tells the transfiguration story and the helpless disciples that could not help the man with the demonized boy. Mark also speaks of Jesus’ return to Capernaum of Galilee, but instead of telling about the question of taxation, he tells of conflict among the disciples for prominence and also reveals their intolerance for those not exactly like them. Jesus responds by teaching the importance of peace in relationships and of the severe consequences offending young believers.
What does it mean?
Philippians 2 tells how Christ left Heaven’s glory to be born a human. This moment of transfiguration is stupendous testimony to the deity of Jesus as God in human form. Peter misunderstands what is happening and suggests building three booths to commemorate Moses, Elijah and Jesus. He thinks that Jesus is being elevated to the level of Moses and Elijah, two great figures that represent the Law and the Prophets. In reality, they appear as witnesses to the One that is before all things.
The discussion at the end of Mark 9 in response to the political maneuverings of the disciples and the intolerance displayed toward others prompts Jesus to speak of the extreme danger of judgmental, immature and prideful attitudes that bring divisions in place of peace. The “little ones” he mentions in this context is a reference to young believers, not necessarily small children in a literal sense, though that is certainly included in this scope.
How will I respond?
Seeing the reaction of the disciples to the transfiguration, I ask myself if there are things that I have similarly misunderstood. The Bible does not change and means exactly what is says. But, my understanding of context and culture can often lead me to inaccurate conclusions. I will resolve to keep my mind and heart open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my study of scripture. What lesson can I apply to my life from today’s reading?