Mark 9:2-37

Readings for this week March 11 – 15
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Day 1 – The Transfiguration

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 9:2-4

The Transfiguration is a key moment in the life and ministry of Jesus. The word transfiguration means ‘transformation’, and not only does that describe what happened to Jesus’ appearance during this episode, it also describes what happened (hopefully) to the three disciples’ understanding of who Jesus was and what the true nature of reality looked like (although as we’ll see from their reaction, not really – or at least not immediately). The three disciples get a sneak peek behind the scenes at who Jesus really is. Why Jesus chose them we do not know. But they were witness to an astonishing miracle, a miracle that, unlike the others recorded in the Gospels, happened to Jesus.

Moses and Elijah appeared. Moses was the great leader of the people of Israel who helped bring them out of slavery and received the Law from God. Elijah was a major prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC, famous for his many miracles, including resurrecting the dead, who was prophesied to return before the “day of the Lord”; hence he was seen as a harbinger of the Messiah. Their appearance here showed Jesus to be the fulfilment of the Law and the embodiment of all that the prophets had spoken of when they had heralded the coming of God’s holy one. Moses and Elijah were key figures in preparing the way for Jesus. But their presence here only serves to confirm that the way is indeed prepared. The scene is now set for Jesus to do what only he can do. The road is ready; now he must walk it.

Questions to Consider
What are your thoughts on the transfiguration? Why is it important? What is the point of it? Why was it necessary preparation for what was to come?

Prayer
Lord God, we praise you for your patience with us and thank you for your love for us. You did not give up on us and we are grateful. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – We’re Only Human

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 9:5-8

Not too long ago Peter had proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. Now he’s suggesting that tabernacles be made for Jesus, Elijah and Moses; in other words, he seems to be putting Jesus on the same level as the other two. His special place as the Messiah, the Holy One of God, seems to have been dismissed from Peter’s mind, or at least temporarily forgotten. But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on Peter. He’s just experienced a glimpse “behind the scenes” as it were, a brief look at the veiled reality of who Jesus is, and he’s a little bit flummoxed and tongue-tied. Who wouldn’t be? “He did not know what to say” – he’s certainly proven that with his rather inane suggestion to pitch some tents.

He’s also, perhaps, doing what most of us want to do when we experience a great mountain top episode, a moment of deep spiritual connection and revelation, a moment of joyous amazement: he wants to prolong it, to live in that moment, to capture it and hold it for a while longer. If they set up some shelters on the mountainside then they can make themselves comfortable, everyone can stay for a while. There will be no need to go back down the mountain, to the crowds and the noise and the dust and rush and crush of life. It can be so tempting to stay in such moments, to long for their return, to continually seek them out. But we must remember that such moments, as fleeting as they are, serve the purpose of reminding us of who God is so that, encouraged and enlightened, we can go about his work all the more purposefully.

Questions to Consider
When has God done something that just completely blew you away and you didn’t know how to react? How did it help you move forward with him?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, prompt us, guide us; startle us and shake us up if that is what we need in order to truly work to our utmost for you. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Messiah

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 9:9-13

Jesus really is the Messiah. Despite the fact that he might not look like what the disciples – or anyone else for that matter – expected the Messiah to look like, that is precisely who Jesus is. The transfiguration upon the mountainside confirms this at the same time as giving Peter, James and John a window into the deeper reality of who Jesus is and the work that he is doing. People are healed, lives are restored, sight and insight is given, the forces of evil are sent packing

The transfiguration is an image of Jesus being so wrapped up in the kingdom of God and the work of his Father, bathed in the love of God, that he is literally transformed before their eyes. It is confirmation that he is living out the truth of his vocation, that the words and signs and deeds that he is saying and performing, and that we have been reading about throughout Mark, are not an elaborate ruse or the mere surface appearance of a man playacting a role. Jesus is God’s Holy Anointed One; he is the promised Messiah. What Moses and Elijah started and prepared for, Jesus is completing. When he says that Elijah has already come, he is referring to John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for Jesus, that lone voice calling out in the wilderness for people to repent and turn back to God. The way is ready; the time has come. No more preparation; the final work of the Messiah – his suffering and death at the hands of the authorities – is about to begin.

Questions to Consider
How are you living out the truth of your vocation? How is your life a vehicle for others to experience the love and truth of God?

Prayer
Father, help me remember that I am a mirror, made to reflect your love out to the world, and to reflect the world’s honour and glory in tribute back to you. Whatever my vocation, guide me in this, as in all things. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – I Don’t Believe It

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 9:30-32

What would it have been like to have been with Jesus on this particular journey? He’s avoiding the crowds that have been clamouring for him, and instead is travelling with the disciples only, in order to reveal to them some exclusive teaching for their ears alone. And yet all he can do is carry on talking about his impending death. The disciples have seen and experienced some truly miraculous events while with Jesus, witnessing the power and might of God working through him in astonishing ways. It’s been a triumph. So why all this talk of death? However, they are afraid to raise the issue with him, as the last time one of them tried that, Jesus fiercely scolded him for his ignorance.

We come at the story backwards. We know the ending. To us, the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is one of the first things we learn about him. It doesn’t really come as a surprise because it’s the interpretive key to the whole story, and we get given it almost straight away. But for the disciples, it’s different. They don’t know the ending. What they are seeing and hearing is miraculous: God truly does seem to have answered the cry of his people in the words and deeds of Jesus. It is so astonishing that they should be alive to see it, and to be personally chosen to be involved in it. Where will it go? Where will it end? What will be the culmination of these tumultuous times? We know, and we know why. But they do not, even when Jesus tells them. If what they have seen is amazing, what he is trying to tell them is just incomprehensible.

Questions to Consider
What has God done for you and through you that you found simply unbelievable? What made you believe and trust God about it?

Prayer
Loving God, I believe, help my unbelief! Build my trust in you so that I can be quick and willing to follow wherever you go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Like a Child

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 9:33-37

If any proof were ever needed that the disciples often didn’t understand what Jesus was saying to them, this is it. Jesus has just told the disciples (again) that he will be handed over to be killed, and, even more than this, that after three days he will rise again. But after hearing this absolutely staggering news, the disciples end up arguing about their status. They were still asking themselves – and arguing amongst themselves about – who was the greatest. They seemed to be fixated on trying to work out what was in it for them. What did they stand to gain from all of this? How would their proximity to Jesus affect their position, popularity, status? They’d only taken part of Jesus’ message to heart: the Messiah part – “and if he’s the Messiah then we’re the Messiah’s entourage, how cool is that!?” They just couldn’t see past their own (reflected) prestige.

So Jesus brings a child before them – in the ancient world, loved within their families, but beyond that they had no standing in society, no prestige attached to them; children were of no ‘importance’. Elevated social standing is not something to be gained by association with Jesus. Even those who receive a child in his name can receive the one who sent Jesus. In other words, anyone associated with Jesus can become the means through which others can come to him, can gain access to God himself. Even in this sense therefore, the disciples are not any more special than anyone else who follows Jesus.

Questions to Consider
Why did the disciples have this argument? What makes us feel puffed up? What do we lose when we allow this to happen? How do we stop it?

Prayer
Holy Lord, help us to remember that this is all about you and what you have done for us. Anything we can do, anything that we have, is only because of you. Keep us humble. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)