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Mark’s first-century biography – page 25

And after six days Jesus took alongside him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves, alone. And he was transformed in front of them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 
“After six days…”? Six days earlier they were in Caesarea Philippi when Peter identified Jesus as the long-promised Messiah of Israel: the LORD God Almighty had come to his people on earth. Immediately Jesus said that he must (a) suffer, (b) be rejected, (c) be killed, and (d) rise again. Peter opposed that whereupon Jesus publicly declared that Peter in doing that had become the mouthpiece of Jesus’ principal opponent.

Finally, Jesus said, “There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” Is it possible that true power would be seen when the whole process of (a), (b), (c) and (d) took place in Jesus?

This transformation was vast. Whilst Jesus visibly and clearly remained a man, the extreme whiteness (not in any way humanly possible) and startling brilliance of his altered clothing disclosed his real identity. “In front of them” stood the LORD God Almighty, become man so as to be their Messiah. 

What kind of man is this, who taught in Galilee/ Who stilled the raging storm, and calmed the angry sea?’ (Dave Godfrey) 
And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 

“Elijah with Moses”? Elijah was the ninth century BC prophet who restored the children of Israel (from idolatry) to the LORD their God. Moses was the prophet who, around BC 1350, brought the children of Israel out of slavery and painful subjugation in Egypt and up to the borders of their promised land.

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 

This intervention from above (with the speaker concealed) meant that Elijah and Moses (each a parallel in his day) are totally eclipsed by Jesus, the Son. These three privileged (but hitherto ill-informed) disciples must now “Listen to him”, to Jesus, the only one left with them on that mountain. Must we also?

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 

A strict news embargo is placed upon the three disciples. No boasting about the fantastic things which they had just seen. They couldn’t tell others – until after Jesus “had risen from the dead.” 

If they’d immediately broadcasted the event, then what Jesus had said must take place – (a), (b), (c) and (d) above – would not later have taken place. Folk hearing of it would see it as a call to make him an earthly Messiah. Jesus wanted to be killed, and he also wanted his disciples to know beforehand that he, the Messiah, the son of the Highest, wanted that for himself.

‘He's the One/ He's the Christ, the Messiah, Chosen One/ King of all the earth, he's the One/ He's the Christ, the Messiah, Chosen One/ Son of the living God.’ (Dave Godfrey)
And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he revealed to them, “Elijah indeed coming first is restoring all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?

They had been taught that Elijah (the long- promised forerunner of the Messiah) would come back before the Messiah himself arrived on earth. Jesus reveals to them that he is also, himself, the promised Elijah – the restorer of human beings to the LORD God.

He follows that immediately by revealing that the only way in which that can be achieved is by (a), (b) and (c) followed by (d) – and that all this was well recorded in their own Scriptures.

But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.” 

Finally, Jesus reminded them about John the Baptist – see page 19 in this series – who pointed people to Jesus was rejected and put to death. 

Sinner Syvret

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