As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 9:2-13
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Let’s imagine for a moment that you are one of Jesus’ closest associates. Jesus invites you and two other close friends to join him on retreat to a mountain location. Your imagination takes off. Stories have been told for centuries about your ancestors meeting God in a place like this and now Jesus, the one in whom you have seen God at work, invites you to climb.
It is likely that you haven’t given much thought to this moment in the gospel narrative, which is known to us as the transfiguration. But it is in this moment that numerous images and motifs coalesce that would have been familiar to the first century Hebrew person. First, there are companions on a high mountain encountering God. Second, there is the radiant clothing and the changed appearance, then the cloud, and finally the voice. Each of these elements echo the Exodus narrative, where the people of Israel were delivered from bondage and then began a new chapter together as God’s people.
Jesus leads his inner circle, Peter, James, and John and takes them atop a high mountain, bringing to mind Exodus 19, when Moses meets God atop Sinai to give the Ten Commandments. Later in the Exodus narrative, Moses’ face shines radiantly after speaking with the Lord (Exodus 34:29-35). In the ancient stories, God meets with his representative, Moses, to instruct the people in the way of the Lord. The people listened to Moses because they believed he had heard a word directly from God, and they could see in his very person evidence of having stood in God’s presence.
Mark echoes the Exodus narrative, but there are startling differences. We’ve already seen that Jesus takes his closest friends to a high mountain and, like Moses, Jesus’ clothes become a dazzling, impossible white as a result of his transfiguration. But Jesus is then joined by Elijah and Moses, Israel’s most highly regarded prophet and the person through whom God gave the Law, and they confer with him. Both Moses and Elijah pointed to a coming Messiah; now he has arrived.
Just as in Jesus’ baptism a voice from heaven claims Jesus and identifies him as “my Son.” This is the voice of the Father, the voice of God. Jesus is not only claimed once again as family, but as the beloved. The disciples are then commanded to listen to Jesus. There are good reasons. He is the fulfillment of Moses and Elijah, he has been given authority by the Father, and he is the embodiment of holiness, righteousness, and what it means to be faithful to God’s Word. But there is more: Jesus is God’s beloved. We listen to Jesus because he has the love of the Father.
Why do you listen to Jesus? Because he did something for you? Because you think that by listening to him you will receive something in return?
Or do you listen to him because you have come to know him as the beloved of the Father? Have you seen the manifold reasons the Father loves the Son? Have you seen his obedience, humility, compassion, and his love? Has this compelled you, drawn you in, wooed you, and won you? Perhaps you have witnessed this foremost in his cross. You have discovered the Son is lovable in himself, just as the Father has seen from eternity past. And, therefore, you listen.
There are many good reasons to listen to Jesus. But the Father, when given the opportunity to cite any reason for the disciples to listen to Jesus, simply declares his love.
Do you listen to Jesus? Do you love him? Behold him. See that he is the beloved. Respond to him appropriately. Listen to him.
Father, help me to love the Son as you love the Son, and to listen to him not from obligation, but from love. Open my eyes so that I might see how the Son is infinitely lovable. And from that love, help me to obey and keep his commands. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.