Readings: Lectionary Year B, Sunday before Lent
2 Kings 2.1-12 Elijah is taken up to heaven and Elisha takes his prophetic role
2 Corinthians 4.3-6 Paul muses on the light of God’s glory veiled by sin
Mark 9.2-9 Jesus’ glory is unveiled to the terrified Peter, James & John
Transfiguration by Clayton & Bell (1875) in St. John’s College, Cambridge
No image on a page can convey the sense of dazzling light, though a window with the light behind it can come closer. Do the disciples’ reactions depicted here help us to grasp the awe and terror of the occasion? How would we feel?
Some thoughts on the readings
– The Transfiguration is perhaps the strangest incident in the Gospels. It links Jesus to Moses, who led Israel to freedom, and to Elijah, the greatest prophet. It is a revelation of Jesus’ divine nature: the cloud which descends is the cloud of God’s presence and glory (see Exodus 40:34-35) and the voice confirms it.
– Jesus only took Peter, James and John with him to witness the Transfiguration: as God calls us to different roles and tasks, so we will need different equipping, and our experiences won’t always be the same as others’.
– Elijah’s ascent to heaven is another highly unusual incident, often seen as the ‘antetype’ of Jesus’ Ascension. Elisha’s reactions are very human, though.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Exodus 34:29-35 When Moses enters the presence of God, he shines with God’s own light. (Once mistranslated as “horns of light” as in the window!)
2 Kings 6:8-23 God allows Elisha’s servant to see what Elisha can: the presence of God all around.
2 Peter 1:16-19 Much later, Peter recalls the Transfiguration, explaining that it points to Jesus as the Light of the World (see John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14).
Do any other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
– Give thanks that God’s glory is always there, only thinly veiled from us, that we occasionally catch a glimpse, and one day will see God face to face.
– Pray for our society whose materialism and cynicism makes it harder than ever for people to see God. Ask God to open our eyes and soften our hearts.
– Pray for a deeper study and understanding of Scripture in everyone who worships in our churches, so we can see God more clearly, and grow together.
Points for Action
– Take a look at your patterns of rest: check that you’re making ‘sabbath’ time in your week to spend with God away from your regular activities.
– Work on getting to know the Bible better: start with the Lent study group which will be meeting on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in Caxton church this year.