In the Old Testament wealth and material goods are considered a sign of God’s favour. And so, the early disciples of Jesus believed that he was the Messiah and would use his powers to acquire visible, tangible wealth in this life both for himself and for them – his followers. The thoughts of each one of these disciples were different.
In Mark 10:28 we read: Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”
James and John had followed Jesus because they wanted special seats at his right hand and at his left. And we read in Mark 10:38-40,
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
This metaphor of drinking the cup, is used in the Old Testament to refer to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God. In the case of Jesus, this involves divine judgment on sin that Jesus the innocent one is to expiate on behalf of the guilty. His baptism is to be his crucifixion and death for the salvation of the human race. So, the request of James and John for a share in the glory must of necessity involve a share in the sufferings of Jesus, the endurance of tribulation and suffering for the gospel.
The authority to assign places of honor in the heavenly kingdom is reserved only to God.
So, Jesus took his select disciples Peter, James Zebedee, and John Zebedee and led them up a high mountain to prepare them beforehand by giving them a glimpse into the heavenly glory that was his and to be theirs at the end of their journey of faith so that they would not be devastated by the shock of his shameful death by crucifixion as a public criminal. So, the transfiguration of Jesus prepared his disciples for the trauma that was soon to come.
March 4, 2012 is the Second Sunday of Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Mark 9:2-10.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
- Moment Two: The Transfiguration (contemplativechristians.com)
- Transfiguration Sunday: Transfiguration and Glory (Mark 9:1-8) (apologus.wordpress.com)
- Transfiguration of Our Lord – “‘Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here” (Mark 9:2-9) (revtucher.com)
- When Pictures Become Windows – A Sermon on the Transfiguration, Mark 9:2-9 (interruptingthesilence.com)