March 3: Mountaintop Appearance

by Ned Fitch

There is much that can be discussed and dissected from this passage of MarkSix days later, Jesus took with him Peter and 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 one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus..

Why did Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain? What is the purpose of creating dwellings or huts? Why is it important for the author to inform us that they climbed the mountain six days after an unknown event? However, as I have reflected on this passage and thought about where my focus would be, my thoughts continue to return to the physical transfiguration and the “dazzling white, whiter than anyone could bleach them” describing Jesus, his clothes and his appearance to the disciples. My focus on this white may come from the snowfalls we have had at the time of this writing and how pure and clean our city becomes when newly fallen snow blankets the usual gray sidewalks and roadways. The time of this writing also comes as we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany; the “shining forth” or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ. God has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, God incarnate as Jesus Christ. While my intentions in this writing are not to blend biblical passages or narratives, I cannot help but be drawn into the mystery and meaning of the Transfiguration and the light that was brought to us through Jesus. Jesus appearing in dazzling white showed the three disciples the coming of the Kingdom of God in power and in human form. However, the dazzling white also indicates a heavenly being rather than an earthly one. More proof to the disciples, as well as us readers, of Jesus as divine. Maybe the dazzling white was to wake up Peter, James and John to take notice that something divine was happening and to stir up their senses to help them see and hear God”s work through Jesus. Whatever the meaning of the dazzling white, may we realize that no matter how we receive Jesus, the idea of him appearing in clothes “whiter than anyone could bleach them” should help us take notice, listen, pay attention and ultimately pay homage to him as our savior. Snow, stars, bright shining lights, let us embrace whatever it takes to help us remember the dazzling white of Jesus and the light that has conquered all darkness.

 

  • Psalm 19
  • Exodus 19:16-25
  • Mark 9:2-8