Reading: Mark 9:2-9
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
‘I can see clearly now’ by Johnny Nash “I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day.”
I was sitting the other morning trying to think through my service for today. How do you tell such a well-known event in a new way and still hold on to the message contained within it. I could have spoken about the significance of those in attendance; Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets. The disciples: Peter, James and John, I have already indicated at other points in the gospel they are nearby Jesus in those big moments of the journey. For now, they are given this vision of the glorified Messiah. I could concentrate on the building of three dwellings; an attempt to make this a permanent position. Or I could have focused on the descent down the mountain and the instruction to tell no one until the son of man has been raised from the dead, continuing that whole faith and misunderstanding tension of the disciples. We could have discussed the voice, thundering down proclaiming, as it did at his baptism, ‘this is my son with him I am well pleased.’ All of these would have been good focal points and indeed have made many a worthwhile sermon over the decades. But I wanted to look for something fresh. Could all of this have been no more than an hallucination? Is it a post-resurrection story that has simply been recorded in the wrong place? Or is it an actual event that did happen and had to be told in this way with all these references to their Jewish traditions? I was convinced that I needed the service to be about seeing clearly.
Irony is of course you need to look with fresh eyes at this well-known pieces of scripture. Sure enough there it was the message of revelation and seeing clearly now. The disciples have already been told their Messiah is prepared for death on a cross. Something beyond words is required to convince them of the victory that lies beyond this death. These three, who will go on to spearhead the mission of the church are given a foretaste of the glory of the risen Christ. The inclusion of the great leader Moses from the first Exodus is here the continuity into the new Exodus. God giving his people the tablets of stone. Now not only would his laws be written on their hearts, now they would have this visual gift from him. Not only had the disciples been told about Jesus, not only had they witnessed miracles performed by him, but now they are given a most beautiful gift of the vision of him in glory. I wonder where and when have you experienced this mountain top encounter? When was it for you that Jesus shone in all his glory? When, in relation to your faith journey, where you able to sing, ‘I can see clearly now’. We have been journeying with Jesus and his followers over the last few weeks, taken to the water’s edge as he called ‘follow me’ and now we are set upon a high ground. It all happens in a quiet place far from the crowded towns and cities. Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that much of the ministry of Jesus was done in a more rural setting. As we begin our journey into lent this is a story that speaks to us of God’s power, of the humanity of Christ and as we will discover of the next few weeks the story of God is one of continuity. It is unbroken and uninterrupted. As we journey through the pages we encounter how it could be if these things were written in our time. These pages that are connected to the laws and the prophets are the pages that connect us to the generations of faith tradition. We have the choice which legacy we wish to be ours. For generations yet unborn may the way in which we witness for Christ allow them to sing the lyrics of the song, ‘I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day.’ May these words be to them more than a good going pop song from yesteryear, may they be for them a description of how they feel as they begin to build their faith journey in Christ.